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Jan 142014

Hull 0 – 2 Chelsea

Goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres give the Blues the victory over Hull at the KC Stadium.  Hull have done pretty well for themselves this season.  They’re firmly ensconced in the middle of the table and should be able to stay in the EPL.  One of the keys to their success has been boss Steve Bruce’s emphasis on making strong defensive stands at home.  They did really well at that in the first half as they managed to hold BPL title contenders Chelsea goalless.  The best chance of the half fell to Yannick Sagbo in the 25th minute when he got set up by Jake Livermore.  Livermore was able to latch onto a bad back pass from John Terry and cross for Sagbo.  But alas, the Ivorian’s first time volley missed the target off to the left.   They would regret that miss in the secon hald as Hazard scored the opening goal in the 55th minute when he was found unmarked at the top of the Hull penalty area by Ashley Cole.  Hazard was able to hit his shot into the bottom right corner of the goal, just beyond Hull keeper Allan McGregor’s grasp.  Hull had a chance to equalize in the 66th minute when they were awarded a free kick just outside of the Chelsea penalty area.  But Tom Huddlestone, with a fresh haircut, hit his curling shot just over the goal.  Sagbo had another chance to equalize in the 80th minute when his shot from outside the area was blocked by the Chelsea defense.  But in the 86th minute, Torres settled things when he scored the second Blues goal after being set up by WIllian and getting past Hull defender Alex Bruce.  While there’s still a bit of football still to be played this season, most of the odds makers are picking Chelsea to win the BPL. They might be right.

Cardiff 0 – 2 West Ham

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer loses his EPL coaching debut match to the Hammers.  The Manchester United legend is in a unique position that he has never been in before.  The Bluebirds are in free-fall and the fans are extremely angry with how their club is being run.  Folks were initially optimistic when the Norwegian was announced as the new manager of the club, but after Saturday, the mood around the Welsh club is not good.  Is it any wonder that the mood at Cardiff City Stadium has been so dark as they hosts nearly conceded in the third minute when keeper David Marshall was forced to make a desperate save from Hammers’ defender James Tomkins in the third minute.  The Bluebirds thought they had a goal in the 32nd minute when Kim Bo-kyung’s shot deflected off defender Roger Johnson, hit the cross-bar and looked like it landed over the goal line.  Replays showed that the Goal Decision System had done its job as the ball actually landed on the line rather than behind it.  West Ham keeper Adrian, in for Jussi Jaaskelainen, had to make a save in the 40th minute when Craig Noone tried a shot from just outside the Hammers’ penalty area.  Carlton Cole would put the visitors into the lead in the 41st minute when he poked home Matthew Jarvis’ pass into the top left corner of the Bluebirds’ goal.  The one adjustment that Solskjaer made to start the second half was to bring on veteran Craig Bellamy in place of Peter Odemwingie.  The switch almost worked in the 47th minute when the Bluebirds were awarded a free-kick in the Hammers defending third.  The Welsh international curled a free-kick that found an unmarked Mark Hudson, but his header was just over the goal.  Bellamy was again the author in the 57th minute when he hit a cross for Frazier Campbell, but his shot was saved by Adrian.  Bellamy had a chance for himself in the 70th minute.  The Bluebirds were awarded a free-kick when Campbell was fouled by defender Roger Johnson.  Bellamy’s free-kick was close, but just missed the goal off to the left side.   The Bluebirds chances to get a result from the match got better in the 71st minute when Tomkins was sent off for his second booking after he fouled Campbell.  The best chance fell to Bellamy when his 81st minute shot was pushed away from the goal by Adrian.  But deep into stoppage time, the Hammers made the win safe as substitute Andy Carroll put Mark Noble through and he easily found the goal with his right-footed shot.  The win lifts the Hammers’ out of the bottom three on goal difference over the Bluebirds.

Everton 2 – 0 Norwich

The Toffees extend the Canaries winless streak to six matches.  Is it possible that Roberto Martinez will go from a manager of a relegated side that was Wigan last season to a European contender that could be Everton this season?  They have had such an amazing run this season and they totally dominated the Canaries on Saturday.  They made an interesting buy this week in Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady from Spartak Moscow.  Their best results have been at Goodison Park where they’ve lost only once this season.  They nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Seamus Coleman’s shot was saved by Canaries keeper John Ruddy.  Chelsea on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku has been part of the Toffees success and after nearly scoring two early goals, he was the architect who set up Gareth Barry to score the opening goal in the 22nd minute.  Lukaku’s through ball for the on-loan Manchester City midfielder enabled the curling kick into the upper right corner of the goal over the finger-tips of Ruddy.  The Canaries had a chance to equalize in the 27th minute but Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s curling attempt was saved by Toffees’ keeper Tim Howard.  The visitors had another chance in first half stoppage time.  Gary Hooper was put in on goal by Martin Olsson, but Hooper’s shot was saved again by Howard.  Everton secured the win in the 58th minute when Kevin Mirallas’ free-kick found the bottom left corner of the Canaries goal.  Lukaku should have made it three in the 62nd minute when his shot was saved by Ruddy.  Robert Snodgrass had a chance to get a goal back for the visitors in the 78th minute.  His headed of a Nathan Redmond cross bounced off the post and summed up the bad luck the Canaries are experiencing lately.  Although they’re not in the relegation zone, the loss has them just two points above.

