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Barclay’s Premier League Week 20 Wrap-Up

 Posted by on January 1, 2013 at 1:19 am  England, EPL
Jan 012013

Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham

Spurs make it six out of eight wins as they come back from a goal down at the Stadium of Light.  The Black Cats may have been a little cocky coming into this match.  They had beaten the Champions on Boxing Day, and were on a run of three wins from their last four matches and pulled themselves away from the relegation zone.  But Spurs had delivered a face punch to Aston Villa in their last match and a lot of Spurs fans think that Andreas Villas Boas may have finally found that winning combination.  Spurs should have scored in the third minute when Gareth Bale made another one of his trade mark runs down the left wing.  He then cut back for Emmanuel Adebayor, but the shot was wide of the goal.  The rest of the first half was quite tense as either side kept probing for that opening goal.  Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet, man of the match against Manchester City, proved his worth again when he saved from Raniere Sandro in the 20th minute.  In the 38th minute, Carlos Cuellar nearly got the lead for the home side, but his header from Adam Johnson’s free-kick went over the goal.  They finally did score when John O’Shea, back in the starting line-up after illness, poked home a loose ball that wasn’t properly cleared from a Sebastian Larsson free-kick.  The second half saw the Black Cats nearly double their lead when Johnson was able to get past Bale and cross into the Spurs area.  Luckily for the visitors, Sandro was able to clear the cross.  They then got a bit of luck in the 48th minute when, from a Kyle Walker corner kick, Cuellar headed the ball into his own net to bring the scores level.  The winner came three minutes later when Aaron Lennon’s attempted back pass bounced off O’Shea and back to the Spurs’ winger’s feet.  He then raced in toward the goal past Mignolet and defender Kevin Kilgallon and placed the ball into the Sunderland goal.  Spurs had a chance to make it three in the 60th minute when Bale, who had made yet another one of his trade mark rampages through the opposition’s midfield, found Jermain Defoe right in front of goal.  But Mignolet made another wonderful save to keep the deficit at one.  But alas, his team just couldn’t find the equalizer and Spurs moved back into fourth place on the table.

Aston Villa 0 – 3 Wigan

OK, I think it may be time to panic if you’re a Villa supporter.  What in the world is with their defense?  They have given up 15 goals in their last three matches.  They’ve not scored at all in those matches and the players, especially in the center of midfield and defense act like they simply don’t care anymore.  Owner Randy Lerner has a lot of hard decisions to make if the Villains are to make any pretense at avoiding relegation.  They fell behind in the third minute when Ivan Ramis scored from a Jean Beausejour corner kick.  To be fair, they have a really long injury list and just aren’t the same without Darren Bent, Richard Dunn, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N’Zogbia, and Nathan Baker.  Boss Paul Lambert will need to make some important decisions in the upcoming transfer window and you could see the pain on his face as his side continued to falter at Villa Park.  The Latics really aren’t much better, but they were able to time and again just simple drive through the middle of the Villain midfield and onto the goal.  It wasn’t until the 36th minute that the home side were able to put together any sort of significant attack and when Christian Benteke thought he equalized, the goal was disallowed as Andreas Weimann was caught offside.  Whatever adjustments or words that Lambert gave at halftime had no effect on his team as they started out the second half in the same sluggish manner.  In the 52nd minute, Emmerson Boyce went through the middle of the Villain defense and, after a one-two with Arouna Kone, walked around keeper Guzan to make the score 2-0 to the visitors.  The Latics got their third in the 56th minute when Kone was able to drive through the Villain middle and score past Guzan’s challenge.  At that point, many of the Villain supporters had seen enough and headed for the exits.  Lambert tried to fix things by taking off Steve Ireland, Brett Holman, and Eric Lichaj.  The three of them had been nothing more than spectators throughout the match and were replaced by Marc Albrighton, Jordan Bowery, and Karim El Ahmadi.  But that had little effect as the Latics, with three precious points in their bag, were able to sit back and absorb any pressure.  The final whistle saw Wigan out of the bottom three for the first time in a long time and one place above Villa who are only one point off the bottom three.

Fulham 1 – 2 Swansea

The Swans send the Cottagers closer to the relegation zone.  I think if Swansea wanted to hand out a match ball, they may have considered Fulham keeper David Stockdale.  He was in goal for injured Mark Schwarzer and made two howlers that allowed the visitors to win the match.  And he did it in front of England boss Roy Hodgson.  The first gift was to Danny Graham in the 18th minute.  Swans midfielder Nathan Dyer scuffed a deflected cross towards the corner of the Fulham goal.  The ball should have been easily pushed wide by the keeper, but instead, he knocked it back into danger and Graham hooked it back into the net.  The second gift happened in the 52nd minute when Stockdale’s clearance went straight off Brede Hangeland to Pablo Hernandez to square over to Jonathan de Guzeman to place insde the bottom right corner of the net.  The Cottagers did manage to pull a goal back in the 56th minute.  Dimitar Berbatov’s header bounced off the bar and the Bulgarian’s follow-up was blocked to Bryan Ruiz who hit a point blank shot.  There was some question as to whether Sascha Riether, who was in an offside position, interfered with goal keeper Gerhard Tremmel.  But the referee allowed the goal to stand.  But that was all the Cottagers could muster and they suffered another home defeat.

