All of the clubs still actively involved in the Premier League title race won't take the pitch until Sunday. Saturday's action was instead highlighted by teams battling for European berths next season or trying to avoid relegation as the campaign winds down.
The one thing that immediately stood out was the lack of goals. Tottenham and West Brom played to a 3-3 draw, but otherwise, the other five games on the slate ended 1-0. Those types of matches certainly lead to a lot of tension for players and fans alike.
Even though the best of Matchday 34 is yet to come, the high-pressure matches that fans witnessed Saturday set the tone for what should be a memorable Sunday. Let's check out how the table sets up before those anticipated clashes:
And here's a look at the full list of results:
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Result|
|April 12||Crystal Palace||Aston Villa||1-0|
|April 12||West Brom||Tottenham||3-3|
With Arsenal playing in the FA Cup semifinals and Everton owning a match in hand, Saturday's game marked the Toffees' opportunity to move into Champions League position. They almost let the chance slip away before a fortunate bounce with 15 minutes to go led to a 1-0 win.
Everton struggled to create attacking pressure, a common issue in recent seasons that has popped up at times throughout the current campaign. Luckily, an attempted cross by Gerard Deulofeu was deflected into the net by Sunderland defender Wes Brown.
A couple key stops from Tim Howard allowed the Toffees to escape with all three points. It marked the seventh straight triumph in league play for the side. It was something manager Roberto Martinez talked about after the match (via Everton on Twitter):
RM: "Seven straight wins in the Premier League is not an easy stat to achieve. Now we want to expand it." #EFCSAFC— Everton (@Everton) April 12, 2014
Everton now sit in fourth place, two points ahead of Arsenal, with five matches to go. It's been an incredible charge up the table, but there's still work left to do.
Tottenham weren't as fortunate in their bid to make their presence felt in the Champions League race. Spurs fell behind 3-0 within the first 31 minutes, including two goals inside the first five. They do deserve a lot of credit for fighting all the way back to get the draw, though.
The silver lining, aside from coming back to get the draw, was the strong play of Harry Kane. The 20-year-old forward scored for the second straight game to further showcase his potential. It was an effort that also earned him the Man of the Match from WhoScored.com:
Crystal Palace received a second-half goal from in-form winger Jason Puncheon to edge Aston Villa and earn some relegation breathing room. Palace have displayed some of their best form of the campaign at the exact right time, and a lot of that is due to the strong play of Puncheon.
Fulham, which looked like they were going to fade out of the Premier League without much of a fight for the middle portion of the campaign, have also come alive. A goal from Hugo Rodallega brings them back within three points of safety.
Finally, Cardiff also kept their hopes of staying in the top division alive with a road upset of Southampton. Cala scored the only goal in a match where the Saints were often in control but couldn't find the finding touch. The Bluebirds took advantage.
Which club will win the EPL title?
In the only match without any major table implications, Stoke received a goal from Erik Pieters to get the win over Newcastle. The Magpies have really faded down the stretch.
Looking toward Sunday, it could very well be the day everybody looks back to as the moment the championship was decided. Liverpool welcomes Manchester City to Anfield for what should be one of the most intriguing matches of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Chelsea will be under pressure on the road against Swansea as they strive to remain a major factor in the title chase. In a perfect world for the Blues, the early match would end in a draw and they would earn all three points.