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Dec 222014
Premier League

Manchester City 3 – 0 Crystal Palace

David Silva’s second half double helps the Champions keep pace with Chelsea. This was a match that Palace were never going to win. They were, after all, playing the BPL Champions at the Etihad Stadium. Citeh just don’t lose at home and were never going to lose to a team who is in a relegation battle. To their credit though, Palace fought hard in the first half and nearly scored when midfielder Mile Jedinak’s header from a Jason Puncheon cross had to be saved by Citeh keeper Joe Hart. Palace forward Frazier Campbell had a chance in the 19th minute when his shot from close range missed the goal off to the right. In the 36th minute, Yannick Bolasie’s shot from distance missed the goal off to the left. Palace would regret those misses in the second half. Silva got his first goal for the Champions in the 49th minute when slotted home an assist from midfielder Pablo Zabaleta. It was pretty easy for the home side from that point forward. Silva got number two in the 61st minute when he scored from an Aleksandar Kolarov corner kick. Yaya Toure finished off the scoring in the 80th minute. Palace earned a corner kick that that Citeh defense cleared to James Milner. Milner took to the ball forward and found his captain’s run through the middle and Toure was able to slot the ball into the top left corner of the goal. So it looks like there will be a race for the BPL trophy that could go all the way to the end. Could Aguero be from injury back in time to decide it again?

Aston Villa 1 – 1 Manchester United

The Villains end the Red Devils’ winning streak. This match should be counted as an opportunity lost for United. The one weakness that they have is their midfield. They have been able to do what they’ve done because of strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. The Dutch International should have scored in the 16th minute when his shot was saved by Villains’ keeper Brad Guzan. They would regret that in the 17th minute when midfielder Darren Fletcher would concede a free-kick in their attacking third for a foul on Villains’ midfielder Fabian Delph. Villains’ striker Christian Benteke would take the free kick and he curled it into the top left corner of the goal out of reach of United’s keeper David De Gea. United would level the score in the 53rd minute when midfielder Falcao, finally back from injury, would head in a cross from Ashley Young. Rooney and Van Persie each had their chances to put United into the lead, but alas, it just wasn’t their day. Not even Angel Di Maria, who came on in the 60th minute for Van Persie, could score. His two shots in the 63rd minute were both saved by keeper Guzan. United got a gift in the 64th minute when Villains’ midfielder Gabriel Agbonlahor was sent off for a bad foul on Young. But United just couldn’t find the goal to win the match. So the draw does see them maintain their hold on third place, any thoughts of catching Manchester City or Chelsea seem to be fading. And now the transfer rumors will start.

Hull City 0 – 1 Swansea

Ki Sung-Yueng’s first half goal is good enough for the win for the Swans and puts Steve Bruce’s job in jeopardy. Things are not going very well for the Tigers this season. They have lost six of their list eight matches and sit second from bottom of the BPL table. The fans are already angry at the ownership for the changes that have been made to the club name and other things. So they were really angry in the 14th minute when Swans’ midfielder Jonjo Shelvey’s shot bounced off the goal post and was slotted into the bottom right corner of the goal by Sung-Yueng. The Tigers tried to get themselves back into the match and should have scored in the 25th minute when striker Abel Hernandez’s shot from a Jake Livermore assist was saved by Swans’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski. Shelvey nearly made it two for the visitors in the 30th minute when he hit the post again with a shot from distance. The home side couldn’t put together any real chances for the remainder of the half and were booed off the pitch by the home fans at half time. The Tigers tried to score in the second half, but the only real shot in the 53rd minute from striker Nikica Jelavic was saved by keeper Fabianski. From that point forward, it was simply a matter for Swans to keep the ball and prevent the Tigers from getting anything of quality from their attack. So could Tony Pulis be on his way to Hull City?

