Liverpool win derby, Man City hit five past Spurs, Week 23 round-up

PremierLeague

It was another exhilarating game week in the Barclays Premier League, with goals galore in a number of games and several big moments that will leave Premier League fans with much to talk about over the coming days. Contested under floodlights and quite often a torrent of rain, there are 10 games for us to talk about from the round of mid-week fixtures, so let’s get right into it!

Tuesday 28th January 2014

Liverpool 4-0 Everton

Liverpool’s ‘SAS’ combination have been on fire all season with both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in scintillating form, whilst Everton have shocked a lot of people this season and find themselves fighting with their Merseyside rivals for a Champions League spot. The game will be one for ‘The Toffees’ to forget, however. It was not part of the ‘SAS’ that opened the scoring for Liverpool, though Luis Suarez was the provider as Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard headed home to put the hosts in front – meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku went down amidst the flying bodies in the box and was promptly stretched off with ankle ligament damage. Without their star striker, Everton could not find the cutting edge they needed to finish their chances with only 4 of their strikes hitting the target, and Liverpool turned it up a notch to score twice in two minutes through Daniel Sturridge. The strikers well placed finished doubled Liverpool’s lead but his second was a spectacular effort as he hit a bouncing ball looping over Tim Howard’s head and into the far corner of the goal to send Liverpool 3-0 up at the break. In the second half, Suarez got himself on the score sheet, dispossessing Phil Jagielka and knocking the ball past Howard to complete the scoring. Everton now find themselves 4 points adrift of Liverpool who lie in 4th, meaning will could still be in for a tense battle between the fierce rivals for the rest of the season as they both compete for Champions League football.

Southampton 2-2 Arsenal

Southampton have stumbled as of late and slipped down to 9th in the table after starting the season so brightly, but they remain a tough nut to crack as Arsenal found out on the south coast. It was actually The Saints’ who opened the scoring as Jose Fonte headed in Chelsea and Manchester United transfer target Luke Shaw’s accurate cross. Youngster Sam Gallagher had the chance to put Southampton in front on his first start for the south coast side, but he could not find the net as he shinned the ball wide. Up until half time, Arsenal had looked rather toothless, but soon found themselves in front after the break as Giroud adjust himself well to backheel a Sagna cross past Artur Boruc, before Santi Cazorla added a second soon after. ‘The Saints’ were no doubt reeling, but fought back well and within 2 minutes had equalised, as England’s World Cup hopeful Adam Lallana fired home to draw level. Both sides had chances to win the game as Mesut Ozil hit the crossbar for Arsenal and Southampton having numerous attempts at goal, but despite a Mathieu Flamini red card – the Frenchman was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin – the score remained equal at the end of the game.

Manchester United 2-0 Cardiff City

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to his old stomping ground for the first time as a manager to a good reception from the Old Trafford crowd, but United fans were happier to see Juan Manuel Mata playing for them for the first time after his weekend switch from Chelsea. United enjoyed a dream start when Robin van Persie tapped in from close range, and the Dutch striker had another chance to add to his tally again in the first half, only to fire wide. The reigning Premier League champions were nearly stunned when a Mark Hudson header seemed to be flying in in the second half, but David De Gea produced a great saved to keep his side ahead. The £37 million pound signing then produced the goods for United as his pass set up Ashley Young for a tricky dribble and fizzing 25 yard strike that doubled United’s lead and saw the hosts leave the winners with the 2-0 score-line keeping the pressure on Solskjaer’s Cardiff.

Swansea 2-0 Fulham

Swansea have not enjoyed their best of seasons in the Premier League so far, but Fulham have certainly had it worse with Rene Meulensteen not yet being able to steer his side well away from the relegation zone. It was certainly all to play for in Wales, and Swansea clearly took note of this as they ended an 8 match run without a win to plunge Fulham further into the danger zone. The deadlock was not broken until the second half as Jonjo Shelvey received the returning Pablo Hernandez’ pass and fired a strike towards goal, with the ball going in thanks to two kind deflections off of Sidwell and Hangeland. Swansea doubled their lead not long after as a Chico Flores header bounced off of Berbatov to see the ball past Stekelenburg in the Fulham goal, leaving Fulham to rue some harsh luck as Swansea ran out 2-0 winners.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City

Hull City have broken their transfer record twice this month, with Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long both arriving at the club to bolster Hull’s attack, but they could not produce the goods down in London against a battling Crystal Palace side. Palace went ahead after 16 minutes through Jason Puncheon, as the winger fired home after a good delivery from Yannick Bolasie, making it an uphill battle for Hull who did go close through a Tom Huddlestone free kick. More chances followed, but Hull could not put them away and ‘The Tigers’ were rocked when goalkeeper Alan McGregor was sent off for his angry reaction at being penalised for a foul on Palace’s O’Keefe. Midfielder Tom Huddlestone saw out the rest of the game in goal, but there was no further score as Palace left with the 3 points after their 1-0 victory.

Norwich City 0-0 Newcastle United

As midfield star Yohan Cabaye completed his move to PSG, Newcastle had to travel to East Anglia with a tie against a Norwich side who have been nothing short of underwhelming this season. Newcastle were unlucky not to find the net during the game, with ‘The Magpies’ hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion through Loic Remy. Hatem Ben Arfa spurned a great chance to break the deadlock but he fired over the bar, and the visitors were given a scare when Norwich surged back in the second half and went close through Snodgrass. The only real talking point of the game however saw both Remy and Bradley Johnson sent off after engaging in a shoving match and going face-to-face, with both sides losing important players. The game ended all square soon after, with Norwich no doubt coming out the happier side having salvaged what could turn out to be a vital point.

