Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Week 35: Premier League Action Summary

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 35 - Action Summary

This weekend's ten matches saw 29 goals, 44 yellow and 5 red cards; one hat-trick, two penalties and one own goal; 242 attempted shots on goal, 138 on target and two sides relegated. Here are the summaries of all ten matches:

Luis Who?

Liverpool players celebrate opening goalLiverpool kicked off the ten-match ban of their star striker Luis Suarez with a clear statement thrashing Newcastle 6-0 at St James' Park. It was the Magpies' worst home defeat since 1925 when Blackburn won 7-1 and their heaviest Premier League defeat at home. The Reds enjoyed a flood of chances and dominance from kick-off, Daniel Agger opening the score with an easy header off a Stewart Downing corner in the third minute. Jordan Henderson doubled the score off Daniel Sturridge 15 minutes later with a wonderful buildup by Philippe Coutinho. The trio worked brilliantly together again for the next two goals, Sturridge netting a double before Fabio Borini poked in his first league goal for the visitors and Henderson curled in a free kick to make it six for Brendan Rodgers' men. And to heap more misery onto the Toons between all those goals, Mathieu Debuchy was sent off for his dive-in challenge on Coutinho. This thrash leaves Alan Pardew's side only five points above the relegation zone whilst Liverpool remain in seventh, five points behind their Merseyside rivals Everton, ahead of their derby clash on Sunday.

Oh Boyce!

Jermain Defoe battles against WiganWigan were denied a crucial win thanks to a last-minute own goal by Emmerson Boyce levelling the score 2-2 against Tottenham and leaving survival hopes for Roberto Martinez's side in the balance, five points from safety with four games remaining. The Latics conceded after just 9 minutes, Gareth Bale taking advantage of an aweful backplay between defender Maynor Figuero and goalkeeper Joel Robles. But 104 seconds later, Boyce equalised off a Shaun Maloney corner rising above Jan Vertonghen to thump a header beyond goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, GAME ON. Wigan battled on, leaving Spurs struggling to find form and space. Callum McManaman's left-boot stunner rocked Spurs and put the home side in the driving seat on course for victory before in the final minutes a scramble in the box led the ball in off Boyce into the back of his own net to make it 2-2 and break Wigan's hearts. The draw left Andre Villas-Boas relieved with his side staying within two-points reach of their rivals Arsenal and Champions League qualification whilst Martinez tried to see the positive side, one point won rather than two points dropped, which was very difficult looking at the table.

Madley Match!

Romelu LukakuWest Brom's 3-0 win against Southampton did not have much significance on the Premier League table with the Baggies sitting comfortably in eighth and the Saints all but safe from relegation in 13th. But St Mary's still witnessed an exciting clash which saw three goals, three red cards and plenty more action. It was referee Robert Madley's first game in the Premier League and if he expected a comfortable, quiet afternoon, well, then fool him! Marc-Antoine Fortune scored the scrappy opener off a corner after just six minutes before Romelu Lukaku bossed the show, pulling one save after another out of goalkeeper Artur Boruc. The Belgian striker finally doubled the score later on in the second half before seconds later Saints substitute Gaston Ramirez appeared to elbow Shane Long in the face as they both chased for the ball. In the clash between the players that followed, Fortune slapped Gaston in the face, leading to both of them receiving the marching order from Madley. But the drama wasn't done there yet. Long nut-megged keeper Boruc for a third goal to seal the win for the visitors before Saint Danny Fox saw red for his two-footed tackle on Steven Reid to crown and finish off the Madley afternoon.

Good Old City Shine

Man City striker Sergio Aguero (second from right) slots in a goal against West HamIn their first match since their 3-1 defeat to Tottenham and surrendering the Premier League title to their bitter rivals Manchester United last weekend, Manchester City shined with a confident and comfortable 2-0 win against West Ham. The only thing Roberto Mancini was disappointed with after the match was the lack of goals/load of misses, pointing out the main problem of their season. Last season's hero Sergio Aguero finished off a superb team goal set up with Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri who were both denied by an in-form Jussi Jaaskelainen throughout the match. But with only seven minutes to go, Toure produced a smacker from the edge of the box, a left-foot thunderbolt, to seal the win for City. Andy Carroll squeezed in a late consolation goal underneath Joe Hart in the dying seconds of the match, but Sam Allerdyce conceded improvements will have to be made over the summer to avoid such frustrating defeats.

Good Old Stoke Spine

Stoke goalCharlie Adam's second-half strike secured Stoke City their place in the Premier League next season as the Potters beat Norwich 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium reaching the holy 40-point mark. Adam latched onto Peter Crouch's knockdown before drilling the shot home past Mark Bunn and sealing his side's third league win of 2013. It was a scrappy affair, Crouch missing a handful of chances, but a much better performance by Tony Pulis' men, finding back their good old physical style of play and pressure. For the Canaries it was a poor performance allround which left Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic with little to do all afternoon and boss Chris Hughton still with the spectre of relegation in the corner of his eye, his side slipping down to 14th, six points away from the drop with three games remaining.

