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Barclay’s Premier League Wrap-up Week 23

 Posted by on January 21, 2014 at 9:39 pm  England, EPL
Jan 212014

Sunderland 2 – 2 Southampton

The Black Cats stage a late comeback to salvage a draw. The Saints will be kicking themselves over this match. They started things so well and got an early fourth minute goal when Jay Rodriguez’s shot found the bottom left corner of the goal. They had the bulk of the pressure during the first half and got goal number two in the 30th minute with Dejan Lovren slotted home Steven Davis’s corner kick. But there is one saying is our sport: the hardest lead to hold is an early 2-0 lead. This proved to be true as the Black Cats got a goal back in the 31st minute when Fabio Borini made a great finish from an Adam Johnson through pass. Rickie Lambert almost leveled the scores as the end of the half approached when his curling shot that was bound for the top right corner of the goal was tipped over the bar by Saints’ keeper Vito Mannone. The second half saw the Saints’ trying to up the pressure. They nearly scored in the 54th and the 58th minute through Calum Chambers and Jose Fonte respectively. But both times, Black Cats’ keeper Artur Boruc was as able to make the save. Rodriguez should have scored in the 60th minute when his shot missed off to the right of the goal. The Saints’ would regret that miss in the 71st minute when Johnson’s shot found the top fight corner of the goal to level the score. The Black Cats had a chance to win it in the 82nd minute when Johnson’s shot from outside the Saint’s penalty area was saved by Mannone. Deep into stoppage time, Ki Sung-Yueng missed a chance to grab the win for the home side when his shot was blocked by the defense.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Fulham

Santi Cazorla’s double keeps the Gunners at the top of the league. This one started out a bit slow. The Cottagers, perhaps thinking that they would not be able to get out of the Emirates Stadium with three points decided to take a defensive approach to the match. For the most part, it work for the first half with the only real attempt on goal from the Gunners coming from Bacary Sagna in the 38th minute. Cottagers’ keeper Maarten Stekelenburg was able to make the save and preserve the goalless draw that each took into the locker-room at the half time interval. The Gunners needed to win in order to maintain their grip on the league leadership. They nearly had the opening goal in the 51st minute when Olivier Giroud’s shot was saved by Stekelenburg. The Cottagers were proving equal to any attack the Gunners could muster and it looked like they would get the draw they were playing for. But for a five minute period where the Gunners would get what they needed, the Cottagers may have been able to escape with a draw. The Gunners’ first goal came in the 56th minute when Jack Wilshire set up Cazorla to poke home into the bottom right hand corner of the Cottagers’ goal past Steklenburg. Five minutes later in the 61st minute, Cazorla got his second when his long range shot found the net past Steklenburg’s reach. The Cottagers’ keeper was able to keep the margin at two goals when he saved substitute Lukas Podolski shot from just outside the visitors’ penalty area. But the Gunners had the result they needed and the final whistle assured them of another win and a one point lead over Manchester City.

Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Stoke

Tony Pulis leads his new side over his old side. The one thing that Pulis is good at is keeping a side in the EPL. It’ll be ugly and boring, but he can make that happen. That was the hope for Eagles fans when he took over in November. Since taking over the London side, they’ve won four in their last ten matches. The match itself was quite boring as Pulis’ current and former sides just couldn’t get any attacking direction going. It took until the 53rd minute for Palace to score the winning goal. Jason Puncheon, making up for horribly missing a penalty kick last week versus Tottenham, was able to coolly hit a strike from distance that beat Potters’ keeper Jack Butland. Puncheon, who had gotten into a Twitter fight with his former Palace manager Neil Warnock, was relieved to have scored such an important goal. It lifts the Eagles off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone. It might have been an ugly result, but it was a result. The question now is if Pulis can keep things going.

Manchester City 4 – 2 Cardiff

It’s another easy win for Citeh at the Etihad Stadium. They have scored 100 goals this season and look like they’re the most serious contenders to Arsenal’s claim on the BPL trophy this season. The key for them is making sure that no one beats them at home. And no one has and that trend looked to be continued in the 13th minute when David Silva set up Edin Dzeko to poke home the opening goal. Cardiff were able to fight back though and the equalized in the 29th minute when Craig Noone’s left footed shot got past keeper Joe Hart. But any hopes Cardiff had of getting out of Manchester with any sort of result were quickly stomped out by Jesus Navas’s goal in the 33rd minute. To the visitors’ credit, they didn’t quit and nearly equalized again in the 50th minute, but Hart was able to save Jordon Mutch’s shot with no trouble. In the 61st minute, Sergio Aguero, who had been out injured, came off the bench to replace Alvaro Negredo. The change worked for the home side as the Argentine International nearly scored in the 73rd minute but his shot was just over the goal. Aguero was the architect in the 76th minute when he set up Yaya Toure to score from in close into the bottom right corner of the Cardiff goal. Aguero would finally get his goal in the 78th minute when Toure paid him back by setting him up for a shot into the top left corner of the net. In second half stoppage time, Frazier Campbell would get a goal back from Cardiff when he took advantage of the Citeh defense switching off for a bit and headed home a corner kick from Wolff Eikrem. So it would seem like Citeh are involved in a close fight for the BPL again. Can they win it?

