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Saturday

Birmingham 1 – West Brom 3

The first half could have gone either way with both teams having good chances, and probably the best chances falling to West Brom, but poor decisions left the first half goalless. West Brom took the lead when Mulumbu scored on the 47th minute but that didn’t last long as Birmingham equalized straight after the restart with Beausejour scoring. Ridgewell and Scharner were both booked for a very unusual tussle. They both came together and were holding each other and say they fell to the floor they didn’t let go of each other and then were rolling around on each other. It looked more like a wrestling match than a tussle for position. West Brom took the lead again when Morrison made the space so that he could volley home, giving Foster no chance. West Brom could have made it 3-1 but Chris Brunt’s effort hit the post and the rebound was hit over by the offside Odemwingie. West Brom did make it 3-1 when Scharner scored with his head. It was very sloppy defender as no one picked up Scharner, and with a tight angle you could feel that Foster could have done better. Maybe Birmingham are still a little hung over on the success of the Carling Cup. But City will need start picking up some wins, as if they continue on their current path they could be facing relegation.

Arsenal 0 – Sunderland 0

This was the first game back for Koscielny and Szczesny since the Carling Cup final. Szczesny did well to save from Sessegnon shot, diving and pushing it away. Nasri showed  off his dribbling quality weaving through the Sunderland side, but didn’t pull it back for Bendtner and it went off for a corner. Wilshire delivered the corner which the resembled a pinball machine ball pinging around before Bendtner tried an overhead kick. It was not one of Rooney’s standard, but a nice effort and one that if it had not gone straight to Mignolet could have caused more trouble or gone in. Wilshire was again an architect when he chipped it through to Bendtner who let it bounce a few time before striking it goalwards. A great fingertip save prevented Bendtner scoring. With the start of the second half Arsenal continued to go forward, and soon Arshavin had a chance at goal. Substitute Chamakh, who came on for Denilson, pulled the ball back, but Arshavin’s effort was a weak one that went straight to the keeper Mignolet. Sunderland gave away a foul when Sessengnon tackled Koscielny. Nasri lined up to take the free kick, but Mignolet did brilliantly to save. He dived up and it looked like it hit his wrist and bounced out, and Sunderland were able to clear it away. No matter what Arsenal did they just couldn’t score, and when Wilshire crossed in the ball Chamakh’s header rattled the bar. Then Nasri fed the ball to Arshavin to run onto, was being chased by Titus Bramble, when Bramble started to stumble and as he fell pushed Arshavin just as he shot, putting Arshavin off balance and leading to an off target shot. If it had been seen, could very well have led to a penalty but nothing really was seen untill the replays showed it. But Arshavin new at the time, but didn’t seem to claim for anything. Sunderland had a good chance when Welbeck acrobatically controlled tha ball and then sharply turned to volley it goalwards. Szczesny dived down to his right hand side and saved brilliantly putting it out for a corner. Sunderland could have capitalised on the corner but Brambles header went over. Arshavin then was in the thick of it again when he ran on to Bendtner’s through ball which he collected and rounded the keeper and put it away but was flagged for offside. But again replays show a different story, Arshavin was being played onside by Anton Ferdinand and the goal should have stood. Both keepers played well today, but Mignolet kept his side in the game today more than Szczesny needed too and Sunderland can thank him for the point. Maybe the Referee assistant too. With Chelsea beating Manchester United Arsenal could have gone 1 point behind the leaders with a game in hand, but stay second 3 points behind them with a game in hand.

