The Premier League is heating up, and every match is beginning to have major implications.
Week 31 was all about high-scoring affairs, and some of the results were shocking. Multiple teams scored upward of five goals, yet five teams were also held without a score. The disparity in this week's contests was evident from the early going.
Qualifying for the Champions League has become a motivating factor for several teams. A few of those teams played like their lives depended on it on Saturday.
Here's what the Premier League table looks like following Saturday's afternoon matches.
Chelsea Pummel Arsenal
In what was expected to be the match of the season, Chelsea pummeled Arsenal, 6-0. A win by Arsenal would have closed the four-point gap between themselves and Chelsea for the top spot on the table, but the Blues made sure to put even more distance between them and the pack.
Samuel Eto'o and Andre Schurrle both scored in the opening seven minutes of play, but the early scoring was not yet finished. Just 10 minutes after Schurrle's score, Eden Hazard netted a penalty kick to put his team up by three.
Mourinho: 'After that first 10 minutes, the job was easy. We pressed them high and well and attacked the space very quickly.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) March 22, 2014
Oscar netted one final score in the first half before also scoring the first of the second. Mohamed Salah finished the scoring in the 71st minute.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, on the sidelines for his 1,000th game with the Gunners, put the loss on his shoulders, via BBC Sport: "This is my fault. We got a good hiding. You don't prepare all week to experience that."
After starting the day in third, Arsenal now sit at No. 4 on the table. They trail the Blues by seven points.
Liverpool Defeat Cardiff Despite Shoddy Defense
Cardiff City led Liverpool early, 2-1, on the strength of scores from Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell, but Luis Suarez had a different outcome in mind.
The Liverpool star netted three goals in the contest to tie Robbie Fowler's 28-goal record for the team in a single season.
28 - Luis Suarez equals the @LFC Premier League record by scoring 28 goals in a season. Robbie Fowler 1995-96 the other.— Ged Rea (@ged0407) March 22, 2014
Martin Skrtel scored twice himself, while Daniel Sturridge also contributed to the scoring. By game's end, Liverpool won 6-3.
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, Liverpool must be worried about their defense moving forward. Stuart James of The Guardian agrees with that sentiment:
The one disappointment for the Liverpool manager will be the defensive shortcomings that continue to cast a slight shadow over his side's title credentials. Cardiff, who have struggled for goals all season – Suarez alone has plundered more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's entire squad – managed to score three times and on each occasion Liverpool's defending left much to be desired, starting with the manner in which they fell behind in the fourth minute.
Continuing to allow non-threatening teams to score will not yield good results for Liverpool. Suarez has done a lot to keep his team in the position they are in, but as a whole, the unit will need to play better defensively.
Everton Take Down Swansea
Everton's win over Swansea City was huge considering the future implications. While still on the outside of the top four teams on the table, Everton kept pace with the top and are still in the running for a Champions League berth.
Tim Howard had to make two great saves to keep Everton in the game. Two second-half goals within five minutes gave the home team the advantage, as Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley netted a goal apiece between the 53rd and 58th minute.
While the final was 3-2, Everton really only allowed one goal during regular time. Swansea's second came on a header by Ashley Williams during stoppage time.
Everton face a Fulham team next week that is currently in last place in the table. They'll need to continue their strong play to keep up their hopes of playing in the Champions League.