Manchester City were forced to play with 10 men for 80 minutes after an early red card to Vincent Kompany but still managed to defeat Hull. Chelsea couldn't follow suit in a loss to Aston Villa as the race for the Premier League title heats up.
Matchday 30 marked the beginning of the stretch run, with several high-profile matches on the schedule. Pretty much everything is still up in the air, from finding the league champion to the European berths for next season and which clubs end up falling victim to relegation.
The amount of parity in the different areas of the table sets the stage for a memorable finish to the campaign. Let's check out how things are setting up following the latest action, with the table being updated through Sunday as the week's games go final.
Updated EPL Table
|Premier League Table - Week 31|
Matchday 30 Results
|Premier League - Matchday 30 Scores|
|Home Club||Road Club||Result|
Manchester City are in a tough spot despite holding the Premier League title in their grasp. Since they are playing with matches in hand on Chelsea, there's major pressure on their shoulders to win every time out or the advantage will swing to the Blues.
The situation became even more tense when Kompany was shown red card just 10 minutes into the fixture. Fortunately for City, they were facing a Hull side without a ton of attacking firepower. Against a different opponent, that could have been a title-changing moment.
Instead, the Sky Blues quickly regained their composure and managed to take control of the match while playing a man down. David Silva scored just a handful of minutes after the red card, and Edin Dzeko added an insurance marker in the 90th minute.
Paul Carr of ESPN provided an interesting note about the win for City:
Everton were in serious danger of letting two key points slip away against Cardiff before Seamus Coleman delivered a late winner. It's a strike that could end up proving extremely vital as the club pushes for a spot in European competition next season.
The Toffees were actually in control for most of the match, but they couldn't find their scoring touch inside the final third. When it looked like they would start pulling away after a Gerard Deulofeu goal, Cardiff managed to fight back to tie the game courtesy of Cala.
In what was probably their last opportunity in stoppage time, a cross led to a loose ball in the box that a wide-open Coleman picked up and deposited in the net. All of the frustration Everton had built up throughout the match was relieved once the ball crossed the goal line.
Toffees manager Roberto Martinez talked about the importance of taking care of business at home with some big matches on the horizon, as provided by the club's Twitter feed:
The race to get out of the relegation zone got a little more interesting with Fulham squeaking out a win over Newcastle. The Cottagers were in danger of falling well off the pace to reach safety, but earning all three points at least keeps hope alive.
Ashkan Dejagah scored in the 68th minute to give Fulham the lead. Paired with the club's best defensive effort of the campaign, it was enough for the squad to emerge with the victory. It at least gives the side some positive vibes heading into tough matches against Manchester City and Everton.
In Saturday's most entertaining match, it was Southampton edging Norwich, 4-2. It actually was a one-sided affair for the first 80 minutes before Norwich came to life and nearly completed a stunning comeback to pull out a draw.
Morgan Schneiderlin scored five minutes in for the Saints. Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez added second-half tallies to make it 3-0, and it appeared like they were on cruise control. Two quick goals within a minute of each other by Norwich inside the final 10 minutes brought them back within one, though.
Sam Gallagher scored deep into stoppage time for Southampton to end the threat, but not before some tricky moments for the Saints. OptaJoe passed along some information about the goal that locked in the three points:
Stoke put together a strong performance against West Ham to give themselves some breathing room ahead of the relegation zone. Any club in the bottom half that falls into a cold streak right now is going to find itself in serious danger given how bunched up the sides are.
The Potters actually fell behind inside the first five minutes as Andy Carroll struck for West Ham. They were able to right the ship from there, however, with Peter Odemwingie scoring twice and Marko Arnautovic adding the other in a 3-1 win.
Sunderland and Crystal Palace played to a scoreless draw. It didn't come as much of a surprise given the struggles of both attacks throughout the season. The Black Cats were the more dangerous side, but nobody could finish.
Elsewhere, West Brom pulled off a second-half rally to knock off Swansea and earn a trio a huge points as they hover dangerously close to the relegation zone. With the Fulham win making things even closer, it was a crucial result.
It was another match where the team that eventually lost scored quickly. Roland Lamah got the Swans on the scoreboard just two minutes into the match. But goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Youssuf Mulumbu after halftime flipped the result in West Brom's favor.
In Saturday's final fixture, Chelsea were looking to maintain their edge atop the Premier League table but couldn't get the job done. It was a pretty even match throughout before a red card to Willian with about 20 minutes left gave Aston Villa the edge.
The Lions were able to capitalize. Fabian Delph scored in the 82nd minute, and the Blues were unable to respond as they tried to push forward aggressively late. They did pick up another red, as Ramires was sent off in stoppage time.
It was a tricky road match but one Chelsea would have won if they were at their best. They weren't, and now the path to the championship became a little tougher.
A couple more major matches are on tap for Sunday. Manchester United will look to continue making progress toward European competition in a clash with Liverpool, while Tottenham will host Arsenal in a battle of top-five clubs.
As Saturday illustrated, there are no guaranteed results, and every result is magnified with the different races all being so close from top to bottom. However the remaining matches of the weekend play out, they'll have a noticeable impact on the table.
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