Since about midway through the Premier League campaign, it's appeared that clubs at every level of the table would be in for extended battles. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened, and now, supporters around the league are witnessing a steady stream of huge clashes.
The hotly contested season will come to a close next weekend, with an entire slate of matches kicking off at the same time on Sunday. But first, teams had another opportunity to improve their position before the chaos of the final day during Week 37.
Everything from the title race to the fight to avoid relegation took center stage. Let's check out a list of results as well as the matchday's goal scorers, both of which will be updated through the end of play for the week, and then examine some top individual attacking performances.
Matchday 37 Results
|Premier League Fixtures and Results - Week 37|
|Date||Home Club||Road Club||Final Score|
|May 3||West Ham||Tottenham||2-0|
|May 3||Aston Villa||Hull||3-1|
|May 3||Manchester United||Sunderland||0-1|
|May 3||Everton||Manchester City||2-3|
|May 4||Arsenal||West Brom||1-0|
|May 5||Crystal Palace||Liverpool||3-3|
|May 6||Manchester United||Hull City||3-1|
|May 7||Sunderland||West Brom||2-0|
|May 7||Manchester City||Aston Villa||4-0|
Matchday 37 Goal Scorers
|Premier League Week 37 Scorers|
|2||Edin Dzeko||Manchester City|
|2||Andreas Weimann||Aston Villa|
|2||Dwight Gayle||Crystal Palace|
|2||James Wilson||Manchester United|
|2||Edin Dzeko||Manchester City|
|1||Stevan Jovetic||Manchester City|
|1||Yaya Touré||Manchester City|
|1||Damien Delaney||Crystal Palace|
|1||Stewart Downing||West Ham|
|1||Ashley Westwood||Aston Villa|
|1||Sergio Aguero||Manchester City|
|1||Robin van Persie||Manchester United|
|1||Matty Fryatt||Hull City|
Recap of Top Performances
Aston Villa knew a home match against Hull represented their chance to put some breathing room between themselves and the relegation zone. Ashley Westwood put them up inside the first minute, but an own goal leveled the score just inside the opening half hour.
With half-time looming, Andreas Weimann awoke from his recent slumber to score two quick, crucial goals for the Lions. He found the net in the 41st minute to give Villa to lead again and then delivered a picture-perfect header in first-half stoppage time to stretch the lead to 3-1.
They never looked back after the break, putting up a defensive wall and holding on for the victory. Afterward, the club's official site passed along comments from manager Paul Lambert, who praised several players, including the Austrian:
But I thought Bowery was excellent. He came on and he hasn't played for months. I thought he was very good.
Weimann was brilliant. His two goals were long overdue when you look at his work ethic.
Delph and Westwood were outstanding. But every one of them were excellent. It was a huge performance.
Weimann, who had gone 12 straight appearances without a goal, returned to form at exactly the right time. It allowed Villa to move six points clear of the relegation zone with two matches to play, all but assuring them of staying in the Premier League.
Manchester City received a serious test from Everton as they tried to move one step closer to capturing the league title. The Toffees grabbed the early lead courtesy of Ross Barkley, much to the delight of rival Liverpool, but City tied it with a goal from Sergio Aguero.
Then Edin Dzeko took over.
Right before half-time, he rose above the Everton defense and sent an outstanding header back across goal to beat Tim Howard. Then, shortly after the break, he did extremely well to find space in the middle of the box and easily tapped home a cross from Samir Nasri.
WhoScored.com noted his double put him in elite company for Premier League goal scorers since the calendar flipped to 2014:
The win moved Manchester City back atop the table with two matches to go for both them and Liverpool. If they win out in home matches against Aston Villa and West Ham, they will raise the trophy when the dust settles next weekend.
Wrapping up the spotlight-attacking performances is Sebastian Larsson of Sunderland. He scored the only goal in a surprising 1-0 win for the Black Cats against Manchester United at Old Trafford, which could very well prove essential in the relegation race.
What made it even more amazing is the fact it marked Larsson's first goal of the campaign. He had gone 28 straight appearances to open the season without scoring and then netted one of the most important tallies. That's the kind of thing that makes sports special.
Sunderland moved three points clear of the relegation zone while also holding the advantage in goal differential over Norwich. As long as they don't falter over the next week, they will stay up and Larsson will be one of the heroes.
Olivier Giroud's goal in the 14th minute of the first half gave Arsenal a 1-0 win over West Brom in a clash that proved rather inconsequential once Everton lost. The Gunners had already locked up a Champions League berth, but nevertheless raised the bar for EPL play in the coming years, per English sportscaster Richard Keys:
Chelsea widened the third-place gap marginally on Arsenal by tying 0-0 with Norwich City, but the Blues' outside hopes of winning the title were set back by failing to secure more than one point at Stamford Bridge. Manager Jose Mourinho provided his reaction afterward, per BBC Sport's Tom Rostance:
The team in the second half was much much better. David [Luiz] gave us more intensity as did Eden Hazard. We should have won, but football is about goals. I said the title chance had been gone for a few weeks. It's strange in the most important league in the world there are still two matches in hand to play in the last week. Today was question of pride and trying to give fans a victory at home.
The matchday continued on Monday with Liverpool settling for a gut-wrenching draw at Crystal Palace. City still have a match in hand, as the two clubs are tied atop the EPL table with 80 points apiece, while Chelsea's draw on Sunday gives them 79.
Wednesday marks the next time the Citizens are in action, when they square off with Aston Villa.
The race for the trophy is really heating up, setting up an epic conclusion to the 2013-14 campaign. Several twists have already occurred amid this critical matchday, but none more shocking than the Reds' setback at Crystal Palace, which widen's City's margin for error.
But with 13 matches left to go before a champion is crowned, there are plenty of surprises still to come.
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