United on top as Chelsea, Liverpool lose
The Sport Review looks back at all of this weekend’s Premier League action.
Aston Villa 2 – 1 Chelsea
Chelsea are developing a soft centre away from home. They endured a second successive defeat on the road, this time at Villa Park.
Didier Drogba had fashioned an early lead for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. His vicious shot deceived Brad Friedal in the Villa goal. The ball bounced awkwardly of the American’s outstretched hand and flew into the roof of the net.
Aston Villa equalised after just over a half hour of play. Ashley Young’s corner was flicked on by the defending Frank Lampard. The ball whizzed onto the forehead of the airborne Richard Dunne. The Irishman’s thunderous header beat Petr Cech to level the scores.
Shortly into the second half James Collins put the home side into the lead. Another Young corner left Cech stranded in no man’s land. Collins met the header unchallenged to score the decisive goal of the match.
Arsenal 3 – 1 Birmingham City
Saturdays at the Emirates are fast becoming entertaining affairs. Goals from Robin van Persie, Abou Diaby and Andrey Arshavin sealed a comprehensive victory for the home side. It sees Arsenal stretch their lead further at the top of the Premier League goal-scoring charts.
Alex Song played a superb through ball to unleash van Persie. The Dutch striker produced a calm finish past Joe Hart to put the Gunners in front. Less than three minutes later the home side doubled their lead much to the delight of the 60,000-strong crowd.
Diaby smashed his shot past Hart in emphatic style. The game was effectively ended as a contest. An almost perfect first half performance was tarnished by the injury of Theo Walcott and Lee Bowyer’s strike with seven minutes of the half remaining.
It wasn’t until the 84th minute that Andrey Arshavin restored the two-goal cushion with a delicate curling shot into the right corner. The result sees Arsenal rise to 4th in the table.
Everton 1 – 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Mick McCarthy made four changes to his side that were beaten at home to struggling Portsmouth before the international break. Meanwhile Josef Yobo returned to the Everton defence to captain the side.
Berra’s slip afforded Tim Cahill an opening at goal early on, but the Australian could only fire his attempt over the bar. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s corner was glanced over the bar by Saha in what would prove to be the best two chances of the first half.
Yakubu flashed an opportunity wide just after the interval. The toffees were left to rue these misses when Doyle deceived the Everton defence. The Cork man poked the ball under the jumping Tim Howard to put Wolves into an unlikely lead.
The away side had 15 minutes to cling onto their slender lead. However they only managed to defend their advantage for 8 minutes. Jo’s low cross was steered home by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Maierhofer was sent off before the end with the match ending all square.
Manchester United 2 – 1 Bolton Wanderers
Manchester United made hard work of a game that they had dominated up until the 75th minute when Bolton’s long ball tactic put the United defence under immense pressure.
The champions had taken an early lead. Michael Owen’s goal was deflected into the net by Bolton defender Zat Knight. Just under half an hour later, Antonio Valencia fired home the first goal of his United career.
The Old Trafford side appeared to be cruising until Matthew Taylor’s 75th minute header injected nerves throughout the home side and crowd. Gary Megson’s men fired high balls into the box, aimed at Kevin Davies.
The United rearguard managed to scramble the ball clear on several occasions as they strived off the away side’s frequent attacks and claimed all three points. It was enough to take Alex Ferguson’s side to the summit of the table.
Portsmouth 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Jermaine Defoe struck the post early on before Dindane wasted a glorious opportunity. Tommy Smith’s angled cross found Dindane but the Ivory Coast striker volleyed his effort high over the crossbar.
Very much against the run of play, Spurs took the lead. King rose highest from a corner to nod his effort past David James. Jermaine Defoe doubled the advantage for Spurs on the stroke of half time. Defoe touched Jenas’ cross past the outstretched David James and into the left corner of the net.
In the second half Pompey pressed for a foothold in the match. Smith’s lobbed effort was superbly tipped wide by the agile Gomez. Smith teed up Dindane once again in the six yard box but the striker slid his shot wide off the goal.
Boatang did finally score what ultimately turned out to be a consolation when his sharp volley rocketed past Gomez. The result see’s Pompey remain rooted to the bottom of the league.
