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Barclay’s Premier League Round 24 Wrap-Up

 Posted by on February 3, 2013 at 12:03 am  England, EPL
Feb 032013

Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle

Newcastle’s first away win of the season makes things worse for Aston Villa.  If you have any spare change lying around after buying your NFL Super Bowl squares, you can bet on the Villains getting relegated this season.  They looked absolutely clueless on Tuesday.  First Papiss Cisse scored in the 18th minute and Yohan Cabaye in the 30th minute.  Although the Villains did manage to get a 48th minute penalty from Christian Benteke, they looked awful.  Boss Paul Lambert is hoping that his moves in the transfer market will bring a much needed spark to the team.  It will take a lot more than some new players and finger crossing.  Some of the home fans seemed to have given up hope already as the Villa Park was quite empty.  Their home side sits second from bottom in the table and things just don’t look good.  But if past seasons have been any indication, things are never decided until the last ball has been kicked and the last whistle blown.

Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Manchester City

This has to be the surprise of the round.  QPR Goalkeeper Julio Cesar held firm and no goals from the Champions on Tuesday.  It was a chance for Citeh to close the gap between themselves and their neighbors Manchester United to two points.  They were on a four match win streak and looked like they were going to make a run similar to the one that got them the BPL trophy last season.  But Cesar was clearly the Man of the Match and he was tested early in the eighth minute when he had to clear away from David Silva’s corner kick.  Joleon Lescott should have put the rebound in to the goal, but his shot was over the bar.  The Champions had another opportunity from the corner in the 18th minute, but Cesar was again the boss of his area.  Cesar was called on again in the 42nd minute when he had to save Gareth Barry’s 18 yard shot.  The second half was more of the same as the Champions continued to lay siege to the QPR goal.  In the 68th minute David Silva thought he had finally scored in the 68th minute when he broke through and shot from 12 yards out.  But Cesar was equal to it and kept the clean sheet.  Silva tried again in the 84th minute in a match that saw very little in the way of attacking by the home side.  But the Spaniard’s shot was cut out by Cesar.  That was really all the Champions could muster as they shared the points with the bottom of the table club.  Wonder if they miss Mario Balotelli now?

Stoke 2-2 Wigan

Wigan grab a much valued point at the Britannia Stadium.  Once again Potters’ boss Tony Pulis approached this match trying not to lose rather than trying to win.  But then the weather really dictated how this match would be played out as a very heavy rain spell completely soaked the pitch.  It was the home side that got going first and they went into the lead in the 22nd minute when Charlie Adam’s free kick wasn’t properly cleared and Ryan Shawcross was able prod the ball into the net for the goal.  It looked like Pulis’ tactics were going to actually work for a win this time as they kept the opposition at bay for the rest of the half.  They got a second goal in the 48th minute when Peter Crouch was able to pounce on a rebound from Charlie Adam’s shot.  Latics goal keeper Ali Al Habsi was able to save from Adam, but Crouch beat him to the ball and it looked like the home side had done enough to take the win.  But Wigan were able to reply right away one minute later when Roger Espinoza’s through ball was hit home by James McArthur.  Then in the 60th minute Franco Di Santo got the equalizer when he volleyed home McArthur’s header.  Wigan should have stolen the match in the 63rd minute when Asmir Begovic made a great save from James McArthur’s effort.  But, that’s as close as they would come as both sides had to settle for a point.

Sunderland 0-0 Swansea

This would be Danny Graham’s last match for the Swans as he would be leaving for Sunderland on Thursday.  The Welsh home fans were not happy about this move and let him know about it as he went through the pre-match warm-ups.  He didn’t start the match as Leon Britton started in his place.  There wasn’t too much action in this match as the rain that was soaking much of England made its presence felt at the Stadium of Light.  One of the few highlites of the match came in the 74th minute when Graham came on for Britton.  He was applauded by the Sunderland fans and booed by the Swansea fans.  I wonder how the Swans’ fans would felt if his 90th minute shot not been blocked by defender Titus Bramble?

Fulham 3-1 West Ham

The Cottagers get a much needed win over their London rivals.  Boss Martin Jol knew that Fulham needed to get back on the winning track. They had been on a slide after such a bright start to the season.  Dimitar Barbatov got them going in the 10th minute when he headed home Damien Duff’s cross.  There was some suspicion that the Bulgarian was offside as he was marked and nodded home virtually unmolested.  But if Sam Allardyce has done one thing for the Hammers it’s been to keep them fighting, no matter what.  It looked like he reminded them of that fight a bit at half time because they equalized in the 47th minute.  Mark Noble’s quick free kick caught the hosts off guard a bit and Kevin Nolan was able to hit a low left-footed strike past keeper Mark Schwarzer.  But the one weakness the Hammers have had of late is mental breaks and they had one happen one minute later as Duff was able to make a great run down the left flank and hit a cross that Hugo Rodallega headed home ahead of all the West Ham defenders.  Nolan tried to equalize in the 70th minute, but he was denied by a fine save from Schwarzer.  The Hammers’ had a penalty shot denied when Joe Cole went down from a challenge from Brede Hangeland, but the referee wasn’t convinced that a foul had occurred.  Fulham sealed the game in stoppage time when West Ham keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen parried a shot right into Mladen Petric’s path and he poked his shot in off Joey O’Brien for the own goal.

