The imminent end of the Premier League season means that the roughly eight-month long marathon has turned into a spring. With little time left to change fortunes, the table as currently constituted is unlikely to see any more significant alterations:
|West Ham United||33||10||7||16||37||44||-7||37|
|West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||40||51||-11||33|
So which results from the Week 34 slate were most likely to leave an indelible footprint on the EPL table? Here's a breakdown of three contests that could very well have sealed the fates of several races.
Liverpool Takes Control
Though the result technically does not alter the table, Liverpool's victory over Manchester City was by far the most consequential of the week. Even after Chelsea's win over Swansea, the Reds are now in total control to earn their first top-flight crown since 1990.
After Glen Johnson's own goal in the 62nd minute erased a first-half 2-0 lead, it appeared Liverpool's title dreams were on the verge of collapse. However, Philippe Coutino's strike 12 minutes from the finish was the decisive goal, and an emotional captain Steven Gerrard acknowledged the match as one of the toughest he has ever played:
Liverpool is not entirely in the clear yet. A April 27 match at Anfield against second-place Chelsea looms. The Reds can clinch the title by winning their final four contests, but dropping any points along the way re-opens the door for City.
But the Citizens still face a pair of tricky road matches against Everton and Crystal Palace, whereas Liverpool will be heavy favorites in their other three contests. Today's result was going to shape the complexion of the championship race one way or another, and the Reds are now potentially a month away from an improbable title.
Everton Jumps to Fourth
While the Champions League is typically reserved for the big-money Goliaths of the sport, low-budget Everton have threatened to crash the top-four with a massive winning streak. With a 1-0 road victory against cellar-dweller Sunderland, Everton have now moved two points ahead of Arsenal for fourth:
Since a Feb. 22 loss to Chelsea, the Toffees have reeled off seven consecutive league victories. Their most recent was tougher than expected, as a desperate Sunderland squad fended off Everton until a Wes Brown own goal in the 75th minute sealed the result.
Everton and Arsenal each have five contests remaining, though the Gunners will make up a postponed match against West Ham on Tuesday. While Everton gets three of its final five matches at Goodison Park, that includes a difficult May 3 fixture against Man City.
Still, Arsenal have floundered amid injuries and lack of depth, and the exhausting Champions League slate may have taken its toll on the Gunners. At the moment, it appears Everton is in the driver's seat for the coveted fourth-place slot.
Fulham Keeps Relegation Race Interesting
Though a previously packed relegation race had finally forged some separation, Fulham did its best to muddy the picture once again with a 1-0 home victory over 17th-place Norwich. The Cottagers are still in relegation zone, but now sit just two points behind the Canaries.
The loss was devastating for Norwich, who now face a murderer's row in the final month: Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The game at Old Trafford might represent their best chance to claim any points, but the Canaries have yet to win a single road contest all season.
Conversely, Fulham are now arguably the favorites to survive the relegation race, despite currently sitting in 18th place. The Cottagers face a pair of winnable home matches against Hull and Crystal Palace, and Felix Magath's side is gaining confidence after two consecutive victories:
Fulham: Magath's growing confidence claim: Felix Magath claims his Fulham side's confidence is growing and mor... http://t.co/24O5TkCezo— Barclays PL News (@BarclaysLeague) April 13, 2014
Cardiff City also kept pace with a 1-0 upset win over Southampton, and Sunderland still at least have two games in hand. The relegation race should thus come down to the final weekend, something the other two races may not be able to boast.