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May 162013

Aston Villa 1 – 2 Chelsea

Super Frank breaks Bobby Tambling’s Chelsea goal scoring record.  It was the England’s first start in a while and what may prove to be one of his last for the Blues.  The match started out a bit badly for Chelsea who needed the win to secure their bid for UEFA Champions’ League football next season.  Christian Benteke was able to beat Blues’ defender Gary Cahill to a Brad Guzan clearance in the 15th minute.  He worked a great one-two with Yacouba Sylla, then glided past Cahill again and poked his shot past Petr Cech for the opening goal.  They nearly had a second in the 17th minute when Fabian Delph was able to get away from Ramires’ challenge, but his shot went just wide of the goal.  During the 19th minute, when the home fans were doing their usual applause for Stiliyan Petrov who is still battling leukemia, Demba Ba nearly equalized when he got on the end of a Juan Mata chipped ball.  But keeper Guzan made a brilliant save to deny the close range attempt.  Things got worse for the Blue right at half time when Ramires was sent off for receiving his second yellow card after a high footed challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor.  The second half saw things tilt back in Chelsea’s favor when Benteke was sent off in the 58th minute for receiving his second yellow card for a high footed challenge on John Terry.  In the 60th minute Lampard got the goal that leveled the scores and equaled Tambling’s record.  Eden Hazard gave him a great square pass and Lampard hit a great flaring shot that finished in the top left corner of the goal.  Chelsea thought they had gone ahead in the 71st minute when Cahill’s shot on goal bounced around in the six yard area and Ba got a foot to the loose ball.  Ashley Westwood appeared to have cleared the ball off the line, but replays showed that the ball actually crossed the line.  Chelsea had a bit of bad news in the 77th minute when Branislav Ivanovic had to substitute for Terry who was stretched off for a serious leg injury.  But just when it looked bad for the Blues, Lampard was on hand as he has always been for the 12 years of his career in Blue.  Ashley Cole made a great move into the Villa half and made a fine pass for Edin Hazard who knocked the ball across the goal for Super Frank poke home for the winning goal.  The result ensures Chelsea have a lock on third place and with it, automatic qualification for Champions’ League next season.  Why don’t they give this man a contract?

Stoke 1 – 2 Tottenham

Emmanuel Adebayor rescues the win for Spurs.  Spurs needed three points from this match to have any hope at all of Champions’ League Football for next season.  The Potters are never easy to beat at the Britannia Stadium and they took the early lead in the third minute when Steven Nzonzi headed home Charlie Adam’s cross.  Gareth Bale, like he has done all season, tried to pick his team up onto his shoulders and nearly did so when his sixth minute shot on goal was saved by Asmir Begovic.  He had another long range effort in the 10th minute that went just wide of the post.  Clint Dempsey thought he had gotten the equalizer in the 15th minute but his goal was ruled out for offside.  But the American international did level the scores in the 19th minute when he took advantage of a defensive mistake by Begovic and lobbed the ball into the empty net.  Things got more contentious as the half wore on as both sides pressed for some sort of advantage.  Adam was booked for a bad challenge on Spurs midfielder Jan Vertonghen in the 42nd minute.  Adam nearly made up for the booking right at the half time whistle when his shot was blocked by Scott Parker.  But when the second half started, Adam made another bad challenge on Vertonghen and was sent off for a second booking.  But the one thing the Potters have been able to do this season is lock down their defense and boss Tony Pulis pulled Peter Crouch and Matthew Etherington off in favor of Cameron Jerome and Andy Wilkinson.  It was then a matter of bunkering in and not allowing Spurs any looks at goal.  It nearly worked for the Potters until the 82nd minute.  This time Bale was the provider as he started the move by sending Dempsey through.  The American was able to hit a neat square pass for an on rushing Adebayor who poked home the winner to keep alive Spurs’ chances at Champions’ League football for next season.

