Sports - Football - Premier League - Picks of the Week(end)
Arsenal'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.
Sunderland'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.
The 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.
Reading'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...
... 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