Another Premier League matchday is in the books, and little has changed in the table. Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are still really good. Fulham and Cardiff City are still really bad.
You never want to read too much into one match, but at this point in the season, certain narratives and storylines have developed, and each match helps feed into them.
Here are the full results from Saturday's EPL action.
|Manchester City||1-0||Stoke City|
|Cardiff City||0-4||Hull City|
|Crystal Palace||0-2||Manchester United|
Among some of the storylines that have been created so far, these three will certainly be discussed over the next week or so.
Chelsea and Manchester City Win Ugly
It may sound cliche, but title winners find a way to win, even when they play poorly. Both Manchester City and Chelsea faced stern tests on Saturday, and despite not being at their best, they walked away with three points apiece.
Beating Everton is good no matter how you do it. Chelsea remained patient. They left it a little late, but three points is three points. John Terry's injury-time goal counts all the same.
Jose Mourinho being Jose Mourinho, he had an interesting way to put it after the game, saying, "Destiny wanted it," per Miguel Delaney of The Independent.
The win means Chelsea remain a point above Arsenal in the table.
Down in third, three points off the Blues is Manchester City, who scrapped out a 1-0 win over Stoke City. The absence of Sergio Aguero didn't play a major role.
This easily could've been the kind of match where City dominate possession but are kept at bay for 90 minutes. Think back to their draws away to Stoke and Norwich earlier in the season.
On Saturday, Yaya Toure provided the breakthrough, and the narrative switched from Manchester City dropping two valuable points to Manchester City showing character and earning a hard-fought 1-0 win.
Sacking Your Manager Midseason Doesn't Always Work
Owners are always quick to dump the manager the second things start looking bad. After all, it's easier to get rid of the manager than it is the players. Sometimes it works out, as it did at Chelsea with both Guus Hiddink and Roberto Di Matteo, at Southampton with Mauricio Pochettino and at Crystal Palace with Tony Pulis.
Others, such as West Brom and Cardiff City, aren't experiencing what's known as the "new manager bump."
The Baggies drew at home with Fulham, themselves debuting a new manager, at home on Saturday. Matej Vydra's 86th-minute equalizer was also more down to a bit of luck rather than a moment of individual brilliance.
After the match, the 21-year-old acknowledged how close the goal was to being ruled out.
It remains to be seen whether Pepe Mel is the man to ensure West Brom avoid the drop.
Unfortunately for Cardiff City, it seems that their decision to swap managers has done much more harm than good. While things weren't great under Malky Mackay, they have only deteriorated under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Bluebirds were handed an abysmal 4-0 home loss to Hull City, the same Hull City who had scored nine goals in their previous 13 games away from the KC Stadium. After the match, Solsjkaer admitted that his side was very poor on the day, per the Premier League:
The Sun's Charlie Wyett is one of many who feels that the Norwegian will only drag the club down:
As for Cardiff, Solskjaer will take the club down. Out of his depth. Feel sorry for the fans.— Charlie Wyett (@CharlieWyett) February 22, 2014
Solskjaer simply doesn't have a wealth of experience when it comes to lifting a club out of the doldrums and helping it stave off relegation, and it's causing a lot of trouble for Cardiff at the moment.
Maybe Vincent Tan could sack the manager again.
West Ham for Top Four?
What in the world is Sam Allardyce doing at West Ham, and why isn't everyone else doing it?
As short as a month ago, the Hammers looked destined for relegation. They were bounced out of the League Cup in a dismal home display against Manchester City and had lost 11 out of 16 matches across all competitions.
Fast forward to now, and West Ham are on a four-match winning streak. They're comfortably 10th in the table and seven points away from relegation.
Even the most ardent supporter could've have foreseen a 3-1 win over Southampton, though, especially after Maya Yoshida put the Saints 1-0 up in the eighth minute. Proving even more how much the day belonged to the Hammers, Carlton Cole scored what proved to be the winner in the 23rd minute.
If West Ham do finish in the top half of the table, it will have been one of Sam Allardyce's best managerial jobs to date.