The Premier League table is far from set, with two weeks remaining. Whether they're vying for first place, a top-four slot or to avoid relegation, many EPL clubs have something to play for as the season concludes.
Week 36 started out in unusual fashion. Fulham looked surprisingly stout for a few minutes before they returned to being Fulham at the worst possible time. Everton had little trouble scoring, but only on their own net. They conceded not one but two own goals in an untimely loss to Southampton.
Here's a look at the weekend's fixtures as they unfold, with a breakdown of Matchday 36's most significant happenings.
|14||West Ham United||36||10||7||19||38||49||-11||37|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||35||7||15||13||42||54||-12||36|
|Swansea City||4-1||Aston Villa|
|West Bromwich||1-0||West Ham United|
|Manchester United||4-0||Norwich City|
|Manchester City||2-0||Crystal Palace|
|Arsenal||Monday, 3 p.m. ET||Newcastle|
Updated EPL Outlook
Everton proved to be their own worst enemy on Saturday, inadvertently sending two goals through their own net in a 2-0 defeat to Southampton.
Antolin Alcaraz put Southampton on the board during the opening minute, which is bad considering he plays for Everton. The 31-year-old at least found some company, as Seamus Coleman made the same blunder 30 minutes later.
FT: Everton defeat themselves 2-0 thanks to 2 own goals. Their Champions League hopes are fading quickly. pic.twitter.com/A0fK7hE4Gf— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 26, 2014
After the match, Everton manager Roberto Martinez said to the BBC that the own goals rattled his squad.
In a back five you need consistency and having changes we needed 20-25 minutes to get into a tempo and unfortunately we conceded two goals. We got stronger in the second half but we never had that confidence we normally have to get the goal to get back into the game.
Those costly mistakes keep Everton in fifth place, and Arsenal can increase their lead by gaining points against Newcastle on Monday. Per ESPN's Paul Carr, the loss significantly diminishes Everton's chances of a top-four finish.
Everton's loss drops the Toffees' SPI odds of finishing in the top four to 5% (Arsenal at 95%).— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) April 26, 2014
Tottenham managed to collect their 20th victory of the season, an impressive feat considering their plus-three goal differential. They have defied their scoring margin with narrow, defensive-minded wins like their 1-0 triumph over Stoke City on Saturday.
Danny Rose scored the match's only goal to keep them firmly in sixth place. Four points behind Arsenal (who have a game in hand), they still hold an outside shot of climbing to fourth if the Gunners and Toffees unravel.
Swansea City exploded for four goals against Ashton Villa, matching their Premier League season-high set on October 19. The three points put them safely out of relegation's reach, but Ashton Villa must be careful in 16th place with 35 points.
Another team facing relegation is Fulham, who squandered a 2-0 lead over fellow bottom-dwellers Hull City to settle for a draw. Those lost two points in the standings keep them in 18th place with upcoming matchups against Stoke City and Crystal Palace.
Of course, Sunday's tilt between top dogs Liverpool and Chelsea is the big one. The Reds enter the matchup boasting a five-point edge in first place over the Blues, who can narrow the gap to two with a colossal victory.
The highly anticipated clash features a classic tale of offense versus defense. Liverpool wield an offensive dynamo, leading the EPL with 96 goals scored behind Luis Suarez's 30 and Daniel Sturridge's 20.
Meanwhile, Chelsea has surrendered a mere 26 goals this season through 35 matches. Each side will receive a severe litmus test in the pivotal bout.
With the top two clubs butting heads, third-place Manchester City has a chance to gain ground on one of them when they face Crystal Palace. Although they're sitting in third, the Sky Blues possess the EPL's highest goal differential at plus-56.