Stoke City 2 – 1 West Ham United
West Ham were desperately in search of a much-needed win while the home side hadn’t won a game in four outings. However a James Beattie brace was enough to earn Stoke three points and see Tony Pulis’ men climb to ninth in the table.
A delightful back heel from Ricardo Fuller sent Matthew Etherington clean through inside the box. The left winger was fouled by Faubert whose clumsy tackle resulted in a spot kick much to the joy of the Britannia Stadium. Beattie thrashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Matthew Upson endured an indifferent afternoon. The elation of scoring the Hammers equaliser from a Mark Noble corner was soon deflated when he was received two clobbers to the head: one from Ryan Shawcross foot and then another blow to the head from the fist of Robert Huth.
Beattie installed the one goal lead for Stoke. Fuller’s shot was palmed into the path of Beattie who tapped the ball into the empty net as he escaped the attention of Faubert.
Sunderland 1 – 0 Liverpool
A bizarre goal was all that separated these two sides. The ball fell to Darren Bent in the Liverpool box. His shot flew towards the Spanish keeper but the striker’s effort collided with the Liverpool-themed beach accessory, wrong-footing Reina and bobbling into the net.
Bent had further opportunities to increase the home side’s lead. He glanced Phil Bardsley’s cross past the post while striking the post from a narrow angle on another occasion.
Bruce suffered a double blow in the second half when Kenwenye Jones and Lee Cattermole were forced off with injuries. Liverpool started to exert more pressure on the Sunderland rearguard with the clock against the visitors.
Scottish number one, Craig Gordon, produced an athletic double save with ten minutes remaining. Dirk Kuyt’s right-footed shot was saved by Gordon low to his right. The rebound was pounced upon by substitute David N’Gog.
However the keeper managed to block his rebound to ensure Sunderland maintained their narrow lead.
Blackburn Rovers 3 – 2 Burnley
Burnley are still yet to claim an elusive away victory in this season. Eoin Coyle will be eagerly anticipating their next game at Turf Moor as their miserable away record continued.
A rapid counter attack by the away side from a Rovers’ corner resulted in a goal. Elliot’s pass found Robbie Blake in space. Blake booted his effort past the lunging Robinson and into the net. Ewood Park was silent after the newly promoted side took the lead within five minutes.
But parity was soon restored after a superb team move by Rovers. Chimbonda’s cross found Dos Santos. The Brazilian’s delicate flick laid the ball into the path of the onrushing Dunn who fired past Jensen in the Burnley goal.
Franco Di Santo’s header put the home side in the lead after Jensen and his defenders remained motionless claiming a foul that wasn’t awarded from a Dunn free kick. Chimbonda capped of an electric first 45 minutes.
Another great move by the home side saw Dunn’s 40 yard pass was headed by Pederson into the path of his right back. Chimbonda blasted a low shot pass Jensen to ensure Rovers ended the half in a comfortable lead.
Chris Eagles manufactured a second goal of the game for Eoin Coyle’s side shortly before the final whistle but the away side were unable to avoid succumbing to a fifth consecutive away defeat.
Wigan Athletic 1 v 1 Manchester City
Wigan approached this clash on a high after defeating a so-called top four side before the international break with victory over Chelsea. Meanwhile Mark Hughes enjoyed the luxury of replacing Bellamy with Adebayor and Toure with Micah Richards.
Adebayor made a nuisance of himself up front for City. Meanwhile Rodellaga vicious shot from outside the box was beaten clear by Shay Given.
As the clock ticked towards the 45th minute, N’Zogbia gave Wigan a deserved lead. He reacted quickest to Given’s save from a Rodellaga shot. The former Newcastle player beat Wayne Bridge to the rebound to put the home side in front.
City made an instant impact scoring within two minutes of the restart. Tevez’s tenacious run down the right wing saw the Argentine square the ball to Wright-Phillips. The winger tipped the ball to Martin Petrov and the Bulgarian curled his shot past Chris Kirkland.
The away side came close to finding a winner. A well timed challenge from Titus Bramble denied Adebayor a shot on goal before Kirkland saved from Barry’s header. Zabaleta was dismissed for City late on but the cash rich club managed to hold on to a point.