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Mar 312014

Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Chelsea

The Blues make a major stumble on the path toward the title.  They came to Selhurst Park with the lead and the book makers pick to win the BPL title on Saturday.  They also had an unbeaten record against London teams this season.  Their last one was that 6-0 face-punch they gave to Arsenal last weekend.  But their last away match was a loss at Aston Villa, so Blues boss Jose Mourinho really wanted to beat Palace on Saturday.  They dominated the start of the first half, with Fernando Torres nearly scoring in the 12th minute.  His shot from a Branislav Ivanovic pass was just blocked away by the Palace defense.  Torres had another shot blocked in the 27th minute, this time from a Andre Schurrle pass.  Put the Blues just couldn’t find a way through the Palace defense and the home side grew in confidence.  They nearly scored in the 32nd minute when Mile Jedinak forced a save from Blues keeper Petr Cech.  Jedinak forced another save in the 38th minute when tried a shot from outside the Blues’ penalty area.  The first half ended deadlocked and as the second half started, Oscar came on to replace David Luiz in the Blues defense.  That change may have led to the disaster that befell the Blues in the 51st minute.  Palace defender Joel Ward hit a dangerous cross into the Blues’ penalty area.  Palace striker Joe Ledley was poised to get on the end of the cross when he was out-jumped by Blues’ captain John Terry.  But Terry’s header went past everyone, eluded Cech’s reach and nestled into the net for the own-goal.  It was then up to Tony Pulis’ boys to take advantage of the gift that they had been given.  They held fast in the 53rd minute and kept both Schurrle and Eden Hazard from scoring the equalizer.  Terry tried to atone for his mistake in the 54th minute by getting on the end of a Frank Lampard corner kick.  But his header was just wide of the goal.  The Blues should have gone down another goal when Cameron Jerome’s left footed shot rebounded off the post.  But try as they might, Mourinho’s boys just couldn’t get anything on goal and the final whistle put the BPL title up for grabs again.

Southampton 4 – 0 Newcastle

The Saints stomp the Magpies at St. Mary’s Stadium.  This was the first match that Magpies’ boss Alan Pardew was allowed to attend after being banned for his head-butt of Hull’s David Meyler.  He still is banned from the touchline but he didn’t want to be anywhere near it on Saturday.  His boys were just plain dominated as the Saints press them early and often.  Magpies’ keeper Tim Krul did his best to keep his side’s net empty and nearly did so throughout the first half.  But as the half time break approached, Rickie Lambert found Jay Rodriguez with a fine cross and the midfielder powered home the opening goal.  The second half was even worse for the visitors as they went down two goals in the 48th minute.  Lambert slotted home Adam Lallana’s cut-back pass and the rout was on.  Goal number three came in the 70th minute when Lallana curled a left-footed shot into the top right corner of the over Krul’s grasp.  Rodriguez completed the humiliation in the 89th minute when he eased Gaston Ramirez’s through ball into the goal.  The win lifts the Saints up over the Magpies into eighth place in the table.  I wonder if Pardew is starting to regret that brain cramp he had at Hull Stadium.

Stoke 1 – 0 Hull

Peter Odemwingie’s second half goal is good enough for the win for the Potters.  This is one of the best years they’ve ever had since getting promoted into the BPL in 2007-08.  They have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United at home this season and have lost only once in their last nine league matches.  Hull on the other hand, aren’t doing so well.  Aside from the off the field controversies they have taken only three points from their last five matches.  While at 33 points, they’re seven better than third from bottom Cardiff, boss Steve Bruce is desperate to get his boys back on track.  They should have taken the early lead in the ninth minute when Tom Huddlestone’s long shot was saved by Potters’ keeper Asmir Begovic.  They had another chance in the 13th minute but Liam Rosenior’s header from a Shane Long cross was just over the bar.  That would be as close as the visitors would get.  In the 61st minute, Odemwingie would score when his long left-footed shot would find the bottom left corner of the goal.  He almost had another in the 70th minute when he headed a Ryan Shawcross flick-on header just wide of the net.  The Potters are set in tenth place and doing well for themselves.

Swansea 3 – 0 Norwich

Jonathan De Guzman’s first half brace helps knock off the Canaries.  This is a good result for the Welsh side.  Not only is it their first win over the Canaries after five meetings, but it lifts them away from the relegation zone to 13th place in the BPL table.  Swans came out fighting and nearly opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Michu’s shot from an Angel Rangel assist missed just off to the right of goal.  They continued to press and midfielder Wayne Routledge was put through on goal by Michu.  His shot though was saved by Canaries keeper John Ruddy.  Ruddy couldn’t do anything about De Guzman’s first goal in the 29th minute.  He got on the end of a Michu pass and curled a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.  He got number two in the 37th minute when Wilfried Bony set up his fellow striker to slot home from the center of the area.  To their credit, the Canaries tried to haul themselves back into the match as the second half got started.  Midfielder Robert Snodgrass hit a cross for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, but the striker’s header was saved by Swans’ keeper Michel Vorm.  The only other real chance the Canaries would get would come in the 65th minute when Vorm would save a shot from Johan Elmander.  Routledge would seal the win for Swans in the 75th minute when he would slot home Jonjo Shelvey’s pass into the bottom right corner of the net for goal number three.

