With Arsenal playing in the Carling Cup final, Manchester United had an opportunity to extend their lead at the top during the weekend, and they did not fail. Saturday’s games witnessed three separate occasions of a team scoring four goals against the other, while on Sunday, Manchester City failed to gain ground on the top two teams with a home draw against Fulham and Liverpool’s pursuit of a Champions’ League spot was severely dented by an away loss to bottom placed West Ham. Sturridge once again bailed out Bolton, while Blackpool followed up their midweek 3-1 victory over Spurs with a thrashing at the Molineux stadium.
Game of the weekend
Newcastle United 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
The Geordies put on a scintillating football display in the first half, and went ahead in the 13th minute, courtesy of Kevin Nolan’s header, which was his eleventh goal of the season. However, the visitors were not far behind, with Sturridge and Elmander repeatedly torturing the Newcastle back line; their constant pressing up the field paid dividends, as Sturridge scored a fine goal to level the scores.In the second half, Ryan Taylor was sent off for a two footed lunge on Swedish striker Elmander. However, Bolton failed to make the numerical advantage count, as the home side held their own against Owen Coyle’s side to escape with a valuable point.
Star of the weekend
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
The diminutive Mexican striker was given the nod ahead of Dimitar Berbatov in the game against Wigan, and he repaid Sir Alex’s faith in him with a brace. The first goal came when Nani’s low cross from the left was tapped in by Chicarito, who beat the goalie and a defender to the ball. Later, he eased the nerves of the visitors with a timely goal, beating the offside trap and slotting the ball into the back of the net past a hapless Al Habsi for his thirteenth goal of the season. There’s no doubt that the Mexican is one of the best transfer signings this season, and he can only get better with more game time.
Chicarito’s brace takes United closer to title
Controversial moments of the weekend
Rooney‘s elbow of fury
The English striker put himself in a compromising situation when he deliberately jabbed his elbow at McCarthy, when the ball was not even in play. The Wigan defender was merely ball watching in the center of the pitch, and didn’t notice Rooney coming behind him. For no apparent reason, Rooney flung his elbow at his face, and the incident was spotted by Mark Clattenburg. Astonishingly, the referee deemed it as an accidental contact and cautioned the striker with a yellow card; even more incredulous was FA’s decision not to punish Rooney, despite clear video evidence of Rooney’s unsporting behavior.
Mark Hughes snubs Mancini
Mark Hughes, who had been sacked by Manchester City’s owners fourteen months ago, managed to put a huge dent on his former team’s chances of a shot at the title with a draw against the men in blue. Damien Duff’s equalizer was enough to earn Fulham a point, and Mancini was none the least impressed with his side’s showing in the game. The final whistle culminated in Mark Hughes withdrawing a handshake from Mancini, after the former seemingly refused to look at his predecessor as they approached each other on the sidelines.
Goals of the weekend
Scott Parker v Liverpool
The Hammers captain has been the most influential player for the London club, and his goal provided West Ham the impetus to clinch three vital points against Kenny Dalglish’s men in their pursuit of a spot outside the relegation zone. Parker received a pass from outside the Liverpool box, engaged in a one-two with Hitzlsperger and deftly slotted the ball with the outside of his right foot passed a stunned Carragher and a hapless Reina. Watch the goal here.
Rooney v Wigan Athletic
Manchester United’s third goal was an example of classic counter-attacking by the Red Devils, reminiscent of Van Persie’s goal against Wolves recently. After the visitors had cleared a Wigan corner, the ball fell to Darron Gibson, whose long pass found Berbatov, the latter having beaten the Wigan offside trap. The Bulgarian took the ball closer to Wigan’s box, and with Al Habsi coming out of his zone to attempt a block, slotted the ball to the onrushing Wayne Rooney for a tap-in into the wide-open goal.
Revelation of the weekend
Daniel Sturridge (Bolton Wanderers)
Owen Coyle enhanced his reputation as one of the best managers in the country with his shrewd signing of the Chelsea hitman on loan for his club. Sturridge continued his rich goal scoring vein for the Trotters, bagging four goals in his last four games. He latched on to a through ball from Swedish striker Johan Elmander, and let loose a left-footed shot towards the back of the net. He joins five other players who have scored in their first four games for a team in the Premier League.
Miss of the weekend
Darren Bent(Aston Villa)
Before Ashley Young’s opener for the Villans, the home team should have been ahead if not for some reluctance by Darren Bent. Robert Pires had combined well with Stewart Downing, and tried a chip over Paul Robinson. The Blackburn goalkeeper managed to stop the Frenchman’s shot, but Darren Bent, who was lurking in the box, exhibited a moment’s hesitancy to poke the ball into the net from four yards out, allowing Robinson to swat the ball to safety.
Battle of the Oranges
Blackpool traveled to the Molineux stadium without their inspirational captain Charlie Adams, and his absence was clearly felt as the Tangerines slumped to a 4-0 loss, a far cry from their magnificent 3-1 win over Tottenham earlier this week. After Jarvis had given the home team the lead in just the second minute, Blackpool striker DJ Campbell underwent a rush of blood to shove Stearman in the face, earning him his marching orders and leaving the visitors easy prey to Mick McCarthy’s side. Blackpool clearly missed Adams’ corner kicks, and were unable to replicate their midweek performance.
Save of the weekend
Edwin Van Der Saar(Manchester United)
The Dutch shot stopper showed why he’s the best goalie in the league, as his excellent positional sense and impeccable anticipation saved the Red Devils from conceding against Wigan’s determined forward line. He threw himself quickly to deny Victor Moses’ powerful shot in a one-on-one situation, and also showed amazing anticipation to prevent a certain goal by an unmarked McCarthy near the left post. The 40-year-old’s impending retirement is certain to leave a gaping void between the sticks, once the inevitable happens.
The Race for the Golden Boot
• Berbatov – 19
• Tevez – 18
• Carroll – 11
• Nani (14)
• Arshavin , Rooney (11)
• Brunt, Fabregas (10).
Weekend Results from the Barclay’s Premier League
Aston Villa 4-1 Blackburn Rovers
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 Blackpool
Wigan Athletic 0-4 Manchester United
Newcastle United 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
Everton 2-0 Sunderland
Manchester City 1-1 Fulham
West Ham United 3-1 Liverpool
Team of the week