While there aren't any matches on the schedule this week with the importance of Liverpool facing Manchester City, there nonetheless aren't any meaningless games in the Premier League in the final stages of the campaign.
And Manchester United's visit to Everton will be a pretty huge matchup, as it not only represents the return of David Moyes to Goodison Park, but it also will have huge implications in the chase for European football.
With most of the 20 teams in the league having something to play for, this weekend's action was chock full of excitement and relevant results. Let's break them down.
|Premier League Table|
|12||West Ham United||35||10||7||18||38||48||-10||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||33||6||15||12||40||51||-11||33|
Somehow, someway, Sunderland shocked all England by knocking off Chelsea, 2-1, meaning the Blues could find themselves five points behind Liverpool if the Reds win on Sunday. Shocking. Jozy Altidore earned a late penalty and Liverpool loanee Fabio Borini dealt the decisive blow, converting the penalty.
It wasn't just shocking that Chelsea lost to Sunderland, it was shocking that they lost at home under Jose Mourinho. From Paul Carr of ESPN:
There were a lot of poor performances on Chelsea's part—their lack of a true striker once again reared its ugly head—but there were just as many impressive showings from Sunderland. WhoScored shares its Man of the Match:
While that was the biggest result of the day, Cardiff's 1-1 draw with Stoke City was also pretty big in the relegation battle. After all, the win moved Cardiff up to 18th on the table and just two points behind Norwich City, who finish with Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
It's difficult to envision Norwich earning a single point from those fixtures. Just don't tell Neil Adams that, according to BBC Sport:
Swansea City's 2-1 win over Newcastle and Aston Villa's scoreless draw versus Southampton will have both teams feeling pretty confident they are safe from relegation. Swansea is now six points clear of 18th place while Aston Villa is five points clear with a game in hand.
Both teams would need a monumental collapse to go down this year.
Tottenham's win was huge for them in their quest for European football this season, as they knocked off lowly Fulham, 3-1. Two brilliant set pieces from Christian Eriksen were the difference in this one—the first finished by Paulinho in the first half and the second being the go-ahead goal from Younes Kaboul after Fulham had equalized.
Eriksen has certainly made his mark this season, as OptaJoe notes:
Of course, Spurs may be playing for a tournament that does them more harm than good, as Gary Lineker alluded to:
One would guess Lineker is pointing to the fact that the Europa League carries neither the prestige nor the monetary benefit of the Champions League but still ensures that a team will play a ton of games on the year and will need to spend the money to have quality depth at their disposal. It's like overpaying for a suit you only wear a few times and, it turns out, went out of style awhile ago.
It's all up for grabs in the games to come. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all have winnable games in the title race (against Sunderland, Norwich and West Brom, respectively) while Arsenal should be able to knock off Hull City and keep their place in fourth secure.
Not only secure, but potentially quite safe if Everton can't beat Manchester United in the return of Moyes. The Toffees are still smarting from a 3-2 loss to Crystal Palace that saw their Champions League hopes take a hit so shortly after they had ascended to fourth place while United come into this game having outscored their last two opponents, 8-1.
It will all be happening at Goodison Park on Sunday.
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