Each passing week of the Premier League campaign brings renewed belief that the muddled table will begin to sort itself out. It hasn't happened so far, as the battles, both at the top and the bottom of the standings, remain extremely close.
The situation has definitely provided the season with some added intrigue. Matchday 22 being a perfect example with a match like Crystal Palace and Stoke garnering some added attention because points earned there could end up being the difference in the relegation battle at the end.
Arsenal and Manchester City, the Premier League's top two clubs, were also in action on the first day of Matchday 22. So without further ado, let's check out how Saturday's matches impacted the table along with a look at the day's results.
Here's a list of Saturday's outcomes:
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Result|
|Jan. 18||Crystal Palace||Stoke||1-0|
|Jan. 18||Manchester City||Cardiff||4-2|
|Jan. 18||West Ham||Newcastle||1-3|
|Jan. 18||Liverpool||Aston Villa||2-2|
Southampton let two points slip away against Sunderland in an exciting matchday opener. The Saints led 2-0 after Dejan Lovren struck just after the half-hour mark, but the complexion of the match changed when Fabio Borini found the net a minute later to cut the lead in half.
The Black Cats were more competitive from that point forward, and Adam Johnson continued his run of good form to bring them level inside the final 20 minutes. It's a point that could prove vital as they battle to avoid relegation.
Arsenal ensured they will remain atop the Premier League standings for at least another week. Santi Cazorla struck twice in the span of five minutes during the second half to push the Gunners past a struggling Fulham side, 2-0.
WhoScored noted that the talented attacking midfielder posted a monster rating for the match because he did a lot more than score a brace:
Manchester City, who entered the day in second place and one point behind the Gunners, were able to keep pace with another terrific attacking display. Four different players found the net, highlighted by an outstanding effort from Sergio Aguero, to knock off Cardiff.
While the Sky Blues remain in the thick of the title race, the loss paired with a win by Crystal Palace means the Bluebirds fall to the bottom of the table.
City's official site passed along comments from manager Manuel Pellegrini, who wants his players to keep focus on the tasks ahead but feels good about the direction of the squad:
We have to play 16 more games, so we have a lot of points to fight for, we are not worried about what happens with other teams.
We want to win because we won, not wanting other teams to lose.
We are in a good moment—the confidence of the whole squad is high at the moment. In the last month will be under a lot of pressure, and I hope we will continue in this way.
Which club is your title pick?
Speaking of Palace, their win over Stoke came courtesy of a Jason Puncheon tally shortly after halftime. The tight race at the bottom of the table was on full display, as the victory allowed the Eagles to jump from last place to 16th, out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle continue to quietly hover around the European race. Yohan Cabaye scored twice, and Loic Remy also found the scoresheet for the Magpies, who cruised past West Ham. The win ended a four-match losing skid and moved them within five points of fifth place.
Ryan Bennett played the role of hero for Norwich, who looked destined for a frustrating home draw with Hull before the defender headed home the winner in the final minutes. The three points gives the Canaries some breathing room ahead of the bottom three.
Finally, just as the day started with a two-goal comeback it ended with one as well. Liverpool fell behind Aston Villa 2-0 on goals by Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke. Daniel Sturridge gave the Reds life with a strike right before halftime, though.
Steven Gerrard converted a penalty after a borderline call on Brad Guzan to level the match and neither side could find a winner. While Liverpool will be happy to have fought back for a point, it does open the door for Everton to move into the top four with a win on Monday.