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Nov 112014
Premier League

Liverpool 1 – 2 Chelsea

Diego Costa’s second half goal gets the win for the Blues at Anfield. This was one of those typical “Mourinho-Ugly” wins that Blues fans love about their “Special One”. They fell behind early to an eighth minute goal from midfielder Emre Can. There was some hope among the Anfield Faithful that the Reds would be able to pull off the upset and take revenge for their spring time loss that cost them the BPL last season. But those hopes were dashed in the 13th minute when Gary Cahill scored from a Nemanja Matic corner kick. There was some question as to whether the ball actually crossed the line, but goal line technology showed that the goal was correctly awarded. Liverpool had the chance to re-take the lead in the 26th minute, but Philippe Coutinho’s shot from an Emre Can assist was saved by Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois. Raheem Sterling also had a chance saved by Courtois in the 53rd minute. Once again, Mario Balotelli was MIA and never really made much of a contribution to the Reds attack. Costa scored the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute when he took a right footed shot and got it into the bottom right corner of the goal past Reds’ keeper Simon Mignolet. Then it was all about “Parking the bus in front of the goal” as the Blues were satisfied with holding that lead. There was a little worry for the Blues at stoppage time when Didier Drogba was brought on to replace Costa who appeared to have picked up an injury. But the Blues extended their lead at the top of the BPL to four points and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to beat them this season.

Burnley 1 – 0 Hull

The Clarets get their first BPL win as they beat the Tigers at home. They were the only professional club (that includes all four divisions) in England without a victory this season. They sat rooted to the bottom of the table with no hope of even staying in the BPL this season. But the home side came out fighting on Saturday. They were determined to leave their mark on the Tigers, even if it didn’t net them three points. One of their problems this season has been conceding early goals and they seem to have fixed that on Saturday as they held the Tigers scoreless for the first-half. That gave them all the confidence they would need in the second half and Ashley Barnes get them their goal when he headed home a Kieran Trippier cross. From that moment forward, it was all about to holding onto what they had. Clarets’ keeper Tom Heaton came up big in the 52nd minute when he made saves from both Mohamed Diame and Abel Hernandez. That’s as close as the Tigers would get in a, for them, disappointing match. While the result doesn’t lift Burnley off the bottom, it does close them to within two points from getting out of the relegation zone. As usual, the race to avoid relegation will be worth watching this season.

Manchester United 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

The Red Devils get back to winning ways with a home win at Old Trafford. They were anxious to get over their disappointing Manchester Derby loss from last week. During the week, Boss Louis Van Gaal told the press that it would take the side at least three years to get back to the winning way the fans were used to. They nearly got things started off right from the opening kick-off when winger Adnan Januzaj nearly scored from a Robin Van Persie assist. The one player who has been a game-changer for United this season has been midfielder Angel Di Maria who nearly scored in the 10th minute when his shot from a Wayne Rooney assist was saved by Palace keeper Julian Speroni. The one thing that has troubled United so far this season has been their defense. They looked a lot better on Saturday as Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Antonio Valencia, and youngster Patrick McNair did a great job limiting any possible opportunities for Palace. The one thing the Red Devils couldn’t seem to get done on Saturday was to get anymore quality attempts on goal. Van Gaal decided to fix that in the 62nd minute by replacing Januzaj with Juan Mata. That move paid off in the 66th minute when Mata hit a left-footed shot from a Di Maria assist into the top right corner of the goal. Mata nearly had a second goal in the 82nd minute when his shot from distance bounced off the left post. The win was good enough to lift the Red Devils to within two points of a European place.

Southampton 2 – 0 Leicester City

Shane Long gets a second half brace as the Saints march over the Foxes. It still early in the season, but it looks like Ronald Koeman might just be able to coach the Saints to a European place this season. They’ve only conceded one goal at home this season and look like the top four team that they are. The match on Saturday was soaked with a torrential rain storm, so there wasn’t much attacking in the first half. Long scored the first goal for the Saints in the 75th minute when he hit a Graziano Pelle assist into the bottom left corner of the net. Long got the second in the 79th minute when he was put through on goal by Victor Wanyama. Long nearly had a hat-trick in stoppage time when his shot from a Dusan Tadic pass was saved by Foxes’ keeper Kasper Schmeichel. But the result was good enough them to hold onto second place in the BPL and increase the gap between themselves and Manchester City to four points.

West Ham 0 – 0 Aston Villa

No bubbles for the Hammers on Saturday as they draw with the Villains at Upton Park. There wasn’t too much to this match. It was Hammers’ striker Andy Carroll’s first appearance of the season since his ankle injury that has kept him from playing since this past summer. Carroll had a couple of late second half chances to win, but each header attempt was saved by Villains’ keeper Brad Guzan. The result was good enough for the Hammers to hang onto fourth place in the BPL and it ended the Villains’ losing streak. Sometimes, you have to count that as your fortune.

Queens Park Rangers 2 – 2 Manchester City

QPR striker Charlie Austin has an early strike on goal disallowed as they draw against the Champions. There are a lot of Citeh fans who are questioning Manuel Pellegrini’s management. They lost their UEFA Champions’ League match on Wednesday. With the exception of the win over Manchester United, the Champions have looked really bad and now trail BPL leaders Chelsea by eight points. So their London trip should have been an easy win over struggling QPR. But it didn’t start that way. Early in the first half, Citeh had a defensive free-kick that was taken by keeper Joe Hart. It landed right at the feet of Austin who promptly deposited it into the back of the net. But the referee disallowed the goal and ruled that Hart had touched the ball twice and it did not leave the penalty box. Austin did score in the 20th minute when he was out through on goal by Mauricio Isla. It was up to Sergio Aguero to rescue the Champions in the 31st minute when he put Eliaquim Mangala’s through pass into the bottom left corner of the QPR goal. Austin nearly gave QPR back the lead at the close of the first half when his shot from an Eduardo Vargas pass was saved by keeper Hart. The second half saw QPR as the better team as they had several chances to score. It was Joe Hart who kept the Champions in the match, but there was nothing he could do in the 75th minute when defender Martin Demichelis’ clearance attempt of a Bobby Zamora shot ended up in the in his own goal. It was Aguero who rescued the draw for the Champions in the 83rd minute when he slotted home Yaya Toure’s through pass. Austin had one more chance to win it for QPR in the 89th minute, but his header from an Eduardo Vargas cross missed the goal off to the left. The result has started the rumor mill and it is saying that Pelligrini could very well lose his job at the end of the season.

