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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 16

 Posted by on December 18, 2013 at 11:48 pm  England, EPL
Dec 182013

Manchester City 6 – 3 Arsenal

The Gunners get a face punch at the Etihad Stadium.  This match had been touted as the match of the week.  The League Leaders were coming to face the team who hasn’t lost a home league match since early last season.  Both teams were coming off UEFA Champions’ league matches held in mid-week and both had qualified for the knock-out round of that competition.  But as far as a contest was concerned, this match was never close.  Citeh got the lead in the 13th minute when Sergio Aguero took advantage of some really poor Arsenal defensive marking and scored from Martin Demichelis’ pass from a corner kick.  Alvaro Negredo nearly scored the second goal for Citeh in the 20th minute when he was put through on goal by Vincent Kompany.  His shot barely missed the right corner of the goal.  The Gunners did equalize in the 31st minute when the Citeh defense got caught napping and Theo Walcott poked home Mesut Ozil’s pass into the bottom right corner of the goal.  But Negredo restored the hosts’ lead in the 38th minute when he powered home Pablo Zabaleta’s square pass.  Zabelata had been able to get through the Gunners’ defense by getting past Laurent Koscielny and when the Arsenal defender tried to catch up, he pulled up with an injury and had to be replaced by Thomas Vermaelen.  Citeh restarted their dominance in the second half and Fernandinho scored goal number three in the 50th minute with a wonderful strike from outside the Gunners’ penalty area that went in past keeper Wojciech Szczesny’s reach.  Arsenal got a goal back in the 62nd minute when, an Aaron Ramsey through pass, Walcott was able to get the ball in past Citeh keeper Costel Pantilimon as the hom defense got caught napping again.  David Silva restored the two goal advantage in the 65th minute when he hit a curling shot that went into the net over Szczesny reach.  Fernandinho nearly scored again in the 84th minute when his shot was tipped over the bar by Szczesny.  The Brazilian international would score in the 87th minute when he powered home Samir Nasri’s square pass.  That pretty much decided the match, but Arsenal would get another goal in stoppage time when an unmarked Per Mertesacker would head home a Bacary Sagna corner-kick.  But the last kick of the match would be from the penalty spot when Szczesny was penalized for tripping James Milner in the Arsenal penalty area.  Yaya Toure would roll the ball into the net for goal number six and the win for the home side.  The win narrows the gap for Citeh to three points for the league lead.

Cardiff 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

Peter Whittingham’s second half goal gets the win for the Blue Birds and costs Baggies manager Steve Clark his job.  The match itself was bit on the dull side.  In the first half, only defender Steven Caulker came close to scoring in the 28th minute.  Ben Turner flicked on the ball from a corner kick to Caulker whose shot narrowly missed the right of the goal.  The Baggies should have scored in the 56th minute when Cardiff defender Gary Mendel cleared Gareth McAuley’s goal bound shot off the line.  The lone goal would come in the 65th minute when Whittingham headed home from a Craig Noone cross.  Try as they might, the Baggies just couldn’t come with any sort of attack that would have netted them an equalizer.  The loss takes the Baggies down to just two points and two places above the relegation zone.  The ownership, in obvious disappointment over the start of this season versus last season when they finished in eighth place, decided a change was needed and fired Clarke and assistant Kevin Ken.  Assistant Keith Downing will take charge of the side until a new replacement is found.  There are rumors that Martin Jol is being considered among a few others.  Whoever takes over will have a job on his hands to keep the team from being relegated.  That doesn’t seem to be an appealing situation for any prospective manager.

