We witnessed another exciting weekend of Premier League action on Saturday and Sunday with all three Champions League hopefuls winning to really ramp up the pressure going into the final two weeks of the season. The race to avoid the drop is also hotting up with a couple of teams looking like they’ll escape to fight another day whilst another couple of teams are right back in the danger zone. Read on for this weekend’s Premier League review:
Fulham 2 – 4 Reading
Already relegated Reading secured a fantastic win against a good Fulham side at Craven Cottage. Nigel Adkins was quite rightly delighted with the performance of his side; and if the Royals can retain most of their players for next season they should be strong contenders to come straight back up. Robson-Kanu opened the scoring from the spot and added an absolute pearler in the 63rd minute. Bryan Ruiz gave the Cottagers brief hope with two goals late on, but his efforts were counteracted by goals from Adam Le Fondre and Jem Karacan. It had looked like Fulham were safe from relegation, but they may well now need a couple of points to ensure Premier League safety.
Norwich 1 – 2 Aston Villa
Aston Villa made another massive leap towards safety with a hard-fought win over a hard-to-break-down Norwich side at Carrow Road. Gabriel Agbonlahor had an absolute stormer and grabbed both the goals; his second making the difference after Grant Holt had equalised from the penalty spot. Villa are up into the 13th but the Canaries have some work to do if they’re to stay in the Premiership.
Swansea 0 – 0 Man City
Man City struggled to break down Swansea as the two sides battled to a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium. Man City’s season was almost over the moment that Man Utd lifted the Premier League trophy; with their attention shifting towards their FA Cup final date with Wigan; whilst Swansea haven’t won a Premier League game for two months.
Tottenham 1 – 0 Southampton
Tottenham’s talisman Gareth Bale nicked all three points for Spurs to cap off an excellent week for the Welshman. Bale picked up all three player awards and showed exactly why in the 87th minute of this clash; picking the ball up wide on the right and sprinting inside before unleashing a left-footed piledriver into the bottom left-hand corner against his old club. Spurs’ attention now turns to their must-win clash against Chelsea on Wednesday night.
West Brom 2 – 3 Wigan
Wigan potentially saved their season with a thrilling 3-2 victory at the Hawthorns on Saturday. The match itself was a fantastic spectacle, with the momentum swinging this way and that, but Martinez’s men dug deep and headed back up north with the W. Shane Long and Arouna Kone traded blows in the first half and the two sides headed in at half time on level pegging. Gareth McAuley netted for the Baggies in the 50th minute but West Brom were soon pegged back by James McArthur header. Callum McManaman sealed the win in the 80th minute, converting another wonderful Shaun Maloney cross – Maloney in particular having an absolute stormer. Wigan have got their tails up, and it would be a brave man who predicted them to go down now.
West Ham 0 – 0 Newcastle
Andy Carroll welcomed his old club to Upton Park but was not able to influence proceedings as the two sides limped to a goalless draw. This will have been a game that Alan Pardew must have earmarked for a win, and the Magpies will be thoroughly disappointed to head back up to Tyneside without the three points. Newcastle are in serious trouble now, and desperately need some positive results to avoid the drop.
QPR 1 – 0 Arsenal
Theo Walcott’s goal after 20 seconds of Arsenal’s clash with QPR was enough to give the North London side all three points. The race for the Champions League is now exceptionally close, with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal all incredibly close together points-wise. The two sides that can hold their nerve the best will emerge victorious, and it’s incredibly difficult to predict just which two sides will make it.
Liverpool 0 – 0 Everton
After all the hype, the Merseyside derby failed to provide goals and ended up being the 3rd goalless draw of the weekend. That’s not to say that there was no excitement; both sides gave it a go and Everton must feel aggrieved after Sylvain Distin had a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper. Close together in the league, Everton and Liverpool appear to be the contenders for the last Europa League spot, and Everton now look to have the advantage in that particular race for Europe.
Man Utd 0 – 1 Chelsea
The league champions succumbed to a dose of bad luck when they hosted Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. Phil Jones deflected a Juan Mata strike into the back of the net and this result puts Chelsea firmly on course for Champions League qualification. Victory against Spurs on Wednesday would all but ensure qualification leaving Spurs and Arsenal to squabble over the final place. Rafa Benitez really has turned the Blues season around, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Abramovich think carefully about whether Rafa has a long-term future at Stamford Bridge.