I’m back to do a proper review of the weekend’s games, my apologies for the lack of this in the last couple of weeks! It certainly has been news worthy that’s for sure, plus some of our attacking players even scored points this week… wow! Let’s get into it then..
Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal
A result here that was marred by two red cards (one to each), but at opposite ends of the game. Both sides started well with each having chances and Walcott even netting past Schwarzer – although the goal was disallowed with the offside flag up. After 12 minutes Sidwell threw himself late into a tackle on Arteta and received a straight red, however Arsenal failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage until minutes before the half. Walcott floated in a free kick which Koscielny nodded on and Mertesacker headed home from no more than a yard.
Fulham pressed after the break but Berbatov lacked help up front which proved ultimately costly, even though the last 10 minutes were nervous times for the gunners. Those nerves were only compounded when Giroud also got himself sent off in the 90th minute, making an interesting few minutes, but ultimately the gunners held onto a vital win for their top four aspirations.
Bonus Points: Mertesacker (3),Koscielny (2), Szczesny (2), Walcott (2).
Norwich 2 – 1 Reading
Probably not a game most of us circled in the fixtures as a must watch, but vital points here for the Canaries and ultimately this has to be the final chance gone begging to save the Royals. It was the home side as you’d expect starting the brighter of the teams, creating several chances being spurred on by a vocal home crowd, led by Elliott Bennett and Snodgrass. That wasn’t to be however and it was Reading who should’ve gone into the break with the lead, Pogrebnyak however scooped over the bar from inside the six yard box.
After the break the Canaries seemingly buried the game scoring twice within three minutes – first through Ryan Bennett swooping after a Holt shot was saved and secondly through Elliott Bennett when McCarthy was caught out of position following a Snodgrass cross. Around 18 minutes from time the Royals dragged a goal back out of nowhere through McCleary, when he launched a long range shot which Bunn couldn’t parry away. An anxious period ensued for the home side, but they held on despite pressure from the seemingly relegated Royals.
Bonus Points: Ryan Bennett (3), R. Martin (2), Garrido (1).
QPR 0 – 2 Stoke
I have probably never been more nervous watching a game in the last few years. As you may know I am a stoke supporter and gees, early on it certainly looked bad for us. Stoke are a shadow of the team that started the season and nerves and a total lack of confidence almost allowed them to concede an early lead to the embattled R’s. It was the likes of Taarabt and especially Remy who caused problems for Stoke – however with a lot of shots from distance Begovic wasn’t always called upon as ‘Arry would have liked. It took time but Stoke finally settled into the game and Wilson poached the ball around halfway and found Jerome, who slid a ball past Samba into the path of Crouch to score just before the half.
Remy caused more problems for Stoke on the restart and Begovic was called upon once again to intervene. Following that both sides were impacted by injuries with both Taarabt and Wilson going off, probably impacting the R’s more as Taarabt’s creativity would’ve certainly been handy. A Huth header into the post deflected into the path of Shawcross who was clumsily pulled down by Hill which resulted in a penalty. After a false start on the penalty Walters produced a perfect shot into the bottom left corner which left Green with no chance – that basically left the R’s down and out and the game fizzed out into a disappointing loss for the home side.. and an incredibly welcomed win on the road for my lads.
Bonus Points: Crouch (3), Walters (2), Whelan (1).
Sunderland 1 – 0 Everton
The Black Cats appear to be reinvigorated in the light of MON’s sacking and the acquisition of Di Canio, perhaps a little surprisingly to some they dominated this game against a side with champions league ambitions – although those ambitions now appear to be shot. The home side started spritely and it was largely through the likes of Larsson, who had three free kicks go close – the last of which requiring a fine save from Howard in the top corner. Also Danny Graham managed to fire a shot straight at Howard after being impeded by Sessegnon. Just before the half it was Larsson who turned provider, finding Sessegnon who steadied just outside the box and fired low, with Howard just getting a hand to it but failing to deflect it wide of goal.
