Not a lot of goals at all this weekend, with most teams winning by the odd strike.
Bolton Wanderers left it late to get an important victory against Queens Park Rangers in what was a controversial match. It took 20 minutes for the first real piece of action to occur as QPR’s Clint Hill looked to have headed in Joey Barton’s corner over the line before goalkeeper Adam Bogdan clawed it out (see above). However, the referee’s officials deemed that the ball didn’t cross the line despite television replays. The decision, which left Rangers manager Mark Hughes fuming, didn’t help the visitors cause as Darren Pratley headed in on 37 minutes. Still seething over the disallowed goal, QPR came out to the second half with an extra kick in their step and soon found an equaliser through Djibril Cisse. But after Bobby Zamora struck the Bolton crossbar, it was substitute Ivan Klasnic who scored the all important winner for the Trotters; latching onto Ryo Miyaichi’s through ball. Bolton now move out the relegation zone from 19th to 17th. For QPR, they drop two places to 18th. Full time at Reebok Stadium: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Queens Park Rangers.
Blackburn Rovers takes a step closer to safety after they beat a poor Wolverhampton Wanderers side. An entertaining first half saw chances at both ends as Yakubu headed wide in the box before Matt Jarvis somehow failed to hit the target unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. However, the first goal of the weekend in the Premier League was eventually scored on the 43rd minute mark through David Hoilett’s volley. And things got better for Rovers when Hoilett’s shot found a way past the diving Wayne Hennessey between the sticks. Steve Kean’s men now move up to 16th with Wolves in 19th. Full time at Molineux: Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Blackburn Rovers.
In West London, Roberto Di Matteo won his first Premier League match as interim Chelsea manager as they edged past Stoke City. After Branislav Ivanovic flashed a header over, City were reduced to 10 men with just 25 minutes played when Ricardo Fuller stamped on Chelsea’s right back. Both Ivanovic and captain John Terry then went on to hit the bar in a scrappy first half. However, Chelsea upped the tempo after the break when Didier Drogba saw his free-kick brilliant tipped around the post by Asmir Begovic. A sense of frustration was starting to grow around the Bridge, but in the 68th minute, relief struck. Substitute Juan Mata’s low through ball found Drogba who rounded the keeper before tucking it home. That was his 100th Premier League goal in 221 appearances – the first African to reach that milestone. Mata hit the post once again but in the end the Blues held on for three valuable points. Full time at Stamford Bridge: Chelsea 1-0 Stoke City.
Tottenham Hotspur lost their third league match in succession as they fell to the hands of giant-killers Everton. Moments after Marouane Fellaini’s shot was kept out by Brad Friedel, there was nothing the big American could do about Nikica Jelavic’s strike. The Croat expertly angled his shot past Friedel in what was his first start for the Toffees. Royston Drenthe then went close for Everton as the home side ended the first half strongly. But Spurs weren’t going to lose that easily as both Luka Modric and Jermaine Defoe spurned chances before Louis Saha hit the Everton post in added time. Full time at Goodison Park: Everton 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur.
Over to the Stadium of Light, Sunderland added more misery to Liverpool’s lack of form as they took all three points. Charlie Adam had the best chance in the first half but saw his free-kick tipped over in a dull 45 minutes in Tyne-Wear. Although, after the interval it was Sunderland who took the lead when Nicklas Bendtner tapped in from close range having seen Frazier Campbell’s shot come back off the post twice. The Black Cats are now only two points behind Liverpool in eighth, but the Merseyside have a game in hand. Full time at Stadium of Light: Sunderland 1-0 Liverpool.
Finally, it took a 20-year-old to score the only goal in the Midlands as Aston Villa beat Fulham. In the first half, Fulham number one Mark Schwarzer beat away Gabriel Agbonlahor’s shot whilst at the other end, Andy Johnson flashed his shot across goal. Both sets of fans were hoping for a more eventful second half but it didn’t look to be when both Marc Albrighton and Damien Duff smacked eachother’s crossbar. But just when fans were leaving the stadium, substitute Andres Weimann bundled home Villa’s winner in the second minute of added time. The Villains remain 15th whereas the Cottagers drop two places to 10th. Full time at Villa Park: Aston Villa 1-0 Fulham.
On Sunday, Wayne Rooney’s brace moved Manchester United to the top of the table after defeating West Bromwich Albion. After a first half that saw a lack of chances, Albion’s Keith Andrews was denied by a fine stop from David De Gea whilst the same player poked a shot wide from Liam Ridgewell’s cross. But in the 35th minute, Rooney was on hand to turn in Javier Hernandez’s cross on the volley for his 25th goal of the season. The second half livened up a bit with both teams trying to score as Peter Odemwingie was denied a blatant penalty for the visitors, whilst at the other end the impressive Hernandez struck the post. However, United eventually got their deserved second when Rooney dispatched a penalty; moments after Jonas Olsson was shown a second yellow card. Hernandez and Welbeck then had chances to stretch United’s lead but failed to find the back of the net. Full time at Old Trafford: Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion.
In Wales, Swansea City dealt a real title blow for Manchester City as they narrowly beat the then-league leaders. It was the Swans who got off to the better start when Wayne Routledge was fouled by goalkeeper Joe Hart inside the area to win a penalty inside five minutes. Although, the reliable Scott Sinclair stepped up only to see his spot kick saved by the diving Hart. Further chances for Routledge and leading Swans scorer Danny Graham made up a lacklustre first half. The first and only goal of the match eventually came in the 83rd minute when Luke Moore – on in the 79th minute – headed home Routledge’s cross to send the Swansea and Man.Utd fans crazy in the stands. Man.City did have a goal disallowed late on but their quest to find a goal was ended in what was a poor display from Roberto Mancini’s men. The Eastland’s side are now one point behind rivals Man.Utd with the title race now very much back on. Full time at Liberty Stadium: Swansea City 1-0 Manchester City.
The final game of the weekend saw Wigan Athletic come back with a point away to Norwich City. Wigan were desperate to pick up some points and make way for yet another relegation battle success in the Premier League, but after 10 minutes it didn’t look possible. Striker Simeon Jackson squeezed in a cross inwhich Wes Hoolahan got infront of his marker to volley past Wigan’s Ali Al Habsi between the sticks. However back came the impressive Wigan as Rodallega’s shot was held before the Colombian fired over in the second half. Eventually the Latic’s pressure was ended with a goal as Shaun Maloney’s neat ball found Victor Moses in the 68th minute. Further chances for Steve Morison of City and Mohamed Diame for Athletic weren’t converted as Norwich drop to 12th in the table on 36 points. Although the important point, Wigan will rue their missed chances as they remain routed to the bottom with only 21 points; two points from safety. Full time at Carrow Road: Norwich City 1-1 Wigan Athletic.
Arsenal v Newcastle United to follow.