Fulham 1 – 4 Sunderland

An Adam Johnson hat-trick helps the Black Cats move off the bottom of the table.  This was a really bad loss for the Cottagers.  They had two chances in the opening 10 minutes to take the lead through Dimitar Berbatov, but the Bulgarian international wasted both chances.  Not even on-loan midfield USA International Clint Dempsey could influence any sort of attack and they fell behind in the 28th minute to Johnson’s free-kick in to the top right corner of the goal.  Johnson created the second goal in the 40th minute when he hit a free-kick over to Ki Sung-Yueng and the South Korean international was able to hit the ball home.  Steve Sidwell got a goal back for the hosts in the 51st minute when he powered home Damien Duff’s cross from a corner kick.  But that was all the attacking impetus that the Cottagers could muster.  Johnson got his second and the Black Cats’ third goal in the 69th minute when he finished off Sung-Yueng’s through pass with a fine shot from a difficult angle.  Goal number three for the Sunderland-born striker came in the 85th minute.  The Black Cats were awarded a penalty kick when substitute Jose Altidore was tripped by Philippe Senderos in the Cottagers’ penalty area.  Johnson coolly finished the spot kick into the bottom right corner of the goal for the win.  While they are not safe yet, they now have a fighting chance to get out of the relegation zone.

Southampton 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

The Saints get a vital win over the Baggies.  It was only their second win in 10 league matches.  Since the Saints delivered the 4-1 smack-down to Hull back in November, they had slipped from third place down to ninth and badly needed a win.  The first half was a bit dull with neither side really threatening the other’s goal.  The Baggies nearly took the lead early in the second half when Shane Long’s header of a Nicolas Anelka cross had to be saved by Saints’ keeper Artur Boruc.  That seemed to wake up the Saints and they should have scored in the 51st minute when Jay Rodriguez’s shot on goal missed off to the right.  In the 60th minute, Both Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin had their respective shots blocked by the Baggies defense.  Just when it looked like the best result would have been a goalless draw, midfielder Adam Lallana was put through on goal by a 66th minute flicked-on header from substitute Gaston Ramirez.  The England midfielder was then able to poke the ball under Baggies keeper Ben Foster for the goal.  The Baggies had a chance to equalize in the 89th minute when Shane Long’s shot was palmed away from goal by Boruc.  The result ends a four match unbeaten run for the Baggies and gives new boss Pepe Mel something to think about as he tries to salvage their season.

Tottenham 2 – 0 Crystal Palace

Spurs continue their unbeaten run as they beat Palace at White Hart Lane.  It’s amazing that the only real change that’s been made to the North London side has been to fire coach Andreas Villas Boas.  Since new boss Tim Sherwood took over, Spurs have not lost and have collected 13 points from a possible 15 available in five matches under his management.  This particular match was the beginning of striker Jermain Dafoe’s swan song as he will be leaving the team in team and joining MLS side Toronto.  The match did not start that well for the home side as they conceded a penalty in the 7th minute when Palace winger Marouane Chamakh was fouled by Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele in the latter’s penalty area.  But when Jason Puncheon stepped up to take the spot kick he hit a horrible kick way over the bar and off to the left of the goal.  Palace tried to get over that horrible miss and nearly scored in the 27th minute when Cameron Jerome’s shot was saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.  Spurs started out the second half much better than they played in the first and scored the opening goal in the 50th minute when Christian Eriksen powered home an Emmanuel Adebayor headed pass.  Defoe nearly got on the score sheet in the 62nd minute when his shot was saved by Palace keeper Julian Speroni.  He would get his goal in the 72nd minute when Aaron Lennon set him up to score with his right foot into the bottom left corner of the net.  The closest Palace would get to scoring would be in stoppage time when Mile Jedinak’s header from a corner kick was blocked by the Spurs’ defense.  The win has Spurs in contention for a top five place again.  Palace, on the other hand occupy the bottom place in the table and are likely to be headed back down to the lower division.