Following the break Moyes brought on Jelavic after the toffees struggled for any impetus up front, replacing Gibson. This is when the toffees enjoyed their best run of the game, with Jelavic glancing a header wide, Baines just failing to get onto a spilled ball by Mignolet and Anichebe firing over. The closest the toffees came however was when Larsson’s heavy back-pass had to be caught by Mignolet resulting in a free-kick, but Baines couldn’t get past the wall with his effort. Johnson could have sealed the result just before time but his effort was blocked by the legs of Howard, leaving the black cats having to be content with a single goal win to drag them away from the core of the relegation scrap.
Bonus Points: Sessegnon (3), Johnson (2), O’Shea (1).
Swansea 0 – 0 Southampton
The Swans are certainly more dour away from home, but against a Saints side that has become increasingly solid (although far less fluid up front) since Pochettino arriving, that sort of form crept into Liberty Stadium. It’d be a lie if I said there weren’t decent chances for both sides, however both keepers in Vorm and Boruc produced several fine saves to keep clean sheets for their sides.
Although the Saints got a valued point which takes them 8 points clear of the drop, they’ll be disappointed not to take the win as a Lallana goal was disallowed due to a handball. In the closing minutes it was basically scrambles at each end as both sides pressed for a winner, but as previously mentioned Boruc excelled and kept out De Guzman and Dyer whilst Vorm managed to hold onto a sharp chance by Mayuka.
Bonus Points: Cork (3), Hooiveld (2), Williams (1).
West Brom 1 – 1 Newcastle
As quite often the case in the EPL, this was a game of two halves. Surprisingly to me anyway, it was all Newcastle in the first half, with Gouffran finishing after a neat Cabaye pass after just eight minutes. The likes of Cisse and Sissoko were causing a lot of problems for the slow starting Baggies, Cisse in particular ranging from spectacular unlikely efforts to poor finishing from an open chance. However he wasn’t the only one, Steven Taylor also failed to beat Foster after getting in behind the defense – watching it you certainly would think that the toon should be in front by more than a goal at the half.
In the second half the baggies finally came into the game, with substitute Long shooting wide early when he probably should have hit the target. Then it was Lukaku who headed into the crossbar from a Brunt corner before the striker and Morrison combined for neat play before they found Jones who hit a first time shot past Elliot on 64 minutes. The baggies continued to press and Long just couldn’t reach a cross from Lukaku, but the game fizzed to a close as Newcastle became content with a point after earlier looking like building a match winning lead.
Bonus Points: Gouffran (3), Jones (2), Cisse (1).
West Ham 2 – 0 Wigan
The score line probably doesn’t accurately reflect the game here, but nonetheless the Hammers won’t be complaining about that at all as they moved into the top half of the table in their PL return. The Latics started brightly and the best chance fell to Alcaraz (who was subbed with an injury after 15 minutes), but he could only fire straight at Jaaskelainen. The Hammers slowly got into the game and Nolan had a couple of chances to give the home side the lead but failed on both occasions. That least finally came through Jarvis though, when his cross evaded everyone and snuck in past Robles back post.
The second half Wigan dominated really, straight away testing out Jaaskelainen through both Gomez and Kone, albeit unsuccessfully. Then Boyce and Scharner followed up later with headers denied again by Jaaskelainen. However any concerns of the home crowd were put to bed ten minutes from time when Nolan latched onto the end of a Carroll pass, hitting a volley past Robles. Carroll himself should have further increased that lead when he fired wide, but the Hammers not only did enough to get three points but also kept a handy clean sheet for anyone still holding their cheap defensive assets.
Bonus Points: Nolan (3), Jarvis (2), O’Brien (1).
Tottenham 3 – 1 Man City
There were some cracking fixtures to finish the round and this was probably the pick of the bunch. That man Bale was back for the one man team Spurs and he immediately almost made an impact, getting around a couple of defenders before his swirling shot had Hart in trouble trying to gather after failing to save cleanly. However City it was to open the scoring just after, when Tevez cleverly found Milner on the by-line who in turn found Nasri free for an easy tap in. The ensuing play was not quite up to the standard you’d expect and there was even some quite untidy challenges which included the likes of Vertonghen needing to have a shirt change.
