|Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk|
January 2, 2012:
Aston Villa 0-2 Swansea City – despite ending the year on a high against Chelsea, Aston Villa were not able to break through the strong passing of Swansea City. Goals from Dire and Routledge secured Swansea the three away points and started off their year on a high note. As expected, the away side, with a reputation for passing like Brazilians, held 53% of possession and had five shots on target as opposed to Aston Villa’s single shot on the mark. Despite their lack of accuracy when shooting on goal, Aston Villa were given fifteen corners while the away side didn’t have a single one. It didn’t matter for Villa though. Dyer scored early for the visitors, putting them 1-0 up in the 5th minute. Two minutes after the start of the second half, Routledge scored again and the match ended 2-0. Swansea are now level on points with Aston Villa and are ahead by just one goal. Swansea sits in 12th place while Villa sits in 13th.
Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Stoke City – Similarly to Aston Villa, Blackburn were unable to capitalize on their defeat of a top team. The Rovers, who are currently at the bottom of the table, defeated the mighty Manchester United, ending their year with three points from a fixture in which they were no doubt the underdogs. Goodwillie’s goal in the 70th minute came too late to save the home side from a defeat. The Potters’ towering forward Peter Crouch opened the scoring in the 17th minute and netted his 100th Premier League goal in the 45th minute. Blackburn are still rock bottom with 14 points. Only three points separate them from the safety of 17th place, but poor performance could mean Championship football for the Rovers next season. Stoke City are in 8th place, six points behind 7th place Newcastle United and four points clear of 9th place Norwich.
Queens Park Rangers 1-2 Norwich City – Joey Barton would find himself in the midst of controversy yet again as he was sent off against Norwich City. Barton was the man to score the first goal in the 11th minute, but in the 36th minute he saw straight red for an incident that occurred off the ball. Barton, not known for being the most warm and fuzzy footballer on the pitch, appeared to head butt Norwich player Bradley Johnson. The ref sent Barton off and QPR are appealing to the FA, standing behind their hot-headed midfielder. Norwich responded to the sending off by tying the match up 101 in the 42nd minute. After the half, Barton watched from the stands as his team conceded a goal by Morrison late in the 83rd minute and dropped the valuable home points. Queens Park Rangers are still teetering on the edge of the relegation zone but for now are in the clear. They are level on points with 16th place team, Wolves, but are five points behind 15th place team West Bromwich Albion.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Chelsea – Despite a late equalizer, Wolves were unable to hold off Chelsea. To some, it may seem as though the London side dodged another embarrassing defeat. Thanks to a goal in the 89th minute by none other than Chelsea veteran Frank Lampard, Chelsea took home all three points. Lampard’s winner came four minutes after Ward managed to equalize for the home side but his team were unable to defend against the blue powerhouse. Wolves had been able to hold Chelsea off until the 54th minute when Ramires and John Terry managed to break through their defense and open the scoring. Wolves are a point clear of the relegation zone and sit in 16th place. Chelsea hang on to their 4th place spot by a single point but Arsenal is close behind. They trail the league leaders by eleven points.
Fulham 2-1 Arsenal - Laurent Koscielny netted his first Premier League goal in the 21st minute but Arsenal were unable to hold on to the lead after Swiss defender Djourou was sent off for his second yellow card in the 78th minute, just over ten minutes after his first booking. Sidwell scored in the 85th minute to make the scoreline level and Bobby Zamora finished off Fulham’s London rivals in the 2nd minute of stoppage time. Fulham are currently in 14th place and only goal difference separates them from Aston Villa and Swansea City. Arsenal are just a point behind Chelsea and will look to break into the top four before the end of the season.
January 3, 2012:
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 West Bromwich Albion – Gareth Bale and Jermaine Defoe linked up like they have so many times before in the 63rd minute to secure the three points for Tottenham. The London side conceded a late goal at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea, heading home with only one point. They came back at home with a strong showing, holding an impressive 67% of possession. It was surprising that they were only able to finish one of their fourteen shots on target, but the goal made the difference and Tottenham were the clear winners. Spurs are in third place six points behind leaders Man City. They are very much still in the title race. West Brom are in 15th place, clear of the relegation zone chaos and only two points separate them from the 10th and 11th place teams.
Wigan Athletic 1-4 Sunderland – Wigan’s relegation woes continue as they fail to produce points yet again against a strong Sunderland coming off of a win against league leaders Manchester City. Hugo Rodallega put his side back in the game in the 62nd after they went down 2-0 off of goals from Gardner just before the half and McClean in the 55th minute. However Sessegnon put his team ahead 3-1 in the 73rd minute and Vaughan finished off Wigan with a goal in the 80th. Wigan had more promising statistics than Sunderland, holding 57% of possession and shooting on target ten times to Sunderland’s nine but at the end they were unable to finish and still sit just inside the relegation zone. Wigan are still in the relegation zone and have fallen to 19th place after Bolton’s win against Everton. Sunderland are sitting comfortably in the middle of the table but Everton is equal on points and needs only two goals to push them down to 11th place.
Manchester City 0-3 Liverpool – As Luis Suarez sat out his first game of an eight match ban, Liverpool were unable to put the ball in the back of City’s net or keep it out of the back of theirs. Sergio Aguero was the first to score for City after his shot bounced under the arms of Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina. It would only get worse for Liverpool when Toure scored in the 33rd minute. Liverpool held on and held 50% of possession. When Gareth Barry saw red in the 73rd minute, Liverpool were given another boost but Milner scored a penalty kick won by Toure in the 75th minute and City took home the points. City are now comfortable at the top of the table and Liverpool are now threatened by Newcastle but both clubs remain in the same positions that they did before the fixture.
Wednesday January 4, 2012
Everton 1-2 Bolton Wanderers – Everton’s loss to Bolton has a sweet side. Goalkeeper Tim Howard was the first to open the scoring in the fixture by booting a clearance straight down the field and into the back of the Bolton net! Howard is one of four keepers to score in the EPL. Despite his goal, Everton still left the fixture without any points. Bolton rallied after the embarrassing goal and put their team level four minutes later off of a goal from David Ngog. Gary Cahill scored the winner for the visitors in the 78th minute. Bolton were in desperate need for the points. Even with the win they still sit in the relegation zone just a point short of both QPR and Wolves. Everton are still in 11th place but could have moved all the way up to 9th place if they had taken home all three points.
Newcastle United 3-0 Manchester United – Manchester United had another subpar performance against Newcastle today and failed to capitalize on a fixture that could have moved them closer to Manchester City. Not surprisingly, Ba was the first to score for Newcastle, finishing with a beautiful volley past Lindegaard in the 33rd minute. In the 47th, he would assist the goal scored by Cabaye. United would have just as many shots on target as Newcastle and held 59% of the possession but an own goal from Phil Jones in the 90th minute secured the home side the three points as United crashed and burned yet again. The Manchester side now trail behind their neighboring club by three points and Spurs are closing in. Newcastle moves ahead and are now knocking on the door of the 6th place spot currently occupied by Liverpool.