Game On For Everton

Steven PienaarSixth placed Everton kept their European hopes alive after beating Fulham 1-0 at Goodison Park. The win closed the gap to Tottenham in fifth to three points with three games left to play, including the crucial Merseyside derby next weekend. The winning goal was a great team effort, the movement, the passing, the ideas and imagination behind it were just sparkling. The Toffees just clicked, 15-16 passes in the buildup, topped off by Steven Pienaar's stylish finish off Seamus Coleman's low cross condemning Martin Jol's men to their fourth defeat in five. The Cottagers did have a couple of chances but David Moyes' boys deserved the win with all their dominance and creativity. It could actually have been much worse for the visitors. Marouane Fellaini missed a sitter in the second half, sending Leighton Baines terrific cross over the crossbar after thumping the ball into the ground. And Mark Schwarzer pulled some great stunts and saves all afternoon, most notably denying substitue Ross Barkley late on in the match.

Hostile RVP Return

Robin van Persie denied his former side a crucial win in the battle for Champions League qualification after scoring the qualiser from the spot as the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United drew 1-1 with Arsenal at the Emirates. Theo Walcott opened the scoring after just 104 seconds off Tomas Rosicky after former Gunner RvP had given the ball away attempting a cross-field pass. The England striker did look like he was in an offside position when he connected to the cross but did a fine job running ahead and cutting across from the right to beat United keeper David De Gea with an angled finish. It kicked off a feisty half which saw six players cautioned and both goalkeepers kept busy. The half ended with RVP's pressure paying off after a frustrated and beaten Bacary Sagna brought down the Dutchman for him to net his 29th goal in all competitions, underlining his part in United's 20th title. Both sides enjoyed chances galore to win the match, but both keepers did their job and kept solid to earn their sides a point each, eventhough Arsene Wenger will see it more as two points dropped. For Sir Alex Ferguson's men, the result means they cannot achieve the record Premier League points total of 95 which belongs to Chelsea - but the main priority was secured with that victory against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday.


The sterile goalless draw between the bottom two Reading and QPR confirmed the obvious, both sides' relegation from the Premier League to the Championship. Harry Redknapp's Rangers and Nigel Adkins' Royals were both coming off the back of nine games without a win, ten points from safety with four games to go. It would have need a miracle(-and-a-half) to see either side scrape their way to safety. The game seemed condemned from kick-off with both sides scrapping around, unable to create much or find the back of the net or anything anywhere near the box really. The game lacked quality and atmosphere, the fans at the Madejski Stadium reflecting their teams (lack of) conviction. The question now is whether Redknapp, Adkins and Co can master a one-season comeback to the Premier League for their sides.

Super Frank Sinks Swans

Substitute Frank Lampard made the difference turning from provider to scorer within a couple of minutes in Chelsea's 2-0 win over Swansea. The 34-year-old vice-captain came on for an injured Ramires halfway through the first half and had a great impact. Oscar opened the scoring with a low cross-shot after being picked out by the Blues veteran. Lampard then struck his 201st Chelsea goal, one off the club record, from the spot after Juan Mata was brought down by Leon Britton. The win takes Rafael Benitez's men back up to third, one point ahead of Arsenal in third and three points ahead of Tottenham in fifth and with their next trip going to Old Trafford, the hunt for Champions League qualification is still on. Michael Laudrup rued the "crazy five minutes" with his side left with nothing to show, stuck on a six-game run without a win.

Villa Run Riot

Christain Benteke scores Aston Villa's third goalChristian Benteke's second half hat-trick grabbed a crucial three points in the relegation battle as Aston Villa thrashed fellow strugglers Sunderland 6-1 at Villa Park. The game started nice and even but then really kicked off after half an hour. Ron Vlaar opened the score for the home side collecting the ball near the centre circle and then firing a shot from 30 yards beyond Simon Mignolet for his first goals for the club. The Black Cats were level within two minutes when Danny Rose produced a fine one-two with Danny Graham before putting the ball past Bradley Guzan. An unmarked Andreas Weimann restored the lead for the home side before the break, collecting Matthew Lowton's excellent pass before slotting it home. Paulo Di Canio described this vital meeting of the strugglers as Sunderland's "Champions League Final" - it turned out to be an absolute nightmare as the Italian saw his side crumble in the second half, conceding four more goals and seeing a man sent off. Benteke doubled the score for Paul Lambert's side before Stephane Sessegnon saw a streight red for his foul on Yacouba Sylla. From then onwards it went from bad to worse for the visitors, Benteke completing his hat-trick two minutes later before Gabriel Agbonlahor put icing on the cake to make it six and take his side up to 16th, level on points with Sunderland and Newcastle, five points clear from the drop zone.

