Some mixed results in the weekend Premier League matches as 13 goals were hit in three Sunday games.
Chelsea kept their second clean sheet of the season after a close victory against Blackburn Rovers. After a slow first half, Chelsea took the lead in the 51st minute when Frank Lampard headed in Branislav Ivanovic’s low right-footed cross past goalkeeper Paul Robinson. But after Aiyegbeni Yakubu went close and Gael Givet hit the bar in the dying stages, Blues striker Fernando Torres should have wrapped up the game but for hitting a simple volley over. Full time at Ewood Park: Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Chelsea.
Swansea City picked up a point as they tormented Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool were dominant throughout as Andy Carroll hit the crossbar after getting on the end of Stewart Downing’s low cross. Two fantastic Michel Vorm saves also denied both Luis Suarez and Glen Johnson in the second half but the point keeps Liverpool and Swansea in seventh and tenth respectively. Full time at Anfield: Liverpool 0-0 Swansea City.
The low scoring theme continues in Manchester as Manchester United edged past Sunderland to pick up the three points. The hype, caused by Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25-year reign, surrounded Old Trafford and soon increased just before the break when ex-United defender Wes Brown scored an own goal. Javier Hernandez’ header was cleared off the line in the second half before Sunderland saw their strong penalty appeals turned down after the linesman flagged for a spot-kick. Full time at Old Trafford: Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland.
Arsenal kept up their good run of form after comfortably beating West Bromwich Albion in North London. Robin Van Persie once again opened the scoring as he notched in his eighth goal in four games after 22 minutes. And the impressive Thomas Vermaelen added a second following Van Persie’s cut-back before Mikel Arteta sealed the win after the interval. It took Albion 85 minutes to get their first shot on target - a weak header by Steven Reid – but they still remain 13th in the league. Arsenal also remain in seventh but are on the same points as the above two clubs. Full time at Emirates Stadium: Arsenal 3-0 West Bromwich Albion.
A Darren Bent brace helped Aston Villa beat a resilient Norwich City at Villa Park on Saturday. City winger Anthony Pilkington expertly opened the scoring with a lovely free-kick, but the lead was soon shortened through Bent. Gabriel Agbonlahor then pounced on a short back-pass three minutes after the break before Steve Morison added a second for the visitors. The win sees Villa leapfrog the Canaries into seventh with an away game to Tottenham Hotspur next on the agenda. Full time at Villa Park: Aston Villa 3-2 Norwich City.
Newcastle United extended their fabulous start to the season after narrowly beating David Moyes’ Everton. Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga horribly put through his own net on 12 minutes after goalkeeper Tim Howard attempted to collect Danny Simpson’s low cross. And 17 minutes later Ryan Taylor scored what could be a contender for goal of the season after his looping shot flew past Howard and into the top corner. However, just before half time the lead was halved courtesy of Jack Rodwell’s header from a corner. Louis Saha then wasted a few chances for Everton before Royston Drenthe shot wide of goal when inside the area. Full time at St James’ Park: Newcastle United 2-1 Everton.
In the late kick-off on Saturday, Manchester City remained top of the table in an entertaining match away to Queens Park Rangers. It was the home side who scored first too when Jay Bothroyd headed in Joey Barton’s controversial free-kick. But back came City with two minutes left of the half through Edin Dzeko’s solo run and low finish. In the second half, David Silva doubled Man.City’s lead before the ball hit Heidar Helguson and rolled in to level the scores with 21 minutes left. But the Eastland’s club are top of the league for a reason and Yaya Toure’s powerful header gave them the three points and kept QPR 12th. Full time at Loftus Road: Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Manchester City.
On Sunday, Bolton Wanderers turned last season’s FA Cup semi-final scoreline on its head as they thrashed Stoke City. Captain Kevin Davies opened the scoring within two minutes after Ivan Klasnic picked him out with a quick free-kick. Winger Chris Eagles then added a goal either side of the half whilst Klasnic also scored two to seal Bolton’s first win at the Reebok Stadium all season. Stoke were poor in every part of the pitch and the Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome strike force obviously wasn’t effective enough. Wanderers still remain in the drop zone but will surely get a boost from that win whereas City drop to twelfth. Full time at Reebok Stadium: Bolton Wanderers 5-0 Stoke City.
Tottenham Hotspur held on to take maximum points at Craven Cottage against Fulham. Both teams played on Thursday in the Europa League so so there was no excuse of match fitness, and certainly not for Spurs who took a tenth minute lead via Gareth Bale’s deflected shot. Bale’s link-up play with Aaron Lennon then handed Tottenham a second, who were playing without the managerial skill of Harry Redknapp after his successful heart surgery. But Fulham pressed in the second half and pulled a goal back via Spurs’ defender Younes Kaboul’s back, and then almost stole an equaliser as Chris Baird and Clint Dempsey in particular missed a hatful of chances. Although, after all the pressing from the home side, it was Tottenham who wrapped up the points as substitute Jermain Defoe smashed in. Full time at Craven Cottage: Fulham 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur.
Last but not least Wolverhampton Wanderers won their first league game since August as they beat Wigan Athletic. Hugo Rodallega was guilty of missing a glorious chance for the visitors and only a minute later Jamie O’Hara showed him how it’s done following Kevin Doyle’s pass. But the teams were to go in level at half time when Ben Watson finished off a rebound via his penalty. But Wolves had the more motivation than The Latics and David Edward’s headed past the brilliant Ali Al Habsi before Stephen Ward’s finish. The win makes Wolves the biggest movers in the league as they increase their position from 17th to 13th. Bad news for Wigan though as they stay bottom on five points. Full time at Molineux: Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 Wigan Athletic.
By Aaron Aquilina