The standings atop the English Premier League really tightened up after Saturday's action. Four teams are within six total points of each other following the aftermath of the eight matches that took place.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool have completed 25 matches now and sit atop the leaderboard in that order. With 13 more games to go for these squads in the season, we can easily predict that a fantastic finish is in store.
Let's look at how the standings currently look following Saturday's action and break down the games that took place.
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Possibly the day's most anticipated matchup, Liverpool was able to come away with an impressive 5-1 victory over league-leading Arsenal.
Martin Skrtel came out strong for Liverpool, scoring the club's first two goals. Raheem Sterling was impressive as well, scoring another two goals on the day. Daniel Sturridge found the net as well, completing Liverpool's five-goal game—the first time it was able to score as many goals against Arsenal in 50 years, according to PremierLeague.com.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was ecstatic over the victory:
We were brilliant, it was a wonderful performance in such a prestigious game. Not just the result but the performance level was absolutely out of this world. I'm very pleased and it's another marker for us that we're getting better and improving all the time. We're just trying to finish as high as we possibly can. For us, this year was hopefully going to be another big step for our development.
After the match, Liverpool hung on to the fourth spot with 50 points, while Arsenal dropped out of the top spot with 55 points.
Crystal Palace 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
Tom Ince and Joe Ledley made their presences known with Crystal Palace today, as they each came away with goals. Ince recorded the first goal of the game 15 minutes into the match, and Ledley produced his goal just 12 minutes later.
During an interview with PremierLeague.com, manager Tony Pulis showed his pleasure with the new additions:
I was really pleased with the three [new signings]. It's been really difficult this week as the lads have done so well since I've been here—to leave three of the lads out was difficult. If we are going to stay in the Premier League, it'll be the group of players. It won't just be the 11 out there, it'll be the whole group of players and they've been fantastic.
Crystal Palace's move to acquire these two on transfer-deadline day sure looks to have paid off, as the team came away with a 3-1 victory.
With 26 points on the season, Crystal Palace moves up to the 14th position. Following the loss, West Bromwich Albion drops to the 18th spot with 23 points.
Aston Villa 0-2 West Ham United
The difference-maker in this matchup was attacking midfielder Kevin Nolan. Just after halftime, Nolan quickly scored two goals within two minutes of each other. Those goals turned out to be the difference in West Ham United's 2-0 victory.
Two in three minutes for Nolan and West Ham 2-0 up at Aston Villa http://t.co/cBHLMUxWhJ— Telegraph Football (@TeleFootball) February 8, 2014
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert was extremely disappointed with his team's efforts regarding those two goals, according to an interview with PremierLeague.com:
The two goals were really disappointing. Especially right after halftime. I had just took my seat, then it was the long ball and we never dealt with it. It doesn't matter if you're young or experienced, you deal with it. That's just a long ball, we should have dealt with it better.
With the win, West Ham United moves to the 15th position with 25 points. Aston Villa dropped to the 12th position with a total of 27 points.
Sunderland 0-2 Hull City
Hull City's Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic were fantastic against Sunderland on Saturday. Both scored a goal and recorded multiple shots, with Long attempting five and Jelavic six. Playing with only 10 men after Wes Brown was sent off, it became almost impossible for Sunderland to contend.
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet spoke about his team's bad luck during an interview with PremierLeague.com:
We've been very good in the last month-and-a-half. Previously to that there was always something happening—a mistake, a deflected shot, a sending-off or whatever and today we went back to those times. It's difficult to analyse as it was a difficult game for us after five minutes.
Hull City moved up to 11th in the standings with 27 points after Saturday's win. Sunderland dropped to 17th with 24 points.
Norwich City 0-0 Manchester City
Manchester City cannot be happy with its performance on Saturday against underdog Norwich City. After drawing a blank for the second time this week, Manchester City lost some ground in the EPL's standings. Both goaltenders were on point during the contest, as they each recorded two saves.
Missing: Manchester City's attack. Last seen: 180 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/mdYnYCfAmb— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) February 8, 2014
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini explained that his team is not 100 percent, according to an interview with PremierLeague.com:
We are frustrated because we could not win, but we did all we could do but in front of us there was a team who defended very well. Our strikers Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko are not 100 percent fit so that's very important for the team. Every team will drop points, but we are still two points behind the leaders and we have 39 points to play for so we will continue the exactly the same.
Despite forcing a draw, Norwich City still dropped to the 16th position with 25 points. Manchester City dropped one spot to third after failing to come away with a win. It has now accumulated 54 points on the season.
Southampton 2-2 Stoke City
After one of Saturday's most entertaining matchups, Southampton and Stoke City finished with a 2-2 draw. Southampton took the lead on two occasions as Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis each scored go-ahead goals. However, the resurgent Stoke City responded on both occasions with goals from Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes told PremierLeague.com that he is pleased with his team's current run:
We had a fantastic result last weekend with our first win over Manchester United in 30-odd years and it would have been a real disappointment if we hadn't got something out of this game. It's important that we get a run going and I was really, really pleased with what we produced.
With the draw, Southampton remains in the ninth spot with 36 points, but Stoke City drops to 13th with 26 points.
Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United
Chelsea's Eden Hazard was easily the player of the game, as he scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Newcastle United. With the three goals on the day, the attacking midfielder brought his season goal total to 14. With the win, Chelsea now finds itself sitting atop the EPL standings.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told PremierLeague.com that he is still weary despite being atop the league's standings:
I know today we are top of the league but I look to fifth place. I look to Tottenham vs. Everton and Manchester United vs. Fulham tomorrow and I want to be far from fifth. When we are far from fifth and have a Champions League position under control, then it will be time to look at Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool and see where they are and see the distances. From that point, we can start thinking about other things.
Chelsea jumps from third to first in the standings with 56 points, while Newcastle United remains eighth with 37 points.
Swansea City 3-0 Cardiff City
This win was an important one for Swansea City after the departure of manager Michael Laudrup on Tuesday. After the contest reached the half without any scoring, Swansea City came alive as Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony came away with one goal each.
Newly appointed Swansea City head coach Garry Monk was proud of his team's performance, according to an interview with PremierLeague.com:
Those boys were magnificent, I couldn't have asked for more from them. I had to think about the game a bit differently. I had to switch my mind from a player to a more tactical kind of mind, obviously with the passion. I said to the boys, 'I'm no different. I haven't changed overnight. But there's a job to do.'
Swansea City jumps up two spots in the rankings to 10th with 27 points after the victory. Cardiff City remains near the bottom of the pack at the 19th position with 21 points.