Manchester United pull away
Another eventful weekend in the English Premier League saw leaders Manchester United pull further away from local rivals and second placed Manchester City, while at the bottom of the table Queens Park Rangers new 12 million pound signing Chris Samba could only help Harry Redknapp’s men to a draw.
The Red Devils travelled to London to play a Fulham team who are languishing in mid-table, knowing that a win would see them go 10 points clear at the top of the table. Robin Van Persie again showed why Sir Alex Ferguson coughed up so much cash for him in the summer with a fine performance, but it was left to England centre forward Wayne Rooney to score the only goal of the game and tie up the three points.
City on the other hand, went in to Sunday’s late kick-off knowing that anything less than a win and United would be pulling away, but it wasn’t that simple, standing their way was a rejuvenated Liverpool side who are starting to feel the great time could be coming back to Anfield under young boss Brendan Rodgers.
The game was open and very end to end, creating a great spectacle for the neutral football fan, and a sense amongst the press that goals were guaranteed, they weren’t wrong!
Following the sale of mardy Italian Mario Ballotelli to AC Milan on transfer deadline day, Roberto Mancini’s hand was forced somewhat in to starting Edin Dzeko up front, but he was rewarded by a 23rd minute goal from the big man. Liverpool equalised shortly after with a goal from England prospect Daniel Sturridge on his return to his former employers. England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard then took the game by the scruff of the neck and hammered home a fantastic half volley to give Liverpool a 2-1 advantage; however the scoring was not over. Five minutes after Gerrrard’s goal Liverpool’s Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina went racing out of his penalty area, only to be beaten to the ball by City forward Sergio Aguero, who lobbed the ball delightfully over the stranded keepers head and in to the back of the net to level the scores one last time.
Big spenders Chelsea were shocked by out of form Newcastle United, who came back from 2-1 down to secure a 3-2 victory.
Winger Jonas Gutierrez gave the Toon army the lead just before half time, only for the rejuvenated Frank Lampard to level up after the break. Juan Mata then gave Chelsea the lead in the 61st minute and Rafa Benitez’s men seemed to be gliding towards another fairly comfortable win. That was until Mousa Sissoko, making his home debut for Newcastle, fired in an equaliser followed by a last minute winner to steal the points from Torres & co.’s hands in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur and England will have worries this week after striker Jermain Defoe hopped off with an ankle injury, meaning Spurs now only have one fit striker available for selection. This didn’t stop them from defeating a solid mid-table West Brom side though, thanks to pace ace winger Gareth Bale’s 67th minute strike.
Arsenal scrapped their way to an unconvincing 1-0 win at home to a strong, physical Stoke City side. German international Podolski scored the only goal of the game with a deflected free kick. Controversy followed as former England starlet Michael Owen was caught on camera lashing out at Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta after a tough tackle on the little striker.
At the bottom of the table QPR showed defensive resilience to keep out an attacking minded Norwich team, earning a point towards their tough challenge of staying in the Premier League for a third successive season.
Wigan forward Shaun Maloney struck a last minute equaliser against Southampton to get a share of the points for the Latics. Skipper Gary Caldwell had given Wigan the lead before Ricky Lambert and Schneiderlin had reversed the score line back in Southampton’s favour, only for Maloney to level in the dying moments.
Winger Jimmy Kebe scored a brace to bag Reading a much needed three points in their relegation fight. His goals came either side of one from Craig Gardner for Sunderland but ultimately Reading were too strong for the Black Cats and hung on for the three points.
West Ham moved towards the top half of the table with a 1-0 victory against high-flying Swansea City. England’s big forward Andy Carroll scored the only goal of the game after coming back from several months out of the game through injury.
Everton retained hope of qualifying for Europe by drawing 3-3 with struggling Aston Villa. Manager David Moyes said he was upset his team couldn’t win the game, especially with it being at home, but credit has to go to battling Villa who could taste victory after two goals from Benteke and one from winger Gabby Agbonlahor looked to put them on the path to three points. The score was 3-2 going in to the final moments, when Marouane Fellaini added to Victor Anichebe’s earlier goal to grab his second of the game and level the score.