Another thrilling weekend in the Premier League saw the plots thicken in the race for Europe and the relegation battle. QPR and Reading look dead and buried but one of at least six clubs will be joining them in the Championship – with 5 games to go it’s all to play for. It’s all looking very close in the battle for the Champions League spots too, and both these contests look likely to go down to the wire. Read on for our review of this weekend’s Premier League action:
Arsenal 3 – 1 Norwich
With Spurs not in action this weekend and Chelsea otherwise engaged in the FA Cup, the Gunners hosted the Canaries knowing that victory would certainly give them the edge over their London rivals in the race for Champions League football.
Norwich had clearly come to North London looking not to concede and managed to frustrate Arsenal for much of the game. The team in yellow even took the lead in the 56th minute through Michael Turner, but 3 goals in the last 5 minutes spared Arsenal’s blushes and kept them on course for Champions League qualification. A controversial 88th minute penalty converted by Mikel Arteta set the ball rolling after which Norwich somewhat capitulated with Giroud and Podolski ensuring the result.
Arsenal will look to keep up this momentum and deny Spurs European football, whilst the Canaries should be targeting at least three wins in their next four games to ensure their Premier League safety.
Aston Villa 1 – 1 Fulham
Villa have to see this as a point gained, but will have been frustrated by the manner of the draw after sharing the spoils with a hard-to-break-down Fulham side at Villa Park on Saturday.
Charles N’Zogbia curled in the opener and at that point the Villains must have felt fairly confident of seeing the game out and clinching a valuable three points but unfortunately for them it was only eleven minutes later that Fabian Delph inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.
Fulham’s season is over and mid-table is the best they can achieve but Villa are still very much fighting for their lives and have a tough few fixtures coming up. They appear to be rallying and seem in much better shape than they were a few weeks ago, but it may be a case of too little too late for the Midlands club.
Everton 2 – 0 QPR
It now appears that only a miracle will prevent Queens Park Rangers from relegation this season, and this latest defeat at Goodison Park has to be seen as one of the final nails in the coffin. Darron Gibson and Victor Anichebe were the scorers as the Toffees eased to a comfortable win over the Rangers on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp is a ‘never say die’ sort of guy but this latest result will have provided him with another unpalatable morsel of reality and he must now focus on preparing his team for another promotion challenge next season. Everton now lie 3 points behind Tottenham with a great chance of European qualification.
Reading 0 – 0 Liverpool
Reading are another side who have to be filed under the category ‘dead and buried’ and a lacklustre draw was the best the Royals could manage at the Madejski on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool had a much greater share of possession and rained in shots at the Reading goal but were unable to take their chances and this draw will come as a real disappointment to Brendan Rodger’s side as they attempt to qualify for the Europa League. Liverpool have gone backwards significantly in the last few seasons and poor investment means that the Reds are unlikely to be challenging for the title with the big boys anytime soon.
Southampton 1 – 1 West Ham
Both the Saints and the Hammers will be content with a point after a relatively even game at St Marys. Both clubs now reside on 38 points; just 2 short of the magical 40 that all but guarantee Premier League safety.
Gaston Ramirez opened the scoring in the 60th minute after Jussi Jaaskelainen could only parry his initial attempt, but Andy Carroll struck back with a free kick 7 minutes later to ensure that the two sides shared the spoils.
Both sides will now feel pretty confident of staying in the division and will be looking forward to strengthening their squads in the summer in the hope of having a slightly less stressful season next term.
Newcastle 0 – 3 Sunderland
Paulo di Canio’s passion appears to be having an effect on Wearside as the Black Cats put their biggest rivals to the sword on Sunday afternoon. The win is a massive boost for a Sunderland side trying to escape from the relegation mire, and as a bonus the result means that Newcastle are well and truly involved in the relegation dogfight too.
It was actually a pretty even game with Newcastle having more chances, but Sunderland were clinical when they had a sniff of goal and thus fully deserved the victory. Stephane Sessegnon, Adam Johnson and David Vaughan got the goals for the red and white stripes and with 3 eminently winnable games to come in the next few weeks, Sunderland will certainly be confident about staying up this season.
Stoke 0 – 2 Man Utd
Following their comprehensive defeat to Man City on Monday one might have expected a real statement from Man Utd as they visited the Britannia on Sunday afternoon but once again the champions-in-waiting looked somewhat off the pace. They once again clinched the three points and this sort of performance has very much been the hallmark of United’s season – good results with average performances.
Michael Carrick opened the scoring early on and Stoke were very much on the backfoot from that point with Robin van Persie adding a second half penalty to condemn the Potters to another loss. This loss leaves them in a very precarious position and unless they can pick up some points in their next few fixtures, relegation is a very real possibility.