To say that this weekend’s Barclays Premier League action was exciting would be an understatement – it was goals galore across the shores of England this weekend with FORTY-TWO goals scored in the top flight games, including nine in a game that could have a massive effect on the seasons of either team involved. So, without further ado, here’s this week’s Barclays Premier League round-up!
Saturday 22nd March 2014
Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal
Only a couple of minutes into Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge of Arsenal, Petr Cech stopped Olivier Giroud’s effort to keep the score even – had he not pulled off the save, the game could have gone way different for Mourinho’s men. Soon after, Samuel Eto’o received the ball on a dangerous break and cut inside to fire a curled shot with his weaker left foot past Wojciech Szczesny to put the home side ahead, and only two minutes later they had scored again to hit Arsenal with a real early, striking blow. Arsenal found themselves caught in possession and Andre Schurrle picked up the ball for Chelsea’s fantastic January signing Nemanja Matic, before the German scored to double Chelsea’s lead and stun Arsenal in the early-going. There was more to come in the first half however, and controversy ensued as Oxlade-Chamberlain parried a shot from Eden Hazard in a not-so-subtle attempt to keep the ball out of the Arsenal net – a sending off followed, however, the faltering Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs instead, having judged it to be him who had handled the ball instead, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain’s protests. Eden Hazard converted the penalty as Arsenal went a man down, and Chelsea scored again a few minutes before half-time when Oscar tapped in from a Fernando Torres pass, ensuring an Arsenal comeback was not on the cards. After the break, Oscar scored again to double his goal tally – but the Champions League quarter finalists were not done there as January signing Mohammed Salah timed his run well to break free of Arsenal’s defence and score, finishing off the scoring for Chelsea in a game that Wenger and Arsenal will certainly be in a hurry to forget.
Cardiff City 3-6 Liverpool
When Cardiff’s Jordan Mutch put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ‘Bluebirds’ ahead, the home fans in the Cardiff City Stadium roared with ecstasy at the thought of taking the scalp of another top team at home this season, despite their lowly league position. Those cheers were silenced – albeit temporarily – when a nice move from Liverpool saw the marvellous Luis Suarez tap in from close range to equalise, only for the Cardiff fans to be roaring again soon after when Mutch turned provider and played in Fraizer Campbell, who scored to put Cardiff in front once more. Despite being a goal down, Liverpool were resilient and displayed why they are very much in with a shout of winning the title this year – to go with an old cliché, they’d have lost this sort of game a few years ago. Martin Skrtel scored either side of the break, Coutinho crossing in for the Slovakian to score both goals, and Liverpool found themselves 3-2 ahead. Not long after, a fantastic backheel from Daniel Sturridge set up Luis Suarez for an equally classy finish where he completely wrong-footed David Marshall, and Liverpool were on their way to another victory. Suarez and Sturridge swapped roles minutes later for Sturridge to score his 19th goal of the season, and although Cardiff did add a consolation through a second Jordan Mutch goal, it wasn’t enough – Luis Suarez made sure of that when he completed his hat-trick in added time as he slotted past Marshall with great composure to ensure the game ended 6-3 with the free-scoring Liverpool walking out the victors.
Manchester City 5-0 Fulham
FA Cup semi-finalists and title challengers Manchester City dispatched of Felix Magath’s struggling Fulham with relative ease on a rainy afternoon in the North West, despite an early scare from the travelling side when Kieran Richardson nearly found the net in the first half. Soon after, Yaya Toure stepped up to score a penalty won by Alvaro Negredo, and from there, the home side never really looked like conceding – bar an Amorebeita header that could have found the net on another day – and instead bombarded the West London side, with Stockdale producing a fine save as he tipped a Kolarov effort onto the bar. In the second half, Amorebeita chopped down David Silva in the box, and with no debate about this one, he saw red and up stepped Toure to convert his second penalty of the day. It was curtains from there for a Fulham side who look destined for relegation despite two mid-season managerial changes in attempt to avoid the drop, but just to make sure, City’s fantastic Yaya Toure curled a lethal effort into the back of the net to complete his hat-trick with the finest of strikes. Fernandinho scored a fine goal himself soon after – only his fourth in a City shirt – and Demichelis added one from close range to complete the rout and keep City hot on the heels of their fellow title-chasers.
