Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Weekend
Sir Alex Ferguson can rant on as much as he likes about referee Chris Foy denying Wayne Rooney a penalty after the striker was clipped by Steven Caulker. The Red Devils had run out of steam and luck when Clint Dempsey levelled the score deep into injury time. The Spurs forward cancelled out Robin van Persie's first-half goal, after the visitors looked like they had survived the hosts bombardment in the second half. Andre Villas-Boas summarised it the best: His side dominated the whole game, played well and deserved to win. His side had 23 chances against United's six, 18 on target against four! Say no more!
Rafael Benitez can be a very relieved and happy man after grabbing three points and his side's first home win of 2013 at the fourth attempt and expense of Arsenal. Juan Mata's drive-shot six minutes into the game came after Ramires brought down Francis Coquelin in the build-up and right in front of the referee. But referee Martin Atkinson gave the goal. Arsene Wenger cannot ignore his side's poor display though. Ten minutes later, the Gunners where two goals down thanks to Frank Lampard's on target spot kick after Ramires was brought down by keeper Wojciech Szczesny and the referee this time not denying the fowl. Arsenal did get one back thanks to Theo Walcott and showed much better interaction and determination in the second half. But unlike against Southampton earlier in the week, the Blues did not let their two-goal lead and game slip away and enjoyed only their second win in the last six games under their Spanish interim manager.
Liverpool's 5-0 thrashing of Norwich must have been a delight for Brendan Rodgers, finally seeing his side flourishing, especially after their defeat against bitter rivals Manchester United. It was the first time top scorer Luis Suarez and home debutant Daniel Sturridge started together and they more than clicked, each scoring one. Jordan Henderson had an outstanding game too, also adding a classy strike onto the scoreboard. Steven Gerrard's 25-yard smacker off Stewart Downing's cross and Ryan Bennett's own goal off Raheem Sterling's cross made it five goals and three points for the Reds, making it only one point out of the last 18 for Norwich.
Should've, could've, would've... Paul Lambert was left wondering again how his Villa side let a two-goal lead slip at West Brom. Chris Benteke opened the scoring for the visitors with a fine turn and shot from outside the box. Gabriel Agbonlahor doubled the lead with a composed finish just past the half-hour mark. But the Baggies had a different idea and turned the game on its head with a perfect comeback in the second half thanks to Chris Brunt's 20-yard effort and Peter Odemwingie dramatic 83rd-minute equaliser. It was an all too familiar drop for Villa, who hover just one point over the relegation zone, with a dreadful goal difference.
Adam Le Fondre and Adam Federici were Reading's two life lines against Newcastle and in their battle to climb out of the relegation zone. The prior came off the bench to score two goals in six minutes, turning the game around and St James' Park on its head after the hosts had dominated the game and taken a first-half lead thanks to Yohan Cabaye's fine curled-in free-kick. The latter produced some gobsmacking and breathtaking saves, denying Papiss Cisse one-handed and Cabaye in a stubborn and solid fashion and display. This was the Royals' first ever win at Newcastle in eight attempts since 1900.
Following the surprise sacking of Nigel Adkins, new Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino's reign got off to a promising start, after being greeted warmly by the Saints fans and holding out Everton for a point. It was not exactly a mouthwatering or breathtaking game, goalless games rarely are, but the hosts will be glad to have won a point against David Moyes' top-five side and it was an encouraging and heart-warming performance. But it was all overshadowed by the long line of photographers at the dugout and the home fans chants recognising their former managers achievements. No pressure on Pochettino, then. After Adkins took the Saints from League One to the Premier League within two and a half years, so, I wonder, what will Pochettino have to achieve to avoid the sack?! Again, no pressure, then!
My Predictions => Actual Results:
Liverpool 3-1 Norwich => 5-0
Man City 3-0 Fulham => 2-0
Newcastle 2-0 Reading => 1-2
Swansea 2-1 Stoke => 3-1
West Ham 2-1 QPR => 1-1
Wigan 0-1 Sunderland => 2-3
West Brom 1-2 Aston Villa => 2-2
Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal => 2-1
Tottenham 1-1 Man United => 1-1
Southampton 1-1 Everton => 0-0