Bolton 3 – Aston Villa 2

Darren Bent got Villa of to a good start when he put them in the lead on the 15th minute. He had earlier missed an oppurtunity. Bolton drew level when Gary Cahill scored from a corner. He was unmarked and something Villa couldnt handle all game. Bolton where a constant threat in the air and if it wasn’t Cahill it was Kalsnic or Davies. Aston Villa threatened in a much more technical way and came close when Albrighton crossed from the right and Stewart Downing should have scored but his sidefooted shot went wide of the target. Villa came close again but Bent’s weak shot was blocked by Wheater and Ashley Young’s shot was well saved by Jaaskelainen. Villa got the second goal when Downing raced down the right and crossed into the box where young up-and-coming Albrighton swung a right-foot shot into the net. Villa should have won this game, as apart the goal at the death from Bolton in the first half they had nothing to worry about, and again in the second Villa were on top and when they had a penalty that should have seen them go 3-1 up and put the game past Bolton. But Young, who won the spot-kick after being barged by Wheater, fired it straight at Jaaskelainen. Five minutes later Bolton scored again from another corner and it was Cahill again who scored. Holden found Cahill, who’s header was saved by Friedel, blasting in the rebound. Bolton  snatched the winner four minutes from time when Lee Chung-yong’s deep cross from the left was headed back by Wheater for Klasnic to blast home. Houllier will look back at this and wonder what went wrong.

Fulham 3 – Blackburn 2

Blackburn had a good chance to score first when Fulham gave away possession stupidly from their free kick and Blackburn quickly went on the attack. Mame Diouf shot but Schwarzer did well to save it. Fulham took the lead when Damien Duff scored. Dembele laid it off to Dickson Etuhu who the fed it through to Duff. Duff’s first touch was with his right cutting inside so he could unleash a left footed shot which crept in under Robinson and in. There was soon a talking point as to whether Johnson kept the ball it, fighting Samba for the ball as he thought there was enough on it for it to go out. Johnson and Samba tussled but when Johnson went down, no penalty was given. Just before the second half Fulham conceded when Fulham couldn’t clear the ball from their box, and then when Hanley shot, it deflected off Hangeland leaving Schwarzer stranded. The second half started well with both teams looking to take the lead, and it was Fulham with Damien Duff who took the lead. It was the same shot, but this time further out, he controlled it with his right, and the let a fearsome shot go low and hard into the bottom right. Both Duff goals also went through the opposite players legs. Blackburn nearly equalised when from their free kick which Schwarzer punched out, Mame Biram Diouf headed back towards goal for Chris Baird to header off the line. Blackburn did draw level, no thanks to Fulham’s poor defending. They just couldn’t clear the ball. A long throw in was headed out by Murphy but not far enough and was headed back in by Givet, which was the flicked backward by a Fulham defender and then it bounced about for Hoilett to chest it and volley it home. With 10 minutes to go Fulham put in extra pressure. Duff had a chance to grab the winner and get himself a hat trick but was unable. Johnson had a chance to score and give Fulham the winner, but Robinson did well to save, But Fulham got the break they were hoping for when they were awarded a penalty on the 89th minute with Hanley judged to have held back Hughes. Zamora stepped up to take the penalty and rifled it home to win the game 3-2

Newcastle 1 – Everton 2

Everton started brightly but it was Newcastle who took the lead thanks to Leon Best. Howard saved Nolan’s shot but Best was there to head it in to an open net to give Newcastle an unexpected lead, but that was not to last long. With in ten minutes later Everton were level with Leon Osman scoring. Everton broke away and with Arteta in acres of space things didn’t look good for Newcastle. Arteta laid it off to an unmarked Osman who controlled it calmly and side footed it home. It went through Enrique’s legs, and you could say that Enrique could have done better there. Everton then took the lead when Leighton Baines delivered a beautifully dangerous free kick into the box, curling across goal bouncing in the six yard box waiting for anyone to touch it in, and it was Jagielka who connected with it with his right foot. The ball hit the underside of the bar. Jagielka in the end had a free shot at it, after Enrique didn’t do enough marking him. Newcastle tried hard at the end of the first half to grab and equalizer but nothing they threw into the box could stick and the half ended 2-1 to Everton. But with the second half under way the team that looked like scoring was Everton and if it wasnt for Harper Everton could have scored many more goals. It is also fair to say that if Saha had his shooting boots on that Everton would have had more goals todays also. Newcastle fans thought they had equalized when Drake lookalike Leon Best headed home, but the referee blew for a foul as Drake pushed his marker to gain the advantage to score. In the end the game ended with Everton winning 2-1 but that is thanks to Harper as it could have been worse.