My Predictions => Actual Results
Man City 3-0 West Ham => 2-1
Everton 2-1 Fulham => 1-0
Southampton 2-0 West Brom => 0-3
Stoke City 1-0 Norwich => 1-0
Wigan 1-2 Tottenham => 2-2
Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool => 0-6
Reading 0-0 QPR => 0-0
Chelsea 2-0 Swansea => 2-0
Arsenal 1-2 Man United => 1-1
Aston Villa 1-1 Sunderland => 6-1

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Week 34: Premier League Action Summary

Sports - Football - Premier League - Sunday Action Summary

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez heads in an equaliser against ChelseaChelsea dropped two points at Anfield after a dramatic last-minute equaliser by the master of controversy Luis Suarez. Oscar had headed the visitors ahead comfortably and totally unmarked early on in the first half. After a disappointing first half, Liverpool came back strong and super-sub Daniel Sturridge equalised for the Reds soon after coming on following the break. Just when the Reds looked like they were going from strength to strength and on the brink of turning the game around, Suarez conceded a penalty with an obvious handball, which Eden Hazard netted nice and easy sending Pepe Reina the wrong way.

Luis SuarezThe home side kept on digging and pressing but Rafael Benitez looked like he was going to leave Anfield with a win against his former side. But Suarez nicked a late header into the back of the net with the last breath of the match, over six minutes in to added time. The Uruguayan was lucky to still be on the pitch at that point after replays showed he had bitten Branislav Ivanovic's right arm earlier on in the match which overshadowed the whole improved performance by the Reds in the second half! Unbelievable as it sounds, a hefty fine and suspension must surely follow, it has to! And it certainly would not be surprising if this was Suarez's last game for Liverpool! He has surely reached the last line, final straw! Sad shame but true!

Tottenham's Jermain DefoeTottenham scored three goals in seven minutes to beat Manchester City and deny them any further chance in the title race. After Roberto Mancini's men took an early lead at White Hart Lane thanks to an early Samir Nasri goal, the home side never looked like a threat. However, Andre Villas-Boas' changes paid off late on in the second half, starting off with Clint Dempsey's tap-in equaliser, followed by substitute Jermain Defoe's stunning strike and last but not least provider-turned-scorer Gareth Bale's drop shot, taking City's defence to bits, turning the game on its head and closing the gap to Chelsea in fourth to one point with a strong 3-1 win. Tomorrow Manchester United can win their 20th title if they beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford, ending the reign of their City rivals.

Catch up and read up on all yesterday's results and matches under my Saturday Action Summary!

My Predictions => Actual Results:
Fulham 2-1 Arsenal => 0-1
Norwich 1-1 Reading => 2-1
QPR 1-0 Stoke => 0-2
Sunderland 1-1 Everton => 1-0
Swansea 2-2 Southampton => 0-0
West Brom 3-1 Newcastle => 1-1
West Ham 3-2 Wigan => 2-0
Tottenham 1-2 Man City => 3-1
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea => 2-2
Man United 2-1 Aston Villa => (tomorrow)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Week 34: Premier League Action Summary

Sports - Football - Premier League - Saturday Action Summary

Peter CrouchQPR lost out to two defensive howlers against Stoke, first leaving Peter Crouch unmarked and then conceding a penalty against the former Ranger to make it 0-2 at Loftus Road. After a strong start and plenty of missed chances by Loic Remy, the home side crumbled against Tony Pulis' men and looked like a lost cause in the end. And with four games remaining and 10 points from safety, Harry Redknapp knows Premier League survival is near impossible. Stoke meanwhile recorded their first win in eight taking them up to 15th, six points safe from the drop zone.

Matt Jarvis's cross finds the bottom cornerKevin Nolan sealed his 100th goal and West Ham's win against Wigan in spectacular fashion at Upton Park. The Latics enjoyed plenty of possession and chances but could not find a way past man-of-the-match Jussi Jaaskelainen. Matthew Jarvis' low-cut cross from the left found the back of the net before Nolan horizontal side-jump-shot doubled the lead and bagged the points for Sam Allerdyce's Hammers.

Paolo Di CanioSunderland recorded their second win under Paulo Di Canio against Everton, making it two wins on the trot and the first home win for the Italian manager. The Black Cats went ahead thanks to Stephane Sessegnon's shot sneaking under Tim Howard, recording a surprise win against David Moyes' men whose Champions League hopes are left reeling, five points behind Chelsea in fourth. Sunderland meanwhile can breath big sigh of relief now sitting much more comfortably in 14th, six points clear from the relegation zone.

Norwich v ReadingTwo Bennett goals within three minutes secured a win for Norwich against bottom-side Reading. Ryan opened the scoring and Elliott doubled it soon after. Gareth McClearly pulled one back in sweet fashion, but all hopes are gone for Nigel Adkins' side, rock bottom, 10 points separating them from safety. The win takes Chris Hughton's Canaries up to 13th, one point behind the Saints in 12th.

Per Mertesacker (second right) celebrates his goalBelow-par Arsenal were lucky to escape from Craven Cottage with all three points. Ten-man Fulham fought and worked hard and proved much better and more dangerous after the sending off early on in the game. Steve Sidwell deserved the red card for his nasty tackle on Mikel Arteta. Fulham then pressed much more, Dimitar Berbatov pulling a couple of strong, fast saves out of Wojciech Szczesny. However, Per Mertesacker spoiled the show heading in the only goal of the game, just before the break. And that would stay the only difference between the sides on the scoreboard, the Gunners seeing Olivier Giroud sent off for an aggressive tackle late on in the match. The Cottagers pressed hard late on but all to no avail leaving Martin Jol wondering and Arsene Wenger smiling.

