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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 15

 Posted by on December 12, 2013 at 12:36 am  England, EPL
Dec 122013

Crystal Palace 2 – 0 Cardiff

Palace make it back-to-back wins with Tony Pulis in charge.  It will be a long road back for Palace if they’re going to stay in the BPL.  Saturday they took a large step in that direction.  It was the first time they had back-to-back wins since 2004 and they took the first step in the fifth minute when Cameron Jerome headed the home side into the lead from a Jason Puncheon cross.  Puncheon nearly doubled the lead as the second half got underway when his shot missed off to the right of the goal.  Marouane Chamakh did double the lead for the home side in the 57th minute.  Barry Bannan hit a cross over to Cameron Jerome that was headed clear by Cardiff defender Ben Turner, but the ball dropped to Chamakh who fired the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.  The closest Cardiff got would be in the 76th minute when Jordon Mutch’s shot was saved by Palace keeper Julian Speroni.  In the 80th minute, Puncheon had a chance to make it three for Palace.  His shot from outside the area was saved by Cardiff keeper David Marshall.  The win takes Palace off the foot of the table and presents the possibility that they might be able to rescue this season after all.

Liverpool 4 – 1 West Ham

The Reds get a comfortable win and reclaim second place in the BPL table.  The Hammers are in a bit of trouble lately and Luis Suarez did his best to make things uncomfortable the guests on their visit to Anfield on Saturday.  He nearly had the opening goal in the ninth minute but his close-range shot barely missed to the right of goal.  Suarez had another attempt saved in the 10th minute by Hammers’ keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.  The Uruguayan striker would his stamp on the first goal when it finally came in the 42nd minute.  He took a shot from the right side of the Hammers’ penalty area that deflected in off Hammers’ defender Guy Demel for the own goal.  The Reds made it two goals to the good as the second half got underway.  Suarez won free-kick just outside the Hammers’ penalty area that was taken by Steven Gerrard.  His kick floated to Mamadou Sakho who hit it in with his left foot.  Suarez nearly made it three in the 50th minute when his header from a Gerrard cross was saved by Jaaskelainen.  Gerrard pulled up a bit lame after that and had to be replaced by Lucas Leiva in the 55th minute.  The loss of their captain didn’t slow down the Reds and they nearly scored again in the 61st minute when Raheem Sterling hit his shot just wide of the goal after Jordan Henderson did well to set him up.  There was a scary moment in the 65th minute when Reds’ defender Martin Skrtel gave the Hammers a lifeline by heading Matthew Jarvis’ cross into his own goal.  But Suarez restored the Reds’ two goal advantage in the 80th minute when he headed Glen Johnson’s cross past Jaaskelainen.  Things went from bad to worse for the Hammers in the 82nd minute when Kevin Nolan was sent off for a bad foul on Henderson.  To add insult to injury, the Hammers conceded another own goal in the 83rd minute when Suarez’s shot was deflected into the net by Joey O’Brien.  The win leaves the Reds five points behind Arsenal and ahead of Chelsea on goal difference.

Southampton 1 – 1 Manchester City

Manuel Pellegrini’s road woes continue as the Saints fight back for the draw.  Most people were thinking that Citeh were over this bad road performance problem.  They had beaten West Bromwich Albion convincingly on Wednesday and looked to repeat the feat Saturday at St. Mary’s Stadium.  They even got the early goal in the 10th minute from Sergio Aguero when the Argentina international poked home Aleksandar Kolarav’s cross.  Aguero should have scored again in the 34th minute when he was put through by Alvaro Negredo’s great pass.  But his shot was deflected away by Saints’ keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.  The visitor would regret that miss in the 41st minute when Pablo Osvaldo got the equalizer.  The Italian international smoothly moved through the Citeh defense, cut past Pablo Zabelta and finished into the top corner of the goal.  The second half was a stalemate as Mauricio Pochettino’s boys defended everything that Citeh threw at them.  The result sees Pellegrini’s boys slide down from third to fourth place in the table and the only thing he can say is that at least he is doing better than his cross-town neighbors.

Stoke 3 – 2 Chelsea

Oussama Assaidi scores a stunning strike in stoppage time for the winner over the Blues.  This one was a nail-biter and it started in the nineth minute when Blues’ midfielder Andre Schurrle opened the scoring from a John Obi Mikel assist.  Most folks figured that Jose Mourinho’s boys would dominate the match from there and they nearly had their second goal in the 15th minute when midfielder Juan Mata’s long-range shot was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic.  But the one thing that former player and current Potters’ boss Mark Hughes has gotten from his side is belief that they can play anyone.  They fought for and eventually got the equalizing goal in the 41st minute when Peter Crouch knocked home Marko Arnautovic’s corner kick.  They took the lead in the 50th minute when Stephen Ireland’s long range shot on goal eluded Blues’ keeper Petr Cech reach.  Schurrle brought the Blues back level in the 52nd minute.  They had won a free kick that was taken by Mata and headed off the goal by Gary Cahill.  Schurrle was on hand to get the loose ball and drive it home past Begovic.  As the match wore on, it looked like a draw was certain.  Mourinho wasn’t satisfied with that outcome and brought on Demba Ba to replace an ineffective Fernando Torres and later Samuel Eto’o and Frank Lampard for Schurrle and Mikel.  But the stalemate continued as neither side could make any significant breakthrough on goal.  But as the final whistle approached, Assaidi, who had come on in the 83rd minute for Jonathan Walters, grabbed the win for the Potters.  He took the pass from Ireland and hit a hard curling shot for the top right corner of the goal that Cech just couldn’t get to.  The result handed Mourinho his first loss ever as a manager in the BPL.

