New Year's Day is a time for celebration across the world, and there has been plenty of celebration among English Premier League fans Thursday thanks to a full slate of exciting matches.
Many of the clubs near the top of the table found ways to come out on top and improve their standing, but not every team was so lucky. There were several draws and even a few surprising results, which reminded everyone that anything can happen in the EPL.
With the race toward a Premier League title starting to heat up in a major way, here is a look at how all the action has played out on New Year's Day, and where every club currently stands in the table.
Week 20 Results
|EPL Results for Week 20|
|Home Team||Away Team||Result|
|Stoke City||Manchester United||1-1|
|Aston Villa||Crystal Palace||0-0|
|Hull City||Everton||2-0, Hull|
|Manchester City||Sunderland||3-2, Man City|
|Queens Park Rangers||Swansea City||1-1|
|West Ham United||West Bromwich Albion||1-1|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Chelsea||5-3, Tottenham|
Updated EPL Table
|Updated EPL Table|
|7||West Ham United||20||9||5||6||7||32|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||20||5||4||11||-13||19|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||20||4||6||10||-10||18|
Manchester United entered Matchday 20 with an opportunity to keep pace with both Chelsea and Manchester City, but the Red Devils were unable to win a tough road contest against Stoke City as they settled for a 1-1 draw.
Things looked bad for United early when defender Ryan Shawcross put the Potters ahead in the second minute, however, forward Radamel Falcao knotted the score at 1-1 in the 26th minute with a goal lauded by BBC's Gary Lineker:
That was the extent of the scoring for the remainder of the match. While a road draw isn't the worst result in the world by any means, the Red Devils may feel as though they let a potential win slip away since they dominated possession.
United need to win in order to truly have a shot at the EPL title, and they didn't get the job done Thursday.
In perhaps the most uneventful match of the day, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace played to a 0-0 stalemate at Villa Park.
It was a solid result for a Crystal Palace team that is on the verge of exiting relegation territory, but the Lions did little to excite the home crowd.
In fact, Neil Moxley of The Sunday People chided both sides for a moribund performance:
Aston Villa have scored a mere 11 goals in 20 matches this season, so Thursday's snoozer was pretty much in line with what they have done for the entire campaign.
There were high hopes for Everton entering the 2014-15 season in terms of potentially nabbing a Champions League berth, but that is now out of the question after the Toffees dropped yet another match on New Year's Day.
Everton was defeated 2-0 by Hull City without the services of star goalkeeper Tim Howard. Backup Joel Robles seemed overmatched at times as he surrendered goals to Ahmed Elmohamady and Nikica Jelavic.
This loss is a continuation of Everton's recent stretch of futility, which is also their worst run in nearly a decade, per Squawka Football:
As for Hull, they are now just three points out of 12th place, and the top half of the table is very much in their sights.
While this season hasn't been a great one for Liverpool thus far, they had an excellent chance to inch toward Champions League position with a home win over Leicester City.
That seemed to be a foregone conclusion in the 40th minute as midfielder Steven Gerrard had netted two goals to put the Reds up 2-0. Things changed in the second half, though, as the Foxes shockingly tied the match with a pair of markers in quick succession, according to OptaJoe:
David Nugent and Jefferey Schlupp essentially brought Leicester back from the dead, and they very nearly pulled off a massive upset as Liverpool were under siege late. The Reds salvaged a draw, but that simply isn't good enough against a bottom-of-the-table club.
Manchester City can't afford to let any points slip away since it must go shot for shot with Chelsea. It almost did precisely that Thursday, but some late heroics allowed the Citizens to escape with a 3-2 win over Sunderland.
City led 2-0 until the 68th minute when Jack Rodwell put the Black Cats on the board. Adam Johnson added another goal on a penalty kick three minutes later, and the match was tied 2-2.
Veteran midfielder Frank Lampard came on for Manchester City in the 70th minute, and he paid immediate dividends by putting the Sky Blues back on top for good in the 73rd minute.
According to Sky Sports Football, it was a historic goal for the longtime Chelsea star:
A draw or loss could have been disastrous for City at home against Sunderland, but that major scare was averted thanks to what has turned out to be a fantastic loan in Lampard.
New Year's Day was very kind to Premier League newcomers as Burnley gutted out an exciting 3-3 road draw against Newcastle United.
The Magpies led on three different occasions, but the Clarets kept clawing back. After going down 3-2 on a Newcastle goal by Moussa Sissoko, Burnley answered in the 86th minute when midfielder George Boyd scored to steal a draw.
As pointed out by Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, Burnley have an endearing, never-say-die attitude:
That may not keep them from being relegated since they are still at the bottom of the table, but perhaps they can fight their way out of it with similar performances moving forward.
Queens Parker Rangers had Swansea City on the ropes with a 1-0 lead late, but the Swans refused to go quietly as they tied the match in stoppage time.
Swansea were down to 10 men after midfielder Wayne Routledge was sent off in the 86th minute, so things looked bleak. They brought on dynamic forward Wilfried Bony, however, and he made sure that decision paid off.
Bony tied it in the second minute of extra time, and he continued the goal-scoring barrage he started in 2014, according to Squawka Football:
Swansea are still in the hunt for a top-five finish in the Premier League, and getting a point out of this match was undoubtedly huge.
Arsenal and Southampton entered Thursday tied with 33 points, and there is no question that both clubs were looking to make a statement. The Saints did precisely that as they came away with a 2-0 victory at home.
Southampton got goals from Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic, while the Gunners simply couldn't generate any type of consistent attack.
According to Arsenal's official Twitter account, though, manager Arsene Wenger believes defensive miscues plagued his club more than anything:
Whatever the case, Southampton proved to skeptical observers that they are a better team than Arsenal right now as they seized sole possession of fourth place. With Manchester United now just a point ahead of them, the Saints are entering the elite ranks.
West Ham United have been among the EPL's most pleasant surprises this season, but they were unable to score a home victory over West Bromwich Albion Thursday as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The Hammers took an early 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when impressive forward Diafra Sakho scored a fantastic head goal. According to OptaJoe, Sakho has been an offensive force for West Ham this season:
The Baggies refused to go quietly, though, as Saido Berahino answered in the 42nd minute. The two sides failed to score from that point forward, but West Brom had to be happy with the result since it solidified their 17th place positioning and moved them out of the relegation zone.
Thursday's best match was saved for last as Tottenham Hotspur hosted Chelsea in what promised to be an exciting affair. That held true, but the final result was somewhat shocking as Spurs upset the Blues in a 5-3 shootout.
Diego Costa gave Chelsea a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, but Spurs proceeded to reel off three goals between the 30th and 45th minutes as Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend put Tottenham on top 3-1.
Chelsea couldn't recover as Kane scored another in the 52nd minute. Eden Hazard pulled the Blues back to within two, however, Nacer Chadli canceled it out in the 78th minute. Jon Terry scored for Chelsea with a few minutes remaining in the match, and that is how it ended at 5-3.
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a major shock that Chelsea lost despite this being only their second defeat, but the manner in which they fell was, as evidenced by this stat courtesy of WhoScored.com:
Chelsea and Manchester City are now in a virtual tie for first place in the EPL at 46 points, and it will be interesting to see how the Blues react to the New Year's Day disappointment.
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