A slew of matches on Boxing Day altered the Premier League landscape as several surprising results shook up the league table ahead of Week 19.
Defending champions Manchester United needed a furious comeback at Hull City to come away with three points. However, other contending clubs weren't so fortunate, as Everton and Tim Sherwood's Spurs both suffered disappointing results at home, per Premier League on Twitter:
Tim Sherwood: "Disappointed with the result...We were relentless in the second half & on another day it would have fallen for us" #TOTWBA— Premier League (@premierleague) December 26, 2013
The Toffees, who lost goalkeeper Tim Howard to a red card early on, were dealt an excruciating 1-0 loss to last-place Sunderland at Goodison Park while Spurs played a struggling West Bromwich Albion squad to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.
With Matchday 18 in the books, let's take a look at where all 20 teams stand heading into this weekend's pivotal action.
|15||West Bromwich Albion||18||3||8||7||-5||17|
|19||West Ham United||18||3||5||10||-10||14|
|Hull City||2-3||Manchester United|
|Aston Villa||0-1||Crystal Palace|
|Tottenham Hotspur||1-1||West Bromwich Albion|
|West Ham United||1-3||Arsenal|
|Manchester City||12:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. GMT||Liverpool|
Week 18 began with a bang as Wayne Rooney and the Red Devils quickly found themselves trailing 2-0 at Hull City. David Moyes' men were ready for the challenge, though, as they were able to equalize in a seven-minute span. A James Chester own goal in the 66th minute would give United the lead, and the Red Devils would hold on despite a late Antonio Valencia red card that saw them play the final moments a man down.
Rooney was impressed by his side's gutsy effort down the stretch, per Premier League on Twitter:
Man Utd's @WayneRooney: "It was a real scrap... We had to show our fighting spirit. We've done that and this was a massive result for us."— Premier League (@premierleague) December 26, 2013
Title contenders Arsenal and Chelsea both came away with three points as well in Week 18, beating West Ham United and Swansea City, respectively. Theo Walcott exploded for the Gunners in the second half, scoring two goals in a three-minute span as they erased a one-goal deficit to earn their first league win since Dec. 4.
The Blues only needed one goal from Eden Hazard to top the Swans at Stamford Bridge.
Elsewhere, Crystal Palace stunned Aston Villa at Villa Park, winning 1-0 on the strength of Dwight Gayle's clutch 90th-minute goal, per Premier League on Twitter:
Meanwhile, Southampton shut down Cardiff City's upset bid, scoring three goals in the first 27 minutes to bury the Bluebirds before halftime. The victory was a much-needed one for Southampton as they hadn't won since Nov. 9.
The Saints' Jay Rodriguez could do no wrong as he scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, per Squawka Football on Twitter:
Jay Rodriguez is on fire today and has netted a brace inside the opening 20 minutes against Cardiff. Nine for season for the England man.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 26, 2013
In other Boxing Day action, Fulham topped Norwich City 2-1 thanks to Scott Parker's 87th-minute heroics. Newcastle annihilated Stoke City at St. James' Park, scoring four second-half goals to maintain their two-point lead over Manchester United in the league table.
Matchday 18's final clash saw Manchester City top Liverpool 2-1 behind first-half goals from Vincent Kompany and Alvaro Negredo. Reds star Luis Suarez was able to get off five shots, but never scored as Liverpool saw the Citizens leap them on the league table.
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