Things are heating up at the top of the Barclays Premier league table as we move into Week 28.
An exciting day of results has shaken up the top of the standings with some big results coming from all over England.
Read on for a full look at how the EPL stands after Week 28’s first games and the big matches that shaped the league.
|10||West Ham United||28||8||7||13||-4||31|
|17||West Bromich Albion||27||4||13||10||-8||25|
After sitting in the second position in the EPL for so long, Arsenal faltered at the worst possible time.
With Chelsea’s easy win over Fulham, 3-1, the Gunners needed to keep pace with the Blues to keep their title hopes alive.
Instead, they stumbled and got blanked by Stoke in a grueling, defensive match decided only by Jonathan Walters’ penalty kick in the 76th minute.
Arsenal got a bit unlucky on the shot that led to the penalty, as the ball grazed Laurent Koscielny’s arm while he challenged Walters, giving him the free shot.
But while the Potters might have gotten a bit of a boost from the referees on that decision, there’s no denying that the Gunners didn’t deserve to win, as ESPN’s Andrew Managan explains:
Arsene Wenger kept faith with the attacking element of the side that won so comprehensively against Sunderland last weekend, but the team in general was never able to match the intensity or quality of that performance. Stoke were certainly more obdurate opponents, but Arsenal just couldn't create enough.
They lacked pace, in both running and passing, and it's fair to say that certain players didn't perform anywhere near as well as they can. Yet that's been typical of the Arsenal season, defensive solidity has seen them keep games level before nicking something late on.
The loss is a killer for Arsenal, coming at the worst possible time for the Gunners.
Even Wenger couldn’t put a rosy spin on the result, as he told the Nigeria Newsdesk he had no illusions about the match’s implications.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger describes defeat at Stoke as 'a massive setback' to his team's Premier League title chances.— Nigeria Newsdesk (@NigeriaNewsdesk) March 1, 2014
Making matters worse for the Gunners is that one team seized the opportunity Arsenal’s loss produced.
The scrutiny on Liverpool and star Luis Suarez was intense coming into this game, given that Suarez hadn’t scored at all throughout the month of February.
But the Reds never lost confidence, with manager Brendan Rodgers sticking up for his striker the whole time.
"People maybe thought he played for himself but he has been a remarkable team player for us,” Rodgers told Fox Sports before today’s match. “His influence has not diminished.”
Suarez rewarded his manager’s faith, scoring the team’s first goal in a 3-0 victory that vaulted Liverpool into second place in the EPL.
Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard added the other two scores to seal the big win for the Reds.
Liverpool's climb continues and it would be risky to bet against them going even higher. Another goal spree, thanks to Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Steven Gerrard, plus a rare clean sheet, enabled Brendan Rodgers's team to take maximum points from a difficult assignment and leapfrog Manchester City and Arsenal. Only Chelsea are above Rodgers's swashbuckling side now. This was not a flawless performance but a first title in 24 years seems a fantasy with an increasing chance of becoming reality.
For so long accused of wallowing in their glorious past, Liverpool arrived on the south coast as a club confident that a triumphant future is in sight. They went into the match knowing that Arsenal's defeat at Stoke meant victory would propel them to second place in the Premier League table. That would really ignite belief that, straight after the retirement of Six Alex Ferguson, Liverpool are close to returning to the perch that was once their preserve.
There are plenty of games left to play, but this match left the Reds in excellent position going forward.
Arsenal could certainly still rebound and contend once more, but things got a lot more difficult for them today.
Liverpool is very clearly in the driver's seat now and could really challenge Chelsea for the top spot.