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Nov 302014
Premier League

West Bromwich Albion 0 – 1 Arsenal

Danny Welbeck’s second half goal gets the Gunners back to winning ways. The Gunners were on one of their worst starts in 32 years. Coming into the match on Saturday at the Hawthorns, they only had 17 points in their last 12 BPL matches. The Baggies were on their own slide. They had lost against Newcastle and Chelsea respectively and the really needed a win over the Gunners. It was the visitors who had the better start as they nearly had goals from Santiago Cazorla in the second minute and Alexis Sanchez in the sixth minute. Both attempts were saved by Baggies keeper Ben Foster. The Baggies struggled to get any sort of attack going and bad to be rescued again in the 30th minute when keeper Foster saved a Cazorla shot from a Welbeck assist. It was more of the same in the second half as the Gunners continued to dominate possession and the Baggies failed to mount any real attack against them. The closest the home side would get would be in the 59th minute when defender Joleon Lescott would head a Graham Dorrans corner kick over the goal. The only goal of the match came in the 60th minute when Welbeck would head in a cross from Cazorla. Gunners’ midfielder Aaron Ramsey nearly made it two for the visitors in the 66th minute but his shot from a Cazorla pass missed the goal off to the left. The win has Arsenal supporters feeling a little better about their side and where they may be headed. We’ll see.

Burnley 1 – 1 Aston Villa

Danny Ings scores a late second half penalty to rescue the draw for the Clarets. The Villains still haven’t won a BPL match since mid-September. They’re struggling to stay out of the bottom three and really needed to win on Saturday. They started out the first half well enough, dominating possession and eventually scoring in the 38th minute. Andreas Weimann set up Joe Cole and the midfielder scored his first goal for his new team to put them into the lead. Weimann should have scored the second goal for the Villains in the 52nd minute when his shot from a Tom Cleverly pass was saved by Clarets’ keeper Tom Heaton. Heaton came up big again in the 57th minute when Weimann and Cleverly worked another attempt on goal which the Burnley keeper saved. As the match wore on, the Villains continued to dominate and hold onto their one goal lead. But in the 86th minute, just when it looked like they’d be good enough to get a much needed win, Villain defender Jores Okore was penalized for fouling Clarets’ substitute striler Lukas Jutkiewicz in the Aston Villa penalty area. Ings converted the spot-kick to draw the home side level and anger the away fans who booed their side off the pitch at the end of the match. While the Villains are not in the bottom three, they are two points away and things aren’t looking good for them.

Liverpool 1 – 0 Stoke

Glen Johnson’s second half goal ends the Reds run of three BPL losses. You’ve got to wonder if the pressure to perform is getting to Reds boss Brendan Rodgers. The Reds current form has some fans calling for him to be replaced. Especially since it looks like his big move purchase of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan last summer has not worked out as he had hoped. But Rodgers really surprised the Anfield Faithful when he decided not to start Captain Steven Gerrard. Rodgers insisted that Gerrard was left out due to the fact that there are a number of matches that will happen in a small window and he wanted to keep the 34-year-old from burning out. The match itself was a bit on the dull side. In the first half, the only real chances came at the end of the half when Potters’ striker Mame Biram Diouf’s header of a Bojan cross went ver the goal. Reds’ midfielder Philippe Coutinho also missed his shot just as the referee ended the half. The second half wasn’t too much better and it was in the 75th minute that Rodgers realized he needed Gerrard and brought him on to replace Lucas Leiva. The change sparked the home side and defender Martin Skrtel nearly scored in the 83rd minute when his shot from a Gerrard assist was blocked by the Potters’ defense. In the 85th minute, the Reds finally scored. Midfielder Rickie Lambert hit his shot from a Jordan Henderson cross off the crossbar. Johnson was able to beat everyone to the loose ball and head it into the net for the goal. Although the Potters had a couple of chances to equalize in stoppage time, the Reds managed to get the win and ease the pressure on Rodgers for the time being.

