|Ben Arfa shines for Newcastle|
The Midweek Results Are In...
Liverpool played out what was probably one of the most... interesting games in European football to date. With their second string keeper also facing a red card ban now, the Reds are facing a bit of a keeper crisis. The goal of the week was surely the goal against Bolton from Hatem Ben Arfa, using some brilliant individual skills to annihilate the Bolton defense and help his team secure the win that just might be enough to get them into Champions League football next season. Meanwhile the race to avoid relegation continues. A major upset for Wigan against Manchester United and a good result for Queens Park Rangers means that the two teams are temporarily out of the drop zone, but the final decision will come down to the last match of the season in May.
Monday April 9th 2012
Everton 4-0 Sunderland: The Toffees were able to get a convincing win ahead of their FA Cup semi final match with neighborhood rivals Liverpool. Sunderland were coming off some inconsistent performances but are clear from the relegation zone in 11th place. European football would be too ambitious for the Black Cats but they can start preparations for another season in the Premier League.
Everton took a while to find their rhythm and to make any real attempts on goal. Overall they had twelve on-target attempts throughout the 90 minutes and held 59% of the possession while the visiting side were unable to even get one shot on target from the front men Vaughan and McClean. A bicycle kick attempt from Sessegnon the only real attempt on goal from Sunderland, but his impressive effort went wide. At the half, the scoreline was 0-0 but Everton were clearly the dominant side.
In the second half, Everton found their goal. In the 52nd minute, Gueye got on the end of a deflected save from Mignolet after Osman fired a volley at the bottom corner. Everton continued on the attack and in the 75th minute, Steven Pienaar got his name on the score sheet with a fantastic shot to the far corner, slotting it past the keeper and putting Everton up 2-0. Only a minute later, Mignolet found himself picking the ball up out of the back of the net yet again as Everton took the 3-0 lead. Leon Osman, after aiding in the attack and nearly scoring, was able to get his name on the score sheet himself with a cheeky chipping shot that went straight over the keepers head and plopped nicely in the back of the net. In the 81st minute, Victor Anichebe scored just three minutes after being subbed on and finished off the visitors. Everton fans can now hope for a similar result against Liverpool in the FA Cup this weekend.
Newcastle 2-0 Bolton Wanderers: Newcastle’s quest for Champions League football continues while Bolton’s run to escape relegation and play another season in the Premier League has taken a huge blow.
The first half started with Newcastle on the attack with the clear intention of scoring as many goals as possible and keeping the three points for themselves. Both sides created some chances on goal, but Bolton’s efforts were stopped short by Krul. The possession was even in the first half and with the scoreline at 0-0 headed into the locker rooms for the break, it was still very much anyone’s game.
Early in the second half, Tim Krul made a fantastic save to deny Chris Eagles from putting his side ahead. Eagles’ point blank shot was stopped by the keeper’s leg and then cleared by his defense. Newcastle were quick to push up the field in response but were still searching for a breakthrough. Owen Coyle’s side did a fantastic job working hard on and off the ball and were able to create quite a few turnovers and good chances at goal. Newcastle were finally able to find their breakthrough when Ben Arfa, a main man for the North England side, found the back of the net thanks to some brilliant individual skill and a cool finish past Bogdan. Ten minutes later, Cisse, who is also enjoying some brilliant form, was able to get his name on the score sheet as well and finish off the visiting side 2-0.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Norwich City: Spurs are starting to lose their grip on the third place finish but are still very much in the running to play European football next season while Norwich are aiming for the highest league positioning possible as they are safely out of the relegation zone. After Wigan’s victory against Manchester United, Bolton have fallen back into the drop zone, sitting in 18th place with 29 points. Newcastle are sitting in 5th place level on points with Spurs and very, very close to earning themselves Champions League football next season.
Despite the match statistics clearly being in their favor, Tottenham were the first to be scored on in the 13th minute. Norwich’s first goal was a lucky one, the ball falling to the feet of Anthony Pilkington after Ledley King interfered with the tackle from fellow Tottenham defender Kyle Walker. Pilkington had an easy finish into the back of the nearly empty net as Brad Friedel struggled to gather his bearings. Jermaine Defoe was able to compensate at the other end with a lovely chip over the top of the Norwich goalkeeper’s head in the 33rd minute. At halftime the score was 1-1 although Tottenham were clearly the better side holding 59% of the total possession and shooting on target nine times throughout the duration of the game.
The second half was much the same as the first one. The home side attacked but were unable to score any goals. One of Tottenham’s best chances in the second half came from outside defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the 52nd minute, but he was denied by Ruddy. Gareth Bale almost nearly found the back of the net as well but his effort slammed off of the crossbar and out of the goal. It just wasn’t going to be Tottenham’s night. In the 65th minute, a fantastic long-range strike from Bennett found its way past Friedel and gave the visitors the lead. Spurs had several more frustratingly close chances on goal but they were unable to find the back of the net and the match finished out with a 2-1 scoreline in favor of the visiting side from Norwich.
Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke City: Every point counts for Aston Villa, who are clear of the drop zone but could still use all the help they can get as the relegation zone teams begin to rally and fight to stay in the top flight. Stoke are at the bottom half of the mid-table pileup where Stoke, Sunderland, Norwich and Fulham are all separated by just a point and goal difference. Both teams were needing a result and they proved to be evenly matched as the game finished out 1-1.
Villa were on the attack in the first half, although throughout the fixture the two sides seemed split in possession. Each side managed seven shots total, three each on target and a goal apiece. The only statistic where the two differed were on corner kicks. The visitors had one more set piece opportunity than the home side but they were not able to capitalize on the slight advantage. Villa were the first ones to score, however, with a lovely shot that lofted over the defense and the head of the keeper, landing in the back of the net. Andreas Weimann was the man responsible for the beautiful shot and he was assisted by Stephen Ireland. At the half, Villa had the 1-0 home lead but Stoke were close to getting their equalizer.
The second half saw more domination from the visitors, who were hungry for their goal. It finally came in the 71st minute when Huth got on the end of a cross to head the ball past Given in the Villa goal and savor a point for the visiting side. Although both teams were able to create a few more attacks, much of the action was in the evenly-matched midfield and the game ended 1-1.
Fulham 1-1 Chelsea: Clint Dempsey rolls on and remains the goal scoring hero for Fulham as they faced off against Chelsea in a London derby. Chelsea, if they wish to make it into the top four, are going to need to do better than their performance at Craven Cottage.
Chelsea dominated in terms of possession but the Fulham attack outshone them, shooting nine times on target to the four on-target shots from the visiting side. Chelsea were also forced to concede sixteen fouls to keep Dempsey and the rest of the Fulham attack from reaching Petr Cech in their goal. Despite a good showing from Fulham in the first half, Chelsea would go into the locker room at halftime with the lead. On the stroke of halftime, Kalou was fouled and awarded a penalty kick. Frank Lampard was able to convert the kick to a goal. Chelsea were ahead 1-0.
In the second half, both sides were able to hold each other off until the 82nd minute when Clint Dempsey continued his goal scoring roll and added to his season tally of sixteen goals in the Barclay’s Premier League. Chelsea were unable to rally and score another, not an encouraging sign from a side who is going to have to produce the goals if they wish to progress to the Champions League final past the dominant Barcelona. With the dropped points, Chelsea sit in 6th place two points below Newcastle and may not even be involved in the UEFA Champions League next season, where they are currently the only side representing England. Fulham sit in 9th place and are sneaking up on Liverpool. Fulham sit three points behind the Merseyside team.
Tuesday April 10th 2012
Blackburn Rovers 2-3 Liverpool: A late goal from none other than Andy Carroll, the striker who just can’t seem to find the back of the net, saved Liverpool from dropping points yet again after they gave up a 2-0 lead. Blackburn were in dire need of the points and fought their way back to make the game 2-2 after Maxi Rodriguez put Liverpool up 2-0 in the first half. Liverpool’s second string goalkeeper, Doni, saw red and their third string keeper, Aussie Brad Jones came on to make is English Premier League debut and will likely be Kenny Dalglish’s only available keeper for their FA Cup fixture at the weekend.
Liverpool played out one of the most perplexing first halves in European football this season. By the 25th minute, they were leading 2-0, their keeper had seen red and their third string keeper Brad Jones saved the poorly taken penalty kick. Andy Carroll was doing a better job on defense than he was on offense and both sides had yet to find their rhythm in the eventful match. Craig Bellamy assisted the first goal of the game, tapped in by Maxi Rodriguez in the 12th minute. Bellamy collected a fantastic long ball from Martin Skrtel right out of the back of their own penalty area and took it down the empty flank, catching the Blackburn defense on the counter attack. Maxi made a fantastic run up the field and ran right into the box in time to get on the end of the cross. He scored a similar goal just three minutes later when he was able to tap the ball into the back of an open net yet again. Liverpool were 2-0 up and looked like they were going to have an easy victory ahead of their FA Cup tie with Everton but in the 25th minute their Brazilian keeper saw red after he was forced to make a daring and difficult tackle on the Blackburn striker David Hoilett. Blackburn were unable to convert the poorly taken penalty kick. For the remainder of the half, Liverpool were able to hold the ball well despite being a man down but Blackburn found the gaps and took full advantage of them. In the 36th minute, Aiyegbeni ran into the box completely unmarked and got on the end of a free kick to get his side a valuable goal. At halftime, the scoreline was 2-1 in favor of the visitors, but they were down to ten men.
