It was another wild week in the English Premier League, with some important results in Week 24 of the schedule.
The top teams in the standings weren’t in action necessarily, but that doesn’t mean that this week’s games were any less relevant.
Manchester United and Sunderland each played in huge games with results that will ripple out throughout the season.
Below you can find a complete listing of this week’s results, as well as some analysis about the week’s biggest matches.
|Home Club||Road Club||Result|
Manchester United at Stoke City
The victory marked the first time Stoke’s beaten the Red Devils since 1984, making it quite the meaningful match.
Charlie Adam scored a pair of big goals to lift Stoke, with the second coming on a deflection off Michael Carrick that caught Manchester keeper David de Gea off guard.
The game was played in windy, miserable conditions, and United lost some key players in the contest, but that’s no excuse for their poor performance, according to The Telegraph’s Jason Burt.
This was either one of those momentous contests when the Gods conspired against Manchester United, or an afternoon when too many of their players simply did not fancy it. It looked like the latter.
Yes, they lost both caentral defenders to first-half injuries, with Phil Jones concussed after being knocked out and Jonny Evans straining his calf, leading to an unsettling reshuffle.
Yes, they were unfortunate when Stoke City went ahead through a heavy deflection.
Yes, they were unlucky when Asmir Begovic produced a superb save to fingertip a Wayne Rooney free kick onto the post in the 92nd minute. But that was it.
In testing conditions – a fierce, swirling wind, driving rain, plummeting temperatures – they were found desperately wanting despite David Moyes’ stunning denial of the facts.
Manchester manager David Moyes was particularly strident following the loss.
"I don't know what we have to do to win," Moyes told BBC Sport. "I thought we were extremely unlucky.”
Regardless of what role luck played, there’s no doubt that United needed this win and couldn’t get it. Tottenham Hotspur and Everton continue to pull away from the Red Devils in the standings, and this loss certainly didn’t help.
For Stoke, they’ve now climbed to 11th place in the table, staying narrowly ahead of Swansea City, Hull City, Sunderland and Norwich City.
Sunderland at Newcastle United
Newcastle United fans had to be down after losing midfielder Yohan Cabaye, but they’ve got to be feeling even worse after getting butchered 3-0 by Sunderland.
Sunderland shoots all the way up to 12th place with the win, virtually assuring that they’ll avoid relegation.
The win is a thoroughly reassuring one for Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, as ESPN’s Colin Randall explains.
Gus Poyet has his own ways of showing delight but will understandably be a proud man after a magnificent, disciplined team effort that not only swept aside rivals who have outperformed them all season, but completed back to back Premier League wins that now make survival an altogether realistic objective.
Having also booked his side a Wembley appearance for the Capital One Cup final, he will surely be a runaway leader in the manager-of-the-season stakes if he finishes the job of keeping Sunderland up. It looked beyond him before Christmas; now he is making a mockery of Di Canio's recent suggestion that the team had done no better under Poyet than it did until his own dismissal.
This was a performance that did not depend on Newcastle playing poorly, though they were deeply unimpressive in key phases of the game. It was built on a solid base of 11 men, and I mean all 11 who started for Sunderland, doing their jobs to near-perfection.
By contrast, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has got to be feeling pretty down in the dumps. His side has lost to Sunderland three times now in the last 10 months, and this loss keeps them from gaining any ground on Manchester United.
Fans responded by calling for Pardew’s head loudly and frequently during the match, despite the fact that the club still sits in eighth place.
But Newcastle fans weren’t likely to listen to reason after this one, even if the team is in the top 10 in the league.
Making matters worse is that Newcastle now gears up to face third-place Chelsea next week—hardly the opponent they need to rebound against.
If they want to stay even a little relevant in the EPL, they’ll have to come through in Week 25.