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Nov 132013

Aston Villa 2 – 0 Cardiff

The Villains end their BPL goal drought with two second half goals.  It had been for matches since they had scored and it looked like Saturday was going to be number five.  They started off well.  Karim El Ahmadi had his fifth minute attempt saved by Cardiff keeper David Marshall and Steven Caulker cleared away the loose ball before Christian Benteke could take advantage.  But that was really all the attacking there was in a boring first half.  The fans at Villa Park were not happy with their team’s performance and let them know it when the half time whistle blew.  The second half did not start much better.  In the 55th minute, Cardiff boss Malky Mackay replaced an ineffective Peter Odemwingie with Frazier Campbell.  When that didn’t yield much, he brought on Jordon Mutch for Aron Gunnarsson.  Villa boss Paul Lambert made his own change in the 74th minute by replacing Al Ahmadi with Matthew Lowton.  With the substitution, the midfield was shuffled a bit and Leandro Bacuna was moved into attacking midfield.  The change worked in the 75th minute.  Bacuna got forward and was tripped by Gary Medel just outside of the Cardiff penalty area.  Bacuna took the free-kick and hit a great curling shot into the top corner of the goal that keeper Marshall could only watch go past him.  They got the winner in the 84th minute when Aleksandar Tonev’s cross was not cleared well.  Lowton was able to get to the ball first and head it over to Libor Kozak who headed into the goal.

Chelsea 2 – 2 West Bromwich Albion

The Blues get a controversial penalty kick goal to salvage a draw at Stamford Bridge.  The Baggies hadn’t won at the Bridge on 30 years.  Surely there was no way they could even come close to breaking that trend on Saturday.  After all, The Blues have one of the best home records in the BPL at 66 straight unbeaten matches.  But the Baggies, managed by former Jose Mourinho assistant Steve Clarke, tried their best to break the Blues streak.  Mourinho made a couple of changes to the side which lost to Newcastle in their last BPL match.  England international defender Ashley Cole was benched in favor of Cesar Azpilicueta and Eden Hazard was recalled to midfield after he had been benched for the UEFA Champions’ League match on Wednesday.  It was the Baggies who nearly scored first in the eighth minute when Mogan Amalfitano broke through the Blues defense, only to hit his shot wide of the goal.  Shortly after that, it started raining in London and the ground, which was already soaked from previous precipitation, got soggier.  So both sides went squishing around the pitch and it looked like the half was to end in a deadlock.  Right at the stroke of half time, Hazard was able to get through the Baggies defense and hit a low shot that keeper Boaz Myhill did well to deflect away.  But Baggies defender Liam Ridgewell got caught in possession by Samuel Eto’o and the Blues striker was able to poke the ball home for the opening goal.  As the second half got underway, Oscar hit a great long pass over to Hazard who was making a great run down the left wing.  However, his first touch was a bit heavy and the ball rolled on to keeper Myhill’s hands.  It was a missed opportunity that the Blues would pay for in the 60th minute.  The Baggies had earned a corner kick and when it was taken, Shane Long was able to out jump the Blues defenders to head the ball home for the equalizer.  The visitors took the lead in the 68th minute when Ridgewell  found Stephane Sessegnon’s run at the edge of the penalty area and the Benin international was able to hit his low, hard shot through Blues keeper Petr Cech’s grasp and into the goal.  That goal and the Baggies defensive performance through the remainder of the match should have been good enough for the win.  They kept ten men in their own defending half and were able to turn away nearly each and every Blues attack.  However it all went wrong for West Brom in the fourth minute of stoppage time.  Ramires was able to break through into the Baggies penalty area.  As Chris Brunt went to challenge the Brazilian winger, he went down and the referee awarded the Blues a penalty kick.  Hazard scored the spot kick much to the relief of the Blues fans who are happy that their home winning streak continues.

