The 20,000 goal was scored in the midweek Premier League matches with teams finalising their positions in the table for Christmas.
Tuesday saw Bolton Wanderers leapfrog Blackburn Rovers in the table after a narrow yet important victory. Mark Davies opened the scoring after five minutes when he fired low before Nigel Reo-Coker doubled the scoreline on the half hour mark. After a chorus of boos ringed around the stadium at half time, Yakubu gave the crowd something to cheer about after he poked the ball over Wanderers number one Jussi Jaaskelainen. And in the final minutes, Christopher Samba headed agonisingly wide to leave the Rovers fans very unhappy as they move rock bottom. Full time at Ewood Park: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Bolton Wanderers.
The final match ended all square as Wolverhampton Wanderers were held by Norwich City. Andrew Surman’s diving header got City off to a perfect start, but for Sylvain Ebanks-Blake to volley in before half time. However, substitute Simeon Jackson tapped home from close range before Ronald Zubar headed an equaliser to set up a grandstand finish with eight minutes remaining. Wolves later squandered two decent chances, but the draw leaves them in 17th with City a comfortable ninth. Full time at Molineux: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Norwich City.
Manchester City remained top of the league at Christmas for the first time since 1929 as they eased past Stoke City. After Adam Johnson’s shot deflected onto the bar, striker Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for the home side after he tapped in from the far post. The lead was then doubled in the 36th minute when Johnson fired in from outside the area past the diving Thomas Sorensen. Stoke improved marginally in the second half but some poor defender let Aguero poke into the empty net for his 15th goal of the season. The match was too comfortable for the Eastlands outfit and the late illness to Peter Crouch proved costly for the visitors. Full time at Etihad Stadium: Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City.
The red side of Manchester also eased past their opponents Fulham in West London on Wednesday. It took just five minutes for the Red Devils to take the lead when Nani’s cross was simply met by England youngster Danny Welbeck. Some more sloppy defending allowed Nani to double United’s lead before Ryan Giggs, provider of the previous goal, added a third before half time. Most of the second half was played in the centre of the park, but it wasn’t until the 88th minute when Wayne Rooney smashed a glorious shot into the net. And as the stadium emptied out, substitute Dimitar Berbatov made sure of the points; flicking in Antonio Valencia’s low cross. United remain in second just two points behind Man.City, whilst Fulham dropped to 13th. Full time at Craven Cottage: Fulham 0-5 Manchester United.
In Tyneside, West Bromwich Albion earned an impressive three points at Newcastle United. Peter Odemwingie started where he left off at the weekend after he outpaced Fabricio Coloccini and tucked it away. But United replied through topscorer Demba Ba as his brilliant free-kick flashed past goalkeeper Ben Foster. But that wasn’t enough as just before the half time whistle, Gareth McAuley headed in his first goal of the season. And after both teams hit the bar, striker Ba was on target again with nine minutes remaining, only for Albion’s Paul Scharner to poke the winner in the 85th minute. Newcastle are slowly dropping down the table after they find themselves in seventh with Albion up to tenth. Full time at Sports Direct Arena: Newcastle United 2-3 West Bromwich Albion.
Sunderland also earned a valuable away win at the hands of Queens Park Rangers. After Nicklas Bendtner’s flicked header hit the post, the Sunderland loanee eventually gave his side the lead on 19 minutes; heading in Sebastian Larsson’s cross. Stephane Sessegnon then doubled the Black Cats’ lead after the break before Heidar Helguson halved the deficit for QPR. And Rangers thought they done enough after they turned the game around through Jamie Mackie’s close range header. But that old bean Wes Brown found the back of the net to break the hearts of the home fans and send the away side in jubilation. QPR and Sunderland now swap places in the table with Rangers in 16th and Sunderland in 15th. Full time at Loftus Road: Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Sunderland.
Wednesday evening also saw Arsenal spoil Aston Villa’s Christmas at Villa Park. Ciaran Clark’s pull back on Theo Walcott allowed Robin Van Persie to hammer in his penalty and equal the club’s record for the amount of goals in a calendar year. But Villa replied after the break when Marc Albrighton capitalised on a defensive error to snatch the 20,000th Premier League goal. And after Villa thought they earned a point, substitute Yossi Benayoun headed in at the back post before Alan Hutton received two yellow cards in the last-minute. Full time at Villa Park: Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal.
Ali Al Habsi was on fine form as he halted Liverpool’s progress to earn Wigan Athletic another decent point. It was an even first half with Glen Johnson and Victor Moses missing good chances for both teams before Luis Suarez’ free-kick forced Al Habsi into a decent save after the interval. But the real chance of the game came when Gary Caldwell handled in the area, but Charlie Adam’s spot-kick was well stopped by the Omanian goalkeeper. Athletic have now won five points in their last three games but keeping them in 18th. Meanwhile, Liverpool stay in sixth but are now two points behind Arsenal. Full time at DW Stadium: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Liverpool.
Finally on Wednesday, Everton edged past Swansea City in a dull match at Merseyside. After an uneventful first half that Everton dominated in possession, Leon Osman finally opened the scoring on the hour mark when he headed in Royston Drenthe’s corner. City only had one chance the whole game as Danny Graham’s header was comfortably saved in a match that was easy to forget. Full time at Goodison Park: Everton 1-0 Swansea City.
On Thursday, Tottenham Hotspur remained third in the league – above Chelsea – following their draw at White Hart Lane. Emmanuel Adebayor got Spurs off to the best possible start when he poked home Gareth Bale’s cross inside eight minutes. But after Daniel Sturridge flashed over, the England forward stroked home Ashley Cole’s pass 15 minutes later. The match was full of chances at either end with Didier Drogba striking the post before Ramires and Sandro missed a brace of chances. However, in the final minute, Adebayor thought he’d grabbed a winner but for John Terry sliding the ball off the line. Full time at White Hart Lane: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Chelsea.