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Aug 272013

Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa

It’s another win on Wednesday for Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.  The match had been rescheduled from August 31st due to Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup match against Bayern Munich on August 30th.  Villa thought they were going to get another London win after their great display at the Emirates Stadium on opening day.  But the one lesson to be learned about playing a Mourinho-lead Chelsea side is to never, ever make an early mistake at Stamford Bridge.  And Villa did just that in the sixth minute.  Eden Hazard took a chance shot on goal that keeper Brad Guzan parried off of defender Antonio Luna.  The rebound ended up in the back of the net to put the Blues into the early lead.  Villa still thought they had half a chance in this match as they had also gone behind last week to an early goal.  They had to withstand more Blues pressure throughout the first half as Demba Ba kept getting in behind the Villa defense.  Ba nearly made it two goals for the Blues right at the stroke of halftime. His shot was right at Guzan and the USA international keeper gratefully cradled the ball and started one last Villa counterattack.  The ball came over to Gabriel Agbonlahor who was able to get past Branislav Ivanovic and hit a cut-back pass for Christian Benteke.  Benteke’s left-footed shot went past keeper Petr Cech and into the goal for the equalizer just as the halftime whistle blew.  The second half saw the Blues doing their usual grinding style.  Mourinho decided to replace Juan Mata and Ba with Andre Schurrle and Romelu Lukaku.  There was a bit of controversy in the 70th minute when Ivanovic challenged Benteke for a header and swung his arm wildly and caught the Belgian striker in the head.  The Chelsea defender was booked for the incident, which angered Villa boss Paul Lambert, who thought Ivanovic should have been sent off.  Ivanovic scored the winner two minutes later when he out jumped the Villa defense and headed home Frank Lampard’s free kick.  If Lambert was angry about going behind to a goal scored by a player he thought shouldn’t have even been on the pitch, at the end of the match he was absolutely ranting with anger when John Terry appeared to hit a Fabian Delph cross with his hand in the Blues penalty area.  But alas, that is how things tend to go for the Blues when “The Special One” is in charge.

Fulham 1 – 3 Arsenal

The Gunners dominate a rain-soaked London Derby.  Last week saw quite a bit of panic amongst the Arsenal supporters after their team lost at home.  The team looked slow and listless.  There didn’t seem to be much spirit or punch and the fans were angry that boss Arsene Wenger hadn’t made any significant moves in the transfer market.  But the rainstorm in London seemed to wash away all the Gunners problems and they nearly opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Theo Walcott managed to beat the Cottagers’ offside trap and meet Aaron Ramsey’s through pass in towards the goal.  His shot was
saved by substitute keeper David Stockdale, who was starting in place of injured Maarten Stekelenburg.  The first goal did come a short time later when Ramsey’s shot hit Olivier Giroud and the rebound went to the striker’s feet.  The French international was able to gather the loose ball and poke it underneath Stockdale to put Arsenal into the lead.  The home side had a chance to equalize in the 16th minute as first Damien Duff and Adel Taarabt both had their shots saved by Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny.  They had another chance in the 38th minute when defender John Arne Riise delivered a dangerous cross into the Arsenal penalty area that was cleared by Giroud.  But that would be the closest the Cottagers would come to equalizing.  In the 40th minute, the Gunners picked the Cottagers’ defense apart when Santi Cazorla was able to drive through the middle and find Walcott’s goal bound run.  The England international’s shot was parried by Stockdale, but the rebound landed at Lukas Podolski’s feet and his first-time shot found the back of the net to make it 2-0 to Arsenal.  Fulham had a chance to get a goal back early in the second half as Taarabt had his 46th minute shot saved by Szczesny.  Fulham boss Martin Jol brought on Darren Bent and Alex Kacaniklic on for Duff and Taarabt in an effort to make something positive happen for his side, but they just didn’t have an answer for the hard driving pace of the Gunners on Saturday.  They got taken apart again in the 67th minute when Giroud knocked a long ball into Walcott’s path.  Walcott then cut through the center of the Cottagers’ defense and fed Cazorla who hit a pass back to the on-running Podolski who was able to drill his left-footed shot past Stockdale’s grasp.  Fulham did get a goal back in the 76th minute when Bent turned in a loose ball from a Dimitar Berbatov shot, but they were handily beaten by Arsenal.  Maybe this result will ease the tension among the Gunner fans.