Crystal Palace 0 – 0 Everton

Everton are held to a disappointing goalless draw.  How on earth did the Toffees not manage to come away with a win on Saturday?  They had a change to climb into the top four.  Surely there couldn’t have been anyway for the bottom club to force sharing of the points.  But that’s what happened.  The Toffees for some reason just couldn’t seem to get anything going and had USA international goalkeeper Tim Howard to thank for making a great save in the 38th from Jerome Thomas to preserve the clean sheet.  The Bluebirds should have taken the lead a short time later when Barry Bannan’s cross was headed wide of the goal by Marouane Chamakh.  The home side had another chance just as the second half got underway when Yannick Bolasie put Thomas through one-on-one with Howard.  The winger’s chip beat the keeper, but went over the goal.  That was about all there was for this match, Leighton Baines, Steven Pienaar, and Gerard Deulogeu had chances late in the match, but the Palace defense was equal to any Everton threats.

Liverpool 4 – 0 Fulham

Luis Suarez scores twice as the Reds get an easy win over the Cottagers.  The rumors about Martin Jol’s job at Fulham and speculation about who would replace him got stronger on Saturday.  The Cottagers simply have no spark and, after losing to Manchester United in the last round, look absolutely clueless.  They have been scored on 13 times in their last four matches and seemed to have forgotten where the goal is.  That was evident in the 22nd minute when defender Fernando Amorebieta directed a Steven Gerrard cross into his own goal.  Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the 26th minute when Martin Skrtel headed home Gerrard’s corner kick to make it 2-0 for the Reds.  Suarez got on the score sheet in the 36th minute when he knocked home Jordan Henderson’s through ball past Cottagers’ keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.  The second half saw the Reds slow down a bit as it was obvious that the Cottagers were no match for them.  In the 54th minute, Gerrard got the ball off Cottagers midfielder Kieran Richardson and threaded a fine pass for Suarez.  The Uruguayan international has able to wrong-foot defender Philippe Senderos and drill home a great goal into the near post.  That goal made Suarez joint top scorer and that’s after he missed the first six matches through suspension.  The rest of the match was fairly quiet as the Reds concentrated on keeping possession and the Cottagers could not muster and sort of attacking strength.  So it looks like Jol will be joining Paolo Di Canio on the unemployment line.

Southampton 4 – 1 Hull

The Saints march on to an easy win over the Tigers.  It’s official.  This is their best start to a top flight season ever.  It’s even better than the 1983-84 start when they finished in second place to Liverpool.  Mauricio Pochettino won October’s Manager of the Month.  It’s a great achievement since back in April, there were people who hated him.  What has been so amazing is how Pochettino has managed to make this team so good.  A fluid attack and a stalwart defense has been the key for the Saints and they opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Nathaniel Clyne’s cross was headed back by Rickie Lambert for Morgan Schneiderlin to head into the goal.  The Saints were just too much for the Tigers and they conceded a penalty kick in the 28th minute when Steve Harper brought down Adam Lallana in the Hull penalty area.  Lambert converted the spot kick for the second goal and the rout was on.  The third goal came in the 37th minute when Lallana slammed home Rickie Lambert’s corner kick.  The Tigers did manage to pull a goal back in the 55th minute when Yannick Sagbo’s shot went into the bottom right corner of the goal past keeper Artur Boruc.  But Hull never really threatened in this match.  They conceded the fourth goal in the 88th minute when Steven Davis poked home Nathaniel Clyne’s cross.  The win takes the Saints up to third place in the BPL table.  Not bad for a side that were fighting relegation last season, eh?

Norwich 3 – 1 West Ham

The Canaries get three second half goals to beat the Hammers and get away from the relegation zone.  This is a match that the Hammers should not have lost.  After all, they dominated the first half and Ravel Morrison gave them a 32nd minute lead.  That should have been enough for Sam Allardyce’s boys to be able to see out the victory.  Norwich boss Chris Hughton, who was the bookies favorite to be the next manager fired, was unfazed at half time.  Although the team was booed off by the home fans, he managed to find a way to focus his team and get them to come out fighting in the second half.  They got a bit of luck in the 52nd minute when Hammers’ keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was penalized for tripping Gary Hooper in the West Ham penalty area.  Jaaskelainen had come to claim the ball from a corner kick.  When he dropped it, Hooper pounced onto the loose ball and fell over the keepers outstretch arm.  The referee awarded the Canaries a penalty kick which Hooper converted to level the scores.  Their second goal came in the 71st minute when they were awarded a free kick just outside of the area for a foul committed by James Collins on Robert Snodgrass.  Snodgrass’s free kick curled over the Hammer’s wall and into the top right corner of the goal.  The Hammers had really lost their composure at this point.  They conceded the third goal in stoppage time when Leroy Fer’s left footed shot went in past Jaaskelainen.  So the win takes the pressure off Chris Hughton for the time being.  I wonder if the pressure is building on Sam Allardyce?