The second half was a lot more of the same early on, so with just 15 minutes left in the game AVB made significant changes which included throwing on Defoe and changing the formation to a 4-3-3. It paid almost immediate dividends when Bales low cross found an unmarked Dempsey at the back post to tap in the equaliser. That sparked Spurs and soon after a Holtby through ball found Defoe against Kompany, who he evaded and curled a shot past an outstretched Hart. To rub the salt into the wound Bale then went on one of his now trademark runs and a charging Hart couldn’t do anything as Bale’s little chip over the top of him went into his open net. The spurs not only kept their CL hopes alive, but ended any hope that City had of defending their PL title.
Bonus Points: Bale (3), Dempsey (3), Defoe (1).
Liverpool 2 – 2 Chelsea
Well I am sure everyone heard about this game, probably all for the wrong reasons (see above picture if you’ve been living under a rock). The first half didn’t really have a lot in it to be totally honest, with the only goal coming from a Mata corner which Oscar (who was totally unmarked), easily managed to nod into the net to give the away team the halftime lead. The reds were lacking potency and creativity up front, something which was absent really until the introduction of Sturridge in the second half.
The second half introduction of Sturridge almost paid immediate dividends when he played in Gerrard, only for Cech to deflect the shot off his legs. Only minutes later however, a Suarez cross found Sturridge at the back post and he managed to equalise on 52 minutes. That was quickly countered though when Suarez was deemed to handle the ball from a Mata corner and Hazard tucked home from the spot to give the blues the lead back. That wasn’t the end of the drama though, which included the biting incident from Suarez – this all resulted in a lengthy period of injury time (somewhat controversially long…). So it was stoppage time that made a difference in the game, with Sturridge crossing to a heading Suarez for the 97th minute equaliser… wow. Oh, side note – if you have Suarez you might need to think about offloading him sooner rather than later, because he’s gorn for at least a few games. Yep, that’s right – g.o.r.n.!
Bonus Points: Suarez (3), Sturridge (2), Mata (1).
Man United 3 – 0 Aston Villa
It was probably fitting in some ways that this was the isolated game of the round, as United had a chance to seal the title and did so in relatively convincing fashion. The first half was where all the action was, starting after just 80 seconds when a Giggs knock back was swept in by RVP from point blank range. Then what followed was quite remarkable, a long ball in behind the defense by Rooney (playing central midfield) was latched onto by RVP running with the flight – on the full mind you – and he hit his first time volley past a helpless and flailing Guzan.
Around 12 minutes from the half, the ‘signing of the season’ notched his second United hat trick and officially took the lead off Suarez for the golden boot. Again Giggs unselfishly found RVP and he dinked around to his left and pounded the ball past the Villa defenders standing on the line from inside six yards. Anything following this was really just United counting down the clock for their win and to seal the title, which almost allowed Villa to score on a couple of occasions in the second half, however RVP even assisted down the other end when he cleared a Weimann shot off the line. Benteke also had a chance denied by de Gea after Rooney turned the ball over easily, but it was really all about the final whistle at that stage. So now that’s done with, be very wary of your United players! There could definitely be some rotation nightmares if SAF isn’t interested in collecting points!
Bonus Points: RVP (3), Giggs (2), de Gea (1).
Summary for GW34:
Lord: RVP, Suarez…., Koscielny, Mata
Loser: Just Yaya Toure really (early planning for the DGW), plus an argument could be made for Suarez too (om nom nom..)
Trades: Already made the jump off Suarez and also Fellaini (DGW prep). In came Lukaku and Bale. I may also go Koscielny to Vertonghen/Zabaleta this week even though it will cost a hit, could be worth it.
Vent: I guess I don’t really have a lot to vent about, but my main league opponent also captained RVP which is a little disappointing!
Brag: Nearly cracking the ton I guess!
The tipping comp has died with us guys being quite busy recently, but Seags predicted the correct result in half the games and got the correct score in two of those in his preview! Again, my apologies for my absence of late but hopefully you’ll be seeing reviews from me for the last few weeks left in the season. Remember to hit up the comments section and tell us your scores for the week! Cheers!
Just a couple of sneaky ones to finish off…