Reading 2-2 Chelsea

Adam Le Fondre’s injury time goal helps the Royals haul themselves out of the bottom three.  I must say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Chelsea faithful so angry about how their team is performing and being run in quite a while.  They drew in their FA-Cup tie at Brentford on Sunday and Wednesday looked like a great chance for the Blues to get their collective thumbs out and open up a six-point over fourth place Tottenham.  I’m wondering if Blues’ boss Rafa Benitez has a started reconsidering taking over the hot mess that is the Chelsea at the moment.  The away fans at the Madejski Stadium let him know their feelings as they chanted “You’re not wanted here” and other fun things.  The visitors started well and they could have had an early penalty when the ball appeared to strike defender Mikele Leigertwood’s arm inside the box, but the referee let it go.  The other Spaniard receiving heckling was Fernando Torres.  He had cut his hair really close and when in the 40th minute he missed a shot horribly wide, the home fans really let him have it.  But he shut them up right at the stroke of half time when he made a delicate chip over to Juan Mata who was able to poke the shot past goal keeper Adam Federici from five yards out.  Frank Lampard made the Blues supporters happier in the 65th minute when he headed home Juan Mata’s corner kick.  While the fans were still shouting for “Super Frank” to be given a new contract, Royals boss Brian McDermott brought on Le Fondre for Jobi McAnuff.  While it took a while for the substitute to make any impact, it finally paid off 86th minute when Le Fondre was able to poke Hope Akpan’s though pass past substitute keeper Ross Turnbull.  They secured the draw when Le Fondre was found unmarked at the back post by an Akpan header across the Chelsea goal.  The striker calmly put the ball home as the fans celebrated to the tune of the theme from the movie “The Great Escape”.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool

The Gunners come back from two goals down to secure a point at the Emirates Stadium.  It looks like Champions’ League football may be out of the question for Arsenal this season.  There are even some questions as to whether they’ll even qualify for the Europa League.  They haven’t been playing well of late and the Reds looked to take advantage and move up the BPL table a bit.  They made a really good start when in the fifth minute Jordan Henderson put Luis Suarez in on goal and the Uruguayan put the visitors into the lead.  The Reds needed to find a way to bounce back from their humiliating exit from the FA-Cup on Sunday.  They nearly had their second in the 10th minute as Daniel Sturridge narrowly missed to the left with his shot.  The Gunners had an equalizer attempt from Olivier Giroud blocked by defender Lucas Leiva in the 17th minute as the match kept going back and forth.  Thomas Vermaelen has a shot blocked by Jamie Carragher in the 18th minute and keeper Jose Reina had to save from Theo Walcott’s attempt to poke in the rebound.  So it went for the rest of the first half and the Reds felt good about going into the break with the lead.  They came back out pressing for the second goal and Sturridge again fired wide in the 48th minute.  Jordan Henderson got the second goal for the visitors when he was able to scoot past Andre Santos, and poke home a Sturridge pass into the net.  That goal seemed to be the kick in the pants that the home side needed and Giroud cut the deficit in half in the 64th minute when he headed home Jack Wilshere’s free kick from the right wing.  Theo Walcott got the equalizer in the 67th minute when Giroud turned provider.  It was a shock to the Reds and their defense was found wanting yet again as it had been on Sunday.  But they managed to pull together and neither side was able to break through until stoppage time when Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny had to pull off a top class save to deny Suarez’s run on goal.

Everton 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Leighton Baines gets two first half goals for the Toffees at home.  His first strike was from the edge of the box in the 28th minute when Leon Osman found him with a pass in the midfield.  The WBA defense didn’t bother to try to stop the Everton defender’s run toward the area, so he took aim and smashed his shot past WBA keeper Ben Foster.  The second goal was from a penalty kick awarded right at the stroke of half time when Victor Anichebe was fouled in the area by substitute Claudio Yacob.  Baines stroked the spot kick easily past Foster and the home side went into the break with a two goal lead.  WBA did manage to get a goal back when substitute Shane Long headed home a Romelu Lukaku cross.  But that’s as close as WBA would come on Wednesday as the Toffees tightened their grip on the last European place.

Norwich 1-1 Tottenham

Gareth Bale’s 80th minute strike rescues a point for Spurs at Carrow Road.  The Canaries were humiliated in the FA-Cup when they went out to non-league Luton.  Boss Chris Hughton wanted his boys to find a way overcome their horrible run of 2 points from a possible 21 in the BPL.  They thought they had the start they needed in the 32nd minute when Wes Hoolahan took Anthony Pilkington’s pass and went through the Spurs defense and poked in the opening goal past keeper Hugo Lloris.  The Canaries had a couple more chances to increase the lead in the first half, but were content to go into the locker room at the break with the one goal lead.  But there’s a reason why Spurs and one the best London teams this season and they set out to prove it in the second half.  Bale nearly equalized in the 51st minute when Norwich keeper Mark Bunn was forced to save the Welshman’s 25 yard shot on goal.  Jermain Defoe was the next one to miss when he got deep into the Canaries area and screwed his shot just off to the left of the goal.  The equalizer did finally come as one would expect from Bale.  He got the ball in his own half and sped by midfielder Alex Tettey like he wasn’t even there, then cut the rest of the Canaries defense apart before hammering his shot past a sprawling Bunn.  Bunn did manage to secure the draw when he saved from first substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson and then from Bale.

Lanny Short

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