This season has been one of the most competitive and entertaining in recent memory for the Premier League, and that continued during its Dec. 21 slate. Although there weren't necessarily any high-profile matchups on tap, a number of top teams and players were showcased in an impressive manner.
Things are so bunched up near the top of the table that it's important for teams to pick up as many points as possible. Most of the contending teams succeeded in that regard, but a couple less-talked-about squads thrived as well, so there was a little bit of everything for all soccer fans to enjoy.
Here is the full listing of Dec. 21's EPL scores, along with further analysis regarding the teams that were most impressive.
|Week 17 EPL Scores|
|Home Team||Away Team||Score|
|Liverpool||Cardiff City||3-1 Liverpool|
|Crystal Palace||Newcastle||3-0 Newcastle|
|Fulham||Manchester City||4-2 Manchester City|
|Manchester United||West Ham United||3-1 Manchester United|
|Stoke City||Aston Villa||2-1 Stoke City|
|West Brom United||Hull City||1-1|
It has to be difficult for Liverpool fans to stop smiling right now. Not only did their squad ascend to the top of the table, albeit perhaps temporarily, with a win over Cardiff City, but they also happen to have the EPL's best player. Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has been absolutely incredible this season after his tenure with the squad appeared to be in doubt. Most believed that Suarez would bolt Anfield as soon as possible, but he put that to rest on Dec. 20 by signing an extension to remain with the team, according to Liverpool FC's website.
Suarez had some great things to say about the squad after re-signing, and many of his words rang true during the Reds' 3-1 win over Cardiff.
We have some great players and the team is growing and improving all the time. I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool. My aim is to help get us there as quickly as possible.
Liverpool's success this season has certainly been a team effort, but it's understandable why most of the focus is on Suarez. His two goals against Cardiff gave him 19 on the season. To put that into perspective, Suarez already has more goals through 12 matches than the scoring leaders in 1997-98 and 1998-99 did over the course of an entire season, per ESPN's Paul Carr.
The scary part is that there are still plenty of matches to be played, so Suarez has a great chance to break the single-season EPL goals record of 34 held jointly by Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer. If Suarez continues to play at this level, then that record will fall in no time.
This season hasn't gone as planned for Manchester United in their first year under David Moyes, but there is still plenty of time to turn things around. The Red Devils took a big step toward accomplishing that on Dec. 21 by making quick work of West Ham United in a 3-1 victory at Old Trafford. The outcome was never really in doubt as United received first-half tallies from both Danny Welbeck and Adnan Januzaj to put West Ham on their heels.
United were without the services of Wayne Rooney, but they still looked dangerous on the attack throughout. Midfielder Ashley Young was especially impressive after entering the match for Januzaj in the 69th minute. He wasted little time as he scored just three minutes later, which marked the first time he had ever scored in consecutive matches for Man U, according to OptaJoe.
That is a great sign for the Red Devils, since they will need production from the entire lineup moving forward in order to get back to the top of the table. United have relied a bit too much on Rooney this season, but their showing against West Ham proves that they aren't a one-man team. Manchester United are extremely talented, and they now have confidence on their side.
The Premier League's highest-scoring team was at it again as Manchester City overcame Fulham in a thriller on Dec. 21 by a score of 4-2. The Citizens relinquished a 2-1 lead in the 70th minute on an own goal by Vincent Kompany, but it is nearly impossible to lock down the City attack. Jesus Navas answered with a goal in the 78th minute, and James Milner put a cherry atop the victory in the 83rd minute as Man City picked three much-needed points.
That win pushed City into a second-place tie with Arsenal, although the Gunners have a game in hand. The Citizens trail Liverpool by just one point, and they will be a tough team to hold down as the season progresses due to their scoring ability. With that said, City are far from perfect. They have had major goalkeeping issues between Costel Pantilimon and Joe Hart, who started against Fulham. Per OptaJoe, Manchester City haven't registered a road shutout in seven matches.
Scoring at a high volume is great, but top teams need to be able to excel in chess matches. The Citizens haven't showcased that ability yet this season. Even so, they are among the best teams in the league, and they will be very dangerous moving forward. Their late outburst against Fulham illustrated that perfectly.
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