West Bromwich Albion 3 – 3 Cardiff

It’s all even at the Hawthorns.  This one was all about the action in stoppage time and Cardiff’s refusal to give up.  It should have been a home win for the Baggies.  They took the lead in the second minute when Morgan Amalfitano’s long range bomb found the back of the net.  They made it 2-0 in the eighth minute when Gran Dorrans scored from a Matej Vydra assist.  But once again, the Baggies got a bit overconfident and Cardiff got a goal back in the 30th minute when Jordon Mutch curled in an Aron Gunnarsson assist into the top left corner of the goal.  The Baggies tried their best to hold onto their lead, but in the 73rd minute, Steven Caulker headed in a Gary Medel cross to get Cardiff level.  When it seemed likely both sides would have to be satisfied with a point, substitute Thievy Bifouma put the home side back into the lead in the third minute of stoppage time when he slotted in from close range.  But Cardiff refused to give in and right when the referee was about to end the match, they earned a free-kick in the Baggies’ defensive third when Cardiff striker Peter Whittingham was fouled by Stephane Sessegnon.  Ben Turner took the free-kick and he found Mats Daehli who knocked in the equalizing goal right as the final whistle blew.  The Baggies missed a chance get closer to BPL safety and Cardiff earned a much needed point.

Arsenal 1 – 1 Manchester City

Mathieu Flamini’s second half goal grabs the draw for the Gunners.  Boy, what on earth is going on with Arsenal?  Has Arsene Wenger lost control of his team?  They just can’t seem to win when it matters.  They’re seven points off the top of the table and have Everton breathing down their neck for the fourth place on the BPL table and the qualification for UEFA Champions’ League that it brings.  Citeh, on the other hand, blew a chance to take over the BPL lead with Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace.  They did so well on Tuesday when they went to Old Trafford and humiliated their neighbors.  Most Citeh supporters assumed that they would be able to do the same thing on Saturday at the Emirates.  They should have done so, especially since they took the lead in the 18th minute when David Silva was able to cut through the Gunners’ defense and score a fine goal.  But that’s all they could do as Arsenal finally woke up a bit.  They came out charged up in the second half and had two chances to score right from the second half kick-off.  Flamini did score in the 52nd minute when he knocked home Lukas Podolski’s cross past Citeh keeper Joe Hart.  Hart had to come up big several times in the second half as the Gunners pressed for the winner.  The best save was a 60th minute denial of a shot from Podolski.  Yaya Toure had his 74th minute chance to put Citeh back into the lead denied by Gunners’ keeper Wojciech Szczesny.  Deep into stoppage time, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should have won the match for Arsenal when he latched onto a loose ball from a corner-kick.  However, his shot missed off to the right of the goal.  So it looks like Arsenal are out of the title race.

Fulham 1 – 3 Everton

The Toffees put the Cottagers in deeper trouble.  Roberto Martinez’s boys are making a really great case for UEFA Champions’ League football for next season.  Sunday was their fifth successive BPL win and it was the first time since the earlier days of former boss David Moyes that Everton have ever accomplished such a feat.  Fulham, on the other hand look like they’re headed down to the Championship.  But they’re not going away quietly.  They did a really fine job holding the visitors goalless in the first half on Sunday.  If it hadn’t been for a David Stockdale mistake in the 50th minute, they might have been able to fight harder for a result.  It all started when the Toffees earned a corner kick that came out to Steven Naismith at the top of the Cottagers penalty area.  The Toffees’ midfielder struck the loose ball and it deflected off the Cottagers’ keeper into the goal.  To their credit, the home side fought back and equalized in the 70th minute when Ashkan Dejagah curled in a shot into the top left corner of the goal.  But alas, their defending as been their problem all season.  It let them down again in the 78th minute when Kevin Mirallas put the visitors back into the lead when he tucked away substitute Aiden McGeady’s through pass.  Steven Naismith sealed the win in the 86th minute when he finished off a Leighton Baines cross.  Can Everton catch Arsenal?

Liverpool 4 – 0 Tottenham

The Reds beat Spurs to take over the BPL top spot.  There have been so many times this season where visitors to Anfield wished they had stayed home.  Sunday was that day for Spurs.  Nothing seemed to go right for the Londoners as they went behind early to a Younes Kaboul own goal.  The score had the Kop feeling hopeful and they went wild when their hero Luis Suarez danced through the Spurs defense and scored goal number two in the bottom right corner of the net.  Number three came in the 54th minute when Jon Flanagan set up Philippe Coutinho to power in from just outside the penalty area.  The fourth goal came in the 74th minute after Suarez earned a free-kick from Spurs defender Andros Townsend just outside the Spurs penalty area.  Jordan Henderson took the free kick and placed it into the bottom right corner of the net past the grasp of Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.  So it was an easy win for the Reds and one can’t help thinking that they might just be good enough to win it all this season.

Sunderland 1 – 2 West Ham

Former Black Cat Andy Carroll helps to send his former club closer to relegation.   I think Gus Poyet may be finally realizing that Sunderland just aren’t good enough to stay in the BPL this season.  They’re four points from safety and just not able to get any momentum going.  Andy Carroll’s ninth minute header and Mohamed Diame’s 50th minute winner were all Sam Allardyce’s boys would need as they have secured their own future in the BPL.  One question that Black Cats’ supporters have for Poyet is why he has not played Adam Johnson more.  Johnson get a goal back for the home side in the 65th minute and one couldn’t help thinking that if he would have started, he might have been able to do more.  The Black cats still have games in hand from their fellow strugglers, but they’ll need a miracle now if they mean to survive.

Lanny Short

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