Manchester United 3 – 0 Hull

Chris Smalling, Wayne Rooney, and Robin van Persie each score in United’s win over the Tigers at Old Trafford. This was a match in which Van Persie had a point to prove. He had been criticized by United boss Louis van Gaal for his performance last week. Van Gaal said that the Dutch international had a “very bad game” against Arsenal and led some folks to speculate if Van Persie’s days as a Red Devil might be numbered. United dominated most of the play in this match and nearly scored in the sixth minute when Wayne Rooney’s shot from a Juan Mata assist missed the goal off to the right. The injury bug bit United again in the 13th minute when Angel Di Maria had to be replaced by Ander Herrera due to a leg injury. But defender Chris Smalling, who had angered so many United supporters with his awful play in the Manchester Derby, regained their favor in the 15th minute. There was a scramble in front of the Tigers’ goal after a corner-kick wasn’t cleared by the defense. Smalling managed to poked the ball over the line, and although Tigers’ keeper Allan McGregor appeared to make the save, goal-line technology showed that the ball clearly went over the line and United were awarded the goal. Van Persie set up goal number two in the 41st minute when made a wonderful pass to Rooney and the United captain slotted his shot into the bottom left corner of the net for the score. The closest the Tigers would come to scoring would come in the 53rd minute when midfielder Andrew Robertson’s shot was easily saved by United keeper David De Gea. Van Persie would score for himself in the 65th minute when he curled a shot into the top left corner of the goal after being set up by Herrara. There was a bit of concern at the end of the match when Rooney was injured after pursuing a loose ball and earning a corner-kick from Robertson. Rooney ended up rolling off the end of the pitch and hurting his leg on the advertising sign. But the win is their third in a row and closes the gap for third place.

Queens Park Rangers 3 – 2 Leicester

QPR wins a five goal thriller at Loftus Road over the Foxes. This is one of those fights that one loves to watch. Both sides were promoted from the Championship last season, but both have struggled so far in the BPL. The Foxes actually started out the season well. Their highlight was the win over Manchester United back in September. But since then, they have gone straight down hill and needed disparately to win on Saturday. They made a great start in the third minute when midfielder Esteban Cambiasso opened the scoring by slotting home a pass from Leonardo Ulloa into the bottom left corner of the goal. But just when it looked like the Foxes might be able to head into the halftime interval with the lead, defender Wes Morgan messed up a clearance and put the ball into his own net to level the score. QPR took the lead in the 44th minute when Charlie Austin’s header of a Joey Barton cross was saved by Foxes’ keeper Kasper Schmeichel, but Leroy Fer knocked in the loose ball into the net for the score. Barton had a chance to score in the 47th minute but his shot from a Fer assist went way over the goal. Austin had his 57th minute shot saved by Schmeichel and the Foxes’ fans began to hope again for a result. That hope increased in the 67th minute when midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp’s shot from distance found the bottom right corner of the goal to level the score. The Foxes had a chance to take the lead in the 69th minute when Cambiasso’s shot was blocked by the defense and Wes Morgan’s shot from the rebound was just over the bar. QPR took the lead in the 72nd minute when an unmarked Austin headed in a corner kick. To their credit, the Foxes tried hard to get that goal back, but they just couldn’t get it done. The closest they came was deep into stoppage time when midfielder Matthew James’ shot from a Jamie Vardy assist flew just over the bar. So while the win for QPR doesn’t left them out of the bottom three, it does left them off the bottom of the BPL table and could be the start of something good for them. The Foxes, on the other hand, land on the bottom and look like they’re in deep trouble.

Swansea City 1 – 1 Crystal Palace

It’s all even at the Liberty Stadium. This one the Swans will be surely kicking themselves about. They took the lead in the 14th minute when Wilfried Bony scored from a Gylfi Sigurdsson assist. They should have increased their lead in the 18th minute when Jonjo Shelvey’s shot from distance was blocked by the Palace defense. Bony had another attempt blocked in the 19th minute when he and Sigurdsson hooked up again. Then in the 23rd minute, Shelvey had a brain-cramp when he fouled Palace midfielder Marouane Chamakh in the Swans’ penalty. Mile Jedinak converted the penalty kick to level the score and Palace started to hope for a result like they got in their last match at Anfield. They almost took the lead in the 28th minute when Chamakh’s shot was saved by Swans’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Swans had their chance in the 33rd minute when Wayne Routledge’s shot from a Sigurdsson pass was saved by Palace keeper Julian Speroni. Shelvey had a couple of chances right at halftime to make up for his mistake but both his chances in the 44th and 45th minute missed the goal. The second half was all about the keepers as both Fabianski for Swans and Speroni for Palace worked hard to keep their nets empty. Perhaps the best save of the match came deep in stoppage time when Fabianski saved a Martin Kelly shot that was bound for the top right corner of the goal.