West Brom's Billy Jones scores an equaliser against NewcastleYoan Gouffran gave Newcastle a nice early lead with a high bouncer catching out West Brom keeper Ben Foster, but after a comfortable first half, the Toons were to escape with a point! Steve Clarke will have been fuming after his side were awarded a free kick just outside the box end of the first half, which replays showed should have been a penalty as Newcastle defender James Perch fouled Billy Jones in the area. But the home side drew level eventually and deservedly so thanks to Jones pouncing and netting a rebound leaving West Brom in 8th, five points behind Liverpool in 7th, and Newcastle in 16th, six points clear from the drop.

Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne and Swansea's Pablo Hernandez Swansea and Southampton shared no goals but a point each at the Liberty Stadium leaving them in 9th and 12th respectively, three points between them. It was a fair result in the end after the Saints enjoyed chances in the first half with the Premier League's english top scorer Rickie Lambert and captain Adam Lallana denied by Michel Vorm, whilst the Swans came close a couple of times in the second half. Lallana's disallowed goal looked like a harsh decision though, a foul given on keeper Vorm whilst it more looked like the Dutchman just missed and messed it up himself.

My Predictions => Actual Results:
Fulham 2-1 Arsenal => 0-1
Norwich 1-1 Reading => 2-1
QPR 1-0 Stoke => 0-2
Sunderland 1-1 Everton => 1-0
Swansea 2-2 Southampton => 0-0
West Brom 3-1 Newcastle => 1-1
West Ham 3-2 Wigan => 2-0
Tottenham 1-2 Man City => (tomorrow)
Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea => (tomorrow)
Man United 2-1 Aston Villa => (Monday)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Week 33: Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week(end)


Lukas PodolskiArsenal's late win against Norwich proves the game is never over until the referee blows the final whistle. The result left Chris Hughton's side fuming and only four points safe from the drop zone. For 85 minutes, the Canaries looked like they were going to snatch a win at the Emirates and serve a big blow to the Gunners' hopes of Champions League qualification. But then a controversial penalty equaliser started an unbelievable crumble before Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski took advantage and completed the perfect turnaround for the home side.


Paulo di CanioSunderland's big derby win at Newcastle had a little bit of everything, a game full of top quality (goals), controversy (Papiss Cisse's disallowed goal), temperament (Paulo Di Canio's celebration) and surprise (result). After the Magpies' goal was wrongly disallowed offside, the visitors turned the game and ground on its head! Similar to Norwich at the Emirates, the home side just crumbled to bits at St James' Park. This was the Black Cats' first win at this ground in 13 years and moved them three points clear from the relegation zone.


Manchester United regained their 15-point lead at the top over the weekend, breaking more records and moving only seven points away from securing their 20th title. The Red Devils  and Sir Alex Ferguson took nothing for granted coming to the Britannia Stadium on the back of two consecutive defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea. But after the perfect start with Michael Carrick's early goal, the record-breakers were in total control. After the rescheduled games on Wednesday, City reduced the gap at the top to 13 points after United dropped two points in their draw at West Ham, but Sir Alex's men can secure the title at Old Trafford next weekend if City lose at Tottenham and United beat Aston Villa.


Robin van PersieThe refs wrinkled a lot of foreheads and released a lot of stress hormones again this week with many controversial decisions. The penalty at the Emirates (awarded by the linesman rather than the referee), wrongly given or disallowed goals (Robin van Persie's equaliser at the Boleyn Ground looked offside whilst Cisse's disallowed goal in the big derby did not) and many more errors could fill this whole page. I think and bet the officials are counting down to next season as much as us fans, players and managers, when finally Hawk-Eye will introduce goal-line technology eradicate such controversies.


Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthyReading's keeper Alex McCarthy did brilliantly against Liverpool producing save after save, frustrating the hell out of Luis Suarez and Co. The former England U-21 keeper produced ten saves against the Reds, only Hammer Jussi Jaaskelainen has made more in a game this season (11 v Spurs). The goalless draw ended the Royals club record run of eight successive defeats in all competitions whilst it was Liverpool's first failure to score since November (0-0 v Swansea). Nigel Adkins praised his side's rising attitude and keeper's heroics, but he stayed realistic when he said it is only one point when they need three - they know where they are...


Stoke manager Tony Pulis... Is a good summary of Stoke's form, tally of points and goals lately! The Potters have picked up fewer points (five) in 2013 than any other Premier League side. Tony Pulis' men have also got the worst scoring record in the league with only 28 goals in 33 games. Stoke have now just won one of their last eight home league games and only gained one point in the last seven games, dropping 20 points and down to 16th in the process, only three points away from the drop zone! And with QPR (a), Norwich (h), Sunderland (a), Tottenham (h) and Southampton (a) left on this season's fixture list, every game is a crucial clash in the fight for survival!