Chelsea 2 – 1 Crystal Palace

The Blues close the gap with Arsenal to two points.  So the Blues had an opportunity to make their bid for the BPL on Saturday.  They are still undefeated at Stamford Bridge with Jose Mourinho in charge, so it was not likely that their London neighbors Palace would be able to break the streak.  The one thing that Mourinho is a little bothered about is the lack of goals that his side have been able to score this season.  He was looking to change that on Saturday and things got positively for the Blues in the 15th minute.  Willian’s long shot from outside the Palace area was saved by keeper Julian Speroni, but the rebound ended up on Fernando Torres’ boot and he poke it home for the opening goal.  They should have had a second in the 21st minute if Branislav Ivanovic would have kept his shot on target, but the ball went off to the right of the goal.  Michael Essien also missed his shot in the 27th minute off to the left of the goal.  Palace would level the score in the 29th minute when Marouane Chamakh powered home Joel Howard’s cross into the bottom right corner of the goal.  But Chelsea just do not lose at the Bridge and they regained their advantage in the 34th minute when Ramires curled a shot into the top left corner of the goal.  Willian should have made it three for the home side in the 40th minute.  But his shot went right into keeper Speroni’s hands.  The second half saw the Blues spending most of the time defending their lead.  A 58th minute Damien Delaney header of a Jason Puncheon cross was saved by Blues keeper Petr Cech.  Palace had another chance to equalize in the 62nd minute, but Yannick Bolasie’s header went high and wide of the goal.  The Blues had a chance to get goal number three in the 88th minute but Speroni was able to save first from Demba Ba and the rebound from Ramires.  The final whistle saw the Blues climb to within two points of leaders Arsenal and just behind Liverpool on goal difference.

Everton 4 – 1 Fulham

The Toffees get three second half goals to get the home win over Cottagers.  This one started out a bit slow as both sides were looking to gain the measure on the ither.  But the home side kicked the match into gear in the 18th minute.  Sylvain Distin grabbed a loose ball at the half line and played a short pass to Bryan Oviedo.  Oviedo knocked it over to Steven Pienaar and the South African international squared the ball over to Leon Osman.  Osman was able to zip through the Cottagers’ defense and curl a wonderful shot just under keeper Maartin Stekelenburg for the opening goal.  They nearly doubled their lead in the 31st minute when Seamus Coleman’s shot from outside the penalty area went just over the bar.  Everton would take their one goal advantage into the half-time interval but as the second half started, they would be pressed hard by Fulham for the equalizer.  Dimitar Berbatov came close to leveling in the 59th minute when his header of a Sascha Riether cross barely missed off to the left of goal.  They got their chance to level in the 65th minute when Everton defender Gareth Barry was penalized for fouling Alexander Kacaniklic in the Everton area.  Berbatov easily scored the spot-kick for the Cottagers and it looked like they might be able to grab a draw.  That hope was ended in the 73rd minute.  Everton were awarded a free-kick in the attacking third when Fulham midfielder Scott Parker fouled Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.  Coleman took the free-kick and was able to curl his left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.  They would get their third goal in the 83rd minute when Barry headed home from a corner kick.  Substitute Kevin Mirallas would make if 4-1 in stoppage time when his long shot went into the bottom left corner of the goal past Stekelenburg’s reach.  The win sees the Toffees close to within four points of the top of the table.  Who would have thought they would be doing so well after Roberto Martinez took over as their manager?

Newcastle 1 – 1 Southampton

Jay Rodriguez’s second half goal steals the draw for the Saints at St. James Park stadium.  This one started out a bit slow.  The Saints were content on being defensive and the Magpies were content to keep the ball moving around the field.  However, in the 27th minute, they got a lucky break.  They won a free-kick in their own defensive third when Saints’ forward Jack Cork fouled Vurnon Anita.  Mathieu Debuchy hit a long free-kick that was headed down by Mike Williamson to Yoan Gouffran.  Gouffran was able to dribble past keeper Paulo Gazzaniga and roll the ball into the net for the easy goal.  Davide Santon should have made it two in the 34th minute, but hs shot was well over the goal.  Loic Remy also had a chance as the second half got underway when he was put through on goal by Shola Ameobi’s headed pass.  But Gazzaniga was able to get down and make the save.  The Magpies would regret that miss in the 65th minute when substitute Adam Lallana hit Jay Rodriguez with a fine pass then he and Steven Davis exchanged passes before knocking the ball into the goal past Magpies’ keeper Tim Krul.  That was all the scoring for this match, although there was a dust-up as the match approached stoppage time.  Saints defender Morgan Schneiderlin made a late challenge on Massadio Haidara that was high, hard, and dirty.  There was a bit of yelling and Schneiderlin was booked for the challenge.

West Ham 0 – 0 Sunderland

It‘s a disappointing goalless draw at Upton Park.  About the only real chances anyone had were Jozy Altidore early in the first half when his one-on-one attempt was savd by Hammers’ keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.  He also made a late save to keep out Black Cats’ winger Ki Sung-Yueng’s shot.  West Ham are lacked any scoring punch as Stewart Downing and Winston Reid have joined Andy Carroll on the injury list.  Kevin Nolan picked up his fifth booking in the last match and so was suspended for this one. They did have a chance late on in the second half, but George McCartney’s cross/shot was tipped over the bar by Black Cats’ keeper Vito Mannone and James Collins headed the resulting corner wide of the goal.  So the Gus Poyet and his Black Cats remain rooted to the bottom of the table and Sam Allardyce’s Hammers get their eighth clean sheet for this season.

