EPL Table Week 22: Breaking Down Fixtures with Highest Stakes

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EPL Table Week 22: Breaking Down Fixtures with Highest Stakes
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Saturday's Premier League action showed that despite the frosty conditions, there's no putting an end to the entertainment at hand in the English top flight, with every facet of the table getting tighter as things go.

This season has been labelled largely as one of, if not the most competitive Premier League campaign in regard to the title race, but it's something that applies from top to bottom.

Wins for Sunderland and West Ham already this weekend breathes new life into the relegation battle, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham also notched wins on Saturday to keep things interesting among the big guns.

Looking ahead to Week 22, we've considered which fixtures might be looked upon as proverbial six-pointers, with a lot more on the line than your average encounter.

2013-14 Premier League Table (As of Saturday, Jan. 11)
Position Club Played Won Drawn Lost GD PTS
1 Chelsea 21 14 4 3 21 46
2 Arsenal 20 14 3 3 21 45
3 Manchester City 20 14 2 4 34 44
4 Everton 21 11 8 2 15 41
5 Tottenham Hotspur 21 12 4 5 1 40
6 Liverpool 20 12 3 5 23 39
7 Manchester United 21 11 4 6 11 37
8 Newcastle United 20 10 3 7 4 33
9 Southampton 21 8 6 7 4 30
10 Hull City 21 6 5 10 -5 23
11 Aston Villa 20 6 5 9 -6 23
12 Stoke City 20 5 7 8 -11 22
13 Swansea City 21 5 6 10 -4 21
14 West Bromwich Albion 21 4 9 8 -5 21
15 Norwich City 21 5 5 11 -18 20
16 Fulham 21 6 1 14 -24 19
17 West Ham United 21 4 6 11 -9 18
18 Cardiff City 21 4 6 11 -19 18
19 Sunderland 21 4 5 12 -15 17
20 Crystal Palace 21 5 2 14 -18 17

PremierLeague.com

 

Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City

Tony Pulis meets former club Stoke City for the first time in the Premier League since being handed his marching orders over the summer, giving new meaning to a fixture that may have otherwise meant a lot less.

The former Potters boss has succeeded in injecting a new-found sense of stability at Selhurst Park since being appointed Eagles boss in late November, the likes of which Stoke will be all too familiar with.

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Mark Hughes' side travel to a Palace side that has improved its home record dramatically since Pulis' arrival, losing just one of their four league outings in South London since the Welshman came aboard.

Though the Premier League new boys reside in the relegation zone, the gap between these two sides isn't exactly huge at just five points, although the Potters have a chance to stretch that lead against Liverpool on Sunday.

 

Norwich City vs. Hull City

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Hull City may count themselves unfortunate not to have taken more from their encounter with Chelsea this weekend, putting up a fight in the first period. But ultimately, they succumbed to the vast resources at Jose Mourinho's disposal.

Ex-England striker Michael Owen commented that the promoted party are capable of much more, however:

However, a trip to Carrow Road may bear more fruit for Steve Bruce's side, although travelling to unfamiliar territory has been a major weakness of the Tigers' campaign thus far.

Chris Hughton's Canaries are currently three points below Hull, and while a vastly worse goal difference means the opportunity to overtake them next week isn't an option, it's still a win that would claw the Norfolk side away from the drop zone.

Norwich have won just three home matches all season but can hope to pounce against one of the leakiest away defences in the division next time out.

 

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

A meeting between Chelsea and Manchester United this weekend isn't quite the same high-profile matchup it once was, with David Moyes' side having dropped in the general estimations since the last time these two sides met.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

That being said, the Scot still has largely the same team that drew 0-0 at Old Trafford back in August and will hope to recapture some of that defensive spirit at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.

The two teams are a sizeable nine points apart as things stand, but three points remains as important as ever for two of England's giants enjoying rather different veins of form.

One massive factor for the West London visitors will be the fitness levels of Wayne Rooney, who has missed fixtures through injury of late but will be needed if the club are to have a chance of succeeding in Robin van Persie's absence.

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