West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Norwich

The Canaries recover from their loss at Anfield with a win over the Baggies.  There was some speculation that Chris Hughton’s side wouldn’t be able to recover from such a hard loss and that the manager’s job would be on the line.  But Gary Hooper’s fifth goal of the season would help put away any of that talk and put the Canaries above the Baggies in the BPL table.  Hooper’s goal came in the 13th minute when he hit a wonderful long-range drive into the top corner of the goal.  The Baggies had a chance to equalize in the 18th minute when Canaries keeper John Ruddy had to save a Youssuf Mulumbu shot that was bound for the goal.  Ruddy made another save in the 19th minute when he kept Victor Anichebe’s header of a Morgan Amalfitano cross out of the goal.  Ruddy made another save from Anichebe in the 34th minute when he touched a goal bound shot over the bar.  Ruddy, clearly the “Man of the Match” kept the Canaries goal empty in the second half as he saved from Billy Jones, Stephane Sessegnon, Anichebe, Shane Long and Chris Brunt.  Leroy Fer made the win safe for the Canaires in the 88th minute when he scored from a Nathan Redmond assist following a neat counter-attack.  So Norwich hold 14th spot and Hughton hangs on to his job.

Sunderland 1 – 2 Tottenham

A John O’Shea own-goal drags the Black Cats back down to the bottom of the BPL table.  It was the fifth time a Black Cats’ player has put the ball into the wrong net this season and means they’ve scored more goals in the wrong end that in the right end.  They grabbed the lead when Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris fumbled the ball in front of his own goal left it for Adam Johnson to poke home in the 37th minute.  But it was a lead they couldn’t hold as Spurs midfielder Paulinho equalized in the 43rd minute from Nacer Chadli’s flick-on of a Lewis Holdby free-kick.  O’Shea’s brain-cramp came in the 49th minute.  Mousa Dembele made a hard charge through the Black Cats’ defense and his shot deflected off the Ireland international defender and past keeper Vito Mannone.  The rest of the match was easy for Spurs, although USA international Jozy Altidore came close to leveling the score in the 67th minute when his shot was saved by Lloris.  But that was as close as the Black Cats would come.  The loss leaves their fans quite frustrated and thinking seriously about life in the Championship division.

Fulham 2 – 0 Aston Villa

Can the Cottagers escape the drop?  Well, that’s what new boss Rene Meulensteen’s mission is.  One of the first things he has had to do is get all of his players joined together.  Perhaps the one player that was potentially the hardest to work with would have been striker Dimitar Berbatov.  The Bulgarian international has been rumored to want to leave the team in the January transfer window.  But that wasn’t evident on Sunday as he nearly got the first goal in the eighth minute when his header was saved by Villain keeper Brad Guzan.  He then had a hand in the 21st minute goal when he worked with Ashkan Dejagah to set up Steve Sidwell to knock home past Guzan.  Berbatov would get his own chance to score in the 28th minute when Villain defender Leandro Bacuna fouled Aleander Kacaniklic in the Villains’ penalty area.  Berbatov calmly made Guzan dive the wrong way and easily scored the spot kick.  Berbatov had another chance in the 54th minute when his shot went just over the bar.  He had another attempt saved by Guzan in the 81st minute.  So to answer the question about escaping the drop, the answer appears to be “Yes, if Berbatov stays around to help”.

Arsenal 1 – 1 Everton

Gerard Deulofeu’s late goal earns the Toffees the draw at the Emirates.  I think that most Everton fans are happy that David Moyes is gone and that Roberto Martinez has replaced him.  Gone seems to be the static defensive football that used to be the trademark of the Toffees.  In its place is a side that are fearless and do not give in to defeat.  They had just come off a great win over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday and the Gunners should have seen that as a warning.  Perhaps they were thinking about their upcoming trip to Naples, Italy for their final UEFA Champions’ League group match.  But they were a little slow and not quite as dominate as they have been most of the season.  But their new hero Mesut Ozil thought he had made everything safe for the home side in the 80th minute.  He had been put through on goal by substitute Theo Walcott’s header and he easily poked it past Toffee’s keeper Tim Howard.  But as the home fans were still chanting “One-nil to the Arsenal”, Romelu Lukaku eluded the Gunners defense and squared the ball over to Deulofeu to hit into the top right corner of the goal.  The result shocked the Emirates crowd into silence, although Olivier Giroud almost got them the winner in stoppage time as his shot bounced off the bar.  But it is looking more and more like Martinez will bet the Toffees something they haven’t had in a while: a top five finish.

Swansea 1 – 1 Hull

Chico Flores’s second half goal salvages a draw for the Swans.    They started out a bit slow.  It maybe that competing in the UEFA Europa League in addition to the BPL is starting to get to the Swans.  Tigers’ striker Danny Graham got an early goal against his former club in the ninth minute when he volleyed home an Ahmed Elmohamady cross.  It was his first goal in more than 30 matches and looked like it was going to be good enough for the win for the Tigers.  But Flores would level the score in the second half in the 60th minute when he knocked home Jonjo Shelvey’s cross for his first BPL goal since joining the Welsh club.  The Tigers thought they had a chance to win it toward the end of the match when Swans defender Dwight Tiendalli looked like he handled the ball in the Swans penalty area from an Alex Bruce header.  The referee refused to give any penalty as he judged that the contact was not deliberate.  So the points were shared and both sides moved up one place in the BPL table.

Lanny Short

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