Arsenal maintained their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 victory over Fulham, and the other teams chasing Arsenal were forced to pick up wins to keep up with the best team in the league.
The action from Week 22 was quite compelling. Several matches left us with much to analyze and digest leading up to Week 23. This past week was interesting in that it saw a quality team start uncharacteristically slowly in the first half and another top team miss several goal-scoring chances against one of the lesser teams in the league.
A few results from Week 22 fixtures have major implications on the rest of the season. Here is a look at the Week 22 scores followed by a breakdown of each of those matches with big implications.
|Chelsea||3 - 1||Man Utd|
|Swansea||1 - 3||Spurs|
|Liverpool||2 - 2||Aston Villa|
|Arsenal||2 - 0||Fulham|
|Crystal Palace||1 - 0||Stoke|
|Man City||4 - 2||Cardiff|
|Norwich||1 - 0||Hull|
|West Ham||1 - 3||Newcastle|
|Sunderland||2 - 2||Southampton|
Liverpool vs. Aston Villa
Liverpool still haven't lost in 2014. Even after going down to a far superior Aston Villa club, Liverpool were able to regain composure by scoring two goals and fighting for a draw.
Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard netted goals for Liverpool to maintain their slim two-point lead over Everton for the No. 4 spot on the Premier League table. That being said, an Everton win over West Brom on Monday, Jan. 20, would force a flip in the standings.
A win obviously would have been ideal for Liverpool, but it's really hard to argue with the effort the team put forth. Going down 2-0 was a disappointment, but fighting back to net two goals while holding the opposition scoreless is something to commend.
Manager Brendan Rodgers told The Independent's Ian Herbert last week that his team will "never give up the fight" to win the Premier League outright this season. Not beating teams like Aston Villa when given the chance doesn't exactly support that claim, however.
Liverpool need to play a more consistent match in Week 23 against Everton—especially considering the implications of that match.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Manchester United's hopes of retaining their Premier League title are all but lost after their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. Chelsea were dominant as a team from the start, even if all the offense was supplied by three goals from Samuel Eto'o.
Eto'o netted two goals in the first half and then one more just after the break, and Chelsea never looked back. United had no answer of their own, and all Chelsea had to do was control possession and play strong defense to close out the match.
Phil McNulty of BBC suggests that we shouldn't remove all the blame from boss David Moyes:
In Moyes's defence, he was without his injured world-class strike pair of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie - but even those mitigating circumstances cannot disguise the brutal truth that United's current squad is simply not in shape to mount a title challenge and is inferior to that at Arsenal, let alone Chelsea and Manchester City.
With the win, Chelsea trail Arsenal by two points for the No. 1 spot on the table. They also remain one point ahead of Manchester City. They face a favorable opponent in Week 23 in West Ham, while United will take on Cardiff City.
Manchester City vs. Cardiff City
Manchester City passed the 100-goal mark for the season against Cardiff City, becoming the fastest team to reach that mark in Premier League history.
While Manchester City did manage to score four goals, Cardiff prevented it from getting completely out of hand. As evidenced by their 100 goals this season, Manchester City knows how to find the back of the net with regularity.
Cardiff were successful in limiting the chances of Manchester City's strikers, but the strikers ended up capitalizing on the fewer opportunities anyway.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had this to say to BBC's Chris Bevan regarding his team's scoring output:
Maybe I am not 100% happy because we conceded the second goal in the last minute. But we scored four and missed five or six clear chances so if we continue to play like we are, we are always going to score more than we concede.
With the win, Manchester City remain one point ahead of Chelsea and one point behind Arsenal.