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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 17

 Posted by on December 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm  England, EPL
Dec 232013

Liverpool 3 – 1 Cardiff

The Reds just can’t get enough of Luis Suarez as he scores two goals in their win over Cardiff and puts his side on the top of the BPL.  He signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract and the Kop went wild.  The Uruguayan international, who leads the league in the number of goals scored, increased that total to 19 goals on Saturday.  He has also done well as the stand-in captain for Steven Gerrard and nearly opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he and Raheem Sterling combined together.  Suarez’s shot missed just off to the right of the goal as he put a real scare into the Blue Birds’ defense.  The Welsh side, who beat the likes of Manchester City earlier in the season, gave as good as they got at the start of the match.  Craig Noone had a shot from just outside the Reds’ penalty area saved by keeper Simon Mignolet in the 14th minute.  Suarez did get the opening goal in the 24th minute when Jordan Henderson picked out his run into the Cardiff penalty area and he hit a wondrous volley pas keeper David Marshal.  That goal continued his streak of scoring in every home match – six in total – that he has played in this season.  Jon Flanagan nearly made it two when Glen Johnson found him with a cross from the right wing.  Marshal was able to get over and make the save to keep the margin at one.  In the 38th minute Suarez was provider when Sterling hit a curling shot from a difficult angle that Marshal did good to save.  But there was nothing that Marshal could do when Suarez set Sterling though on the Blue Birds’ goal in the 42nd minute and the youngster slotted home for the second goal.  Right as the half time whistle was about to blow, Suarez made it three when found the bottom right corner of the goal from a Henderson pass.  Cardiff did get a consolation goal in the 58th minute when Jordon Mutch headed home a Peter Whittingham cross from a free-kick.  But they were clearly dominated by the home side.  The loss could spell the end to Cardiff Malky Mackay’s tenure at the club as he and the owner, Vincent Tan, have been arguing for the last several days.  Mackay was told by Tan earlier in the week to resign or be fired.  Looks like the latter may happen even though the fans fully back Mackay.  This probably won’t end well for the Blue Birds.

Crystal Palace 0 – 3 Newcastle

The Magpies get a comfortable win in London to record their sixth win in eight matches.  It was the first home loss for Tony Pulis’s reign as Crystal Palace manager.  It was a loss that should have been expected.  After all, former Palace legend Alan Pardew had led his Magpies to impressive away wins over Tottenham and Manchester United.  The home side didn’t have a chance.  They went behind in the 25th minute when Yohan Cabaye, back in the side after serving a match ban for yellow card accumulation, hit a shot that deflected into the goal.  It was a piece of bad luck for Palace and their luck got worse in the 38th minute when a Mathieu Debuchy cross was deflected into his own goal by Palace defender Daniel Gabbidon.  Cabaye would have made it three for the visitors in the 41st minute had it not been for a fantastic save Palace keeper Julian Speroni.  To their credit, Palace tried their best to make a comeback in the second half.  Midfielder Jason Puncheon had a 51st minute strike blocked while Marouane Chamakh’s 62nd minute header of an Adrian Mariappa cross missed the goal off to the left.  But try as they might, they just couldn’t get anything of quality on the Magpies’ goal.  The win was sealed for Newcastle in the 84th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick after defender Jonathan Parr fouled Magpies’ striker Shola Ameobi in the Palace penalty area.  Hatem Ben Arfa, back from injury, struck home the spot kick for the third goal and the win.