Sunderland 1 – 1 Everton

Leighton Baines scores a second half penalty kick to rescue the draw for the Toffees. The pressure of playing in the Europa League and the BPL might be getting to Everton. It is a pretty difficult schedule to maintain and they were getting Sunderland on a hot streak. The Blackcats had just extricated themselves from the relegation zone and were feeling like they could beat anyone. They nearly scored twice in the opening minutes of the match, but just couldn’t get their shots on goal. Jordi Gomez nearly had them going in the 35th minute when his shot from a Sebastian Larsson assist was saved by Toffees’ keeper Tim Howard. But the half ended scoreless much to the relief of Toffees’ boss Roberto Martinez. The visitors made a better start to the second half and Ross Barkley had his attempt from a Romelu Lukaku pass saved by Blackcats’ keeper Costel Pantilimon. Things went wrong for Everton in the 66th minute when they gave up a free-kick in their defending third. Larsson took the kick and knocked it over the defending wall and into the bottom left corner of the goal. In the 75th minute, it was Sunderland’s turn to commit a game-changing blunder. Midfielder Connor Wickham conceded a penalty kick when he fouled Everton defender Seamus Coleman in the Blackcats’ penalty area. Baines’ conversion of the spot kick leveled the score and had Martinez feeling a bit better about the match. That good feeling was nearly lost again in stoppage time when Blackcats’ defender Anthony Reveillere’s right footed shot on goal missed just off to the right. But a draw was a good result for both sides as it has Everton within four points of the top four and has Sunderland three points and four places clear of the relegation zone.

Tottenham 1 – 2 Stoke

Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Walters score to give the Potters the win over Spurs at White Hart Lane. What on earth is going on with Tottenham? They’ve lost three of their last four matches and got that lucky win over Aston Villa last week. This is a match that boss Mauricio Pochettino will regret not getting a result from. The talk of replacing him has already begun and this match will intensify that talk. They had made such a good start to the match and nearly scored in the third minute when Harry Kane’s header of a Nacer Chadli cross was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic. But then things went wrong in the sixth minute when Bojan scored for the Potters from a great Steven N’Zonzi pass. Spurs had a chance to level the score straight away, but Andros Townsend’s shot from an Etienne Capoue corner kick was way over the goal. Things went from bad to worse for Spurs in the 32nd minute when Walters scored from a Mame Biram Diouf assist. When the half time whistle was blown, the fans at White Hart Lane booed their team off the pitch. When the second half started, Spurs nearly fell further behind when keeper Hugo Lloris had to make a great save from Victor Moses who had been sent through on goal by a Steve Sidwell through pass. Spurs finally got a goal back in the 77th minute when Chadli finished off a Danny Rose cross. But any thoughts of any sort of come-back for Spurs were ended in the 84th minute when defender Kyle Naughton was sent off for a really bad foul on Moses. That was pretty much the end for Spurs and they nearly went further behind when Lloris had to make a save from a Stephen Ireland shot toward the bottom right of the goal. They had one last chance to equalize, but substitute Emmanuel Adebayor’s header from a Chadli cross missed the goal. And so Spurs bad form continues.

West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Newcastle

Ayonze Perez and Fabricio Coloccini help the Magpies get the win over the Baggies. Does anyone remember when the Newcastle fans wanted Alan Pardew fired? I can see why no one is saying that anymore. They’re on a four match winning streak and look like they might be able to finish in the top eight this season. They made it look easy versus the Baggies at The Hawthorns Stadium on Sunday. They spent the first half keeping the home side from coming anywhere near scoring before taking the lead right at the stroke of half time when Perez put a Daryl Janmaat cross into the goal past Baggies keeper Ben Foster. It was more of the same in the second half as the Baggies just couldn’t get anything positive going. Coloccini sealed the victory when he headed in Janmaat’s cross in the 61st minute. The only real attempt the Baggies had was in stoppage time when James Morrison’s shot missed the goal of to the right. So the Magpies, who were once a relegation candidate are now level on points with Manchester United.

Swansea 2 – 1 Arsenal

The Swans make a great second half surge to beat the Gunners. It was a stormy, rain-soaked match at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday. Most of the action happened in the second half as the Gunners took the lead in the 62nd minute when Alexis Sanchez scored from a Danny Welbeck assist. Now most Gunners’ fans were singing “One-nil to the Arsenal” and figured that, given the rain and the pitch condition, the Gunners would win. But that all washed away in the 74th minute when defender Kieran Gibbs conceded a free-kick just outside the Arsenal penalty area. Gylfi Sigurdsson took the free-kick and curled it in the top left corner of the goal past Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny’s reach. The winner came in the 77th minute when Bafetimbi Gomis headed in a Jefferson Montero cross. The result moves the Swans ahead of the Gunners to fifth place in the BPL table. I’d bet that Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger is happy for the International Break coming up next week. It will give him a chance to heal from banging his head in frustration.

Lanny Short

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