Thursday, 16 May 2013

Week 37: Premier League Action Summary

Sports - Football - Premier League - Week 37 Action Summary

This week saw ten games, 28 goals, 247 shots, 163 on target, 113 corners, 166 fouls, 26 bookings and 4 red cards. Three clubs said farewell to their managers, one less friendly, emotional and memorable than the other two. Here are the summaries of all the games:

Fergie's (and Scholes') Farewell at Old Trafford

It was an emotional afternoon at Old Trafford on Sunday, which saw Sir Alex Ferguson's last home game and championship presentation and celebration. Manchester United dominated the first half, Javier Hernandez hitting the crossbar before netting a free kick. Swansea started the second half bright and when United were just unable to clear the ball, in, out, left, right, before Miguel Michu banged it in for Michael Laudrup's Swans followed by Wayne Routledge who rolled another chance to double the score wide. David De Gea was kept busy but Rio Ferdinand had the last say for the Red Devils crashing in a Nemanja Vidic deflection off a corner. The defender's first goal in over five years handed Fergie his 2764th goal and 895th win, see more Fergie Stats* below. 
Paul Scholes*1499: Games at Manchester United, with 895 wins, 337 draws and 267 defeats, a win rate  of 59.71%.
*4124: Goals under Fergie, 2764 scored,1360 conceded,+1404 goal difference.
*723: Games at "The Theatre Of Dreams".
*38: Trophies won at Old Trafford, including 13 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League titles.
*26: Years since United had won the title before Ferguson's triumph in 1993.
*26: Years and 190 days, Fergie's time as manager, the longest serving in english football.
*Paul Scholes retires having played 717 games, 498 Premier League games and scored 107 goals.

Moyes' (and Neville) Farewell at Goodison Park

Everton manager David MoyesEverton performed beautiful, wonderful buildup play between Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar before Kevin Mirallas netted the opener against West Ham at Goodison Park. It was slick, a delight to watch and a perfect send-off for manager David Moyes. Both keeper produced some great saves, Jussi Jaaskelainen off Victor Anichebe and Tim Howard off Kevin Nolan. Mirallas saw his shot cheekily pop in off James Collins to double the score for the Toffees. Leon Osman's shot was stunningly saved  by Jaaskelainen before Pienaar's shot went narrowly wide, a double-stunner! Andy Carroll headed a golden chance off the post late on for the Hammers, but it was not meant to be their afternoon. It belonged to Moyes, the third longest serving manager in Everton history and in english football*. The Scotsman's only regret with the blue Merseyside club: no silverware! And to add to the day of farewells, Phil Neville also confirmed his departure at the end of the season.
*517: Games at Everton, 218 wins, 139 draws, 160 defeats, a win rate of 42.17%

Lampard Legend Complete

Frank Lampard celebratesChristian Benteke went from hero to zero in a crazy afternoon for Aston Villa, being sent off after opening the score with a nice individual run and effort against Chelsea at Villa Park in the Saturday lunch-time kick-off. Frank Lampard equalised minutes later for the Blues with a nice left-foot curl and then scored the winner and broke the club all-time record with his 204th goal. It was a historical moment, after it looked like the visitors were denied a goal when Gary Cahill's ball looked to have crossed the line but nothing was given. Paul Lambert had to wait till Wigan's downfall against Arsenal on Tuesday for his side's Premier league safety to be confirmed, see the match summary below for details. In the meantime, interim-boss Rafael Benitez has taken Roman Abramovich's side to Europa League Final victory over Benfica in Amsterdam on Wednesday with Champions League qualification already in the bag for next season too. The Spaniard was without Eden Hazard and John Terry who both went off injured late on in this game in the Midlands, the latter having rode his luck not seeing a red for his tackle on Yacouba Sylla.