Norwich 1 – 0 Hull

The Canaries get a late goal to beat Hull. There has been a bit of talk about Canaries boss Chris Hughton and whether or not he would be able to keep his job. The word is that his job is safe as long as he can keep Norwich out of the bottom three. So it was no surprise that Hughton made several changes to the side that been soundly defeated in their FA Cup match. He put together Gary Hooper and Ricky van Wolfswinkel up front and started Newcastle loanee Jonas Gutierrez in midfield. Hull, on the other hand, have struggled to get results on the road, and they started their new recruit Nekica Jelavic up front. He nearly scored in the second minute when Robert Koren set him up, but the Croatian international’s first-time shot deflected off the wrong side of the post. But that was really all there was to this match as both sides struggled with getting the ball forward. Just when it looked like both sides would have to settle for a point each, the Canaries were awarded a corner kick in the 86th minute. Robert Snodgrass took the kick and Ryan Bennett was able to rise above everyone else and head the ball home. Any hopes Hull had of leveling the score died in the 89th minute when Tom Huddlestone was sent off for receiving his second yellow card after fouling Leroy Fer. The win moves the Canaries to 12th place, and while they’re not safe yet, makes the job of staying in the BPL a little easier.

West Ham 1 – 3 Newcastle

A Yohan Cabaye double gives the Magpies the win and sends the Hammers back into the relegation zone. The Magpies were in a bit of a slump coming into this match. They had lost their last three matches are were looking for a spark to get back to winning ways. They got that spark in the 15th minute when Capaye was able to dance around the Hammers defense and score from just inside the home side’s penalty area. They got goal number two in the 33rd minute when Loic Remywas found by a Sissoko cross and he eased the ball home past Hammers’ keeper Adrian. The Hammers got a gift right at the half time interval when Carlton Cole’s shot deflected off defender Michael Williamson and into the Magpies net for the own goal. The second half saw the Hammers miss chance after chance to equalize. The worst one was when Andy Carroll’s 75th minute attempt went just over the bar. The visitors were assured the win when Cabaye’s free-kick found the bottom left corner of the goal. So it looks like the Hammers’ fans will be on a relegation watch again.

Liverpool 2 – 2 Aston Villa

The Reds come back from two goals down to get the draw at Anfield. Villain fans are still angry over the outcome of this one. They had come into this match needing a win and they nearly scored the opening goal right from the opening kick off. Christian Benteke headed the ball forward to Gabriel Agbonlahor whose shot went just wide of the Reds’ goal. They would keep on pressing and that pressure finally paid off in the 25th minute when Andreas Weimann’s right footed shot from an Agbonlahor cross went onto the goal past Reds’ keeper Simon Mignolet. They would get goal number two in the 36th minute from Agbonlahor again. This time he found Benteke with a cross that was headed home. Liverpool would get a goal back right at the half-time break when Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson combined to set up Daniel Sturridge to tap-in from close range. The equalizer would come about from a controversial play in the 52nd minute. Suarez was able to get behind the Villain defense again and when keeper Guzan came out to cover, he appeared to trip the Reds’ striker in the Villains’ penalty area. Replays of the incident seemed to be inconclusive and really depended on which camera angle was viewed. But the referee awarded the Reds the penalty kick that Steve Gerrard powered home into the bottom right corner of the goal. The Reds should have gone on and taken the lead in the 57th minute when Sturridge’s long range shot was saved by Guzan. Things went quiet for the rest of the match as both sides seemed to settle for the draw. For the Reds, the result lifts them back into the top four. This season could be their best finish in quite a while.

Swansea 1 – 3 Tottenham

Spurs win their fourth in a row and get back into top five contention. Emmanuel Adebayor has experienced quite the revival since Tim Sherwood took over managing Spurs. It took a while for them to get going, but when they finally did, it was Adebayor who opened the scoring in the 34th minute when he headed home a Christian Eriksen cross. He nearly scored again in the 39th minute when his shot from a Vlad Chiriches through ball was saved by Swans’ keeper Gerhard Tremmel. Perhaps playing in so many domestic competitions and the UEFA Europa league is getting to the Swans. They went further behind in the 53rd minute when Chico’s attempted clearence ended up in his own goal. Adebayor would get his second and Spurs third in the 70th minute when he finished off a fine move through the Swans’ defense. Although Swansea would get a goal back in the 77th minue from Wilfried Bony’s shot, they were well beaten. Concern is starting to rise a bit with the Welsh side as they now are only three points away from the relegation zone.

West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Everton

Diego Lugano’s second half goal salvages a draw for the Baggies. This was a glimmer of hope that ended a week of bad news for the home side. Their club sponsor Zoopla announced that they would be dropping the Baggies after Nicolas Anelka’s controversal ‘quenelle’ goal celebration when he scored against West Ham last month. The gesture was branded as racist and anti-Semitic by many people and angered Zoopla co-owner Alex Chesterton. Mr. Chesterton, who happens to be Jewish, requested that Anelka be left out of the side and that the French international be required to wear a team shirt that did not bear the sponsor’s name. The club refused the request and the matter is awaiting a ruling from the Football Association that could come some time this week. The match itself will be seen by Toffees boss Roberto Martinez as a missed opportunity as his side took the lead in the 41st minute from Kevin Mirallas when he beat Lugano to power his shot past Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster. That should have been good enough to see Everton break into the top for of the BPL table, but that idea got deflated in the 75th when Lugano out jumped the Toffees defense to head home James Morrison’s cross. While there is still time for the Toffees to try and break into the top for, it’s not going to be easy.

Lanny Short

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