Fulham 2 – 4 Manchester City

Vincent Kompany scores in both ends as Citeh struggle with their away form.  This one should have been easy for Manuel Pellegrini’s boys.  After all, the Cottagers are likely to be relegated this season and Citeh had clobbered BPL leaders Arsenal last week.  Pellegrini decided to give England international keeper Joe Hart a start in goal, his first appearance since their October 27th loss to Chelsea.  Hart did very well in the first half, making a key save in the 12th minute from Adel Taarabt when the Cottagers’ midfielder managed to break through the Citeh defense.  Hart saved again from Taarabt in the 20th minute as he attempted a long shot from outside the box.  Yaya Toure got the visitors on the score-sheet in the 23rd minute when his free kick curled in to the top right corner of the goal.  Hart was called again in the 31st minute when Taarabt attempted to level the score with a long shot from outside the box.  Kompany made it two goals for the visitors in the 42nd minute when he took advantage of Fulham’s failure to clear a David Silva free-kick and knocked home the loose ball.  Fulham tried their best to get back into the match in the second half and they halved the deficit in the 49th minute when Taarabt was able to dribble past Gael Clichy and Martin Demichelis and square the ball across for Kieran Richardson to power home.  The score was leveled in the 68th minute when Kompany prodded a Sascha Riether cross passed Hart into his own goal.  But any thoughts of another Citeh away-match fiasco were put to rest in the 77th minute.  Midfielder David Silva, as he has always done, rescued the match for his side when he put Jesus Navas through onto the Cottagers’ goal and the Brazilian finished the goal from a tight angle over the defense.  Substitute James Milner added the exclamation mark on the match in the 83rd minute with a fine finish of an Alvaro Negredo cross.  So it looks like Pellegrini has sorted out the one problem Manchester City had and looks to contend with the London sides for the BPL title.

Stoke 2 – 1 Aston Villa

Peter Crouch’s second half goal extends the Potters’ BPL home unbeaten streak to six matches.  The first half of this match was a bit dull.  Neither side seemed to want to give up any potential openings or mistakes that might lead a goal for the opposition, so they both laid back and defended.  That changed in the second half as Charlie Adam got the home side the first goal in the 50th minute when he scored from Peter Crouch’s headed pass from a Jonathan Walters free-kick.  But the lead didn’t last as Potters’ defender Erik Peters made an awful headed back pass that Villain forward Libor Kozak pounced on and poked the ball into the goal past keeper Asmir Begovic.  But just as the Villains though they would be going home with a result, Potters’ winger Geoff Cameron hit a cross into the Villains’ penalty area the Peter Crouch was able to power home in the 69th minute for the lead.  Crouch nearly had another in the 72nd when his shot from a corner kick bounced off the post.  Begovic was called on to preserve the lead in the 74th minute when he had to deflect away Kocak’s equalizing attempt.  But that’s as close as the Villains would come to scoring.  The win gave the Potters back-to-back home wins and moves them above the Villains and into the top half of the table.

Sunderland 0 – 0 Norwich

It’s a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light.  This match was a bit of a let-down for Black Cats fans.  They had knocked Chelsea out of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday to move into the semi-finals.  But they couldn’t duplicate the effort on Saturday.  Defender Wes Brown came the closest to scoring when his 57th minute header bounced the bar.  The Canaries had their own opportunity in the 82nd minute when Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s shot was saved by Blackcats’ keeper Vito Mannone.  But that was as close as either side would get.  Sunderland, who really needed the win to get off the foot of the BPL table, had things get worse for them in stoppage time.  Brown was sent off for a really clumsy challenge on Van Wolfswinkel right as the referee was about to end the match.  Although it’s not a done deal yet, it’s looking more and more like Black Cats’ boss Gus Poyet is not going to be able to keep his side in the league this season.

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Hull

A late goal from Matej Vydra ends the Baggies’ losing streak and gets them a much needed point at the Hawthorns stadium.  It was caretaker boss Keith Downing’s first BPL match in charge of the Baggies and it didn’t start out too well for them as they fell behind in the 28th minute when Jake Livermore scored after Hull caught West Brom on a break.  The Baggies should have equalized in the 44th minute when Stephane Sessegnon put James Morrison through on goal but Morrison’s shot missed off to the right and they went into the half time interval a goal behind.  Whatever Downing said to his boys in the locker room worked.   They came out for the second half playing with a bit more confidence and purpose.  Saido Berahino was put through onto the Hull goal by Billy Jones and would have scored had keeper Allan McGregor not alertly made the saving intervention.  McGregor was called on again in the 59th minute to save Gareth McAuley’s header from Chris Brunt’s cross.  Tom Huddleston nearly scored the second goal for the visitors when his shot was saved by Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster.  That save would become important in the 85th minute.  Vydra was put through onto the Hull goal by Zoltan Gera and he was able to finish into the bottom left corner of the goal to level the scores.  Gera gave the visitors an opportunity to win it all at the end when he fouled Maynor Figueroa just outside of the Baggies’ penalty area.  Gera was booked for the challenge and Huddlestone took the free-kick, which just narrowly missed off the right of the goal.  The result ends the Baggies four match losing streak and holds their position in 16th place in the BPL.