West Ham 3 – Stoke 0

Stoke had a chance to take the lead, but Walters clever shot  was saved by Rob Green. West Ham took the lead thanks to some terrible defending. Noble put in a through ball for Demba Ba to run on to, and Stoke’s back line was all over the place and then Begovic came running out to clear it, Wilson tried to slow down but in the end confusion between the Stoke players meant Begovic missed it and Ba kept in front and bungled it in. West Ham soon got their second and it was Da Costa who scored. Parker was fouled and with the resulting free kick Hitzlsperger put in the cross which Da Costa headed down to score. He rose well and executed with perfection. Piquionne had a chance to score, but was unable to put it in, hitting the side netting, and Begovic kept out Hitzlsperger to keep it 2-0 at half time. The second half didn’t see much change, Delap had a shot saved by Green and then West Ham had a chance with Carlton Cole whose curling effort was saved. Cole did well to make the space and showed some intelligence with his dribbling as he wasnt running into a cul-de-sac, instead just kept the ball, finding some space to shoot. Stoke’s defending all game was poor and it almost cost them again when a terrible header back by Shawcross allowed Cole in, but Begovic made a great one handed save to deny him the goal. Apart from Begovic’s early mistake, Stoke had him to thank that the score wasnt 3 or 4-0 by then. Stoke had brought on Kenwyne Jones at looked more dangerous and almost scored but his header was wide. West Ham scored their third and it was a well worked goal. They kept possession well and moved the ball about. Hitzlsperger put the ball across field to Noble who kept the ball before he laid it off to O’Neil who gave it straight back to Noble. Noble again waited and kept a hold of the ball untill Parker made an overlapping run. Noble played in Parker who ran it into the box and pull it back for Piquionne to shoot. The shot was blocked but Hitzlsperger was running in and smashed it into the back of the net with some real furiosity clipping the underside of the bar. It was a really deserving win for West Ham that out played Stoke everywhere and it seems West Ham have turned a corner after beating Burnley 5-1 in the FA Cup, and beating Liverpool 3-1 they seem to be on a good run of form that could see them finish the season still in the premiership.

Manchester City 1 – Wigan 0

Manchester City were lucky that they had 10 men on the field as on another day with another referee Micah Richards could have been sent off for his sliding tackle on Tom Cleverley, but he was only booked. Tevez almost broke the deadlock when he ran at the Wigan defense and made his way through but when he shot he screwed it wide. Wigan then had their chance when Diame’s cross field pass found Victor Moses. Moses controlled it with his chest and beat Zabaleta when he faked a cross and cut into the box and then touched it past Lescott before he crossed it low. The cross was cleared out poorly to McCarthy who had time and space but wasted it all when his shot didn’t trouble Hart in goal. City took the lead when Yaya Toure passed to David Silva who smartly dribbled into the box and shot hard and low to the keeper and scored when really people shouldnt have been saying it was a poor shot, and he could have hit it anywhere other than at the keeper. But Al-Habsi who has been in good form for Wigan in recent months somehow let it slip right through his hands and legs. A very poor goalkeeping error to give City the lead. In the second half Wigan almost drew level and it would have been a wonderful goal if they had. Watson put in a corner which went to un unmarked Alcaraz who volleyed with the inside of his boot first time, and the post was the inly thing to defy him a goal. Again Wigan threatened City’s goal this time Watson put in the ball from a free kick which was headed clear but only as far as McCarthy who unleashed a fearsome half volley shot that this time made Hart spring into action and dive for it and turn it away. Rodallega had in the last five minutes but his poor shot was easily saved by Hart, and then Conor Sammon and Rodallega linked up well with a nice one-two for Sammon to shot, but unluckily for him and Wigan his shot was dragged just wide. City won, but in all fairness the game should have been at least a draw for Wigan. That result leaves Wigan dangerously at the bottom of the league.

