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Barclay’s Premier League Week 14 Wrap-up

 Posted by on November 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm  England, EPL
Nov 302012

Sunderland 0-0 Queens Park Rangers

Harry Redknapp’s first match in charge of QPR results in a precious away draw.  It wasn’t a real fun night to make any sort of debut.  Wearside was experiencing lots of wind and rain and the pitch was absolutely soaked.  But the Rangers’ players knew that if they really wanted to be part of ‘Appy ‘Arry’s resurrection, they would need to prove themselves worthy.  Adel Taarabt in particular really tried to step up.  He linked up well with Djbril Cisse and the two of them should have gotten the visitors the lead when Tarrabt’s cross found Cisse unmarked at the far post.  But Cisse’s header was a bit weak and the ball was easily saved by Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet.  Craig Gardner sent a free kick just wide for the hosts a bit later.  Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill had a worry when captain Lee Cattermole, who came into the match nursing a knee injury, had to be replaced by Jack Colback.  Cisse nearly scored in the 12 minute when his curled right-footed shot was pushed around the post by Mignolet.  Cisse nearly scored again in the 19th minute, but his drive went wide of the goal.  In the 41st minute Steven Fletcher got in on goal after being played in by Adam Johnson, but QPR keeper Julio Cesar was more than equal to the shot.  Rangers’ captain Ryan Nelson nearly headed Taarabt’s corner kick in as half time approached, but when the whistle did blow, the score remained deadlocked.  There was a shock for QPR fans when the second half resumed as Cesar, who had picked up a knock toward the end of the first half, was replaced by backup keeper Rob Green.  But it was the visitors who started the second half better as Sergio Granero nearly scored as his header from Armand Traore’s cross was saved by Mignolet.  Stephane Mbia kept hope alive for QPR when he found enough room to drill a 25 yard shot just wide of the post and out of Mignolet’s reach.  Green got tested in the 64th minute when Fletcher headed Sebastian Larsson’s corner kick downward and goalward.  Green was able to get one hand to the ball and control it so that there was no rebound.  Green was tested again in the 81st minute when Larsson hit a skidding strike from distance that the QPR keeper did well to get down and claim.  QPR could have stolen all three points right at the end when Shaun Wright-Phillips had his shot blocked by Mignolet’s leg.  It was not a win for QPR, but it was a much needed point and the more QPR can get the better their chances of survival.

Aston Villa 1-0 Reading

Record signing Darren Bent doesn’t even make the bench as his replacement Christian Benteke scores late to get the Villains a much needed win.  It looks like Bent has well and truly lost his place in the team as he watched the match from the executive’s box.  No one seems to understand why boss Paul Lambert has no use for the former Tottenham striker, but he was not needed Wednesday.  Lambert started a side with at eight players aged 23 or younger and they seemed to enjoy most of the possession during the match.  Reading had the first attempt on goal as Hal Robsin-Kanu was found in space by Jason Roberts, but the midfielder missed just wide of the post.  Reading keeper Adam Federici had to make a save from Benteke’s shot in the 19th minute as he was found by a Brett Holman cross.  Villa had to make a change when left defender Enda Stevens pulled up injured and was replaced by US international Eric Lichaj.  In the 27th minute Andreas Weimann should have shored when he was found unmarked on the far side of the six yard area by Benteke.  But alas, he fired his shot over the goal.  The match looked like it was going to be a stalemate as chance after chance went begging.  But Benteke took care of things in the 80th minute when he headed home Ashley Westwood’s in-swinging corner kick.  He should have made it two in the 82nd minute when his shot has saved by keeper Federici.  But the Villains got three much needed points and some hope that momentum from this home win could save them from relegation.

Chelsea 0-0 Fulham

Rafa Benitez doesn’t lose his first London derby match.  That’s a good thing, right?  For most teams the answer would be yes.  But there is a lot of chaos going on at Stamford Bridge at the moment.  The fans are angry.  The team is underperforming.  The man picked by the owner to salvage their season is hated.  There is a lot of negative haterade to be had at Chelsea and the match on Wednesday showed it.  Blue striker Fernando Torres is having an absolutely awful season.  There has some hope that Benitez, who brought the striker to Liverpool, would be able to inspire the Spanish international and get him to score, but that did not happen in this match.  The one good thing for Benitez was that he wasn’t jeered when he first entered the pitch.  The fans seemed like they would be willing to forgive him if he were to get a result.  But as this match wore on, fans got more and more restless and they were chanting, “You’re not welcome here” at Benitez and “We want our Chelsea back” at owner Roman Abramovich.  The match itself was quite boring and even Abramovich looked like he was about to fall asleep several times during the 90 minutes.  Perhaps he may be regretting his coaching change?