Everton 0 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

Boss Roberto Martinez still waits for his first win in charge of Everton.  The Toffees have not scored yet this season and that doesn’t look good for Martinez.  Midfielder Marouane Felllaini came the closest to getting a goal as his shot bounced off the post late in the match.  Everton are looking a little more settled under their new manager, but they just don’t have a killer goal scoring touch so far this season.  West Brom didn’t look too much better as they were missing striker Nicolas Anelka, who is out on indefinite compassionate leave.  The Baggies best chance fell to James Morrison, who had his effort saved by Toffees’ keeper Tim Howard.  Their best player on the day was their own keeper Ben Foster.  He made several key saves, including a saves from Steven Pienaar, Kevin Mirallas, and Seamus Coleman.  But tragedy struck in the 77th minute for the Baggies when Foster injured his foot and had to be substituted.  So a goalless draw and apprehension is the result for both sides.

Hull 1 – 0 Norwich

The Tigers get their first BPL win.  The one thing that Tigers’ boss Steve Bruce has been worried about since his side got promoted into the BPL has been the lack of goal scoring.  Last season, despite finishing second in the Championship, Hull scored five fewer goals than relegated side Peterborough.  So it was no surprise that the visiting Canaries started out as the better side and Leroy Fer nearly headed them into the lead as he narrowly missed to the left of goal.  The next chance for the Canaries came in the 10th minute when Tigers’ keeper Allan McGregor had to parry away Nathan Redmond’s shot on goal.  With the Canaries dominating so much of the match, it surprised everyone at the KC Stadium when Hull was awarded a penalty in the 20th minute.  It happened when Norwich defender Michael Turner was judged to have fouled Hull striker Yannick Sagbo as they both contested a cross from Ahmed Elmohamady.  Robbie Brady scored the spot kick to give Hull their first goal since joining the BPL.  The celebrations by the home crowd were short lived as six minutes later, Sagbo was sent off for head-butting Russell Martin in an off-the-ball clash.  You would have thought that Chris Hughton’s side would have been able to boss the match and move on to the win.  But they just had no answers as the Tigers bunkered down their defense to hold on for the rest of the first half.  The second half was pretty much the same.  The closest the Canaries would come to scoring would be in the 66th minute when Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s header was touched away by McGregor.  So the same plucky defense that helped Hull get into the BPL helped them to their first win.

Newcastle 0 – 0 West Ham

A goalless draw for the Magpies at St James’s Park as pressure mounts on boss Alan Pardew.  This one was a bit dull as the only real chance was at the very end when substitute Sammy Ameobi’s cross hit the bar and bounced to the feat of Yoan Gouffran.  Gouffran managed to hit what should have been a certain goal over the bar.  West Ham were clearly missing injured striker Andy Carroll and spent most of the match defending Hatem Ben Arfa who did the lion’s share of the attacking.  But the Hammers thought they had grabbed the match at the end when Modibo Maiga tapped in a rebound from a Ravel Morrison shot that was blocked by Vurnon Anita. But the goal was not given as Maiga was ruled offside.  So now, with no wins yet, Pardew is starting to hear a bit of Geordie yelling.

Southampton 1 – 1 Sunderland

Jose Fonte’s late goal grabs a point for the Saints.  It didn’t look like it was going to be the Saints’ day on Saturday as the Blackcats grabbed the early lead in the third minute when an unmarked Emanuele Giaccherini finished off Sebastian Larsson’s corner kick.  The Saints struggled to stay in the BPL last year and one of their problems was scoring goals.  The same was the case on Saturday a boss Mauricio Pochettino continues to try to find some sort of rhythm in his side.  They thought they had leveled the score in the sixth minute when Rickie Lambert hit a through pass for Jay Rodriguez who poked the ball into the Sunderland net.  But the goal was disallowed as the assistant referee ruled Rodriguez was offside.  In the 16th minute Blackcats’ keeper Keiren Westwood did well to block Lambert’s header on goal.  Late in the half, the visitors thought they had a penalty shout when USA international Josy Atidore appeared to have been brought down in the Saints’ area.  The second half saw more domination by the Blackcats and in the 58th minute, Altidore nearly doubled their lead when his shot was deflected away by Saints’ keeper Artur Boruc.  Lambert and Rodriguez worked to try to lift the home side as the match ground down, but it just didn’t look like the Saints would be able to get anything on goal.  But in the 87th minute, John O’shea was penalized for a foul committed on Pablo Osvaldo.  James Ward-Prowse took the free kick and Fonte was able to out-jump the Blackcats’ defenders to head the ball home for the equalizer.  The goal means that Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio is still without a win this season and the Saints are still unbeaten.  Not a bad start for Pochettino’s boys.