Wigan Gunned Down

In a cracking, competitive encounter at the Emirates on Tuesday evening, Arsenal's Lukas Podolski headed in the opener against Wigan Athletic, totally unmarked, early on in the first half. But the Latics fought hard and Shaun Maloney levelled the score with a superb free kick just outside box, beating Wojciech Szczesny, smacking the ball into the right corner of the net just before half time. But it all crumbled to bits for Roberto Martinez's side in the second half. Santi Cazorla's cross from the right, found Theo Walcott in the centre of the box who tangled between keeper Joel Robles and two/three defenders to find the back of the net and give the lead back to the Gunners. Poldi made it three out of nowhere, one-on-one with the keeper, easy tap in. And Aaron Ramsey heaped more misery on the visitors shortly afterwards with a fine run from the left and a nice right-foot curl in to make it 4-1 and end Wigan's reign in the Premier League - the first time the FA Cup winners are relegated!
Arsene Wenger and Rafael BenitezArsene Wenger's side meanwhile have the challenge of Champions League qualification in their own hands now approaching the last match of the season. The Gunners are back in fourth, ahead of fierce rivals Tottenham and a win at Newcastle on the final day of the season will guarantee them Champions League football. They have also closed the gap on third-placed Chelsea to two points and left the chance that a certain set of results* on Sunday would see them end the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored which under Premier League rules would see a play-off between the two sides at a neutral venue to determine who will qualify directly for the Champions League.
*(0-0 draw for Chelsea and 2-1 win for Arsenal, or 1-1 and 3-2, 2-2 and 4-3, etc.)

Managerless City Beat Reading

Manchester City's Sergio AgueroThe sacking of Roberto Mancini seemed to have a stimulating effect on Manchester City at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday. The visitors were spurned on from kick-off keeping relegated side Reading keeper Alex McCarthy busy pulling save after safe out of him. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring end of the first half with a low effort into the corner of the net. The Royals did have a couple of chances, with Adrian Mariappa's header cleared off the line by Carlos Tevez, while Joe Hart saved well from Jem Karacan. Substitute Edin Dzeko sealed the win just before the end, netting David Silva's cross from close range. It was City's first league win at Reading since 1999, when both sides were in the third tier.

Adebayor Party Spoiler

Emmanuel AdebayorOn their 150th anniversary, ten-man Stoke were made to pay by Tottenham in a cruel 2-1 home defeat. An early opener fell to the hosts when Charlie Adams' free kick was headed in by an unmarked Steven Nzonzi, Spurs nowhere to be seen. It was a tense opening for Andre Villas-Boas' side, the more so after Clint Dempsey's goal was correctly disallowed offside. After a long cross to Aaron Lennon was cut out by Marc Wilson it fall back to Dempsey who bounced it in from far with Asmir Begovic out of his goal to complete an odd equaliser. The Bosnian keeper did create a couple of strong saves against Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson. 70 seconds into the second half, pressure was up on Stoke as things went from bad to worse for Tony Pulis' men when Adam was sent off with his second yellow card. Tottenham missed chance after chance, Dempsey's attempt went high off a Bale corner before the PFA and Young Player of the Year put a shot wide himself! Robert Huth put a golden chance header off a free kick high for the Potters before Emmanual Adebayor put in a Dempsey cross in the dying minutes to make it 1-2 and grab a crucial goal and win for his side in the chase for Champions League qualification. The end and result was harsh on 10-man Stoke, who fought hard till the end, eventually falling and handing Tottenham a nervous win.

Sturridge Hat-Trick Sinks Fulham

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge scores against FulhamLife has not been too hard for Liverpool without Luis Suarez (or Steven Gerrard) as they recorded another comfortable win at Fulham. Philippe Coutinho saw his power shot beaten away by keeper Mark Schwarzer before Dimitar Berbatov headed in Sascha Riether's cross to give the hosts the lead at Craven Cottage. The striker was totally unguarded, the header made to measure, handing him his 14th of the season and first since April Fools Day. Just a couple of minutes later, Daniel Sturridge smashed in the leveller after a fine clearance, a blast in off his weaker side to make it 1-1. Berbatov's and Bryan Ruiz's appeals for hand ball against Lucas Leiva were dismissed by the officials, a lucky escape for the Liverpool forward, as replays showed his arm did hit his outstretched arm. And after the Cottagers' appeals were ignored again, this time against Sebastian Coates, Sturridge netted his second off Coutinho's slipped strike. Fulham were understandably steaming! It was end-to-end-stuff from then onwards when Schwarzer denied Sturridge after the striker robbed Brede Hangeland and Berbatov tested Pepe Reina to his bottom left. Aaron Hughes' header off a corner was also kept out brilliantly by the Spaniard. The game stretched when Fabio Borini saw his shot come off the post and then denied by Schwarzer, the Reds could have been five or six goals up! Finally, five minutes from time, Sturridge lifted the ball over Schwarzer, a delicious goal off a superb Coutinho cross, to wrap up the youngster's first ever hat-trick and Liverpool's three points.
Norwich Thrash to Safety