Southampton 2 – 3 Tottenham

An Emmanuel Adebayor double restores winning ways for Spurs.  It was a positive end to a week of chaos for Spurs. After being humiliated last Sunday at Liverpool, Andreas Villas Boas was summarily fired and Tim Sherwood was made the caretaker manager.  He didn’t start very well as his first match was the Capital One Cup match versus West Ham.  When they lost that one, many Spurs fans were not looking forward to the trip to St Mary’s stadium on Sunday.  Spurs fell behind in the 12th minute when Adam Lallana’s right-footed shot got past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.  But Adebayor, who went largely ignored by Villas-Boas rescued Spurs in the 25th minute when he volleyed home Roberto Soldado’s cross.  Soldado who had spent most of his time with Spurs as the solo attacker was energized with the new formation.  Spurs made several more quality attacks throughout the remainder of the first half and Soldado was instrumental nearly each one.  Adebayor came the closest to breaking the deadlock when his 38th minute shot was blocked by the Saints’ defense.  The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when Saints’ defender Jos Hooiveld knocked a Danny Rose cross into his own goal.  Rickie Lambert leveled the score in the 59th minute when he took advantage of a Spurs defensive gaff and rolled the ball into the empty net.  But this was Spurs day and Adebayor scored the winner in the 63rd minute.  He took advantage of some shaky Saints’ defending and scored from the right side of the box.  Soldado had two chances to add a fourth goal for Spurs, but each time Adebayor set him up, he missed.  The Saints had a couple of chances to equalize in the 76th minute from Lallana and in the 81st minute from Sam Gallagher.  But both times, Spurs keeper Lloris was able to make the save with no trouble.  The result not only moved Spurs to seventh place, it got Sherwood the manager’s job permanently on an 18 month contract.

Swansea 1 – 2 Everton

Ross Barkley’s late goal earns the win for the Toffees.  What an amazing fit Roberto Martinez has become for the Toffees.  They’re currently on a nine match unbeaten run and currently only two points behind Mersey-side neighbors Liverpool for the league lead.  The match on Sunday was deadlocked as neither side was able to find a way through to goal.  In fact it wasn’t until the 57th minute that anyone got close to scoring when Toffees’ striker Remelu Lukaku’s header of a Kevin Mirallas cross was blocked by the Swans defense.  The visitors would score in the 65th minute when Seamus Coleman would hit a bullet from outside the home side’s penalty area into the top right corner of the goal.  Swans would equalize in the 69th minute when Toffees’ defender Bryan Oviedo, trying to clear his lines would end up knocking the ball into his own goal.  But the winner would come in the 83rd minute when they were rewarded a free-kick in the attacking third for a Ben Davies foul on James McCarthy.  Barkley took the kick ad curled it over the defense and into the top right corner of the goal.  It’s amazing that Everton have only one loss this season and they’re run by the manager who got Wigan relegated last season.

Arsenal 0 – 0 Chelsea

It’s a rain-soaked goalless London Derby on Monday.  This was Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger’s 10th time matching up against a Jose Mourinho-run Chelsea side.  He has never beaten the Blues when the Portuguese legend has been in charge and he knew that a victory would be the only to get his side back to the top of the league.  But Mourinho came to the Emirates Stadium with a defensive posture in mind as he left both Juan Mata and Oscar on the bench.  He has done this sort of thing before at Porto, Inter Milan, and most recently at Real Madrid.  It took 30 minutes for either side to get anything going and it was the visitors who nearly scored when Frank Lampard’s long shot thumped off the bar.  There was a bit of controversy a bit later when Mikel Arteta and Jon Obi Mikel collided while fighting on the slippery pitch for the ball.  Mikel caught Arteta with his studs and the referee opted not to send the Blues’ midfielder off for the foul.  More controversy followed when Theo Walcott danced past Willian into the Blues’ penalty area and appeared to have been tripped by the Blues’ fielder.  But the referee ruled that no foul had been committed and indicated that play should continue.  There were no real attacks mounted on either goal from that point forward.  Both managers were concerned about upcoming Boxing Day fixtures and calculating that current leaders Liverpool, who travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City, will lose on Thursday.  This is the busy time and with much to be decided in the league, there will be a lot of action in the next couple of days.


Lanny Short

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