Queens Park Rangers 3 – 2 West Bromwich Albion

QPR defeat the Baggies and get themselves two points clear of the relegation zone. The one good thing about QPR boss Harry Redknapp is that he can get his boys to fight hard. They fell behind in the tenth minute when Baggies defender Joleon Lescott headed in a corner kick from Stephane Sessegnon. They went further behind in the 20th minute when midfielder Silvestre Varela scored from a Sessegnon through pass. But QPR got thrown a lifeline in the 22nd minute when midfielder Leroy Fer was fouled in the Baggies penalty area by defender James Morrison. QPR striker Charlie Austin converted the spot kick and the fans at Loftus Road started to think they had a chance. The home side were encouraged by the fan support and started the second half in fine fashion. Austin got his second goal in the 48th minute when he knocked in a Bobby Zamora header from a corner kick. The Baggies tried to fight as hard as they could to regain the lead. They had several chances to score, but just couldn’t get anything past the QPR defense. Austin would score the winner for QPR in the 86th minute when he headed in a Joey Barton cross. Baggies’ striker Saido Berahino had a chance to level the score in stoppage time, but his shot bounced off the bar and that was that.

Southampton 3 – 0 Everton

The Saints get back to winning ways as they beat the Toffees and St. Mary’s Stadium. This was the match that Saints boss Ronald Koeman really needed. They were on a four match losing streak and had fallen out of the top four. They had to do something to turn themselves around. The Toffees hadn’t been playing that well themselves and their boss Roberto Martinez was hoping to take advantage of the Saints dip in form. But it was the Toffees who conceded the first goal in the 38th minute when Romelu Lukaku’s attempted clearance of a Saints’ corner kick went into his own goal. The Toffees had a chance to level the score right at half time, but midfielder Samuel Eto’o’s header from a Seamus Coleman cross missed the goal high and off to the right. They would fall further behind in the 64th minute when Saints’ striker Graziaon Pelle would poke home a loose ball from a Shane Long header of a Nathaniel Clyne cross. The third goal would come in the 81st minute when Maya Yoshida headed in a Steven Davis cross. So the supporters at St. Mary’s Stadium can breathe a little easier now that their team has figured out how to win again.

Tottenham 2 – 1 Burnley

Erik Lamela scores his first BPL goal as Spurs beat the Clarets. The last time these two teams played each other was way back in March of 2010 when the Clarets beat Spurs 4-2 ad Turf Moor stadium. So you can bet that a number of fans at White Hart Lane were keen on some revenge of some kind. Spurs did manage to score the first goal in the 21st minute when Harry Kane headed in a Nacer Chadli cross from a free-kick. The Clarets managed to level the score in the 26th minute when Ashley Barnes curled a shot from distance into the top right corner of the goal. They should have taken the lead in the 32nd minute when Jason Shackell’s headed from a David Jones cross missed the goal off to the left. Lamela would get his goal in the 35th minute when his shot from distance eluded Clarets’ keeper Tom Heaton and ended up in the bottom left corner of the goal. Kane had a chance to score again right at the half but his shot from a Ben Davies assist was well high and wide of the goal. The Clarets had a chance to level the score at the start of the second half, but striker Danny Ings’ right-footed shot from a Barnes assist was saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. From that point forward, Spurs dominated the match for the win.

West Ham 2 – 0 Leicester

The Hammers go into the holidays in fourth place, the highest place they’ve ever been in the BPL. Who would have thought they would find so much fortune so far this season? They’re unbeaten in their last five matches and the bubbles at the Boleyn Ground are blowing with so much enthusiasm. It probably helped a bit that they were playing the Foxes, who at ten points, sit at the bottom of the BPL table. Things got going for the Hammers in the 24th minute when their hero striker, Andy Carroll, scored the opening goal with his foot instead of his head as he usually does. It took the Foxes to put together any reply and when they did in the 33rd minute, Hammers’ keeper Adrian was able to make the save from Foxes striker Riyad Mahrez. Adrian was also able to save a 34th minute header from midfielder Wes Morgan to preserve the lead. The Hammers would get the second goal in the 56th minute when midfielder Diafra Sakho headed a through pass for Stewart Downing to shoot from distance into the bottom left corner of the goal. That pretty much finished off the match although Foxes’ substitute striker Leonardo Ulloa would have his stoppage time shot saved by keeper Adrian. Can the Hammers keep this up and qualify for a European for next season?