Everton 1-1 Arsenal

Theo Walcott and Marouane Fellaini both score as the Gunners and Toffees draw at Goodison Park.  There have been a lot of stories about Walcott and his contract renewal negotiations.  He’s been talking about how much he wants to move up front and be the new legend like Thierry Henry or Dennis Bergkamp.  Well, he went a long way towards proving his case on Wednesday as he scored in the first minute of the match.  He was able to get around the Everton defense, then play a one-two with Aaron Ramsey and drive his shot off defender Tony Hibbert and over keeper Tim Howard.  At 10 goals, he is now Arsenal’s joint leading scorer along with Olivier Gioud, Lukas Podolski, and Santu Cazorla.  A worrying moment happened three minutes later for the Gunners as Laurent Koscielney was injured making a clearance and had to be replaced by Kieran Gibbs.  It took a while for the home side to get over the shock of going behind so early in the match, but Fellaini got the equalizer in the 28th minute.  Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna, under pressure from Steen Pienaar, gave the ball away right to the Belgium international.  He took a controlling touch then let loose with a low curing shot that beat keeper Wojciech Szczesny inside to the right.  In the 38th minute Nikica Jelavic had a moment of shear brilliance when he controlled Fellaini’s flick with his chest.  His shot, however, was an ugly ballooning shot that went into the crowd at the Park End.  The home side had another chance to go ahead in the 57th minute when Sylvain Distin’s powerful header from Leighton Baines’ cross was saved by Szczesny’s fingertips.  There was a penalty shout a bit later when it looked like Mikel Arteta pulled back Pienaar in the area.  However the referee was not interested and merely gave a corner.  Cazorla took a long range shot in the 75th minute that forced a great save from Howard.  But that and an 89th minute Jelavic miss on goal were about as close as either side would come to be breaking the deadlock.

Southampton 1-1 Norwich City

Saints and Canaries battle to a draw.  This was referee Mark Clattenburg’s first match back in charge after charges of racism against him were dropped.  He received a round of courteous applause from the home fans, but then it was down to business.  It was the visitors who had the first chance as Robert Snodgrass’ fourth minute shot was saved by keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.  This match would prove to be a back-and-forth affair as the Saints nearly scored from a fierce Jason Puncheon drive.  Then the Canaries had their turn through Anthony Pilkington who was getting a lot of room to roam up and down the left flank.  The Saints got the first goal in the 32nd minute from a free kick taken by Adam Lallana that was put home by Rickie Lambert.  The Canaries got the equalizer when they were awarded their own free kick in the 43rd minute when Nathaniel Clyne took down Snodgrass just outside the penalty area.  The midfielder took the free kick and hit a low strike that got past Gazzaniga into the upper corner of the goal.  The second half saw more of the same from each side, but neither side could make the vital break through.  Pilkington and Snodgrass came the closest for the Canaries while Jason Puncheon and Jose Fonte came the closest for the Saints.  So the Saints remain in the bottom three but still with a fighting chance at staying in the BPL.

Stoke 2-1 Newcastle

Late goals from Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome condemn Newcastle to their fourth defeat in a row.  The way this match started, one was certain that Newcastle would be able to grab their first away win.  In the fifth minute James Perch took a long shot that was wide of the goal.  In the 7th minute, Vurnon Anita forced a save from Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic.  But as is always the case at the Britannia Stadium, goals just do not happen that often and that was the case for most of the first half.  There was a chance for Jonathan Walters to score for the Potters in the 16th minute, but his header was saved by Magpies’ keeper Tim Krul.  So the score sheet remained blank as the teams went into the locker room at halftime.  Newcastle started the second half the better of the two sides and they broke the deadlock in the 47th minute when Demba Ba hit a long range shot that keeper Begovic spilled and the rebound was finished off by Papiss Cisse.  The goal woke up the home side a bit and they nearly had the equalizer in the 52nd minute when Walters missed his close in header wide of the goal.  Ba should have made it two in the 54th minute but his shot was saved by Begovic.  The Potter’s keeper had to make another fine save in the 63rd minute from Cisse as the home crowd started to get impatient.  Boss Tony Pulis took off Charlie Adam and Matthew Etherington for Michael Kightly and Jerome.  Kightly made an impact in the 79th minute when he made a lovely cross for Kenwayne Jones in close, but the Jamaican international could only head straight to Krul.  But in the 81st minute Jerome made great cross and Walters headed home the equalizer into the upper corner of the goal.  In the 84th minute they scored the winner when Jones got on the end of a long ball and squared over to Jerome who slid his shot under Krul.  The final whistle saw Stoke break into the top ten when Newcastle are dangling two points above the bottom three.