Norwich 3 – 4 Manchester City

The Champions get a contentious win at Carrow Road despite ending the match with ten men.  They were not happy about being beaten at Sunderland on Boxing Day, so it was no wonder that they came into this match wanting to make a statement about keeping the Premiership.  Edin Dzeko, preferred over Mario Balotelli had them on the score sheet in the second minute as he easily scored from David Silva’s pass into the area.  Two minutes later the Champions doubled their lead when Dzeko was found, this time by Sergio Aquero and the striker finished in the bottom left corner of the goal.  The hosts did manage to get a goal back in the 14th minute when, after awarded a free-kick, Anthony Pilkington hit the kick past Citeh keeper Joe Hart.  The Canaries have not been an easy team to beat this season and they attempted to make a fight of it all through the rest of the first half.  Their job got easier right at half time when Samir Nasri was controversially sent off after he went nose-to-nose with Sebastien Bassong.  Bassong had just committed a really dangerous foul on Nasri and the French midfielder took major exception to it.  The referee separated the two players and after consulting with his assistant, showed Nasri the red card.  Citeh boss Roberto Mancini was not amused as the half time whistle blew.  Neither were any of the Citeh players and when the second half started they went on a rampage that resulted in Sergio Aquero getting the third goal in the 49th minute.  But the Canaries still would not quit and they pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Robert Snodgrass and Sebastien Bassong worked a short corner kick over for Russell Martin to head home.  But just as the home fans thought their side would equalize, Dzeko hit a lucky shot off the inside of the post that bounced off Canaries’ keeper Mark Bunn and into the goal.  But there was a bit of hope in the 75th minute when Russell Martin was able to latch onto a loose ball from a corner kick and bring the home side back to within a goal.  But despite their pressure and the home fans willing them onward, the Canaries just couldn’t come up with the equalizer and the Champions were able to stay within seven points of their neighbors.

Reading 1 – 0 West Ham

The Royals climb off the bottom with a win over the Hammers.  I am not sure what Sam Allardyce’s boys were thinking about on Saturday.  Was it possible that they were still blowing Boxing Day bubbles? Whatever it was, they weren’t ready for a plucky Reading bunch who are determined to rescue their season.  Pavel Pogrebnyak, who has been relatively quiet this season, got the goal early in the fifth minute.  He took advantage of poor defensive play by defender James Collins and nicked the goal past keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.  What was even better for the Royals was the fact that they were able to make that goal stand up in spite of pressure from the Hammers.  It probably also helped that the rain was coming down in buckets and the pitch was a mess.  Carlton Cole and substitute Ricardo Vaz Te came close, but in a match that was a little boring and a total wash-out, the Royals got three valuable points and hope that they could be on the march out of the relegation zone.

Stoke 3 – 3 Southampton

Honors even for the Potters as they comeback at home versus the Saints.  The Potters looked a little bit unsettled at home as Ryan Shawcross and full-back Geoff Cameron were both serving one-match bans for accumulating five yellow cards.  Matthew Upson and Ryan Shotton started in their place and the defense looked vulnerable.  The Saints Rickie Lambert was able to take advantage in the 10th minute when he scored the opening goal from Guly Do Prado’s cross.  Steven Nzonzi should have equalized in the 12th minute when his shot was deflected to Kenwayne Jones, but the striker’s shot went wide of the goal.  He did equalize in the 16th minute when he back-heeled Ryan Shotton’s cross into the net.  Southampton went back into the lead in the 24th minute when Rickie Lambert’s cross was headed off the bar by Robert Huth ahead of his keeper’s grasp and bounced to Jay Rodriquez who put it home.  The hosts went further behind in the 36th minute when Andy Wilkinson, attempting to challenge Lambert, deflected the ball into his own net.  It was obvious at half time that Potters’ boss Tony Pulis was not very happy and one may assume that he let his boys know it during the interval.  They came out with a bit more intensity at the start of the second half.  Pulis made an unusual move in the 56th minute when he brought on Cameron Jerome for Matthew Etherington.  It was a move to add some more attacking punch for the home side and it provided the needed lift.  In the 67th minute they got a goal back when Matthew Upson scored from a loose ball from a corner kick that the Saints’ defense failed to clear.  Stoke’s comeback effort took a real setback in the 71st minute when Nzonzi was sent off for a hard challenge on Saints’ midfielder Jack Cork.  But just when the Saints thought they had the win in the back, Jerome hit what could be one of the goals of the season as his long drive thundered into the top right corner of the goal.