West Ham 1 – 0 Newcastle

Aaron Cresswell scores his first BPL goal as the Hammers beat 10-man Newcastle at Upton Park. Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce was looking to get a bit of revenge against one of the clubs he managed. He was there seven seasons ago and was fired after only one season. This season, he has got his Hammers playing well and contending for a place in the European competitions next season. Alan Pardew, the current boss of the Magpies, has had his share of troubles. But coming into the match on Saturday, the Magpies were on a five match winning streak. They had the better start to the first half as they nearly scored several times. The closest they came was in the 37th minute when Ayoze Perez’s shot from a Sammy Ameobi cross just missed the goal off to the left. Former Magpie Andy Carroll nearly scored against his old side in the 41st minute when his shot from a Stewart Downing cross was blocked by the Magpies defense. The lone goal of the match came in the 56th minute when Hammers’ defender Aaron Cresswell slotted a Cheikhou Kouyate pass into the bottom right corner of the goal. Perez should have leveled the score in the 58th minute but his shot from a Daryl Janmaat assist was saved by Hammers’ keeper Adrian. The Magpies tried to build more pressure on the Hammers as the second half progressed. But it all went wrong in the space of a minute when Magpies’ midfielder Moussa Sissoko killed his team’s momentum. He was booked in the 75th minute for a bad foul committed on Hammers’ defender James Tomkins. He received his second booking and his exit orders in the 76th minute when he fouled Carroll. The Hammers were able to coast to the win from that point forward and nearly doubled their lead in the 87th minute when Mauro Zarate’s curling shot was saved by keeper Adrian. So the bubbles have started blowing again.

Sunderland 0 – 0 Chelsea

Black Cats’ boss Gus Poyet’s side gets a precious point off the BPL leaders. This was a bit of a frustrating trip to Wearside for the Blues. They were still high off their UEFA Champions’ League win that qualified them for the knock-out round. Their journey through the BPL has been quite easy as no one has been able to come anywhere near beating them so far. Poyet knew this and made sure that his defense was solid. They managed to accomplish something that no BPL team has done this season. They held the League Leaders scoreless. The closest the Blues would come was in the first half when Willian hit the post with his shot. The Blues have another hiccup as their main striker Diego Costa picked up his fifth booking in the 55th minute for a clash with Black Cats’ defender Wes Brown. They have Spurs coming up in their next match and he will not be able to play due to the suspension. The draw best suits the home side as they secure their place in the middle of the BPL table. Could this be the hiccup that changes things for the Blues?

Southampton 0 – 3 Manchester City

Ten man Citeh beat the Saints and move up to second place in the BPL table. This match might be the one everyone remembers if the Champions manage to keep the BPL Trophy The Saints might also remember this match as the one where the wheels came off the wagon they were riding to a European place for next season. To their credit, the Saints held the Champions scoreless throughout the first half. They were able to contain Citeh’s main talisman, Sergio Aguero. But he was able to get loose in the 51st minute and set up Yaya Toure to score the opening goal. From that point forward, it was easy for the Champions as Saints’ boss Ronald Koeman had set the home side up to be primarily defensive. They caught what should have been a break in the 73rd minute when Citeh defender Eliaquim Mangaga, who had been booked in the first half, was sent off for a bad foul on Shane Long. That should have helped the Saints, but it didn’t and they fell further behind in the 79th minute when substitute Frank Lampard scored a great goal from a James Milner pass from a counter-attack. Gael Chichy completed the Saints’ humiliation in the 87th minute when he finished off an Aguero pass into the top left corner of the net. So if the history of the BPL means anything, this is the part of the season when dramatic moves are made that determine who will win the league. Could this match be one of those moves?

Tottenham 2 – 1 Everton

Spurs make a great comeback to beat the Toffees on Sunday. There has been a lot of yelling and bad feelings tossed in the direction of Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. A lot of Spurs fans feel like they should be doing a lot better with the man who replaced Tim Sherwood after Andres Villas-Boas had generated so much of the same anger. It was at this same point last season that Villas-Boas was fired. But the one good thing that Pochettino has done for the London side has been to get them into the knock-out round of the UEFA Europa league. The Toffees were on a five match unbeaten BPL run. They scored the first goal in the 14th minute with a wonderful curling strike from Kevin Mirallas that found the top right corner of the goal. Spurs were able to equalize in the 21st minute when midfielder Harry Kane’s shot was saved by Everton keeper Tim Howard, but Christian Eriksen was able to place the rebound into the bottom right corner of the goal. Howard was tested often as the half continued as he made saves from Ryan Mason, Kane, and Eriksen. But there was nothing he could do in first half stoppage time when Roberto Soldado grabbed the lead for Spurs with a goal from an Aaron Lennon assist. Everton tried their best to level the score and nearly did in the 58th minute. Striker Romelu Lukaku had his shot from range saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. Lloris was the man again in the 71st minute when he saved a Seamus Coleman shot from a Ross Barkley through pass. That was as close as the Toffees would get and the result lifts Spurs one place behind Arsenal and has their fans hoping for a top four finish again.

Lanny Short

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