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Jan 012015
Premier League

Stoke 1-1 Manchester United

Radamel Falcao’s goal rescues a draw for the Red Devils. There had been talk prior to this match of the slim possibilities that United might be able to catch the top two sides in the BPL and make a contest out of winning the league. Well, after getting their third consecutive draw and falling nine points behind Chelsea and Manchester City, that dream seems like it might well be out of reach. The Red Devils came to the Britannia Stadium on Thursday trying to fix their horrible away record where they’ve won only twice this season. But they fell behind in the second minute when, on a Potters’ corner kick, the Red Devils’ defense failed to mark the opposition correctly. Peter Crouch was able to flick the corner kick onto Ryan Shawcross who was able to slam home the opening goal. They nearly went behind by two goals in the 19th minute when Mame Biram Diouf’s shot from a Marko Arnautovic assist missed the goal off to the left. United earned themselves a corner kick in the 26th minute. This time it was the Potters’ who messed up their defense as Michael Carrick headed Wayne Rooney’s corner-kick over to Falcao to hit home into the center of the goal to make things level. The Potters nearly took the lead back in the 28th minute when USA international Geoff Cameron’s header from a Arnautovic cross just missed the top left corner of the goal. United tried to get themselves together in the second half and nearly took the lead themselves in the 60th minute when defender Phil Jones’s header of a Juan Mata cross was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic. Neither side would be able to breach the other’s defense for the rest of the match. Potters’ substitute striker Oussama Assaidi had a chance to grab the win in stoppage time, but his shot from a Diouf assist was saved by United keeper David De Gea. So the result leaves the Red Devils sitting in third place.

Aston Villa 0 – 0 Crystal Palace

So it looks like Alan Pardew is going to be leaving Newcastle to manage Crystal Palace. He wants to leave a club that he helped to get to tenth place in the BPL table to one that is sure to be relegated down to the Championship division. That makes no logical sense whatsoever. Maybe he was sick of all the fans at St. James’ Park cursing at him whenever things didn’t go right. Maybe Palace made him and offer that he just couldn’t refuse. Whatever it might be, it looks like that’s where he’s going. He was at Villa Park on Thursday to watch Palace take on the Villans. As far as the match itself goes, there really wasn’t much to write about. Christian Benteke and Alan Hutton were the only ones who were able to test Palace keeper Julian Speroni. Yannick Bolasie had the only opportunity for Palace when his second half shot rebounded off the bar. So Pardew has a massive job ahead of him as he packs his bags and heads off to London. Can he save Palace?

Hull 2 – 0 Everton

Nikica Jelavic and Ahmed Elmohamady both score as the Tigers beat the Toffees. This was a match that Toffees’ boss Roberto Martinez really did not want to lose. They only have 21 points this season and that leaves them just four points above the bottom three. Winless in their last four matches, they just don’t seem to have a clue about how to stop their current slide. They have had a couple of key injuries, one of which has been to keeper Tim Howard who is out for six weeks with a leg injury. The Tigers, on the other hand, may have found a bit of rhythm that could save their season. They nearly scored the first goal in the 30th minute when striker Abel Hernandez’s shot from a Gaston Ramirez assist was saved by Toffees’ replacement keeper Joel Robles. Elmohamady did score in the 32nd minute when he headed in a Liam Rosenior cross. The home side clearly dominated the match and nearly had another goal in the 37th minute when midfielder David Meyler’s shot from an Elmohamady assist was saved by keper Robles. Jelavic would get the second goal for the Tigers in the 42nd minute when he powered home from a pass from Hernandez. Toffees’ defender Leighton Baines nearly got a goal back right at first half stoppage time when his shot from distance was saved by Tigers’ keeper Alan McGregor. They had another shot saved in the 53rd minute when Ross Barkley’s shot from a Baines’ through pass was saved by keeper McGregor. In the 57th minute, Toffees’ striker Romely Lukaku would have his shot from distance saved by McGregor. But any thoughts of a comeback were killed off in the 85th minute when midfielder Antolin Alcaraz, who had already been booked, was sent off for a bad foul on Jelavic. So the win moves the Tigers to 19 points and three places clear of the bottom three. It looks like boss Steve Bruce’s job is safe for now.