Hull 0 – 0 Stoke

Goalkeepers Asmir Begovic and Allan McGregor work to keep their respective nets empty at the KC Stadium.  Usually in a goalless draw, there really isn’t much to see or write about.  But this one, both keepers did a really wonderful job for their respective sides.  Begovic was the first to star for the visitors when he was able to push away Maynor Figueroa’s long range shot in the seventh minute.  He was called on again in the 12th minute to deal with Ahmed Elmohamady’s curler that was headed for the top right corner of the goal.  Begovic stepped up again in the 21st minute to save from Yannick Sagbo after he was put through by Elmohamady.  Stoke finally got some offense going in the 23rd minute when Oussama Assaidi was put though by Peter Crouch’s header.  But the shot was off to the right of the goal.  Tom Huddlestone took one of his patented long shots in the 35th minute from just outside the Potters’ area, but missed off to the left of goal.  As the second half get started, Glen Whelan had a chance to score, but McGregor stood up tall and the shot went over the goal.  Begovic made another save in the 60th minute when he got to Elmohamady’s headed from a Figueroa cross.  In the 70th minute, it was McGregor’s turn to come up big when he saved Peter Crouch’s goal-bound headed from a Geoff Cameron cross.  McGregor saved again from Crouch in the 74th minute when the striker’s right-footed shot was headed for the bottom right corner of the goal.  And so it went back and forth for the rest of the match.  The result leaves each side in the middle of the table separated by one point.

Norwich 1 – 1 Swansea

It’s a draw at Carrow Road.  The Swans started this one well.  They scored in the 12th minute when Nathan Dyer lobbed a right-footed shot over Canaries keeper John Ruddy.  They should have made it two in the 22nd minute when Michu’s shot was blocked by the Canaries defense.  The home side had a chance to level the score in the 28th minute when Nathan Redmond had his shot blocked. In the 40th minute, Swansea suffered some bad luck when Nathan Dyer, while making a challenge on Sebastien Bassong, fractured his right ankle and had to be stretchered off.  With the visitors still in a bit of shock, the Canaries were able to level the score in first half stoppage time when Gary Hooper hit a nice 25-yard shot into the roof of the net.  In the second half, the Canaries would come the closest to breaking the deadlock when Hooper would have a point blank shot saved by Swans’ keeper Michael Vorm.

Tottenham 0 – 5 Liverpool

The Reds humiliate Spurs at White Hart Lane and Andreas Villas-Boas joins the unemployment line.  This match was the worst defeat Spurs suffered under Villas-Boas’ management.  You would have thought they would have given the Reds a better match on Sunday as the visitors were without injured captain Steven Gerrard.  Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers gave the captain’s armband to Luis Suarez and the Reds responded to his leadership.  They pressed Spurs early and often and scored in the 18th minute when Spurs defender lost the ball to Jordan Henderson and he sent through Suarez on goal.  The Uruguayan was able to knock the ball past keeper Hugo Lloris and into the net.  Suarez got through again in the 21st minute from a Raheem Sterling pass but Lloris was able to make the save.  Spurs went further behind in the 39th minute when they failed to clear their lines and Henderson poked home the loose ball from a Suarez shot rebound.  Things only got worse for Spurs in the second half.  Not only could they not mount any real attack on goal, Paulinho was sent off in the 62nd minute for a really bad foul on Suarez.  The Reds dominated the match from that point onwards and made their man-advantage count in the 74th minute when Jon Flanagan powered home a cross from Suarez.  Spurs were getting more than enough of Suarez when he scored again in the 83rd minute from a Luis Alberto through ball.  Suarez was provider on goal number five when he set up Sterling with a great through pass that the winger finished into the bottom right corner.  So back to second place go the Reds.  They’re two points behind Arsenal and seven goals to the good better than Chelsea.  At the conclusion of the match, Spurs were booed off the field by their fans.  They also chanted that Villas-Boas would be “sacked in the morning” and indeed he was.


Lanny Short

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