My Predictions => Actual Results:
Arsenal 2-0 Norwich => 3-1
Aston Villa 2-1 Fulham => 1-1
Everton 1-1 QPR => 2-0
Reading 0-0 Liverpool => 0-0
Southampton 3-2 West Ham => 1-1
Newcastle 4-2 Sunderland => 0-3
Stoke 1-1 Man United => 0-2

Week 29 Rescheduled Games:
Arsenal 3-1 Everton => 0-0
Man City 4-0 Wigan => 1-0

West Ham 0-1 Man United => 2-2
Fulham 0-2 Chelsea => 0-3

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Week 32: Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Weekend


Aston Villa goalscorer Matthew Lowton Aston Villa's performance and Matthew Lowton's stunning winner against Stoke earned them their third win in four games, lifting them two points clear of the relegation zone. Paul Lambert's men showed some backbone in this storming encounter, leaving the home side reeling. Tony Pulis' side did have a couple of penalty shouts denied, however, the last two goals showed the Clarets had and have the stamina and composure in them to score and win matches when it matters most, crucial in the relegation battle late on this season.


Tomas Rosicky scores for Arsenal against West Brom Chelsea's and Sunderland's goals were all a bit of a(n) (un-)lucky collection of own goals, deflections and mishaps whilst West Brom's misses formed Arsenal's lucky escape at the Hawthorns. The Baggies kept the pressure up and especially after Per Mertesacker's stupid sending off had loads of chances to sink the Gunners in the last 19 minutes. But man-of-the-match Tomas Rosicky's double, his first goal since February 2012 and his first double for Arsene Wenger's side, proved to be enough to seal the deal and win. Arsenal hung on to the three points which took them above Chelsea into fourth place in the Premier League. 


Jay Rodriguez scores Southampton's form is going from strength to strength after recording their third win on the trot against Reading, impressing with the super-combo of Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez and moving them up into eleventh place, six points clear of the drop zone! Former Saints boss Nigel Adkins failed to impress or put much pressure against his former employers, the Royals faiding away, slumping to their seventh defeat in a row and remaining stuck at the bottom of the table, eight points from safety. Is it a lost cause for Adkins? They looked it! They are the only team to have recorded zero points in their last six games, followed by Stoke with one and Sunderland with two points. Meanwhile at the top of the table, Manchester City won the local derby battle, but can they grab the war back from United this late on in the season?


Sergio Aguero of Man City scores against Man Utd Lowton's screamer for Villa as mentioned above and Papiss Cisse's dramatic stoppage time winner for Newcastle both deserved the vote this week. Without them their sides would be down in the relegation dumps for sure! Sergio Agueroooo won the derby for City with a smacker against United! The feisty encounter saw pleanty of tackles and yellows showing there was definitely still a fight on. But is it just a consolation or the start of an impossible comeback for City again? Only time will tell...


Shaun Maloney fires in his late equaliser for Wigan Arsenal's Mertesacker was rightly sent off for a stupid tackle against West Brom's Shane Long! Norwich's Grant Holt should have seen red for his evil challenge showing his studs against Swan Chico Flores and stamping on his shin! QPR's Bobby Zamora was sent walking for his high tackle on Wigan's Jordi Gomez making an already difficult job nigh on impossible for Rangers. Loic Remy should have been a hero for Harry Redknapp's side with his 85th minute stunner of a goal but instead saw his goal cancelled out by Shaun Maloney, four minutes into injury time, Adel Taarabt missing an easy block, ducking away and thereby failing miserably in doing his job in the wall! Tough luck for Redknapp and his Rangers, who remain 19th, seven points from safety.

My Predictions => Actual Results:
Reading 2-2 Southampton => 0-2
Nowich 0-0 Swansea => 2-2
Stoke 1-1 Aston Villa => 1-3
West Brom 0-1 Arsenal => 1-2
Liverpool 3-1 West Ham => 0-0
Tottenham 2-1 Everton => 2-2
Chelsea 4-0 Sunderland => 2-1
Newcastle 1-2 Fulham => 1-0
QPR 3-1 Wigan => 1-1
Man United 2-1 Man City => 1-2

Stubborn Hammers deny Liverpool at Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 0:0 West Ham

Stubborn Hammers denied Liverpool, keeping them at bay in an entertaining goalless draw at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers' men will see it as two points dropped rather than one point won in their challenge for European qualification. West Ham meanwhile can be happy after fighting on and coming out of this fast-paced clash with a point easing their relegation concerns. 

West Ham defender James Collins (left) foils Liverpool striker Luis Suarez

The guests' keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and defender James Collins deserved to share the man-of-the-match award for me with two brilliant, stubborn and solid performances all round by both men, keeping their side in the game throughout.

Anfield remembered the Hillsborough 96 before kick-off with a minute of silence. The home side settled into the game quickly after a sloppy start with fowls and giveaways.

Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge were all denied again and again by Jaaskelainen an the Hammers' back line in a high-pace and action-packed first half.

