Chelsea on form as Man Utd, Liverpool win

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

Premier League football

Blackburn Rovers 0 – 0 Stoke City

Blackburn were looking to bounce back for Wednesday’s demoralising defeat at Craven Cottage, yet it was Paul Robinson who was the best performer for the home side after Stoke threatened on several occasions.

Dean Whitehead was twice denied by the former England number one. The closest Rovers came to scoring an unlikely winner came though Nzonzi when the midfielder’s shot brushed the outside of the right post.

Neil McDonald (Blackburn): “The boys kept on going, and were trying to win the game right up to the last minute which was good. We’ve said we want to make people come here and work for the points and Stoke have definitely done that.”

Stoke boss Tony Pulis: “It was pretty end-to-end at times, both sides had really good chances – unfortunately for us we never took ours.”

Fulham 1 – 1 Bolton Wanderers

Fulham dominated proceedings at Craven Cottage but were ultimately unable to secure three points against a resilient Bolton team.

The away side took the lead within twelve minutes when Gary Cahill’s header found Klasnic who promptly fired past Mark Schwarzer. Fulham had to patiently wait until the 75th minute before they found an equaliser thanks to a superb right-footed shot by Damien Duff.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson: “We were good value for the 1-1. If anything, perhaps we can be a little bit sad that we didn’t get the second goal.

Bolton manager Gary Megson: “I’m sure everybody would have expected us to get nothing [from the game[. We’ve got to use the result as a springboard to push us up the table.”

Manchester City 1 – 1 Hull City

The headlines on Sunday morning proclaimed that the ghost of Eastlands had been fully exorcised thanks to a Jimmy Bullard penalty a mere eight minutes before the final whistle.

Manchester City slumped to a seventh consecutive draw. They had taken the lead thanks to a swerving Shaun Wright-Phillips shot in added time at the end of the first half.

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes: “Of course it is a disappointing run we’re on, because we’re failing to see out victories when we have the lead.

Hull City manager Phil Brown: “That’s a good point for us. Manchester City, with all the money they have spent, is never going to be an easy place to come to. I was delighted with our second half display in particular. We worked hard and, when the game is only 1-0, you always feel like you’ve got a chance – especially when you’re playing a team who have drawn six on the bounce.”

Portsmouth 1 – 4 Manchester United

Upon Avram Grant’s return to the helm of a Premier League club he was once again haunted by penalties. Indeed it was an encouraging Portsmouth performance who could have taken more from the game was it not for the absence of a clinical striker.

As it was, United romped to victory with Wayne Rooney bagging three goals, two of which came from the spot, and birthday boy Ryan Giggs added a fourth shortly before the end of the match with a delightful free-kick.

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant: “If I came from the moon and heard the result I would have thought Man Utd played great and Portsmouth was not so good but we played very well.”

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: “In the second half we kept our discipline and the ball very well and deserved the win in the end.”

West Ham United 5 – 3 Burnley

Gianfranco Zola’s men made hard work of what should have been a comfortable victory. The home side were cruising with the comfort of a five-goal cushion, before a Stephen Fletcher brace and a Chris Eagles strike sent jitters through the Upton Park faithful.

Goals from Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas, Guillermo Franco and a penalty each from Carlton Cole and Luis Jimenez had seen West Ham race into a mammoth lead against Burnley. But three strikes in the final 20 minutes will have caused concern for Zola.

West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola: “It was an entertaining game, although I would have preferred to have conceded fewer goals – but you can’t have everything.”

Burnley boss Owen Coyle: “We were the architects of our own downfall. We gifted some soft goals, and made individual errors at the wrong time.”

Wigan Athletic 1 – 0 Sunderland

Steve Bruce didn’t enjoy a happy return to the JJB Stadium. His side performed well in the second half but it was too little too late as Wigan held on for a vital three points.

After last week’s thumping at White Hart Lane, Roberto Martinez will be grateful for a victory and a clean sheet. Hugo Rodallega scored the only goal of the game, squeezing his shot in from a tight angle.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez: “It has been a very painful and hurtful week and the humiliation comes if you don’t react. But the players showed terrific character and bounced back.”

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: “It’s frustrating and disappointing, for sure. That’s a shadow of what we’ve produced for four or five weeks. The performance level was not there and that’s sad for me.”

Aston Villa 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

In the clash of the Champions League contenders, both Martin O’Neill and Harry Redknapp had to be content with a point. Spurs produced the better performance overall, but Villa managed to contain the visitors after the rampant form of Jermaine Defoe and Aaron Lennon in recent weeks.

Gabriel Agbonlahor had put Villa in front with a fortuitous goal. Spurs pressed for an equaliser in the second half and dominated proceedings. They were duly rewarded when captain Michael Dawson volleyed an equaliser past Brad Friedel.

Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill: “We played very well in the first half and tried to close them down as quickly as we could.”

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: “Villa are going to be up there [challenging for a top four place]. The top two will probably be Chelsea and Manchester United, then will come Arsenal and Liverpool.”

Everton 0 – 2 Liverpool

These are turbulent times on Merseyside so a win was vital for both sides. Everton were the better team over the 90 minutes, but Liverpool enjoyed some good fortune as they closed the gap on Tottenham and Arsenal.

Javier Mascherano had his wayward strike deflected past Tim Howard by Josef Yobo to give the visitors an early lead. Late on, Dirk Kuyt pounced on Howard’s parry to secure all three points for the away side.

Everton boss David Moyes: “You have to earn your luck. We worked really hard and I was hoping we’d earn that luck but we didn’t. It was disappointing. But we also missed some chances.”

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez: “It was a great victory – everybody is really pleased. Today we worked so hard – they were tough and pushing and we did our job in defence and we had to play counter-attack.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – 1 Birmingham City

Mick McCarthy was left disappointed by an ineffectual display by his Wolves side. They lacked creativity and looked devoid of the talent needed to compete with an efficient Birmingham outfit.

Lee Bowyer’s lobbed goal was the only difference between the two teams, but in truth Wolves never really threatened with the exception of a Kevin Doyle attempt and a sharp save by Hart from a Jarvis shot.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy: “I picked a team I thought would go out there and compete, but it didn’t happen.”

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish: “That is a massive win for us. These are the games that will decide our season and to get a fantastic win, and in the manner that we did it, was brilliant.”

Arsenal 0 – 3 Chelsea

Arsenal were dealt a heavy blow to their title ambitions as they succumbed to a physical Chelsea team. Wenger’s players were out-fought all over the pitch by the determined visitors.

Drogba scored twice, the first a calm side-foot past Almunia and the second a ferocious free kick. Thomas Vermaelan netted an own goal in between the two goals from the Ivory Coast striker. The result sees Carlo Ancelotti’s men extend their lead at the top to five points.

Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger: “We are fighters and we have to show that in the next game. We are still in a very strong position. Chelsea can drop points, I am convinced of that.”

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