The January transfer window has closed, meaning the English Premier League picture is crystallized for the rest of the 2013-14 season. That's not to suggest drastic moves up or down the table will not occur, but rather that we have a fairly clear snapshot of what to expect from each team the rest of the season.
Nevertheless, as teams integrate their new transfers and adjust to the losses of others, a few surprising results are bound to spring up. Week 24 brought about numerous upsets, as a few EPL minnows pulled off stunning upsets over their more ballyhooed brethren. Headed into Monday's Chelsea-Man City clash, these were the results from the weekend:
|Newcastle 0||Sunderland 3|
|West Ham 2||Swansea City 0|
|Stoke City 2||Manchester United 1|
|Fulham 0||Southampton 3|
|Everton 2||Aston Villa 1|
|Cardiff City 2||Norwich City 1|
|Hull City 1||Tottenham 1|
|West Brom 1||Liverpool 1|
|Arsenal 2||Crystal Palace 0|
Here's a look at the most stunning results and what they mean for each squad going forward.
Sunderland 3, Newcastle 0
Sunderland have occupied the Premier League basement for much of the season. But with a resounding 3-0 defeat over rival Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, the Black Cats have somehow leaped out of the relegation zone, two points clear of West Ham.
After a rough start, Gus Poyet has infused Sunderland with belief, with three consecutive wins over Newcastle and a Capital One Cup final to look forward to. According to Football365.com, English winger Adam Johnson believes Poyet's steady hand has helped Sunderland crawl out of the relegation zone:
The head coach said: "It's my way, it's the way we believe football should be played, it's the way we believe we should treat players, it's the way we believe a club should work.
"We are convinced and we know it works. Of course, sometimes you need time. Sometimes you get the time depending on results, and that's up to the players, so we are delighted that the players have been doing it on the pitch. They have given us the time to show that."
Newcastle, on the other hand, was so thoroughly embarrassed that midfielder Cheick Tiote actually felt the need to apologize for the result:
Stand-in Newcastle skipper Cheick Tiote apologises to supporters for another derby drubbing http://t.co/8m4krAaIlt (Mirror Football)— Anfield Live (@AnfieldLive) February 2, 2014
The Magpies did well to overachieve for much of the season, even staying in Champions League discussion for much of the season's first half. But with a 1-4-1 streak in league play since December 29, Newcastle has settled back into the middle of the table, where they look likely to finish.
Stoke City 2, Manchester United 1
Charlie Adam's two-goal performance lifted Stoke to its first Premier League home victory over Man United. More importantly, Stoke now sit three points ahead of the relegation zone and 11th overall, at the top of a giant morass in the lower half of the EPL table.
With whipping winds and a feisty Stoke defense, United's new attacking triumvirate of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata was generally held in check. Van Persie did score his second goal in as many games, but as ESPNFC.com's Mark Payne notes, another head-scratching loss only adds frustration to United's puzzling campaign:
But the simple fact of the matter is Manchester United should be beating teams in the bottom three. They didn't, and that makes it another uncomfortable week for all concerned. The mood might have brightened around Old Trafford with Mata's arrival, and the team dug in to show some fight here, but the results continue to frustrate.
Embattled manager David Moyes vowed to spend during the transfer window to goose his side's quest for a top-four finish, but there may not be enough time left in the season to erase the seven-point gap. After the defeat, Moyes was at a loss, a seemingly weekly theme in his debut season at Old Trafford:
David Moyes to Sky Sports: "I don't know what we have to do to win. I thought we played well." #MUFC— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) February 1, 2014
United now have eight league losses, and with contests against Arsenal and Man City coming up, the Red Devils may reach the unthinkable double-digit loss ledger.
West Brom 1, Liverpool 1
Liverpool did earn a point but missed a golden opportunity to create some separation after Tottenham dropped points at Hull. Now, the Reds sit two points clear of Everton after a costly error by defender Kolo Toure led to a Victor Anichebe equalizer.
Toure's pass across the middle was mind-boggling, but he likely never should have received the ball in the first place, with two West Brom players bearing down on him. Per BBCSport.com, Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers absolved Toure of the blame following the match:
"[Toure] shouldn't have received the ball in the first place.
"I've said to the team that we are in the position that we are because over the last 18 months we have shown the courage and bravery to play football, and part of that is to build the game from the back.
"He is an experienced guy so he knows it was a mistake. He is devastated because he is a real conscientious guy. There is no blame for any of them."
Meanwhile, West Brom inches ever so slightly out of the relegation zone, tied with Crystal Palace and one point clear of West Ham. The Baggies actually have the best goal differential of any team in the bottom half of the table at minus-6. With a plethora of ties over contenders like Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton, West Brom continues to scratch out enough points to keep their necks above water.