It was an entertaining midweek round of fixtures in the Barclays Premier League with goals galore, as the ball was picked out of the net 30 times in total and none of the games ended in a goalless draw.
Manchester United stayed on course for a record 19th title as they stopped Villa’s revival with a comfortable 3-1 win at Old Trafford. While Arsenal and Chelsea also secured hard fought wins to keep-up in the title race, Man City lost ground on their neighbours as they were held by Birmingham at St. Andrews.
Liverpool also continued their revival under King Kenny with a third consecutive win, as they brushed aside Tony Pulis’ Soke City comfortably to secure a 2-0 win at Anfield. Tottenham also kept their challenge up for the race to secure Champions League qualification with a nervy 1-0 win at Ewood Park.
Game of the Midweek:
The game got off to a flying start with the most unlikely scorer Phil Bardsley finding the back of the net in the third minute. From then on it was end to end stuff as both teams did not shy away from putting the players forward. Chelsea got back into the game courtesy a Lampard penalty and then went in front as Kalou slipped the ball past an advancing Craig Gordon. Richardson brought Sunderland on level terms by doing a Ronaldinho, as he slipped the ball under the Chelsea wall and into the goal from his freekick. The second half was much the same, but Chelsea came away with all three points as goals from Terry and Anelka rounded off the scoring.
Stars of the Midweek:
Nicolas Anelka: The Frenchman had a rather bizarre week leading up to the game with his future at the club surrounded by speculation, as he was reported to be made part of the deal to sign Torres from Liverpool. Also, the striker’s position in the first XI is under threat with Chelsea breaking the transfer record to secure the services of their new striker. Nonetheless, Anelka responded like a footballer should always do. Deployed behind the two strikers by Ancelotti, Anelka did not disappoint posing a constant threat for the opposition. He was involved in most of the attacks for the Londoners and also had an assist to show for his efforts when he released Kalou for the second goal. He rounded off the night by getting himself on the score sheet as he scored in injury time to seal the win and calm his side’s nerves.
Wayne Rooney: Rooney had scored just one goal in open play since March prior to the game, but he doubled his tally in the match against Villa on Tuesday. However, Rooney was helped by two brilliant passes (more on that later), but with the kind of form he has been in, the Old Trafford faithful were more than delighted to see Rooney put those chances away. Rooney was also involved in most of United’s attacks and showed calmness in a packed penalty area to set up Vidic for United’s third. Although, the striker is still far from his best, Sir Alex and United would be pleased to see him back amongst the goals.
Best Goal To Savour
Victor Obinna: While the Nigerian was fortunate to find the back of the net for his first goal, there was nothing short of brilliance that earned him his second. The midfielder picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and, with none of the Blackpool players closing him down, unleashed a ferocious shot. Goalkeeper Richard Kingson had no chance of making a save after that.
An honourable mention goes to Nemanja Vidic , who hit an absolute bullet to leave, an otherwise brilliant, Brad Friedel rooted to his feet.
Best Assist That Made It Easy
Nani: The high flying Portuguese added another assist to his tally to keep him at top of the assists chart, and it was a brilliant one as well. He brushed aside Kyle Walker with his trickery to open some space for himself to cross the ball, but the work ahead was much harder. With only Rooney in the penalty area to target, Nani delivered as un-defendable ball across the goal with just the right pace to beat three Villa defenders and provide an easy tap-in for Rooney, who could not miss from six yards out.
Nani’s teammate Van Der Sar also deserves a mention as he spotted Rooney’s run and took a quick free kick from outside his area to find the striker with an inch perfect 60 yard pass over Richard Dunne. Rooney’s touch and finish were brilliant to provide the sort of result the pass deserved.
Best Save That Left All In Awe
Adam Begovic: The Stoke keeper was largely responsible for his side to avoid a much heavier defeat at Anfield. His efforts ensured that the Potters went into the dressing room at half-time with the scores still 0-0. But the save which stood out was his reflex one-handed block to save Glen Johnson’s powerful header from six yards out.
Worst Miss To Rue
Matthew Jarvis: Wolves had a great chance, early in the game, to take the lead as Matt Jarvis found himself in acres of space with only Jaaskelainen to beat. But the young Englishman hit a weak shot that went past the post saving the blushes for the Bolton defence as they got their offside trap all wrong. Jarvis was left to rue the miss as Daniel Sturridge scored an injury-time winner to send Wolves bottom of the table.
Richard Kingson: Blackpool keeper Richard Kingson has this unwanted honour as he was clearly guilty of the first goal scored by Victor Obinna. The Nigerian hit a speculative shot from a very tight angle, which Kingson seemed to have covered at his near post, but he made an absolute meal of it as the ball slipped through his fingers to creep into the back of the net.
Also came close to Kingson was Wolves defender Ronald Zubar as he slid a perfect through ball for Sturridge in injury time for the debutant to score the winner.
Biggest Controversy That Made Headlines
Everton’s first goal was yet another chapter in the debate over the offside rule. Louis Saha was miles offside when Coleman chipped the ball over the Arsenal defence. The ball deflected off Koscielny’s foot and fell into the path of Saha, who spun and shot into the bottom corner of the Arsenal net. The linesman and referee bizarrely deemed Koscielny’s intervention as a back pass and allowed the goal to stand. Cesc Fabregas, like his team mates, felt gutted and made his feelings clear to the referee. Moyes later said that the Gunners’ captain should have been sent off for his rant and the controversy does not seem to end as Wenger has lashed out with his own remarks towards Moyes.
Most Bizarre Goal
Charlie Adam: Sir Alex recently said that Adam’s free-kicks and corners are worth 10 million pounds alone and the Blackpool captain justified the praise in the game against West Ham with a goal straight from the corner. Adam sent in a low drive towards the front post from the corner which Frederic Piquionne completely missed and in the process unsighted Robert Green. The ball had enough pace on it to evade everybody and creep inside the goal.
How did it not go in?
Well, this is what Salomon Kalou must have thought when he saw his effort come back after hitting the inside of both the posts. Anelka squared the ball on to Kalou, who side-footed the ball towards the Sunderland goal but was amazed to see the ball not go into the net. Sunderland manager Steve Bruce must have secretly thought that it might be his team’s night, but it was not to be.
Birmingham got their first penalty of the season which Gardner slotted home to earn his side a point.
Team of the Week
The Race for the Golden Boot
Weekend Results from the Barclay’s Premier League
Arsenal 2-1 Everton
Sunderland 2-4 Chelsea
Man Utd 3-1 Aston Villa
West Brom 2-2 Wigan
Birmingham 2-2 Man City
Fulham 1-0 Newcastle
Blackburn 0-1 Tottenham
Liverpool 2-0 Stoke
Blackpool 1-3 West Ham
Bolton 1-0 Wolves