After yesterday's fiasco of a Chelsea - Manchester United match, let's try to get back on track with a roundup of the weekend's other matches in the Barclays Premier League. As always, if you follow the links to our sister blogs, please be a courteous and civil guest, and above all, be nice!
Saturday, October 27th
Aston Villa 1 - 1 Norwich City: This was an odd one. The first half was pretty even, if not completely turgid football, though Villa might have a case for having been the better side. The home side were luckier, as a chance fell to Belgian striker Christian Benteke, who buried it well past John Ruddy. Norwich were by far the better side in the second half due mainly to Villa's Joe Bennett receiving a second yellow early on.
They dominated possession and the chances, though Brad Guzan did very well to keep the Birmingham side in the match. The pressure told with twelve minutes to go as Michael Turner turned a corner past Guzan to equalise. Despite the man advantage and Villa defender Chris Herd limping, Norwich did little to trouble Villa, wasting a succession of set pieces and chances, and never looking like a second, somehow. More at 7500 to Holte
Arsenal 1 - 0 Queens Park Rangers: Jack Wilshere. Seriously, do I need to write any more? Wasn't this match essentially just a showcase for the England midfielder in which he did get hurt? What? You mean there was other stuff happening? I don't believe you.
Okay, fine. The match was a pretty tense one throughout. QPR looked surprisingly competent, though they rode Julio Cesar more than not. The action only really started with fifteen minutes to go. First, Santi Cazorla blasted what should have been an easy chance well over the bar. Then, in another Mayan-induced bout of incompetence, Stephane M'Bia felt it would be a good idea to kick out at Thomas Vermaelen after winning a free kick. It should be said that the Belgian did dive a bit, but it was pretty stupid.
Finally, Arsenal got their goal, despite the entirety of Julio Cesar's will to prevent it. The keeper pulled off about six crazy reflex saves in the final minutes before Mikel Arteta finished coolly from a yard out while very, very offside. At the end of day, Arsenal were the better team, and probably deserved the win. They could very easily not have won. QPR had several great chances, but, really, they were QPR and wasted them More at The Short Fuse
Reading 3 - 3 Fulham: Finally! A fun one! Thank you non-denominational god or gods of football! Fulham were probably the better side, and will probably feel a little unlucky with the draw, but neither side were really playing well, a theme for all of the day's matches, as you may have figured out. Around the hour mark, with Reading ahead through Mikele Leigertwood, substitute Bryan Ruiz equalised for Fulham. The visiting side were energised after their goal, taking the lead twice. First through Chris Baird, and then Dimitar Berbatov after Reading equalised through Gareth McCleary. Despite the confidence which brought them the lead, Fulham made the game nervous late on, and that pressure resulted in a chance falling to Welsh striker Hal Robson-Kanu at the death, and he gladly took it, stealing a point for Reading. More at Cottagers Confidential and The Tilehurst End
Stoke City 0 - 0 Sunderland: This was not a vintage match, for several reasons. Neither side really had much in the way of clear-cut chances. Stoke probably had the better chances, but Simon Mignolet was equal to all of them. In fact, the Belgian keeper was busy all day, even if he wasn't tested for most of it. Unfortunately, the biggest story from this one is the probable broken leg suffered by Stoke's Marc Wilson in a collision with Steven Fletcher. More at Roker Report
Wigan Athletic 2 - 1 West Ham United: Wigan got their first Premier League win since August, and their first win in a month, incidentally also against West Ham in the League Cup. In keeping with the theme of the day, this too was pretty drab. Well, except for Ivan Ramis' Gary Cahill-esque strike to give Wigan the lead in the eighth minute. Wigan were largely able to cruise after, adding a second just after the half through James McArthur. Though West Ham improved after the hour mark, they did little with their pressure. Wigan stood firm and kept their clean sheet until deep into stoppage time, when the Irons' James Tomkins headed past Ali Al Habsi for what turned out to be a consolation goal. More at Pie Eaters Footie
Manchester City 1 - 0 Swansea City: Another week, another less-than-inspiring performance from City. Swansea is never an easy team to beat, but you have to feel City should have made it more comfortable than they did. The defending champions offered little in the way of offensive pressure in the first half. The Welsh side too struggled to make anything of the game, only going close through Michu, whose header was saved easily enough by Joe Hart.
In the second half, though, it was all City. Not that Swansea didn't have their chances, but City definitely had the upper-hand. Moments after Michu spurned a chance from a Pablo Hernandez cross, Carlos Tevez scored the game's only goal with a beautiful effort into the bottom corner past a diving Michel Vorm. The Dutch keeper, unfortunately, injured himself while diving, and had to be stretchered off, with a potential groin injury. Jonathan de Guzman nearly equalised for Swansea with the best chance of the rest of the match.