Newcastle 0 – 1 Sunderland

The Black Cats score late in the second half to win the Tyne-Wear Derby. This is one of those derby matches that means so much to both the players and the fans. The rivalry goes way back into English history and there have been many incidents of fan violence as these two teams have met through the years. But a surprise happened in Sunday’s match. Earlier this season, two Magpies’ fans were killed in the Malaysian Airways flight MH17. To the surprise of all the Tyne-siders, a Black Cats’ fan organized a fund raiser for the two fans’ families that raised a good chunk of change. So as the match got started, the Magpies fans gave a standing ovation to their Wear-side rivals. In the 17th minute of the match, Sunderland fans spent the entire minute in a standing ovation tribute. As far as the match itself, Magpies boss Alan Pardew was anxious to get the win, having lost the last three derbies. His boys would come the closest to scoring in the first half as a 39th minute shot from midfielder Moussa Sissoko would rebound off the goal post. Striker Ayoze Perez would have his 63rd minute shot from a Sissoko assist saved by Black Cats’ keeper Pantilimon. Pantilimon would have to come up big several more times to deny Adam Armstrong twice in the 70th and 71st minutes and Perez again in the 73rd minute. The Magpies would continue to dominate and Sissoko would force another save from Pantilomon in the 89th minute. But then the Black Cats’ keeper would launch the counter-attack that would climax with William Buckley setting up Adam Johnson to score the winner into the bottom right corner of the goal. So Alan Pardew has now set a record of the only Newcastle boss to have lost to Sunderland four times in a row. Could this loss have him back in trouble with the Newcastle fans?

Liverpool 2 – 2 Arsenal

Martin Skrtel’s stoppage time goal salvages the draw for the Reds. This was a match that both sides were desperate to win. The Reds were coming off a bad loss to one of their hated rivals, Manchester United. They had won their mid-week semi-final League Cup match and wanted to take that momentum into Sunday’s match. The Gunners were looking to find a way to climb back into the top four. They had beaten Newcastle convincingly in their last BPL match and wanted to show their fans that they had the stuff to make a good UEFA Champions’ League run and a good BPL run. The first half was a bit scrappy as neither side could get a quality shot on goal. But just when it looked like it would end with no score, Jordan Henderson would set up Philippe Coutinho to score the opening goal in the 44th minute with a great shot into the bottom left corner of the goal. That should have been good enough, but the Gunners were able to cut through the Reds’ defense in first half stoppage time. Reds’ captain Steven Gerrard would concede a free kick in the Reds’ defensive third when he tripped midfielder Alexis Sanchez. Mathieu Flamini would take the free-kick and find Mathieu Debuchy who would head in the equalizer right as the half ended. The second half would start as scrappy as the first half. But the Gunners would take the lead in the 64th minute when Santiago Cazorla set up Olivier Giroud to poke home a left-footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net. Things went from bad to worse for the Reds in the 89th minute when substitute Fabio Borini, who had been booked earlier for dissent, was sent off for a bad foul on Cazorla. The Gunners should have been able to get the win from the 10-man Reds. But a miracle happened deep into stoppage time when the Reds earned a corner. Adam Lallana would take the corner and find an unmarked Skrtel who headed the ball into the bottom right corner for the equalizer. While the result doesn’t help either team, it gives the Reds a bit of fight going into the Boxing Day fixtures.

Stoke 0 – 2 Chelsea

The Blues maintain their lead at the top of the BPL. Here is yet another win done the Jose Mourinho way. Get the early goal. Then park the bus in front of our goal for the win. The Blues would score that early goal in the second minute when captain John Terry would head in a Cesc Fabregas corner kick. After that, it was all about the defense as the Blues managed to deny the Potters and real chances throughout the first half. Willian nearly doubled the score in the 51st minute when his shot from a Diego Costa assist was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic. As the Blues continued to dominate, Fabregas would have his 54th minute effort saved by keeper Begovic. The Blues would get their second in the 77th minute when Fabregas would knock home and assist from Eden Hazard. The only real attempt the Potters would get on goal would come in the 85th minute when Oussama Assaidi would force a save from Blues’ keeper Thibaut Courtois. It was an ugly win, but it was three points. Those three points now separate Chelsea and Manchester City and one can’t help but think that this season will be going all the way to the last day to decide where the BPL trophy goes.

Lanny Short

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