Robert SnodgrassNorwich secure their place in the Premier League with an emphatic 4-0 victors against West Brom, and if it wasn't for their keeper Ben Foster, it could have been 10-0! The England keeper produced save after save, starting off against Anthony Pilkington. The pressure was on the visitors from kick-off, conceding three corners early on in the match before Robert Snodgrass took advantage and controlled Foster's block in to the back of the net to make it 1-0 and send huge relief around Carrow Road. Wes Hoolahan's shot from far was tipped over by Foster whilst John Ruddy in contrast was left with nothing to do at the other end. The second goal was a goalkeeper's nightmare, Foster coming out the box, messing up the clearance completely for Grant Holt to walk the ball over the line and double the score. Ruddy's first use of gloves was against James Morrison, nothing all too worrying as Norfolk was partying. The third goal came from a Hoolahan free kick off Gareth McAuley into the back of his own net, the second goal in just over two minutes. Pilkington pulled yet another save out of Foster, a fantastic save tipping the ball around and away. After some lovely linkup play in the dying minutes of play, Jonathan Howson sent an outstanding curl from the edge of the box into the right corner of the net to seal the fourth goal and win for the Canaries.

Redknapp Rant

Hatem Ben ArfaHarry Redknapp stamped on his team's lack of quality, saying they wouldn't even end up top half of the Championship playing like this after seeing his QPR beaten at home by Newcastle. The visitors' Mathieu Debuchy kicked things off conceding a penalty with a tug and brush on Junior Hoilett, QPR's Loic Remy sending keeper Rob Elliott the wrong way and netting the penalty to make it 1-0. Defender Jose Bosingwa pulled Hatem Ben Arfa's shirt and got punished with the second spot kick of the afternoon, Ben Arfa rattling the penalty in off the crossbar to level the score. Papiss Cisse saw his header home disallowed for offside. Bobby Zamora saw his return-shot decently saved by Elliott after the keeper had already denied Hoilett seconds earlier. The visitors were then gifted the lead by Rob Green and Bosingwa with some calamitous defending, short passes messed up, Yoan Gouffran tucking the present away gratefully, 1-2. Magpies keeper Elliot was sent off with ten minutes to go, a second yellow for handling the ball outside the area. Their longest serving player Steve Harper replaced him, coming on for Ben Arfa, and held on to his side's lead. All the late Rangers chances and onslaught were all for nothing in the end, summing their season up.

Sunderland Survive Late Saints Ambush

Danny Graham and Steven DavisSunderland survived after Southampton were unable to complete the perfect turnaround, the Sunday tie ending 1-1 at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats will have had all eyes on Wigan's clash with Arsenal on Tuesday and ended up celebrating the result as it handed Paulo Di Canio's men the guarantee of another season in the Premier League. Against the Saints, the deadlock was broken halfway through the second half by Phil Bardsley with a smasher from the right corner of the box, a touch of Jos Hooiveld taking the ball past Artur Boruc. Eight minutes later Simon Mignolet saved Jason Puncheon's header for the substitute to leg in the rebound off the floor to level the score. Rickie Lambert missed a couple of chances to grab a win for the Saints, him and Jay Rodriguez both were denied by Mignolet to earn his side a point which ended up sealing them a spot in the top league next season and avoiding any last week drama or heartache.

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

In case you wondered, because I forgot to predict this week, the auto-predictor set all of my predictions to 2-1. No comment...

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