Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Weekend
The relegation battle between Newcastle and Southampton was thrilling to watch, the Magpies coming from behind to win a league game for the first time this season after conceding the opening goal. Morgan Schneiderlin lashed in a shot for the Saints just three minutes into the match before Moussa Sissoko equalised for the hosts with a six-yard tap-in half an hour later. Papiss Cisse's stunning 25-yard strike just before half time was levelled out by Rickie Lambert's sidefoot off a near-post cross five minutes into the second half. Yohan Cabaye then netted from the spot on 67 after Danny Fox's handball before Jos Hooiveld sealed the deal 4-2 with an own goal just over ten minutes from time. The victory moved Alan Pardew's side up to 13th, six points clear of the relegation zone, whilst Mauricio Pochettino sees his side hovering in 16th, only three points seperating them from the drop zone.
Norwich's late comeback against Everton came out of nowhere and just shows you can never settle a score before the final whistle has been blown. The Toffees were leading and deservedly so thanks to a Leon Osman header at the end of the first half. David Moyes' men were sure to keep the pressure on fifth-place Arsenal in the race for the top four and Champions League qualification dominating possession and play before the game was turned on its head late on. Canaries substitute Kei Kamara's header levelled the score, making him the first player from Sierra Leone and 88th different nationality to score in the English top flight, before Grant Holt's injury-time strike earned Chris Hughton's side their first Premier League win in 10 games and took them up to 12th whilst Everton remain in sixth, now five points behind the Gunners.
Tottenham went up to third after their incredible win against West Ham. The Hammers did not make things easy for Andre Villas-Boas' side on the 20th anniversary of legend Bobby Moore's death, but were left pointless thanks to hero Gareth Bale. The star man gave his side the lead on 13 with a powerful strike before Andy Carroll equalised after winning and scoring a penalty 12 minutes later. The second half continued intense, Joe Cole putting the home side ahead again with a low shot before Gylfi Sigurdsson poked in the second equaliser. Bale's stunning last-minute winner silenced Upton Park, sending Sam Allerdyce's men down to 14th, six points clear of the relegation zone, whilst Boas' boys climbed up to third, five points behind Manchester City in second and two points clear of Chelsea in fourth.
Chelsea were wasteful and in the end well beaten by Manchester City. Roberto Mancini's men were rewarded for their more open and attacking approach after Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez helped their side to a hard-fought 2-0 win with their stunning late goals. Both sides had their fair share of chances, Jack Rodwell and Sergio Aguero both going close for the hosts whilst Frank Lampard missed a glorious opportunity to register his 200th Chelsea goal thanks to a splendid penalty save by Joe Hart after the keeper had conceded the penalty for bringing down Demba Ba, but did not even receive a booking for it (much in contrast to the Bradford keeper in the Capital One Cup final I may note!). Interim manager Rafael Benitez was left ruing missed chances and bemoaning the referee's decision, but with ten points dropped out of the last 18, his side is left in fourth, only two points clear of Arsenal in fifth whilst City stay in second, keeping the title race on the edge but not the end (yet), twelve points behind rivals United.
As mentioned above and nearly every week, Gareth Bale was the hero for Tottenham once again with his late match-winning stunner. The Welshman scored his 14th and 15th Premier League goals of the season against West Ham,
drawing level with Miguel Michu in the scoring charts. Only Robin van Persie (19) and
Luis Suarez (18) have more. With his 10th and 11th PL away goals of the season, the Spurs number 11 has scored the outright
most away goals of any player in the division. And having scored nine goals in eight PL matches since Christmas Day, the star front man has more
goals to his name than any other PL player in that time frame. Tremendous indeed.
Pavel Pogrebnyak's sending off against Wigan drove a nail into Reading's coffin for the game and relegation battle at the Madejski Stadium. The Russian's dreadful tackle on Maynor Figueroa deserved red and added to manager Brian McDermott's problems, who conceded his side had a bad day. Two goals by Arouna Kone and a nutmegger by Figueroa sank The Royals down to 19th after their second consecutive defeat, one point from safety, whilst the Latics climbed up to 17th, level on points with Aston Villa in 18th, leaving manager Roberto Martinez pleased with his side's display and "intensity" and ending their dreadful run of only one win in their previous 13 league outings and conceding 51 goals in their last 26. No other side had conceded more in the Premier League yet it was the home side who crashed and crumbled to defeat.
My Predictions => Actual Results:
Fulham 2-1 Stoke => 1-0
Arsenal 3-1 Aston Villa => 2-1
Norwich 0-1 Everton => 2-1
QPR 1-4 Man United => 0-2
Reading 1-2 Wigan => 0-3
West Brom 2-0 Sunderland => 2-1
Man City 2-2 Chelsea => 2-0
Newcastle 3-3 Southampton => 4-2
West Ham 1-2 Tottenham => 2-3