As the races for the Premier League title, Champions League qualification and avoiding relegation continue to heat up, the importance of each goal continues to rise. Every ball that ends up in the net has the potential to change the fate of multiple clubs.
A trend that's developed over the past couple weeks, and that continued during Saturday's action, is a rash of high-scoring performances. Clubs have been finding the net three or four times on a regular basis, which shows that teams are taking more chances defensively in search of all three points.
If that keeps up down the stretch, it will make the table battles even more intriguing. As for now, let's check out the results and goal scorers for Matchday 32. The tables will be updated through the conclusion of play Monday.
Matchday 32 Results
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Result|
|March 29||Manchester United||Aston Villa||4-1|
|March 29||Crystal Palace||Chelsea||1-0|
|March 29||West Brom||Cardiff||3-3|
|March 29||Arsenal||Manchester City||1-1|
|March 31||Sunderland||West Ham||1-2|
Matchday 32 Goal Scorers
|2||Wayne Rooney||Manchester United|
|2||Jonathan de Guzman||Swansea|
|1||Juan Mata||Manchester United|
|1||Javier Hernandez||Manchester United|
|1||Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa|
|1||Morgan Amalfitano||West Brom|
|1||Graham Dorrans||West Brom|
|1||Thievy Bifouma||West Brom|
|1||David Silva||Manchester City|
|1||Andrew Carroll||West Ham|
|1||Mohamed Diame||West Ham|
Recap of Top Performances
For the second straight weekend, it was Wayne Rooney leading Manchester United to three points. He scored the club's only two goals last week against West Ham and netted another double Saturday as the Red Devils scored a comeback win after falling behind inside the first 15 minutes.
After Ashley Westwood put Aston Villa on top in the 13th minute, Rooney struck back seven minutes later to the relief of the fans at Old Trafford. The veteran forward perfectly redirected a header past Brad Guzan following a perfect delivery from Shinji Kagawa.
The England international's second tally came from the penalty spot after a foul on Juan Mata. Guzan guessed the correct direction, but Rooney couldn't have placed it any better into the side netting to give United the lead, and they never looked back en route to a 4-1 win.
Squawka Football gave him Man of the Match honors for the performance:
Joining Rooney with a pair of goals Saturday was fellow English forward Jay Rodriguez. The Southampton rising star continued to state his case for a World Cup roster berth with two tallies to lead the charge in a 4-0 Saints victory.
Rodriguez talked last month about how manager Mauricio Pochettino was putting him in a position to get more looks from the England national team. Sam Wallace of The Independent passed along the striker's comments about his improvement under the Saints boss:
He has just given me the belief and opportunity to play. He has worked with me in this position that I play. It's quite free, it's all-attacking so it suits me but he speaks to me all the time about different situations and how I can improve my game. The workload we have been doing has improved me physically and mentally as well. The training is really hard but it is working for us so we can't complain. Everyone has stuck to it. It's a good atmosphere.
Which two-goal scorer had the best overall showing Saturday?
The Burnley native is certainly playing with more confidence in the final third than at any previous point of his career. His two goals Saturday, one right before halftime and the other right before the full-time whistle, are the latest example of that.
As always, the battle for World Cup spots is fierce, and some decisions are likely to go right down to the wire. One thing's for sure: If Rodriguez continues putting together performances like his performance Saturday, it will be tough to leave him off the final list.
Swansea's Jonathan de Guzman also scored a brace Saturday. The attacking midfielder scored twice in the span of eight minutes to give the Swans a lead they never relinquished against Norwich. The goals doubled his Premier League scoring total for the campaign.
On loan from Villarreal, de Guzman has been a constant presence in the Swansea lineup. Although the production probably hasn't been as consistent as the club would like, there are instances like Saturday where he shines bright to showcase his natural talent.
In Sunday's first match, Everton earned a 3-1 victory over Fulham thanks to a great performance by substitute Steven Naismith. He finished with one goal and should have had a second, but it was officially called an own goal on Fulham keeper David Stockdale.
Liverpool then easily defeated Tottenham with a balanced effort as four different players hit the ball into the net.
The action wraps up Monday when Sunderland hosts West Ham.