The final Premier League action of 2013 turned Sunday into moving day at the top of the table. Each squad now has 19 matches in the books, and the results from the first half of the season concluded with thrills and spills.
Chelsea came through with a crucial 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. That kept Chelsea nipping at the heels of the top two sides and sunk Liverpool six points back of first. Arsenal matched Manchester City's victory on Dec. 28 with one of their own to seize hold of the top of the table. And Everton cracked the top four with their win.
2014 will be a chance for some teams to march to glory, but for others it could already be too late. Here's an updated match table with the results from Matchday 19. The movers are concentrated at the top.
|Dec. 28||Aston Villa||1-1||Swansea|
|Dec. 28||Man City||1-0||Crystal Palace|
|Dec. 28||Norwich||0-1||Man United|
|Dec. 28||West Ham||3-3||West Brom|
Chelsea looked to be in trouble when Martin Skrtel put Liverpool ahead in the fourth minute, but the Blues punched back a quarter-hour later with a lovely goal off the right foot of Eden Hazard from the edge of the box. Samuel Eto'o was opportunistic with the eventual game-winner in the 34th minute.
It was the first match against Chelsea for Liverpool's Luis Suarez since he received a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April. And on this occasion, Chelsea's defense returned the favor by successfully hounding Suarez and limiting his looks at net.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho even stated that Suarez should have been booked for diving when he tried to draw a penalty. Suarez crumpled in the box on more than one occasion during the second half, but the referee ignored his pleas to point at the spot.
Jose Mourinho: Luis Suarez deserved booking after 'diving' to try win penalty: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho felt... http://t.co/Dk1o0lBp62— Premier League (@PremiierLeague) December 29, 2013
Elsewhere, Arsenal went into St James' Park and took three points from Newcastle for yet another win away from home. Olivier Giroud broke the tie with a header in the 65th minute for his 11th goal of the season. That also put the Gunners past Man City and back into first.
Everton downed Southampton 2-1 and jumped over Liverpool into the top four, proving the Reds' loss very costly indeed. The Toffees got some heroism from Romelu Lukaku, who put them ahead in the 74th minute, only three minutes after Gaston Ramirez had drawn the Saints level.
Luis Suárez finishes 2013 with 29 Premier League goals. Romelu Lukaku was second with 20.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) December 29, 2013
Tottenham scorched Stoke City 3-0, leaving the Potters only five points clear of relegation; their minus-11 goal differential suggests they should be even closer.
Can Newcastle actually finish ahead of Man United this season?
Spurs and Newcastle traded places at Nos. 7 and 8. Tottenham will be happy to also draw even with Manchester United in points, and Liverpool are only two points ahead of them.
The EPL is back in action on New Year's Day, and each of the top five teams is lucky enough to face an opponent out of the top eight.
Also, Man United will try to break their deadlock at 34 points apiece when they bring in Spurs, and Newcastle will attempt to bounce back when they visit West Brom.
Half the season awaits in 2014, but the top of the table is becoming increasingly exclusive with each matchday.