Sam Allardyce: Pleased with battling point at AnfieldThe second half continued in similar fashion, Sam Allardyce's men keeping the Reds out and eventually threatening to nick something out of this game with Kevin Nolan proving a regular threat and thorn in Liverpool's eyes.

Jack Collison came closest when he saw his header cleared off the line by Lucas Leiva with only a couple of minutes remaining.

Both sides battled on and blocked each other out till the final whistle, but the stats don't lie.

The Hammers had the more and harder work to do to hold on to the draw, frustrating the Reds, who remain in seventh, three points behind their local rivals Everton in sixth.

West Ham meanwhile drop to 12th on 37 points, six points clear of the drop zone and three points away from the magical survival line of 40 points.

They haven't won at Anfield in half a century! The gladder they can be with the point!

Liverpool v West Ham:

Liverpool: 25 Reina; 3 Jose Enrique, 5 Agger, 23 Carragher, 2 Johnson; 21 Lucas, 8 Gerrard; 10 Coutino, 14 Henderson (11 Assaidi - 71.), 19 Downing (15 Sturridge - 26.); 7 Suarez. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 16 Coates, 30 Suso, 33 Shelvey, 37 Skrtel.

West Ham: 22 Jaaskelainen; 17 O'Brien (booked 85.), 19 Collins, 5 Tomkins (18 Pogatetz - 83.), 20 Demel; 32 O'Neil, 21 Diame; 7 Jarvis, 4 Nolan (14 Taylor - 62.), 12 Vaz Te (10 Collison - 62.); 9 Cole. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 13 Henderson, 11 Maiga, 29 Chamakh, 33 Potts.

1st & 2nd Half Stats:
Liverpool-West Ham
Attempts: 6-8 & 11-4
On target: 3-0 & 4-1
Offsides: 2-0 & 2-0
Corners: 6-1 & 7-1
Free kicks: 1-3 & 4-4
Possession: 84%-16% (16.), 66%-34% (HT), 75%-25% (57th min), 65%-35% (FT)

Sky Stats:
Tackles/Success: 18-28788.9%-86.2%
Passes/Success: 597-314/82.2%-64.6%
Crosses/Success: 21-15/9.5%-40%

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: James Collins

Sunday, 7 April 2013

2nd half Summary: Liverpool 0-0 West Ham

Sports - Football - Premier League - FT: Liverpool 0-0 West Ham

Liverpool v West Ham:

Liverpool: 25 Reina; 3 Jose Enrique, 5 Agger, 23 Carragher, 2 Johnson; 21 Lucas, 8 Gerrard; 10 Coutino, 14 Henderson (11 Assaidi - 71.), 19 Downing (15 Sturridge - 26.); 7 Suarez. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 16 Coates, 30 Suso, 33 Shelvey, 37 Skrtel.

West Ham: 22 Jaaskelainen; 17 O'Brien (booked 85.), 19 Collins, 5 Tomkins (18 Pogatetz - 83.), 20 Demel; 32 O'Neil, 21 Diame; 7 Jarvis, 4 Nolan (14 Taylor - 62.), 12 Vaz Te (10 Collison - 62.); 9 Cole. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 13 Henderson, 11 Maiga, 29 Chamakh, 33 Potts.

2nd Half Stats:
Liverpool-West Ham
Attempts: 11-4
On target: 4-1
Offsides: 2-0
Corners: 7-1
Free kicks: 4-4
Possession: 75%-25% (57th min), 65%-35% (FT)

2nd Half Notes:

Liverpool kick off second half.

47. Carragher cross from right blocked by Hammers, Liverpool corner, Johnson attempt saved. Home side start second half strong, looking to raise the stakes.

49. Henderson off Tomkins, LFC throw-in, Agger shot blocked by Collins, Liverpool appeal for hand ball, nothing given, pressure high on Hammers.

52. Liverpool counter Hammers free kick, Collins holds Suarez up again!

53. Gerrard cross from right, brilliant block, corner, comes to noting, goal kick.

55. Brilliant interception by Agger against Jarvis, Liverpool counter, Coutinho & Suarez teaming up great again, chance blocked, Gerrard smashes in rebound, great Hammers defending again, another chance blocked & denied!!!

57. Coutinho offside on the left again. 75%-25% possession in the second half! Liverpool hungry but Hammers keep on denying them any snacks or munch!!!

59. Coutinho goes down to easily in front of box, nothing given.

60. Suarez pass/chance across goal from right, goes just wide, goal kick.

61. West Ham preparing double change...

62. 4 Nolan off for 14 Taylor, 12 Vaz Te off for 10 Collison

62. Hammers free kick, Tomkins goes down in box, nothing given Liverpool counter, Suarez shot wide, opportunity wasted wide.

64. Cole header wide.

66. Suarez handball in buildup to Sturridge goal, disallowed for offside. End-to-end stuff. Both teams both giving as much as their getting!

68. Agger down injured, Hammers attack blocked, Liverpool probe Hammers again at the other end, attempt deflected out for a corner again, Collins heads it out, Suarez puts it wide again, not his afternoon.