Arsenal 7 – 3 Newcastle

It’s yet another epic collapse for the Magpies as they lose to the Gunners.  OK, if the Gunners do not give Theo Walcott the contract that he’s looking for, then they really are stupid.  Arsene Wenger thinks that he is the next Thierry Henry.  But the England striker still has yet to sign a new deal.  He went a long way toward increasing his market value when he scored in the 20th minute.  Lukas Podolski set him up with a great pass into the area and Walcott put the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.  Newcastle, to their credit didn’t fold and get their equalizer in the 43rd minute when Gabriel Obertan found Demba Ba with a fine pass into the area which the striker put home.  Arsenal started out the second half with a bang as Newcastle keeper Tim Krul had to save from Kieran Gibbs to keep the scores level.  But Krul couldn’t keep out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 50th minute hard shot from outside the area and the Gunners were back in the lead.  But then the Magpies equalized again in the 59th minute.  This time Obertan found Sylvain Marveaux unmarked in the six yard area and he easily tapped the ball into the empty net.  But then Arsenal went back into the lead five minutes later when Jack Wilshere made a charging run at the Newcastle defense and hit a chip toward the back post.  Carlos Coloccini tried to head clear, but his clearance rebounded off the bar and fell to Podolski to nod home an easy goal to make the score 3-2.  But incredibly, Newcastle equalized again in the 69th minute when Marveaux eluded the defense and hit a cross toward the back post where Ba was able to out muscle Gibbs and put the ball past keeper Wojciech Szczesny.  That should have been good enough for a draw, but then Kieran Gibbs knocked a ball across the Newcastle box for Podolski, but as he missed, Walcott was able to hit the ball into the roof of the goal to make it 4-3.  It was all over from that point on as Giroud made it 5-3 in the 84th minute and 6-3 in the 86th minute.  Walcott got his hat-trick in stoppage time and the win was complete.

Everton 1 – 2 Chelsea

Super Frank Lampard’s brace helps the Blues keep pace with the Manchester teams.  The Blues went down early to a second minute Steven Pienaar strike.   The Toffees are making their own bid for a top four finish this season and David Moyes wanted his boys to show their best in front of the home fans at Goddison Park.  They looked like they would be able to make the one goal lead stand up though out the first half as the Blues couldn’t get anything of significance on goal.  But in the 42nd minute, Ramires was able to get forward into the Everton area and cross for Lampard to head home the equalizer.  A bit of bad news for the Blues as their goal keeper Petr Cech went out injured and was replaced by Ross Turnbull.  Both Turnbull and Tim Howard on the other end were doing their best to deny chances made by each team and it looked like the match would end in a draw.  However, in the 72nd minute, Ramires got forward again and found Juan Mata’s run.  The Spaniard’s shot was saved by Howard, but the ball fell to Lampard on the six yard box and the 34 year old couldn’t miss.  Although he is out of contract in June, he wants to stay at Chelsea and the fans don’t want to lose him.  Maybe boss Rafa Benitez could get some fan favor if he re-signed Super Frank?

Queens Park Rangers 0 – 3 Liverpool

Luis Suarez is back among the goals as the Reds put another nail in the QPR coffin.  Liverpool needed some inspiration after their woeful Boxing Day loss.  Who else to look to than the man that Reds’ fans just can’t get enough of?  The Uruguayan started early in the 3rd minute when he forced a save from restored
QPR keeper Julio Cesar.  One of the things that QPR boss Harry Redknapp has been trying to fix has been the Rangers’ defending.  He hasn’t found the winning formula yet as Reds’ midfielder Jordan Henderson was able to find Suarez in the 10th minute and the striker was able to blow through the QPR defense and strike past Cesar into the bottom left corner of the goal.  He got his second in the 16th minute when he was able to run past defenders in that trademark method of his, run along the byline, then hit a pass across the goal that defender Nedum Onuoha blocked right back to the striker who rolled it into the goal.  Adel Taarabt and Djibril Cisse did try their best to pull a goal back.  But Liverpool, without sick boss Brendan Rodgers, were not going to be beaten on Sunday.  QPR defender Ryan Nelson did stop Suarez from getting a hat trick when he intervened on a low Glen Johnson cross.  But the Reds did get their third in the 27th minute when Steven Gerrard collected a short corner and het a cross to the right that Daniel Agger headed home.  That was all the offense the Reds would need as they finally did a wonderful job of defending and holding QPR goalless.  It has been said that if you’re at the foot of the table by the end of December, it’s a good bet that you’re going to be relegated.  Redknapp has a lot to do if he means to buck that trend.  It doesn’t look good.

Lanny Short

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