Chelsea, United drop points as Arsenal win
Portsmouth 2 – 0 Liverpool
The Premier League’s basement club comfortably overcame Liverpool at Fratton Park, aided by the sending off of Javier Mascherano. In truth Liverpool never got going in a performance that was far from “perfect”.
Belhadj opened the scoring just after the half hour mark with a stunning volley beating Reina at the near post. A strike from Piquionne consolidated the home side’s lead.
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant: “We played like a team. From game to game we are playing better and we deserved the win.”
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: “I think that the team were good in the first half and we were controlling the game. We conceded a goal but we had control.”
Aston Villa 1 v 0 Stoke City
Villa maintained their fine form as they once again seek that fourth spot. It was a tight affair which was ultimately decided by a single goal.
Jon Carew’s header was the only difference between the two teams. The home side closed the gap to two points on Manchester United while Stoke City remained stationary in 12th place.
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill: “It was a really tough game and we knew it would be, so we had the mindset for it.”
Tony Pulis on Mamady Sidibe’s disallowed goal: “It was an injustice, but we’ll have to take it on the chin. We’ve had a few decisions go against this year, but we’re pleased with the performance.”
Blackburn Rovers 0 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur
As the fallout from the secret Spurs Christmas party continues, the players are still doing the business on the pitch as they overcame a potentially difficult game at Ewood Park.
A brace from Peter Crouch ensured that the away side kept pace with Villa and the other Champions League candidates. It was a rare loss for the home side at Ewood.
Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce: “It’s very disappointing to suffer two straight losses, and it’s something I didn’t expect us to get from our last two games, I must say.”
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp: “It was not a pretty game but one Tottenham may have lost in the past. It was a great result for us. It was a tough match but we have collected three points and kept a clean sheet away from home. I have to be pleased with that.”
Fulham 3 – 0 Manchester United
Craven Cottage continues to be somewhat of a bogey ground for Sir Alex Ferguson as his side succumbed to Fulham for the second consecutive year.
Danny Murphy’s accurate shot crept past Kuszczak after Paul Scholes was dispossessed. Just after the game recommenced in the second half, Bobby Zamora doubled the lead before Damien Duff wrapped up the win with a sharp left-footed drive.
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson: “It gives us an awful lot of pleasure. We were fortunate in that we played against a very wounded United but we couldn’t do more than try to take advantage of that.”
Manchester City 4 – 3 Sunderland
In a game that was overshadowed by events directly after the match, Mark Hughes ended his tenure in fitting fashion. Plenty of goals from the men in blue but unfortunately matched with some shoddy defending.
A brace from Roque Santa Cruz and goals from Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy put the home side in the lead on four occasions while John Mensah, Henderson and Kenweyne Jones scored for the visitors in what was a thrilling match.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce: “For the spirit and commitment of the players we deserved something but unfortunately we didn’t get it.”
Arsenal 3 – 0 Hull City
Arsenal gained ground on their title rivals as they capitalised on Manchester United and Chelsea dropping points. Arsene Wenger’s side moved within five points of league leaders Chelsea.
Denilson, Eduardo and Diaby scored Arsenal’s three goals as the Gunners overcame Phil Brown’s Hull in what was a feisty tie.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “For me the most important thing was the win. We were a bit lucky because Almunia saved a penalty but after that I still felt we deserved to win.”
Hull boss Phil Brown: “Leading up to half-time was pivotal – we went behind from a free-kick that wasn’t a free-kick and that took the wind of out of our sails.”
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 – 0 Burnley
Mick McCarthy’s decision to rest players for the midweek trip to Old Trafford was vindicated as his side won their crucial clash with Burnley.
Strikes from Milijias and Kevin Doyle secured the win for McCarthy and ensured that Wolves would not spend Christmas day bottom of the league.
Burnley manager Owen Coyle: “I thought one was a stonewall penalty and I’ve seen the others given. If we had got back into the game at that point I believe we could have taken something from the game.”
Everton 1 – 1 Birmingham
Birmingham’s sequence of victories came to an end as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. Alex McLeish’s men still remain in 8th spot.
Bilyaletdinov scored for the home team after just five minutes, but Birmingham struck back less than 20 minutes later when Sebastian Larsson curled a shot past Tim Howard against the run of play.
Everton manager David Moyes: “I’m frustrated because we had opportunities in a game which I feel we were in control of and should have won.”
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: “It is a good end to the run up to Christmas. We were hoping we would remain intact on this unbeaten run up to Christmas Day.”
West Ham United 1 – 1 Chlesea
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were unable to take maximum points from their match-up with West Ham United. The home side showed desire and commitment as they held the front runners to a draw.
It was a tale of two penalties. Diamanti broke the deadlock from the spot after Collison was felled by Ashley Cole. West Ham were then harshly penalised for what seemed a legitimate challenge by Upson on Sturridge. Lampard tucked the penalty past Green.
West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola: “The performance was magnificent – the enthusiasm, the passion, the character, it was all remarkable. We got a point, but it should’ve been more.”
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti: “We didn’t play well, the first half was not good and the draw was the right result. In the second half we were stronger and had more intensity.”