Tottenham 0 – 1 Newcastle

Goal keeper Tim Krul pitches a shutout for the Magpies on their visit to White Hart Lane.  Spurs boss Andre Villas Boas will no doubt be very disturbed at his side’s inability to score at home.  They went behind in the 12th minute when Loic Remy scored from an assist by Yoan Gouffran.  But it was Krul who was the man of the match and he pulled off a great save in the 25th minute when he blocked Jan Vertonghen’s shot toward the bottom left corner of the goal.  Andros Townsend was denied in the 25th minute when he attempted a shot from outside the penalty area.  Krul came up big again in the 30th minute when he was able to keep Roberto Soldado’s header out of the net.  In the 37th minute, Krul made a great save from Christian Eriksen’s long shot from 20 yards out from goal.  Paulinho thought he had a sure equalizer for Spurs as he danced into the Newcastle area in the 42nd minute, but he too was denied by Krul.  The second half was more of the same as Spurs made attack after attack on goal and Krul was equal to each and every one of them.  He made 14 saves total in the match.  It was, by far, the most saves by any keeper in the EPL this season and moves the Magpies up to ninth place.

Sunderland 1 – 0 Manchester City

Philip Bardsley’s first half goal is good enough to help the Black Cats add to Citeh’s away match woes.  It was the fourth BPL loss for Manuel Pellegrini’s boys this season and has a lot of Citeh fans shaking their heads.  Their side started well and should have scored in the seventh minute when Bardsley out-jumped Alvaro Negredo to head away Aleksander Kolarov’s cross.  James Milner got to the loose ball, but his long-range shot was saved by Black Cats’ keeper Vito Mannone.  The miracle happened for the hosts in the 21st minute.  Wes Brown, back in the starting team since January, hit a cross for Bardsley.  He then got past Milner then cut inside and hit a great curling shot past Citeh keeper Costel Pantilimon for the lone goal of the match.  It was all the Black Cats would need as boss Gus Poyet’s tactics of keeping possession and defending in numbers paid off well.  In fact it wasn’t until the 66th minute when Micah Richards took a speculative shot from outside the box, did Mannone ever even get tested.  Although Pellegrini made several substitutions and formation changes, he just couldn’t find the right combination to penetrate the home side.  The loss moves Citeh down to eighth place.  Although the season is still quite young, title hopes for the “Blue Half” of Manchester seem to be in jeopardy.

Swansea 3 – 3 Stoke

Charlie Adam’s stoppage time penalty-kick goal helps the Potters earn a point at the Liberty Stadium.  Swans boss Michael Laudrup must be really furious.  This was the second time in a row that the Swans had let a lead slip away in stoppage time.  On Wednesday, they conceded a late goal in their UEFA Europa League match.  They fell behind early on Sunday in the seventh minute when Peter Crouch headed a through ball on goal for Jonathan Walters to poke home to put Stoke into the lead.  Swansea could’ve equalized in the 15th minute, but Roland Lamah headed Angel Rangel’s cross straight into Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic’s hands.  The visitors increased their lead in the 25th minute.  This time, Crouch put though Stephen Ireland on goal and the midfielder was able to tuck the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal.  As the second half got underway, Laudrup decided to replace Roland Lamah with Nathan Dyer to shake things up in the midfield.  The change worked as Swansea earned a corner in the 55th minute.  Wilfried Bony was able to head home Jonathan De Guzman’s corner kick to get goal back.  They got the equalizer in the 73rd minute when substitute Jonjo Shelvey’s shot was blocked and Dyer was able to put home the loose ball past Begovic.  Swansea took the lead in the 85th minute when Bony slotted home a left-footed shot from Shelvey’s pull-back.  But the home side was denied the win in the fifth minute of stoppage time when defender Wayne Routledge was judged to have handled a Ryan Shawcross header on goal in the penalty area.  The referee awarded the visitors the spot kick that Adam powered home for the draw.


Lanny Short

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