Sadly, the injury bug wasn't done biting, as Micah Richards went down, first with cramp, and then with a knee injury, likely to involve the ligaments. If so, it'll leave City without an important player for most of the season. Though it's tempting to be glad, it sucks, despite the potential benefit. With both injuries, the game petered out a bit, despite Swansea heavily-pressuring the City defence towards the end of the Premier League-record twelve minutes and thirty seconds plus of stoppage time. More at Bitter and Blue
Sunday, October 28th
Everton 2 - 2 Liverpool: Derbies, eh? This, my friends, was a crazy one, and by crazy, I mean maddening. Something about the city of Liverpool must make its teams allergic to defending. In an open start to the match, both sides had good chances, and Liverpool opened the scoring when Leighton Baines somehow managed to put Luis Suarez's attempt to put the ball out for a throw past Tim Howard. Liverpool extended their lead moments later when the Everton defence lost track of Luis Suarez who headed home Steven Gerrard's free kick from an open header. Everton, though, hit back immediately through Leon Osman, who latched onto Brad Jones' poor clearance from a corner, putting into the bottom corner from 18 yards. With ten minutes left in the half, Everton equalised when Steven Naismith turned Marouane Fellaini's cross past Jones.
Liverpool started the second half as the better of the two teams after going with three at the back following the introduction of Sebastian Coates. There were a number of decent chances in the first fifteen minutes, as the teams traded spells of superiority. Liverpool produced the only truly clear-cut opportunity as Gerrard tested Howard with a long-range free kick on target. Nikica Jelavic should have scored ten minutes later when he headed a free kick badly wide under no pressure. Following that, the game settled for a while, at least in the attacking sense, as it nearly descended into farce with a number of silly fouls and cards. Gerrard should have won it in the 83rd, but his shot was blocked by the Everton defence. The game petered out a bit after, but Luis Suarez should have won it at the death, but the goal was ruled out very, very incorrectly. Do I care, though? No. It's Suarez and Liverpool. : P More at Royal Blue Mersey and Anfield Asylum
Newcastle United 2 - 1 West Bromwich Albion: As a not-so-secret West Brom fan, this was a tough one for me. It's always going to be difficult match when you're playing away at the erstwhile Sports Direct Arena, but this was almost cruel on the Albion. In the first half, Newcastle were the better side, no doubt, though both sides had several chances, and a decent amount of possession. It wasn't really end-to-end stuff, as such, but there was a decent ebb and flow. Neither side were particularly efficient in attack, with Demba Ba missing a golden chance for Newcastle, and Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku failing to beat Krul despite moving very well to create a pair of great opportunities for himself. There are plenty of positives in his performance, but the lack of quality in his finishing is slightly concerning. Definitely not anything to be too worried about, but something that needs to be a focus for him.
The second half was more of the same, really, except West Brom were the team with the advantage. Indeed, the Baggies made their pressure pay as Zoltan Gera crossed well for an open Lukaku who had been played onside by, of all people, Shola Ameobi. This time, the Belgian finished well, heading in from close range to level for West Brom. For the rest of the match, the run of play ebbed back and forth between both teams. While both sides had some good opportunities, West Brom will probably feel the better of the chances late on. Newcastle, however, managed to score a winner at the death. Sammy Ameobi's shot, which was poor enough to not be on target, hit Papiss Cisse and ricocheted past a stranded Ben Foster for the misfiring striker's first of the season. For a second straight week, the Albion were handed an undeserved loss by a late goal, and a lack of good finishing by Lukaku. If he figures out how to be more clinical, West Brom will be a team to be reckoned with. More at Coming Home Newcastle and the imaginary Albion blog in my mind
Southampton 1 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur: Agent AVB nearly got his mission back on track this weekend, but Spurs couldn't quite manufacture dropped points against Southampton, despite their best efforts. New father Gareth Bale and America's only player (tm) Clint Dempsey got Tottenham off to a great start in the first half, scoring in the fifteenth an thirty-ninth minutes. Bale headed in well from a Tom Huddlestone, and Dempsey followed up Jermain Defoe's chip past the keeper to score from two yards out. Spurs held a fully-deserved lead at the half, and looked on course for the win, despite some bad misses.
Then came the second half, and how did Spurs rue those misses. Southampton came back into the game in the first ten minutes of the half, despite Kyle Walker wasting a very good chance to finish the game in the 54th. The right back shooting wide with a poor effort after Aaron Lennon set him up. From there, Tottenham slowly lost control of the game, eventually allowing Jay Rodriguez to score for Southampton. The striker pounced on Brad Friedel's save from a Jose Fonte flick of an Adam Lallana corner in the 68th minute. After the goal, Southampton pressed even harder for an equaliser, forcing the Spurs defence into a number of last-ditch tackles, blocks, and saves. Unfortunately for the Saints, they weren't able to find the goal they needed, and arguably deserved, before the final whistle. Spurs were definitely lucky, but are now up to fourth in the table, so will be happy. Darn it. More at Cartilage Free Captain
That was the week in the Premier League, excluding the mess that was our match. Hopefully next week will be better. See you then, and in the coming weeks, when I'll hopefully have some exciting new features for you. : )