Everton 3-2 Swansea City
A strong start from Roberto Martinez’ European football chasing Everton saw them go a goal ahead mid-way through the first half when Chico Flores clumsily brought down Ross Barkley inside the box, giving ‘The Toffees’ a penalty which Leighton Baines converted to put the hosts in the lead. Not long after though, Wilfried Bony equalised for the travelling ‘Swans’ when Angel Rangel’s superb cross found the Ivorian, who headed in to draw level. Swansea began to build some momentum after that, but the half-time break saw Everton regroup and come out an improved side, and two goals in five minutes ensured they would not be beat on the day. Everton’s top goal scorer this season, the Belgian powerhouse Romelu Lukaku, played a neat one-two with his compatriot Kevin Mirallas and found the back of the net, before Ross Barkley headed in from close-range to put the hosts further in front. Tim Howard made a superb save to deny Swansea another goal when he got a hand to the Ivorian’s effort, though he did let one in – albeit too late for Swansea to capitalise on – when Swansea captain Ashley Williams headed past him. The score remained at 3-2 through added time, and Everton ran out winners to keep their European dream alive and keep Swansea in trouble down the bottom of the table.
Hull City 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
After Pepe Mel secured his first win as a West Bromwich Albion manager, there was an air of hope around the Albion faithful again. Early on in their trip to Hull City, Albion very nearly found themselves a goal ahead after a bright start, which saw Graham Dorrans come close after linking up well with Thievy – however, it was ‘The Tigers’ who struck first, and in controversial fashion nonetheless. Craig Dawson was judged to have brought down ex-Albion striker Shane Long in the box, but on closer inspection it seemed that Long had gone down a little too easy, drawing up protests from the Albion players. The referee Chris Foy waved off these protests and up stepped Jelavic to take the penalty, with Ben Foster saving the spot-kick only for Liam Rosenior to head in his first Hull City goal on the rebound. Minutes later, Shane Long struck as the ball fell to him in the box, and the Irish striker finished well to double Hull’s lead. This goal clearly took the bite out of ‘The Baggies’, who’s only other real effort of the game came in the second half when Rosenior headed Anichebe’s effort off the line, denying Albion any hope of a second consecutive win with Hull running out 2-0 winners.
Norwich City 2-0 Sunderland
In a big game for both sides, Sunderland’s Wes Brown will want to forget his poor defending that saw Norwich strike in the first half through Robert Snodgrass, setting them up to get something from a game where a win would’ve been huge for the North Eastern outfit. Brown failed to clear the danger and the ball found its way to Robert Snodgrass by way of Elmander, and the Scottish wide man finished emphatically to put the hosts in front. Norwich did not let the pressure slip from here, and the sluggish Sunderland who failed to take to the game were very nearly punished a number of times as van Wolfswinkel, Hoolahan and Howson all came close, but they eventually found the goal they were looking for through an unlikely source and what a goal it was. The ball was cleared by Sunderland and it fell to Norweigan Alexander Tettey, and the midfielder let rip with a thunderous volley that extended the leader for ‘The Canaries’. Sunderland did come close to getting a goal back after the break through Wes Brown, but John Ruddy produced a fine save to ensure he would Carrow Road with a clean sheet and his side with the three points.
Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace
Newcastle, again without manager Alan Pardew who sat out due to his stadium ban for head-butting David Meyler, would have gone into their game with Crystal Palace with some confidence behind them, as Palace have struggled on the road as of late and find themselves languishing just outside the relegation zone. However, their winning goal did not come until late in the day as Palace sat back, content to spoil the game for the hosts and try to salvage a result. Newcastle did have a few chances come their way through the likes of Papiss Cisse and Luuk de Jong, with Sissoko’s cross for Cisse teeing up the striker for a volley that had it been either side of Speroni probably would’ve put ‘The Toon’ ahead. In the second half, Palace briefly came out of their shells and scared their opposition with Bolasie hitting the frame of the goal, but it wasn’t long before they went more defensive once again and it was then that they were punished. In the dying minutes of the match, the returning Hatem Ben Arfa curled in a great cross for Papiss Cisse to meet and head in, getting the late goal that his side needed to run out 1-0 winners.
West Ham United 0-2 Manchester United
It’s been an up-and-down season for David Moyes, and it continued in familiar fashion when a week on from a much-deserved loss at the hands of Liverpool he found his side putting in a great shift against potentially tricky opposition. Eight minutes into the game, Wayne Rooney struck with a piece of magic in shades of David Beckham as he turned just inside the opposition’s half after holding off the defender and belted a half-volley over the top of ‘Hammers’ keeper Adrian and into the back of the net. It was a fantastic strike from the England international, but soon after it was almost reduced to counting for nothing as Andy Carroll headed straight at David De Gea down the other end. United soon found themselves back in the driver’s seat however, and before long Rooney scored again when Mark Noble’s touch sent the ball straight to him, with the striker finishing the double his side’s advantage. There was little action otherwise in the game, with United not having a whole lot to worry about from the home side, though they did have claims for a penalty turned down when late-on Marouane Fellaini went down in the box thanks to a Nocerino tackle, only for the referee to turn down their appeals. It was not a decision they lived to rue however, as they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.
Sunday 23rd March 2014
Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 Southampton
Just three days on from being eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Benfica, it was time for Spurs to step up and try to get their charge for European football going. However, the home side did not settle in as they would have hoped and they found themselves 2-0 down half-way through the first half as Jay Rodriguez capitalised on some poor focus from Naughton to score, before Adam Lallana was found by Rickie Lambert – having just got the ball thanks to a Naughton back-pass – and the England attacking midfielder found the net. It was not looking good for Spurs, though they did pull one back after capitalising on a defensive error themselves – Christian Eriksen found space after a rash attempt at stopping a Kyle Naughton cross by Nathaniel Clyne and the Danish international scored to get one back for Spurs. A minute into the second half, Spurs had drawn level as Soldado dispossessed Dejan Lovren and set up Eriksen for his second goal of the game, giving Spurs the confidence they needed to take control of the game a little more. Eriksen put in a fine second half showing and was the centre of Spurs’ second half performance – one they were duly rewarded for when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored in added time to get the winner for the North London side and crush the spirits of Southampton.
Aston Villa 1-4 Stoke City
As Christian Benteke put Villa ahead only five minutes into the game, firing the ball into the roof of the net from a Delph cut-back, things were not looking good for Stoke City. The Staffordshire-based side have been a little bit more fluid with their football under Mark Hughes however, and whereas under Pulis they may have spoiled the game somewhat, against Villa with Hughes in charge they played their way through Lambert’s Villa. A bit of give-and-go between Crouch and Odemwingie saw the former striker of Villa’s Premier League rivals West Brom draw level for Stoke, and minutes later Peter Crouch tucked away a goal himself against his former side to double Stoke’s lead. Things soon went from bad to worse for Aston Villa, as a powerful effort from Steven N’Zonzi flew past Brad Guzan and sent Stoke into the half time break with a 3-1 advantage. There was little to talk about in the second half as Villa remained subdued and Stoke held their lead well, but they did add a fourth when a surging run by Geoff Cameron saw him knock in a cross from the superb Marko Arnautovic, who had gone past Leandro Bacuna with way too much ease, to compound Villa’s misery. Stoke saw the game out and took the three points back home, ensuring that it would not be three consecutive league wins for Aston Villa.
Table courtesy of Fifa.com
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