Stoke 2 – 1 Crystal Palace

Second half goals from Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross lift the Potters over Palace.  There were some Stoke fans who are still worried about Mark Hughes taking over the management of their club.  But after Saturday, things seem to be a little better at the Britannia Stadium.  Things didn’t start out that way for the hosts as they made a sluggish start to the match.  They went a goal behind when Marouane Chamakh put home Damien Delaney’s pass in the 30th minute.  They almost went further behind three minutes later when Asmir Begovic saved Dean Moxey’s shot on goal.  So the first half ended rather ignominiously for the Potters and it was up to Hughes to find a way to inspire the boys.  Palace, on the other hand, were hoping to get their first win in the BPL.  The second half saw the momentum switch over to the home side and they nearly equalized in the 51st minute when Steven Nzonzi narrowly missed his shot to the right of the Palace goal.  They did equalize in the 58th minute when Adam poked home Jon Walter’s pass.  Stoke got the winner in the 62nd minute when Shawcross was able to knock in a loose ball in the Palace area.  They nearly had a third in the 75th minute when Nzonzi banged his shot off the post.  Although Palace tried hard to get the equalizer, Stoke was able to hold on for the win and three valuable points.  Maybe Hughes will keep them from getting relegated after all.

Aston Villa 0 – 1 Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge comes through again for the Reds.  Well, it’s another win without Suarez as it looks like Sturridge is the new go-to striker for Brendan Rodgers.  Suarez has four more matches of his ten match suspension to serve and it looks like Liverpool are doing just fine without him.  Sturridge has scored seven goals in the time that Suarez has been out and with his form and Simon Mignolet’s heroics in goal have Liverpool fans dreaming of winning the BPL.  The goal came in the 21st minute when Jose Enrique found Sturridge’s run with his left wing pass.  Sturridge was able to get around keeper Brad Guzan and knock in the goal with his left foot.  Christian Benteke nearly equalized in the 40th minute when his shot was parried away by Mignolet.  Villa started the second half with a bit more purpose, but each and every chance they had on goal was expertly dealt with by Mignolet.  The closest the home side came was in the 86th minute with Benteke had another close range effort knocked away from goal by Mignolet.  So the result sees the Reds undefeated and in second place in the BPL.

Tottenham 1 – 0 Swansea

Roberto Soldado scores from the spot for Spurs as Gareth Bale has begun packing his bags for Madrid.  It looks like Bale’s transfer will go through and he has not played a match at all this season for Spurs.  They dominated most of the match on Sunday, but they couldn’t really put anything on goal as shots from Etienne Capoue and Joe Paulo Paulinho were saved by Swans’ keeper Michel Vorm.  Swans finally got a shot on goal in the 25th minute when Jonjo Shelvey’s shot was saved by Spurs’ keeper Hugo Lloris.  Spurs thought they had a first half penalty shout in the 30th minute when Shelvey was penalized for a foul on Andros Townsend.  However the referee indicated that the foul occurred just outside the Swans’ area.  Mousa Dembele’s free kick went over the bar as halftime approached.  Spurs were awarded their penalty kick in the 58th minute when Shelvey again fouled Townsend.  This time, the foul was clearly in the area.  Soldado put home the spot kick to give the home side the lead.  The closest Swans would come to scoring would be in the 71st minute when Lloris saved Chico’s Flores.  But that would be it and the final whistle saw Spurs grab third place in the BPL table.

Cardiff 3 – 2 Manchester City

The newly-promoted Welsh side pulls off the upset of the week at home.  This match should have been an easy three points for Citeh.  After all, they were playing a newly promoted side and they were the better team.  But someone forgot to tell Fraizer Campbell.  He was great on Sunday as he proved an early handful for the Citeh defense.  He was the central part of the Cardiff attack that kept Citeh under pressure and forced a fine save from keeper Joe Hart in the 43rd minute.  The second half saw a better start from Citeh and they grabbed the lead in the 51st minute with Edin Dzeko hit a wonderful shot from distance into the right corner of the Cardiff goal.  That should have been good enough to ensure the win for Citeh, but Campbell picked his side up in the 59th minute.  He knocked Bo-Kyung Kim’s cross onto goal.  Although Joe Hart was able to keep the attempt out, Aron Gunnarsson was able to poke home the rebound to level the score.  It was really game on now for the home side and they took the lead in the 78th minute when an unmarked Campbell knocked home Peter Whittingham’s corner kick.  Poor marking from a corner kick got Citeh again in the 86th minute when Campbell headed home his second and Cardiff’s third goal from a Don Cowie corner kick.  Although substitute Alvaro Negredo got a goal back for Citeh in stoppage time, they were well beaten.  Manuel Pellegrini has a bit of work to do to fix the Citeh defense.

Lanny Short

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