Swansea City 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

Swans smack the Baggies back to reality with three first half goals.  This match was a lesson on why you never get arrogant in the BPL.  Because one day you’re making a great run of 4 straight wins like WBA had done coming into this match.  The next day you’re getting worked over and down two goals inside of 11 minutes.  The warning to the visitors came in the first ninety seconds when Swans striker Miguel Michu struck the post with his close range shot.  But the Baggies just couldn’t deal with the smooth passing by the Swans and Michu did score in the ninth minute.  Pablo Hernandez made a wonderful cross that was easy for Michu to put in the auld onion bag.  They got the second goal in the 11th minute when Hernandez made another great pass for Wayne Routledge that found the net when the initial save from the shot ricocheted off his shin.  Panic had set in with Baggies as they just couldn’t get going.  Routledge found the goal again in the 39th minute as he an Ben Davies combined to make it three for the hosts before halftime.  Romelu Lukaku did get a consolation goal at halftime, but by then it was no longer a contest.  The second half saw more domination by the hosts, but even though WBA did not allow any more goals, the visitors just couldn’t get over the poor start and their winning streak came to an end.

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

Garth Bale’s goal ends the Reds eight match unbeaten streak.  The Welshman is having a great streak of form at the moment and Spurs fans are loving it.  Sunday he made West Ham look absolutely foolish and he started out the match on Wednesday in the same way as he tore through the Reds defense on a 50 yard run before he passed over to Aaron Lennon in the 7th minute.  Lennon accepted the gift and put the home side into the lead with an easy finish.  Bale made it 2-0 in the 16th minute when he hit a wonderful swirling free-kick that looped and dipped over the wall and made Reds’ keeper Pepe Reina into frozen pizza.  The Reds’ thought they should have had a penalty kick awarded in the 36th minute when captain Steven Gerrard went down under pressure from Mousa Dembele.  Luis Suarez, as he has done time and again, tried to lift Liverpool back into the match.  He had several chances to grab a goal for his team.  They nearly had one back at halftime when Suarez was fouled by defender William Gallas.  But Joe Allen could do nothing with the free-kick.  Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers was visibly upset at halftime and to their credit, the boys did try to start the second half better than the first.  But they just couldn’t get any luck and nearly conceded a third goal when Martin Skrtel made a bad clearance that Jermaine Defoe seized on.  But a mix-up between he and Clint Dempsey prevented the goal.  But Liverpool did get a goal in the 70th minute.  It was a gift from Bale as Aaron Lennon cleared a Gerrard header right smack-dab into the Welshman’s face and into the goal.  The Reds’ tried their best to take advantage of the gift, but just couldn’t score as Suarez, and later Jonjo Shelvey came closest to scoring.  But alas it was not to be as Spurs moved above both Arsenal and Everton into fifth place.

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham

Robin Van Persie scores the quickest goal of the BPL season so far.  Turned out that was the only goal that was needed but there were many nervous moments at Old Trafford.  With United legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the crowd, Van Persie right from the kick off made his way into the Hammers’ area and was found with a Michael Carrick pass.  His shot deflected off James Collins’ block attempt and looped in over keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the net.  One could help but think that perhaps United, who usually struggle against West Ham, might be poised to deliver a smack.  But such was not the case as time and again Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, and Anderson just couldn’t find the second goal for the Red Devils.  They almost gave up the equalizer when Kevin Nolan and later Andy Carroll tested the United defense.  The one thing that Alex Ferguson wanted more than anything was a clean sheet as they have been hard for the Red Devils to obtain this season.  When the Hammers ceased being afraid of United’s home advantage and introduced Carlton Cole for Carroll, they nearly scored as keeper Anders Lindegaard had to turn away the strikers close effort.  That was as close as the Hammers would come to scoring.  It was ugly, but it was three points and a clean sheet.  Something that I am sure that Ferguson is thinking about with the Manchester Derby right around the corner.

Wigan 0-2 Manchester City

Mario Balotelli and James Milner’s second half goals give the Champions another victory.  This was a pretty easy match for the champions as they get ready for the Manchester Derby in 10 days.  Boss Roberto Mancini decided to give Balotelli a start, his first in six matches, instead of Edin Dzeko,  The champions should have had in early goal in the 4th minute when Sisenando Maicon made a charge down the right and narrowly missed over the goal.  Arouna Kona tried a long range shot but keeper Joe Hart was able to make the save and prevent the home side from scoring.  Citeh had a couple more chances to take the lead though Sergio Aquero and through Pablo Zabaleta, but halftime came with neither side able to make any breakthrough.  After the interval, the champions began to up the tempo and Latics keeper Ali Al-Habsi had to save from both David Silva and Balotelli right from the start.  The Latics should have taken the lead when in the 55th minute Arouna Kone headed wide from a James McCarthy cross.  They would regret that miss in the 69th minute when Balotelli grabbed a rebound from a Garth Barry strike on goal.  The Italian’s first effort was blocked, but he smashed home on the second attempt.  Milner, on as a substitute for Javi Garcia, secured the win in the 72nd minute when he hit a class strike from long range into the top corner of the net.  That ended the match as a contest, but Milner had to leave the match with an injury in the 80th minute.  But the champions are within striking distance of their cross-town neighbors again.

Lanny Short

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