Liverpool 2 – 2 Leicester

The Foxes get two second half goals to cancel out two Steven Gerrard penalty kicks to salvage a much needed draw. Although they’re still at the bottom of the BPL table, they’re within four points of safety and have a fighting chance to stay in the BPL. Things didn’t start out so well for the Foxes as they were penalized in the 16th minute when the referee judged that defender Wes Morgan handled the ball in the Foxes’ penalty area. Gerrard converted the spot kick for the first goal to get the Reds off and running. They nearly had a second in the 26th minute when midfielder Adam Lallana’s shot from an Alberto Moreno cross went over the goal and off to the left. The Reds’ second goal would come when they were awarded another penalty kick in the 39th minute. This time it was defender Danny Simpson who was penalized for a handball in the penalty area, although the replay seemed to suggest that he didn’t deliberately touch the ball and no foul should have been given. Gerrard converted the second spot kick and it looked like it was all done for the Reds. But, as anyone who knows anything about this game of ours knows, the most dangerous score is a first half 2-0 lead. Sure enough, the Foxes got their comeback started in the 58th minute when David Nugent hit a shot from distance into the bottom left corner of the goal pass the reach of Reds’ keeper Simon Mignolet. The second goal for the Foxes came in the 60th minute when they were able to break through the Reds’ defense and midfielder Riyad Mahrez set up striker Jeffrey Schlupp to hit a great shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Reds’ had a chance to retake the lead in the 65th minute, but midfielder Lucas Leiva’s shot from distance was saved by Foxes’ keeper Ben Hamer. Hamer was the man again in the 79th minute when he saved a curling shot from Philippe Coutinho that was bound for the top left corner of the goal. He also saved shots from Raheem Sterling in the 81st minute and from Jordan Henderson in the 86th minute. Gerrard had a chance to get his hat-trick deep into stoppage time, but his shot from a Coutinho corner kick missed the goal high and wide to the right of goal. The result sees the Reds miss out on a chance to get back into contention for the European places.

Manchester City 3 – 2 Sunderland

Frank Lampard’s second half goal for his new team closes the gap for the top of the BPL lead on his old team. The former Chelsea midfielder has extended his contract with Citeh to the end of the season. He was scheduled to leave the team in January to play for his new MLS team in New York. But as he has done for whatever color jersey he was worn in his career, Lampard has stepped in and made critical contributions whenever and wherever he can. The first half of the match on Thursday ended goalless as the Black Cats played as tough as they could. They’ve been able to fight for a number of results this season and really wanted to get something out of their visit to the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. Yaya Toure thought he had killed any of that hope off in the 56th minute when he curled a shot from distance into the top left corner for the first goal. The Champions went further ahead in the 66th minute when Stevan Jovetic hit in a cross from Gael Clichy at close range. But the Black Cats refused to give up and they got a goal back in the 68th minute when Jack Rodwell headed in a Sebastian Larsson corner kick. Then in the 71st minute, the unthinkable happened. Citeh conceded a penalty kick when defender Pablo Zabaleta fouled Black Cats’ defender Billy Jones in the penalty area. Adam Johnson converted the spot kick to level the score. But then Lampard, who had come on in place of Jovetic, scored the winner in the 73rd minute when he headed in a Clichy cross. The result draws the Champions level on points and goals with Chelsea. Now they both are sharing the top spot.

Newcastle 3 – 3 Burnley

George Boyd’s second half goal gets the draw from the Clarets. So with the departure of Alan Pardew, assistant Steven Taylor took charge of the Magpies on Thursday. They took the early lead in the 14th minute when Steven Taylor headed in a Jack Colback corner kick. But, as things tend to happen to the Magpies, they had a stroke of bad luck in the 18th minute when defender Paul Dummett’s clearing attempt ended up in his own goal. But the home side retook the lead in the 25th minute when Colback hit a shot from distance into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Clarets came out fighting in the second half and nearly leveled the score in the 48th minute when striker Danny Ings hit the bar with a great shot from distance. Midfielder Ben Mee hit the bar again in the 62nd minute with his header of a David Jones corner kick. Ings would level the score in the 65th minute when he would head in a cross from Michael Kightly. Magpies’ midfielder Moussa Sissoko would give the home side the lead again in the 78th minute when he would score at close range from an Adam Armstrong assist. But just when the fans at St James’ Park thought they had won the match, the Clarets would break through the Magpies defense and Boyd would hit his left-footed shot into the bottom right side of the goal past keeper Jak Alnwick. So Burnley are just one point away from getting out of the bottom three as the race to not get relegated is now on.

Queens Park Rangers 1 – 1 Swansea

Wilfried Bony’s injury time goal rescues a draw for 10-man Swans. This was a match that QPR might come to regret not winning. They had dominated so much of the match. They scored in the 19th minute when midfielder Leroy Fer hit a great shot from distance into the bottom left corner of the goal. They could have scored again in the 21st minute when Bobby Zamora’s header of an Eduardo Vargas cross went over the goal. Swans had a chance to level the score in the 31st minute when striker Bagetimbi Gomis’s shot from a Gylfi Sigurdsson assist was saved by QPR keeper Robert Green. QPR defender Mauricio Isla had a chance to score in the 38th minute when his shot from distance was saved by Swans’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski. QPR should have scored in the 49th minute when Charlie Austin’s header of a Clint Hill cross bounced off the post. Austin would have a shot from a Zamora assist saved in the 67th minute as the home side continued to dominate. QPR should have been able to put the match away when, in the 85th minute, Swans were reduced to 10 men. Midfielder Wayne Routledge got into a scrap with Karl Henry after the QPR midfielder fouled him. Routledge was sent off for fighting when the referee decided that the Swans midfielder had thrown a punch at Henry, although there didn’t seem to be any evidence in the replays of the incident. But not only did QPR fail to take advantage of being a man up on the Swans, they failed to properly defend Swans’ midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng when he cut through and hit a pass over to Bony which the striker calmly tucked into the bottom left corner of the goal for the equalizer. So now it looks like QPR are back in the relegation fight. Can they survive?