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City recently broke a record for reaching 100 goals in one season quicker than any other side, and it’s not hard to see why as they gave Tim Sherwood’s ‘a footballing lesson’ at times, in the Spurs gaffer’s own words. Spurs were pegged back early on by Sergio Aguero, and the Argentinean striker had a header denied by a world class save from Hugo Lloris soon after than denied the visitors a 2-0 lead. Spurs did have a goal disallowed for offside as Michael Dawson smashed home an Eriksen free kick, with the North London side correct to feel aggrieved as the England defender was well onside – alledgedly the official confirmed that despite Adebayor being the man offside, the linesman flagged for Dawson. It was a vital chance for Spurs, and City came out thirsty for blood in the second half. Yaya Toure scored a penalty to doubled City’s lead, though the decision was very contentious as Danny Rose seemed to have touched the ball first in his tackle on Edin Dzeko. Further outrage ensued when Rose was promptly sent off, reducing the hosts to 10 men. Edin Dzeko was then on hand to score off of Silva’s rebounding shot, before Spurs’ Etienne Capoue pulled one back for ‘The Lilywhites’. City did not look to sit back and defend their lead from there though, as Stevan Jovetic scored his first Premier League goal for Man City with a deflected strike – the Montenegrin had replaced the seemingly injured Aguero before the break. Vincent Kompany completed the rout with only minutes to spare, sending City back to Manchester as the 5-1 victors.

Aston Villa 4-3 West Bromwich Albion

With both sides having underperformed this season, people could be forgiven for thinking the Birmingham vs. Black Country derby would be an underwhelming one. How wrong they were however, as the 7 goal thriller kicked off with a fantastic strike from Chris Brunt, with the Northern Irish midfielder hitting the ball on the half-volley from distance to put ‘The Baggies’ in front. Soon after, it seemed as though it was going to be a very long night for Villa as it did in the previous fixture between both sides, with Albion similarly doubling their lead inside the first 10 minutes through a Fabian Delph own goal. Some calamitous defending off a Brad Guzan own goal allowed Weimann to dink the ball over Ben Foster with a calm finish, and the hosts were back in it and threatening to score again. The goal eventually came when Leandro Bacuna somehow spooned a shot into the air and over the tumbling Albion defence and goalkeeper, equalising for Villa and giving them the inspiration they needed to go on and win. Albion were mortified when Fabian Delph went past Steven Reid way too easily to hit a thunderous strike past Ben Foster – one that no keeper would have saved thanks to the sheer power it was struck with – to send Villa in front. Baggies fans were worried further when Benteke went through on goal, but Ben Foster produced a great one-on-one save to deny the big Belgian. The tense atmosphere did not let-up, and Albion were willed back into the game when Morrison threaded in a pass to Youssouf Mulumbu, who calmly slotted home to equalise and send the travelling WBA support into ecstasy. The sides went in at the break drawing 3-3, and the action continued after half time when Diego Lugano spurned a fantastic chance to put Albion ahead. The Uruguayan will not want to reflect too much on the game from that point onwards as he dragged down Benteke in the penalty area, with the referee handing Villa a penalty that Benteke calmly finished to give him his 3rd goal in as many games and ensure that his side won the game 4-3.

Chelsea 0-0 West Ham

Hammers’ fans would not have been optimistic travelling to Stamford Bridge, and would have certainly been biting their nails when Chelsea piled on the pressure towards the end of the first half. Spanish keeper Adrian was in fantastic form as he pulled out save after save, with West Ham’s summer signing doing well to deny John Terry, Samuel Eto’o and Oscar at different points in the game. Frank Lampard’s low, powerful strike was saved well by the Spaniard, though it did seem as though Chelsea were going to score at last when Eto’o cheekily tapped the ball into the back of the net as Adrian placed it on the floor. A free kick had been awarded however, leaving Eto’o and the Chelsea fans aghast as his goal was disallowed. Despite 39 efforts on goal to West Ham’s 1, and 72% possession, Chelsea could not find a cutting edge to score and West Ham fans celebrated all the way back across London, their side holding on to gain a point that could be a major one come May.

Sunderland 1-0 Stoke City

Adam Johnson has been in great form lately, scoring 4 in the previous 2 games he had played for Sunderland in the league, and the World Cup hopeful added a 5th in 3 in the first half against Stoke when he reacted first to prod home the ball when Begovic spilled a Seb Larsson strike. Vito Mannone kept Stoke at bay with a good combo of saves from Peter Crouch and Ryan Shawcross soon after, with the Italian proving to be a fantastic signing for Sunderland. Only a few minutes into the second half, Steven N’Zonzi saw red for a second bookable offence, leaving Stoke to have to try desperately to grind out a result with only 10 men on the pitch. New signing Peter Odemwingie could not finish a good chance to draw level before Ryan Shawcross’ late header hit the bar, with ‘The Black Cats’ hanging on to their 1-0 lead and walking out winners.

STANDINGS

140130 - Premier League

Table courtesy of Fifa.com

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