EPL Table Week 34: Biggest Premier League Storylines Heading into Matchday

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 05:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City is challenged by Jose Fonte of Southampton during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at Etihad Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The top of the Premier League table has been tight since day one of the 2013-14 season, and that doesn't look like it will change down the stretch entering Week 34. 

Three clubs—Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool—remain with solid chances of finishing the season as champions, as each are jam-packed at the top of the table. Behind them lie Arsenal and Everton, which are competing for the fourth and final Champions League spot with title opportunities all but gone. 

Most everything is still up for grabs, whether it's the league title, relegation spots or Champions League spots. These 20 clubs won't have a shortage of motivation as the league season starts to wind to a close. 

Let's break down the biggest storylines to follow entering Week 34. 

2013-14 Premier League Table: Week 34
3Manchester City3122455570
6Manchester United33176101857
7Tottenham Hotspur3217510-456
9Newcastle United3314415-1346
10Stoke City33101013-1140
11West Ham United3310716-737
12Hull City3310617-636
13Aston Villa329716-1334
14Crystal Palace3210418-1634
15Swansea City338916-433
16West Bromwich Albion3261412-1132
17Norwich City338817-2632
19Cardiff City336819-3526

Can Manchester City Take Advantage of Extra Matches?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 05:  Samir Nasri of Manchester City tries to separate arguing teamates Martin Demichelis  (L) and Yaya Toure (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Southampton at Etihad Stadium on April 5, 201
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

A quick glance at the league table shows Manchester City with an ever-valuable advantage over the rest of their fellow title contenders. 

No, not in points. In matches played. 

The Citizens have only played 31 matches on the season thanks to a number of games being postponed from their Capital One Cup run. That is two fewer than Liverpool and Chelsea, which have both played 33, and will be enough to eliminate their four-point deficit in the table if they win both.

With City traveling to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday, they could make up three of those points directly by topping the Reds and in turn keeping them point-less on the day. After that, a win over Sunderland on April 16 could put City right back into the league lead still with a game in hand. 

However, if Liverpool topple City, they could lose much of their advantage regardless of the result against Sunderland.

The next match will be the biggest title test City have faced all season, and if they pass it, they could begin to run away with the league title. 

Will Chelsea Show Title Form on Road?

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 05:  Marc Wilson of Stoke City closes down Willian of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on April 5, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Chelsea took care of business in Week 33 and took the lead for a day, but they still have their work cut out for them heading into Matchday 34.

With Liverpool's 2-1 win over West Ham, the Blues were once again leapfrogged by the Reds for the league's top spot. But that isn't even taking into account Manchester City, which would take a two-point lead over Chelsea by winning the two games in hand they have.

In order for Chelsea's dream title run in Jose Mourinho's return season at the helm to take shape, the Blues will need to pull out three points on the road against Swansea City. Stuck in 15th place, Swansea are enjoying decent form as of late. They fell to Hull City 1-0 last weekend, but they have a win over Norwich and a draw to Arsenal before that. 

The Blues, on the other hand, are still in great shape for the title despite their woeful loss to Crystal Palace on March 29, and they showcased their resiliency by topping Stoke City 3-0 last weekend. It had all the makings of a tight second half, but the Blues flexed their goal-scoring muscle and pulled away.

A similar performance will be needed against a pesky Swansea squad on the road. Chelsea will have to generate their own momentum in order to keep their title hopes alive. 

Who Will Take Hold of the Final Champions League Spot?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 06:  Mikel Arteta of Arsenal clashes with Leighton Baines of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Arsenal at Goodison Park on April 6, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Ima
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's been a rough tumble back down to Earth for Arsenal. A short number of weeks ago, they were in position to win the title. Now, they're in danger of losing their Champions League spot. 

With Everton's 3-0 victory over the Gunners on Matchday 33, the fifth-place Toffees are just one point back from Arsenal for fourth place in the table.

And with the form each team is showing as of late, Everton will be overtaking their EPL rivals in no time. 

Arsenal's top-four finishes have become commonplace in recent seasons, but a lack of titles have irked the Gunners fanbase. As The Mirror's John Cross noted, however, many fans might change their tune on preferring titles if they miss the Champions League this year:

Everton will have to go on the road against Sunderland on Saturday, while Arsenal face West Ham at home April 15. The Gunners haven't won a Premier League game in nearly a month, and failing to break that streak in Week 34 could start to put an end to their Champions League dreams.  


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