Southampton 2 – 0 Arsenal

The Saints humiliate the Gunners at St. Mary’s Stadium. The score line doesn’t quite tell the story as the Gunners just didn’t show up on Thursday. The Saints’ dominated from the opening kick-off and should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Graziano Pelle’s header from a Dusan Tadic cross bounced off the left post. Pelle nearly scored again in the eighth minute when his shot from a Ryan Bertrand cross was saved by Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny. The Gunners’ keeper was challenged over and over as the half wore on. In the 33rd minute, Szczesny had come out to help keep Saints’ midfielder Sadio Mane out wide of the goal, but Mane hit a miracle shot from an impossible angle that found the back of the net to put the Saints into the lead. James Ward-Prowse nearly made it two when Szczesny saved the midfielder’s shot from a Mane assist in the 40th minute. It didn’t get any better for the Gunners in the second half. In the 56th minute, a horrible clearance from Szczesny fell to the feet of Dusan Tadic which the midfielder buried in the bottom left corner of the net for the second goal. That was all the Saints would need as they were able to hold the Gunners at bay and get the win. They now sit two places above the Gunners in fourth place and boss Ronald Koeman thinks his side will finish above the Gunners. That will be an interesting accomplishment if it happens, especially after the huge summer exit the Saints had at the start of the season.

West Ham 1 – 1 West Bromwich Albion

The Baggies steal a point from the Hammers in Tony Pulis’ first match in charge. So the man who is one of the best at saving a club from relegation has taken over the Baggies manager’s job. They had lost their last three matches before firing Alan Irvine. Things didn’t start out too well for them on Thursday as they fell behind to a Diagra Sakho 10th minute header of an Aaron Cresswell cross. Stewart Downing nearly made it two in the 13th minute when he was put through on goal by Alexandre Song. Baggies keeper Ben Foster was able to make the save to keep the margin at one. It took a while, but the Boggies were finally able to level the score in the 41st minute when Stephane Sessegnon broke though the Hammers’ defense and set up Saido Berahino whose right-footed shot found the bottom right corner of the goal. The two Baggies attackers linked up again in the 49th minute and if it hadn’t been for Hammers’ keeper Adrian, would have scored the go ahead goal for the visitors. From that point forward, it was all about defense. Although both sides were able to mount attacks, nothing much came close to either goal. So now the Pulis Era begins for WBA. He will probably save them from relegation, but will the Baggies fans be satisfied with mid-table finishes every season?

Tottenham 5 – 3 Chelsea

Spurs beat the Blues in the latest version of the London Derby. So, according to Jose Mourinho, there is a conspiracy afoot to deny the Blues the BPL Trophy this season. Well, they did make a great start to their visit to White Hart Lane on Thursday. Diego Costa got the first goal when he scored a close range shot from an Oscar assist in the 18th minute. But then Spurs striker Harry Kane was able to hit a great shot in the 30th minute that eluded Blues’ keeper Thibaut Courtois and found the bottom left corner of the goal to level the score. Then, in the 44th minute, Danny Rose cut past Blues’ defender John Terry and scored a great shot to give Spurs the lead. Then in first half stoppage time, Spurs were awarded a penalty kick when Blues defender Gary Cahill was penalized for tripping Kane just inside the Blues’ penalty area. Mourinho was so angry at the referee at this point, he walked off the pitch toward the locker room and didn’t bother to watch Andros Townsend convert the spot-kick to make the score 3-1 for Spurs. Kane made it 4-1 for Spurs in the 52nd minute when he hit an assist from Nacer Chadli into the bottom right corner of the goal. Spurs got a bit cocky and thought they had the match won. But in the 60th minute, the Blues made it 4-2 when Eden Hazard scored from a Cesc Fabregas pass at close range. Blues midfielder Cesar Azpilicueta nearly made it 4-3 in the 74th minute when his shot from a Hazard assist was saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. But in the 77th minute, Spurs would make it 5-2 when Chadli would score from a Kane assist. Terry would get one last goal for the Blues in the 87th minute when he poked home a Branislav Ivanovic pass. That goal might prove to be very important because to makes Chelsea and Champions Manchester City exactly equal on points and goals. If this holds until the end of the season, there will be a one match play-off to decide who wins the BPL. Could this be what Mourinho is so worried about?

Lanny Short

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