Everton 2 – 0 West Ham

David Moyes’ last home game in charge of the Toffees ends in a win.  One of the notable endorsements that the future Manchester United boss got was from club captain Phil Neville, who is also leaving Everton as a player this summer.  He stated that he had never met a harder working man than Moyes.  That sentiment was shared by the rest of the squad as they worked hard to send the boss off with a win.  In the sixth minute, Leighton Baines found Marouane Fellaini who linked up with Steven Pienaar’s fine run to the area and the South African set up Kevin Mirallas to power home from the edge of the penalty area.  In a day that was all about the home side at Goodison Park, Darron Gibson nearly hit a thunderous volley in the seventh minute.  There wasn’t much resistance offered by the visiting team and as the match progressed, the visiting fans resorted to trying to taunt their hosts by chanting “Where’s your Moysey gone?”  The reply back from the Everton supporters of “You’ve got Sam Allardyce, you’ve got Sam Allardyce” was a direct poke at the Hammers’ boss and a signal to the Toffee ownership of the kind of boss they did NOT want to see in charge of their team.  The closest West Ham would come to scoring was in the 30th minute when Kevin Nolan when he forced a fine save out of keeper Tim Howard.  Everton should have scored their second goal in the 57th minute when Leon Osman hit a shot through the Hammers’ six yard area that no one could press home.  But they did get goal number two in the 60th minute when Pienaar found Mirallas’ run through the defense and the Belgian’s shot was deflected into the goal off James Collins.  As the celebrations continued, Leon Osman nearly made it three in the 67th minute when his shot was blocked by keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.  Hammers’ on-loan striker Andy Carroll had a change to get a goal back in the 89th minute, but his header went wide of the goal.  So when the final whistle blew and players left the pitch, the Everton squad made a honor guard for Neville and then Moyes.  And so he ended his time at Goodison Park to a standing ovation and warm appreciation from all the Toffee fans.

Fulham 1 – 3 Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge grabs a hat-trick for the Reds.  The Cottagers have looked really bad lately.  Whether it’s due to injuries or just bad luck is anyone’s guess.  They have been bitten by the injury bug this season and they lost Kieran Richardson in the 14th minute to an injury.  Martin Jol had to shuffle his line up a bit as replaced Richardson with Urby Emanuelson.  The home side seemed to have gotten their focus back on the match and went into the lead in the 32nd minute through Dimitar Berbatov’s fine finish of Sascha Riether’s cross.  But the one thing that has killed Fulham all season has been inconsistency in defense.  In the 35th minute they were made to pay for their defensive complacency when Andre Wisdom found Daniel Sturridge’s run and the striker was able to finish into the top right corner of the goal.  It looks like Sturridge will have to fill the large boots of Luis Suarez as the Uruguayan serves his ten match ban.  The England striker might just do that as long as he has the likes of Phillippe Coutinho to play with.  The Brazilian winger has been a great asset for the Reds and he was the architect for Sturridge’s second goal in the 61st minute when he supplied a wonderful pass that Sturridge poked home with ease.  Coutinho has again involved in the 84th minute when he wreaked a bit of havoc in the midfield.  Sturridge latched onto the loose ball and was able to make fine lob into the top right corner of the goal to secure his hat-trick.  So as the summer off-season looks to prove to be a chaotic mess of coaching changes, player changes and other fun, Liverpool fans can feel better about their side seems to be coming together.

Norwich 4 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

The Canaries win big in their effort to avoid relegation trouble.  The result of this match was a gift that boss Chris Hughton is more than happy to receive.  They were clearly the better side on the day and nearly got the early goal from a three minute corner kick that Shane Long did well to clear off the line.  But the Canaries kept pressing the Baggies and that pressure finally paid off in the 24th minute Wes Hoolahan set up Robert Snodgrass to score the first goal from inside the Baggies’ area.  Hoolahan nearly got the second a short time later when his shot was saved by keeper Ben Foster.  Grant Holt got the second goal in the 61st minute when Foster had a huge brain cramp as he came out to clear Hoolahan’s shot and totally missed the ball.  Holt took to offering and waltzed toward the goal and rolled the ball into the net.  Things went from bad to worse for WBA in the 64th minute when defender Gareth McAuley headed Robert Snodgrass’ cross into his own goal to make the score 3-0 to the Canaries.  The final face-punch for the Baggies happened in right at the end when Jonathan Howson scored the fourth goal from a Luciano Becchio pass.  Lucky thing for WBA that all the relegation places have already been filled.