Blackburn would have a chance to make up for their missed penalty kick in the 61st minute. This penalty, taken much better than the last one, Aiyegbeni sending Jones the wrong way and putting Blackburn level 2-2. It looked like Liverpool were doomed to drop points yet again but Andy Carroll would be the savior for the visitors, scoring in stoppage time with a dramatic header into the top corner of the Blackburn goal. Liverpool took away all three points from the fixture and Blackburn’s relegation woes continue. The Reds got a much needed three points but are now faced with a bit of a goalie crisis as they head to Wembley for the FA Cup semi-finals.
Wednesday April 11th 2012
Manchester City 4-0 West Bromwich Albion: Now that they are no longer on top, Manchester City realizes that every goal and every fixture are valuable to their race for the top spot in this season’s English Premier League.
Five minutes into the fixture, Manchester City took the lead with a great strike from Sergio Aguero. The young striker cut in and took the shot that bounced under the arms of Al Habsi and into the left corner. Al Habsi was able to make several great saves as his defense was easily demolished by the City strike force. At the half it was 1-0 to the visitors and much of the possession was also in their favor.
In the second half, Manchester City were dominant yet again. Aguero hit his second goal of the night in the 54th minute, again assisted by Nasri like his first half goal. Carlos Tevez, after struggling to find his shot in the first half of the match found the back of the net in the 61st minute to make the scoreline 3-0. David Silva also got his chance on goal and made it count, topping off the win for the visitors and closing the gap between them and their hated neighbors Manchester United at the top of the table. West Brom sit safely in 13th place with 39 points.
Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson’s side faced a huge blow to their title race as they dropped three points against Wigan. Wigan were in need of the points as they find themselves caught up in the relegation battle. Manchester United had an eight point lead at the top of the table but now only five points separate them from Manchester City.
Manchester United were the dominant side and by no means underestimated Wigan and their squad. Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez were up front for the visitors but only managed to get three shots on target in the entire match. United held 55% of the possession but were not at all convincing as they try to put an even greater distance between themselves and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. At the end of the first half, the scoreline was 0-0 with both teams creating chances and breaking up play but neither one really establishing rhythm or dominance.
In the second half, it was a similar story. Neither team seemed able to find the back of the net until five minutes from the restart when Shaun Maloney put his team up 1-0 against the current league leaders. Manchester United were unable to rally despite having two of the best strikers at work up front. Sir Alex Ferguson subbed on Nani and Welbeck to increase the attacking force, but Manchester United were unable to find the back of the net. Instead, Wigan left the fixture happily with a precious three points as they struggle to stay out of the relegation zone.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 Arsenal: Arsene Wenger’s side continues to push to cement themselves in the third place finishing spot. They are now five points ahead of their London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the third place spot. Wolves are at the rock bottom of the table with only 22 points and look to be doomed to a season in the Championship.
Proceedings didn’t start out well for the home side. By the ninth minute, they were down to ten men after Bassong saw red for his challenge on Walcott. The visitors were awarded a penalty and Robin van Persie gave them the 1-0 lead. Just two minutes later, Walcott got himself on the scoreline with some help from van Persie and within twelve minutes from the starting whistle, Arsenal were up 2-0 and the doomed Wanderers were facing a daunting 78 minutes. The improvised Wolves defense managed to hold together for the remainder of the half and the two teams went back into the locker room at half time with a 2-0 scoreline in favor of the Londoners.
In the second half, Arsenal continued their domination and Wolves struggled to hold much possession. At the end of the day Arsenal had 65% of the overall possession and seven shots on target whereas the home side only managed two shots that forced action from Szczesny in the Arsenal goal. In the 69th minute, Yossi Benayoun topped off the win for Arsenal and the visitors headed back to London with the full three points and a secure third place spot while Wolves are still at the bottom of the table with 22 points.
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Swansea City: Swansea are high enough in the Barclay’s Premier League table to start preparing for another season of football, but their form is starting to collapse. The Welsh side have now suffered four consecutive defeats in the league and have dropped from tenth to fourteenth place since their victory over Fulham on St. Patrick’s Day. QPR are still sucked up in the relegation battle and are now sitting two points clear of the drop zone after their victory at Loftus Road.
Swansea were the dominant side in the first half, creating several good goal scoring opportunities. Vorm was still a busy keeper at the other side of the pitch, but for the most part the visitors were able to hold off Queens Park Rangers’ attack and dominate with their possessive play. It looked like it was going to be a 0-0 halftime score, but in the first minute of stoppage time, Joey Barton slammed one home for his team, giving them the 1-0 lead going into the halftime break.
In the second half, QPR found their rhythm and began to dominate more than they did in the first forty five. In the 55th minute Jamie Mackie scored the second goal for the home side thanks to a lucky deflection. In the 67th minute, Buzsaky was able to put the icing on the cake for Queens Park Rangers and secure them a much needed three points with a fantastic finish to the corner of the net.