70. Gerrard goes down in box against Tomkins, corner given! Lucky escape for Hammers! Coutinho corner, out by Sturridge.

71. Liverpool substitution, 14 Henderson off for 11 Assaidi.

72. Gerrard to Johnson, ball goes out for goal kick.

74. Suarez to Gerrard, chance goes high.

76. Taylor off Jarvis, loads of space in the Liverpool box, chance blocked.

78. Sturridge shot straight into Jaaskelainen.

79. Jarvis from left, Jose Enrique chests ball to Reina, all composed. Suarez on counter leads ball to Jaaskelainen.

80. Suarez blocked again, Tomkins goes down after challenge, takes ages to walk off the field, Pogatetz being prepared.

83. 5 Tomkins off, 18 Pogatetz on, Liverpool corner scrambled clear.

85. O'Brien booked for time-wasting.

86. West Ham corner, Collison's header brilliantly saved by Reina, actually, Lucas cleared it off the line! Gerrard follows on with a great overlapping break-run, Assaidi pits chance wide.

88. Taylor curls one wide.

Pressure's up & going for both sides, some tired legs out there, 5 minutes added on!

91. Liverpool free kick near half-way line, taken quickly, blocked well by Hammers' back line again.

92. Gerrard to Suarez in the box, Jaaskelainen denies the Ukrainian for a corner, sales past the goal, goal kick.

94. Agger blocked Demel, Jaaskelainen claims the ball.

95. Taylor chance blocked, Lucas breaks & is blocked too at the other end.

West Ham keep the ball on the side until the referee blows the full time whistle. Stubborn Hammers deny Liverpool, 0-0 is the result at Anfield. Brendan Rodgers' men will see it as two points dropped in their challenge for the top four, whilst the Hammers can be happy after fighting & coming out of the fast-paced clash with a point. Their keeper Jaaskelainen and defender Collins share the man-of-the-match award for me, brilliant stubborn and solid performance by both men kept their side in the game.

HT Summary: Liverpool 0-0 West Ham

Sports - Football - Premier League - HT: Liverpool 0-0 West Ham

Liverpool v West Ham:

Liverpool: 25 Reina; 3 Jose Enrique, 5 Agger, 23 Carragher, 2 Johnson; 21 Lucas, 8 Gerrard; 10 Coutino, 14 Henderson, 19 Downing (15 Sturridge - 26.); 7 Suarez. 4-2-3-1
Subs not used: 1 Jones, 11 Assaidi, 16 Coates, 30 Suso, 33 Shelvey, 37 Skrtel.

West Ham: 22 Jaaskelainen; 17 O'Brien, 19 Collins, 5 Tomkins, 20 Demel; 32 O'Neil, 21 Diame; 7 Jarvis, 4 Nolan, 12 Vaz Te; 9 Cole. 4-2-3-1
Subs: 13 Henderson, 10 Collison, 11 Maiga, 14 Taylor, 18 Pogatetz, 29 Chamakh, 33 Potts.

1st half Stats:
Liverpool -West Ham:
Attempts: 6-8
On target: 3-0
Offsides: 2-0
Corners: 6-1
Free kicks: 1-3
Possession: 84%-16% (16.), 66%-34% (HT)

Match Notes:

LFC remember the 96 before kick-off... Game switched to Sunday because of the Grand National at Aintree yesterday. West Ham haven't won at Anfield in half a century!

3. Sloppy start by the Reds, fowl & giveaway.

4. Fine Gerrard cross from the right, West Ham defending deep, Coutinho offside.

6. Home side settling in, taking over the game, dominating possession.

7. Coutinho finds space, right-foot shot saved by Jasskelainen.

9. Gerrard shot wide.

10. West Ham attempt wide.

16. Liverpool bossing the match, fine build-up & one-twos, but failing in the final third. Hammers holding the home side off well so far.

18. Vaz Te attempt wide.

19. Diame chance wide.

21. Sturridge warming up on the sideline for Liverpool. Downing looking uncomfortable.

23. Fine touch & turn shot by Suarez, chance goes wide.

24. Downing header into Jaaskelainen's gloves.

25. West Ham corner headed away by Carragher, Diame attacks and wriggled his way through LfC defence, chance goes high.

26. LFC substitution: 15 Sturridge on for injured 19 Downing.

27. Coutinho offside again.

27. Suarez & Courinho linking up in the box, great save from Jaaskelainen! Nolan heads ball back to the keeper, another threat covered well by the Hammers.

29. Sturridge fowl, West Ham free kick, abysmal, wide, waste.

32. Battle between the skippers, LFC error, Hammers chance, Reds counter, feisty stuff! Juicy match! Great competition!

36. West Ham appeal for a free kick against Carragher, nothing given, Agger error led to Hammers chance, another one messed and missed.

38. Liverpool corner, comes to nothing, Gerrard kicked ball out.

39. Perfectly times tackle by O'Brien on Suarez, the Uruguayan forward goes down dramatically as always, nothing given, rightly so.

