We returned to Barclays Premier League action after FA Cup weekend and Week 23 certainly provided some intriguing matchups.
Intriguingly, there was something to play for in all six games taking place this evening, and the outcomes would affect both ends of the table.
How Tuesday's Action Impacts The Overall Table
Liverpool's fine win sees them consolidate in fourth place, although Tottenham will join them on 46 points if they see off City.
David Moyes will be happy that his side are building up a head of steam and are now just a couple of wins shy of a Champions League place, whilst the mid table is starting to pack out quite nicely with seven clubs within two points of each other.
At the foot of the table, Cardiff remain rooted to the bottom. West Ham will stay level on points if they fail to get anything from their trip to Stamford Bridge, whilst Sunderland can pull away with a win at home to Stoke City.
Premier League table updated to include Tuesday's games:
|15||West Bromwich Albion||22||4||10||8||-5||22|
|18||West Ham United||22||4||6||12||-11||18|
Let's take a look at a few of Tuesday's biggest matches below:
|Norwich City vs Newcastle United||0-0|
|Swansea City vs. Fulham||2-0|
|Manchester United vs. Cardiff City||2-0|
|Southampton vs. Arsenal||2-2|
|Crystal Palace vs. Hull City||1-0|
|Liverpool vs. Everton||4-0|
Liverpool vs. Everton
With a number of experienced first team players unavailable, this was always going to be an uphill task for Roberto Martinez.
The loss of danger man Romelu Lukaku on 25 minutes, after a clash with team-mate Gareth Barry, only added to Everton's woes.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the striker has suffered ankle ligament damage and his leg is currently in a cast.
RT @LivEchoEFC: RM: Lukaku's ankle is in a cast and doesn't look too good right now. Could be ligaments.— Liverpool Echo (@LivEchonews) January 28, 2014
It's doubtful that he could've helped his team's cause, such was Liverpool's dominance.
A powerful Steven Gerrard header from a corner on 21 minutes was just reward for Liverpool's superior movement and interplay and the Reds were out of sight by half-time courtesy of a Daniel Sturridge double.
It got no better for the away side after the match with Luis Suarez—who else—racing 50 yards before slotting home the fourth.
Sturridge missed the chance to complete his hat-trick after blazing a penalty kick well over, after Tim Howard took down Raheem Sterling to set up the spot kick.
Damage limitation was the order of the day for Martinez and with Ross Barkley ploughing a lone furrow for the visitors, it was an uphill struggle for the last half hour.
That they were able to keep Liverpool from further adding to the scoreline will provide little comfort and the game fizzled out toward the end.
Final Score: Liverpool 4-0 Everton
Manchester United vs. Cardiff City
This match was always going to be about Mata's debut, but the return of Robin van Persie was greeted with an equally loud cheer.
As was the appearance of ex-United favourite, and now Cardiff manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Dutchman got straight back into the old routine after just seven minutes. In a move started by Mata, the ball worked it's way to Antonio Valencia, who crashed his header against the bar.
The follow up was blocked before van Persie headed in at the third attempt.
The Spaniard was to the fore yet again on 20 minutes, his cross just too strong for Ashley Young. United were purring. He would go on to delight throughout, to the point where he was a contender for man-of-the-match according to Manchester United's Twitter account:
The match settled down for the rest of the first half, with both teams enjoying significant possession, and the home side led at the break.
In a similar opening to the second period, United struck early again, this time with Young scoring. Stepping inside two before unleashing a powerful shot, we saw a glimpse of what the ex-Aston Villa man is capable of on his day.
With half an hour left of proceedings, Wayne Rooney replaced van Persie and a speculative 30-yarder almost brought United a third.
In truth, Cardiff offered little and Mata could have put the gloss on a fine debut with 10 to go but scuffed his effort. He later went off to a standing ovation to be replaced by Adnan Januzaj. Moyes will be satisfied with the three points.
Final Score: Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City
Southampton vs. Arsenal
The league leaders were looking to consolidate their place at the summit against an in-form Southampton, but it was the home side who came out of the blocks quickest, forcing early corners and keeping Arsenal on the back foot.
The Gunners' lethargy could perhaps be explained by their late arrival at St. Mary's after being stuck in traffic, and it was perhaps no surprise when the Saints took the lead.
Highly rated left-back Luke Shaw swung in a delightful cross on 21 minutes and Jose Fonte was there to power home.
It might well have been two before half time but debutant Sam Gallagher allowed the occasion to get the better of him and he shot wide when well placed.
Southampton led at the break with Arsenal registering just a single shot in the half according to Opta.
One single shot at goal in the whole first half from Arsenal, according to Opta stats on BBC live text.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) January 28, 2014
How quickly the game turned on it's head in the second half. By the 53rd minute, Arsenal were leading.
First, Olivier Giroud's faintest of touches levelled, and then a touch of class from Santi Cazorla saw the Gunners in front.
As so often happens after a goal, the joy was short lived as Southampton went straight down the other end and scored through the impressive Adam Lallana.
Now we had a game on our hands.
Both teams appeared to cancel each other out for the remainder of the game, enjoying healthy possession but making no real in-roads.
A terrible challenge from Matthieu Flamini on Morgan Schneiderlin with five minutes to go gave Southampton the numerical advantage, but they couldn't capitalise and it finished level.
Final Score: Southampton 2-2 Arsenal