EPL Table Week 26: Biggest Developments from Saturday's Action

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates after scoring past Arsenal's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, left, during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Saturday Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Another weekend, another crazy Premier League matchday. This year has been particularly loopy in England, and that continued on a Saturday highlighted by Arsenal's 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool.

Chelsea also moved top of the table after their 3-0 win over Newcastle and Manchester City's 0-0 draw with Norwich City. The top three clubs are separated by a mere two points, and even the Reds may still harbor title ambitions, as they're six points off the Blues.

Here's a look at the EPL table after Saturday's results.

EPL Table Matchday 25
3Manchester City2517354154
7Manchester United2412481040
11Hull City257612-527
12Aston Villa257612-927
13Stoke City256811-1426
14Crystal Palace258215-1626
15West Ham256712-725
18West Brom2541110-823

Among the day's eight matches, these were three of the biggest developments.

And Arsenal's annual midseason malaise begins

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on February 8, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Any discussion of Saturday's results must begin and end with Liverpool's 5-1 demolition of Arsenal at Anfield. It was perhaps the most comprehensive defeat of a top side in the Premier League this year, more so than the Gunners' 6-3 loss to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur's 5-0 home defeat to the Reds and 6-0 loss to City at the Etihad.

Liverpool could very easily have had six goals, had Kolo Toure not mucked a glorious opportunity in front of an open goal or if Luis Suarez's shot right before that had been a couple of inches to the right.

Apologies to any Reds supporters, but the praise of the winners ends now, as it's time to have a talk about how bad Arsenal truly were.

The Gunners came into the match with the best record away from home in the league.

Yet time and again, they were ripped apart on the counter, with Daniel Sturridge's goal standing out the most. Mesut Ozil lost the ball in midfield, Philippe Coutinho threaded a through ball up to Sturridge, and he scored. So simple, yet so effective.

Speaking of Ozil, he was shocking on Saturday, posting what was easily his worst performance since arriving at the Emirates. Bleacher Report UK posted an image one Redditor used to aptly sum up the German midfielder's performance:

Of course, Ozil isn't solely to blame. Even Arsene Wenger—somebody who's always quick to defend his players from public criticism—couldn't hold back after the match.

"Only our fans were good today," he said, per The Guardian's Daniel Taylor. "We played in slow motion."

The Gunners have what could be a tricky match against Manchester United on Wednesday, and after that it's Liverpool again in the FA Cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Robin van Persie of Arsenal lies on the ground as he is spoken to by Samir Nasri during the Carling Cup Final between Arsenal and Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium on February 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun B
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

You don't want to overstate things too much, but that could be a season-defining stretch of games for the club.

Remember the 2010-11 season when Arsenal lost the League Cup final against Birmingham City, were bounced out of the Champions League by Barcelona and had successive Premier League draws against Sunderland, West Brom and Blackburn?

Yeah, it could be like that.

Chelsea roll while Manchester City struggle

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Eden Hazard of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on February 8, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The way in which Chelsea brushed aside Newcastle was scary. Sure the Magpies are struggling without Yohan Cabaye in the side, but that doesn't negate how good the Blues were.

Moussa Sissoko had a great chance to make it 1-1 in the 33rd minute. He missed, and then it was all Chelsea. That's how small the margin of error was for Newcastle.

Jose Mourinho's side may be the best counterattackers in Europe.

Chelsea's second goal was evidence of that fact. Eden Hazard sliced through the defence, passed it off to Samuel Eto'o, who back-heeled the ball perfectly back to Hazard, who slid it past Tim Krul. The beauty was in the simplicity.

Squawka had a nifty graphic of how the goal developed:

As ESPN FC said, though, Eto'o's assist was arguably better than the goal itself.

Compare all of this to Manchester City's 0-0 draw with Norwich City.

What is it about City that makes them such a different side away from home? Norwich are a tough side at Carrow Road, conceding 11 goals in 11 matches, but there's no excuse for a team competing for a title to come away from this match with one point.

While it's too early to hit the panic button, between the 1-0 home loss to Chelsea and draw with Norwich, City have dropped valuable points that could prove pivotal at the end of the season.

Doesn't anybody want that parachute payment?

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 08: Craig Bellamy of Cardiff shows his dejection during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Cardiff City at the Liberty Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

For yet another week, the bottom half of the table remains a jumbled mess. The clubs 10th through 20th are separated by eight points, and only five points stands between 20th-placed Fulham and safety. The Cottagers could move into 19th on Sunday with a win after Cardiff City's 3-0 defeat to Swansea City.

It was a big win for the Swans, as it was their first match since Michael Laudrup's sacking. Garry Monk is taking over in the Dane's place, and he couldn't hide his pride after the victory, per BBC Sport.

"This is my proudest part," he said. "The players were magnificent."

Perhaps this win can reignite Swansea's season after that brutal run of league results.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 8:  Sam Allardyce manager of West Ham United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and West Ham United at Villa Park on February 8, 2014 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Im
Clint Hughes/Getty Images

In terms of the relegation battle, West Ham helped themselves a lot with their 2-0 win over Aston Villa. The Hammers moved into 15th place, as West Brom dropped into 18th.

It was what you'd consider a Sam Allardyce performance, as West Ham had 32 percent possession and two shots on target, according to WhoScored. That style isn't pleasing on the eyes, but it could help the club avoid the drop.

At the other end of the spectrum is Cardiff, as their loss to Swansea keeps them entrenched in 19th.

Sacking Malky Mackay in favor of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a manager with no previous first-team managerial experience in England, looked a risk at the time, and so far, it's not working out at all.

Managers like Allardyce and Tony Pulis have experience of keeping clubs out of the drop zone, and that looks like it could be the difference at the end of the season.


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