40. Sturridge to Gerrard in the box, shot/cross across goal blocked for a Liverpool corner.

41. Great defending by the Hammers, frustrating Liverpool who concede a free kick.

42. Jarvis cross from the left into the box, Cole heads wide.

43. Positive spell for West Ham at the end of this half! Nolan header off throw-in goes high & wide, too strong.

45. Henderson shot deflected wide, Coutinho corner defended well by West Ham, 1 minute added on.

46. Suarez takes corner quickly Sturridge attempts saved & blocked brilliantly by Jaaskelainen & the Hammers' back line. Another corner for Liverpool, but the ref blows the whistle for half time! 0-0, no goals, but plenty of pace & action in the half, Hammers keeping the Reds out & threatening to nick something out of this game! Nice evenly balanced game at half time, plenty to play for & look forward to in the second half!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Week 31: Premier League Tops & Flops

Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Weekend


Jay Rodriguez scores for Southampton against Chelsea Southampton continued their strong run against Chelsea whilst Tottenham underlined their Champions League potential and qualification with a fine win at Swansea. Ok, with his team selection Blues interim boss Rafael Benitez did show his priority lies in adding another European trophy to his CV rather than staying in the top four of the league. Andre Villas-Boas will appreciate Rafa's preference as his side sit in third, two points clear of their London rivals. But no disregarding Mauricio Pochettino's work. Nigel Adkins' replacement has done a brilliant job in getting the Saints, an already very promising side, to excell themselves and reach their full potential. So far so good.  


Steven Gerrard clears off the line It was a game of two halves at Villa Park. Aston Villa dominated most of the first half and took the lead when Gabriel Agbonlahor's lay-off found Christian Benteke, who fired home gratefully. But Liverpool came back strongly from the restart, Jordan Henderson levelling the score two minutes into the second half with a nicely taken chip past Bradley Guzan. And with half an hour to go, Steven Gerrard netted the winner from the spot after Nathan Baker had clumsily brought down Luis Suarez in the box. The home side had plenty of time and chances to get something out of the game, but after Andreas Weimann's high-blast miss and Gerrard's breathtaking clearance of Benteke's header off the line, it just wasn't Villa's day. Paul Lambert can draw positives from this game but after such a positive start he was still left picking up the pieces in the end. The Scotsman needs to work on the back line especially to avoid his side to drop more goals and points like this in the relegation battle.


Titus Bramble scores an own goal Manchester United are breaking one record after the other: At Sunderland Sir Alex Ferguson's men recorded their 25th win of the season, after only 30 games, which has never been achieved before in top-flight history. The Red Devils are unbeaten in 18 games, winning 50 out of 54 points, remaining 15 points clear of local rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table with eight games remaining. The big Manchester derby is next on the fixture list, but one feels it will be more pride than any point in the title race to play for. Roberto Mancini's men have been nowhere near the quality and challenge they were last season which brings to mind the question of what will happen over the summer, who will stay and who will go...


Gervinho Adkins has taken on a job-and-a-half at Reading. They were taken to pieces by Arsenal at the Emirates. The 4-1 thrashing was The Royals' sixth consecutive defeat, that is 18 points dropped, leaving them bottom of the table on goal difference (two goals worse off than Harry Redknapp's QPR) and seven points form safety. Brian McDermott's sacking this late on in the season will make Adkins' job nigh on impossible. The former Saints manager will have to drag and pull the team together and make them fight. Meanwhile, Arsenal remain in fifth, closing the gap to Chelsea in fourth down to two points, keeping them in the race for Champions League qualification.


Dimitar Berbatov Dimitar Berbatov's double ended up sinking QPR to their second consecutive defeat, leaving them down in 19th, seven points from safety with seven games to go. It was the fourth consecutive Premier League game the Bulgarian scored in for Fulham and takes his tally to six in his last six games. The striker capitalised on two Christian Samba mistakes and a Clint Hill own-goal made it 3-0 to the home side. Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy reduced the deficit to one and got the Rangers' hopes up. Fulham's Steve Sidwell was sent off late on too, but QPR were unable to grab a late goal and Martin Jol's men held on for the win, keeping the Cottagers in tenth, three points clear of West Ham in eleventh and one point behind Swansea in ninth.


Paolo Di Canio All the media attention went to a certain temperamental Italian and his antiques this week, to the relief of some other (usual media favourite) managers (Benitez & Co). Sunderland's sacking of Martin O'Neill hours after their defeat against United and hiring of Paulo Di Canio may seem for some to be a very late and pointless shocker with only seven games remaining. However, the move grabbed all the media attention, distracting and taking pressure of any other internal problems and leaks and if all fails and the Black Cats go down after all, the board can cover their backs and say they tried and did everything they could to keep the side up. Nice cover-up indeed.

My Predictions => Actual Results:
Sunderland 2-1 Man United => 0-1
Arsenal 1-2 Reading => 4-1
Man City 2-1 Newcastle => 4-0
Southampton 1-3 Chelsea => 2-1
Swansea 1-1 Tottenham => 1-2
West Ham 1-1 West Brom => 3-1
Wigan 0-0 Norwich => 1-0
Everton 1-1 Stoke => 1-0
Aston Villa 0-0 Liverpool => 1-2
Fulham 2-2 QPR => 3-2