Queens Park Rangers 1 – 2 Newcastle

The Magpies get a crucial win.  Boss Alan Pardew must be relieved now that his boys have breached that magic 40 point barrier.  The match did not start well for the visitors who went behind in the 10th minute.  QPR were awarded a penalty after Mathieu Debuchy fouled David Hoilett in the area.  Loic Remy scored the spot kick and it looked like QPR might have a chance to steal a win before they went down to the Championship Division.  But in the 17th minute Jose Bosingwa fouled Hatem Ben Arfa in the QPR area and Newcastle were awarded a penalty kick for themselves.  Ben Arfa scored the spot kick to level the score and the home fans vented their frustration on the players.  Newcastle thought they had the lead a short time later when Papiss Cisse headed the ball into the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside.  They did get the lead in the 35th minute thanks to another defensive brain cramp from Bosingwa.  Keeper Rob Green rolled the ball to Bosingwa and the Portuguese defender couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with it.  He rolled a very weak pass back to Green whose kick was knocked down by Jonas Gutierrez and rolled over to Yoan Gouffran who hit it into the bottom right corner of the goal.  The home side was booed off at the half time interval.  Boss Harry Redknapp tried to change the mood a bit by taking off Bosingwa and Shaun Derry and replacing them with Fabio Da Silva and Stephane Mbia.  There really wasn’t more to this match except in the 80th minute when Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot, already on a yellow card, received his second booking for a handball outside of his area.  Pardew had to take off Ben Arfa in favor of keeper Steve Harper, but his boys were able hang on for a crucial victory.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Southampton

Job done for Paolo DiCanio.  This match was a bit nervy for both sides.  At kick-off time, neither side was assured of a place in the BPL next season.   Both sides knew that the best way forward was to win.  The visitors had the better of the first half, but neither side could create a real goal scoring chance at the start.  Simon Mignolet was the first of the keepers to be called into action in the 30th minute when he had to save from Jay Rodriquez.  Rickie Lambert had a chance in the 36th minute, but his shot went wide of the goal.  At the other end, Saints’ keeper Artur Boruc had to save from Adam Johnson’s shot as halftime approached.  When the second half started, Danny Graham should have put Sunderland into the lead from Danny Rose’s pass across the face of goal.  But Graham completely whiffed his kick.  Sunderland did finally score the first goal in the 68th minute Phil Bardsley’s shot deflected in off defender Jos Hooiveld.  But DiCanio’s celebrations were cut short in the 75th minute when Jason Puncheon headed home substitute James Ward-Prowse’s cross to level the score.  Lambert nearly won the match for the Saints in the 87th minute when Mignolet pulled off an amazing save to keep ensure the draw.  With this result and a bit of help, it looks like DiCanio has done enough for the Blackcats for this season.


Arsenal 4 – 1 Wigan

Bye-bye Wigan.  A bit of history was written on Tuesday as Wigan became the only side to win the FA-Cup and get relegated in the same season.  It was always going to be a difficult task for the Latics to win 72 hours after lifting the trophy.  The task got harder in the 11th minute when Lukas Podolski headed home Santi Cazorla’s corner kick.  But the one thing the Latics have had this season, as in past late season fight-backs, is the ability to get goals when they’re needed.  And they got a chance right at half time when Shaun Maloney earned a free kick in a dangerous area after being fouled by Mikel Arteta.  Maloney took the free-kick and hammered home a great shot into the bottom right corner of the net.  But in the second half, the Latics lost Callum McManaman to injury and had to replace him with Franco Di Santo.  The Gunners, who knew that a win would all but secure fourth place and Champions’ League for them, began to take the impetus and in the 62nd minute Santi Cazorla set loose Theo Walcott and the England striker scored the go-ahead goal.  That was pretty much it for the Latics at that point.  Cazorla set up Podolski to score his second and Arsenal’s third in the 67th minute.  Cazorla was also the architect for Aaron Ramsey’s goal in the 70th minute.  So the win was good news for Sunderland and Newcastle and the speculation has begun about Latics boss Roberto Martinez’s future.

Reading 0 – 2 Manchester City

While the story day was the off the pitch action happening to Citeh, there was a match played on Tuesday.  Kune Aguero scored in the 40th minute and Edin Dzeko scored in the 88th minute.  Brian Kidd was in charge of the side on Tuesday and it looks like there will be chaotic days ahead for the Etihad.   Who will replace Roberto Mancini, who was fired after his side lost the FA-Cup to relegated Wigan?  Another question that is begged is will Mancini ever work again?  After all his side were the BPL champions and they are the best side on paper in the BPL.  But alas, they finished the season with no trophies and a public civil war in the locker room.  What will become of the “noisy neighbors”?

Lanny Short

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