Sunday

Liverpool 3 – Manchester United 1

Dirk Kuyt bagged himself a hat-trick today, with thanks to his hard work and Luis Suarez’s skillful play. Kuyt benefited from Suarez as he dribbled his way through United makeshift defense and Kuyt from only inches out put away Suraez’s pass/shot. It was only five minutes later that Kuyt scored his second and it was a gift again, this time thanks to Nani, rather than Suarez. The cross came in, but Nani for some reason headed back towards goal and Kuyt was there from 3 yards out to head it in, Van der Sar was helpless. Jamie Carragher was lucky to stay on the field after poor tackle on Nani which he was carded for but only a yellow not red. The United winger was stretched off, and it wasn’t too long before Rafael was yellow carded for his tackle on Lucas. The second half began with United looking for a way back into the game and came close but Meireles cleared off the line to stop Berbatov’s close-range header going in and Giggs had a free-kick go over. Kuyt put Meireles clean through but Van der Sar came to the rescue by palming his angled shot away. Van der Sar kept his team in it, but was having a hard time of it with Smalling and Brown in front of him. But then on the 65th minute he spilled Suarez’s free-kick and Kuyt was quickest to it and put it in 2 yards out grabbing his hat-trick. Andy Carroll made his long-awaited debut when he replaced Meireles to a rapturous reception. And Carroll soon was making use of his strength and had a header goalwards. Kuyt tried to grab another goal when he attempt a 25-yard volley which went just wide. Gerrard had two cracks at goal, but both went wide of the mark. Hernandez scored a late header but it was too little too late with the game ending 3-1 Sir Alex Ferguson will have a lot to think about for the next few weeks.

Wolves 3 – Tottenham 3

With the passing of Dean Richards last week there was a minute’s applause from supporters in honour of former Wolves and Tottenham defender. Spurs made a bright start when Luka Modric put in Pavlyuchenko but he placed his shot and didn’t trouble Hennessey. Hennessey needed to react quickly in racing out of his area to get the ball clear from Defoe after he chased down a long clearance from Assou-Ekotto. Wolves enjoyed possession and Adam Hammill picked out the run of Milijas but he could not keep his header down. Then Jarvis had a first time shot deflected by William Gallas into the side netting. Wolves did get the goal they were pushing for when Milijas delivered another quality cross for Doyle who got in front of Gomes and headed into the net. Spurs drew level when Defoe’s shot flew Hennessey. Only Five minutes later Defoe scored again when Modric’s pass rebounded fortuitously to Defoe who curled a shot past Hennessey. Wolves fought hard and it was hard working Doyle who made it 2-2 from the penalty spot. Milijas had his shirt pulled back by Hutton. The referee booked Hutton though maybe it could have been red.With the second half underway, it didnt take Tottenham long before they were back in the lead when Pavlyuchenko scored from Jenas’s pass. Pavlyuchenko turned and drilling a 15 yard shot past Hennessey. Wolves came close to equalising when Ward glanced a header wide from Jarvis’ cross. Wolves again started to fight back but Gomes denied Milijas’ low driven shot onto the post to keep Tottenham in the lead. Hennessey also kept his side in the game when he grabbed the ball from Defoe who ran onto Modric’s ball over the top. Bale came on for Pienaar which will make the spurs fans happy, and look towards the Milan game on Wednesday. Ebanks-Blake almost made it  3-3 but he dragged his shot wide. Bale could have grabbed a goal to put the game past Wolves but shot wide from close range. Defoe almost got his hat-trick but his shot hit the post. Wolves did manage to grab the equalizer when Fletcher scored a header from Jarvis’ cross. A great game but one that both teams really wanted and needed the three points. Wolves stay in the bottom three where as Tottenham stay fifth

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