Newcastle 0 – 2 Manchester City

CIteh get the win at Saint James’ Park to contend for the title.  It looks like Manuel Pelligrini’s side have found a winning formula for their away matches.  They took the early lead in the seventh minute when Aleksandar Kolarov set up Edin Dzeko to get an easy tap-in goal.  The home side worked hard to equalize and thought they had done so in the 34th minute when they had a goal ruled out for offside.  Cheick Tiote hit a great curling shot that found the upper right hand corner of the goal and left Citeh keeper Joe Hart frozen on his line.  But the assistant referee raised his flag as Yoan Gouffran was in an offside position when the shot was taken.  Replays showed that Gouffran was not interfering with play, but after the referees consulted, the decision was that Gouffran was penalized for being offside.  Magpies’ boss Alan Pardew lost his temper and looks like he will be facing FA sanctions as he got into a spat with Pellegrini and the fourth official.  The home side started out the second half pushing hard for the equalizing goal and nearly had it in the 47th minute when Hart saved Vurnon Anita’s shot on goal.  Their push left them vulnerable to Citeh counter attacks and they nearly went further behind in the 55th minute when Alvaro Negredo’s header of a David Silva cross had to be saved by keeper Tim Krul.  Loic Remy should have leveled the score in the 69th minute when he was put in on goal by Gouffran, but Hart was able to make the save to keep Citeh in the lead.  In the 81st minute, Hatem Ben Arfa replaced Gouffran.  The change nearly worked as he got through on goal in the 87th minute, but Hart made a brilliant save.  Try as they might, the Magpies just couldn’t find the goal they so fervently sought and deep into stoppage time, Alvaro Negredo finished off a counter-attack with an easy roller into the net after he got the rebound from an initial Tim Krul save.

Stoke 3 – 5 Liverpool

The Reds get five goals to secure their first win at the Britannia Stadium in more than 29 years.  This match was a thriller that nearly saw the Reds throw away the win a couple of times.  They took the early lead in the fourth minute when Reds’ winger Aly Cissokho’s shot deflected off of Potters’ defender Ryan Shawcross and ended up in the goal.  The Reds increased their lead in the 31st minute when Luis Suarez took advantage of some questionable Potters defending and hit the loose ball home for goal number two.  The home side got a goal back in the 39th minute when Peter Crouch out jumped the Liverpool defense to head home Marko Arnautovic’s cross.  Then Stoke incredibly leveled the score in the 44th minute when Charlie Adam’s shot found the bottom right corner of the goal.  There was more excitement in the second half and the Reds retook the lead in the 50th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick from Potters’ defender Marc Wilson’s foul on Reds’ winger Raheem Sterling in the Stoke penalty area.  Steven Gerrard, in his first start since returning from injury, powered the spot kick home into the bottom right corner of the goal.  The “Three Amigos” were reunited for the Reds when Daniel Sturridge came on to replace Philippe Coutinho in the 66th minute.  The change worked in the 70th minute, when Sturridge set up Suarez for his second goal and Liverpool’s fourth.  One would have figured that with Stoke back down by two goals, they would have conceded the match.  But they didn’t quit and in the 84th minute they got a goal back when Jonathan Walters scored from Marko Arnautovic’s cross.  But Sturridge made the victory safe for the Reds in the 87th minute.  Suarez set him up for a shot in close on goal that was initially saved by keeper Jack Butland, but the Sturridge was able to poke home the rebound for the winning goal.  The result lifts the Reds back into the top four and within six points of the top of the table.  Could this be the Reds’ year?

Aston Villa 1 – 2 Arsenal

The Gunners secure their hold of the top spot.  This match was a bit of a worry for them as they have a lengthy injury list that includes Nicklas Bendtner and England midfielder Theo Walcott.  But Arsenal were able to overcome the early Villa pressure that was interrupted in the 14th minute when defender Nathan Baker took the full force of a Serge Gnabry shot directly in the face and had to be replaced by Leandro Bacuna.  When the match got back underway, Villa had a chance to score the opening goal in the 22nd minute, but Karim El Ahmadi’s shot was just over the goal.  It was a two minute stretch in the first half that undid the Villains.  They went behind in the 34th minute when Nacho Monreal assisted Jack Wilshire who put the ball past Villa keeper Brad Guzan into the goal.  Wilshere assisted on the second goal in the 35th minute when he set up Olivier Giroud’s shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.  For the rest of the match, the Gunners defended their lead resolutely.  Although the Villains did get a late Christian Benteke goal in the 75th minute, they were never likely to overturn the result.  Although the top of the table is quite tight with two points separating the top three teams, The Gunners are making their case for winning the league.

Lanny Short

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