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Monday, 14 January 2013

REVIEW MATCHDAY 22 IN THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE.

It was yet another fantastic weekend of football in England, where a total of ten games were played between Saturday and Suday. The Sunday fixtures commonly termed " Super Sunday" saw Manchester United take on rivals Liverpool and Arsenal up against Title holders Manchester City..
Soccer4life take a review of some of  the games played over the weekend.
Arsenal 0 - 2 Manchester City.
Manchester City's first league win at Arsenal in 37 years was aided by Laurent Koscielny's early red card but nonetheless deserved as goals from James Milner and Edin Dzeko secured a 2-0 victory in the capital.
Arsenal were not happy with referee Mike Dean over Koscielny's dismissal and City even less so when with 15 minutes left captain Vincent Kompany was sent-off for a challenge on Jack Wilshere deemed dangerous by the match official.
Less than ten minutes had elapsed when Arsenal hit the self-destruct button. Gareth Barry's looping header back into the home side's box saw Dzeko turn Koscielny, who reacted to the danger with a challenge agricultural to the extent that it was met with a red card and penalty award.
Dzeko stepped up but saw his spot-kick strike Wojciech Szczesny's outstretched legs before coming back off the far post and rolling into the arms of Arsenal's relieved goalkeeper.
It was a reprieve that was to prove only temporary as City forged ahead on 20 minutes when from a quick free-kick Arsenal were again caught napping. After the ball was worked to Carlos Tevez his cute slide-rule pass was dispatched with venom and accuracy courtesy of James Milner's angled drive from around 12 yards.
With ten-man Arsenal looking disjointed and on the ropes City went for the jugular and delivered the knock-out blow of a second goal just five minutes later. Trademark Pablo Zabaleta appetite for the fight brushed an insipid Kieran Gibbs off the ball before he set Milner on his way down the right. Tevez's prod for goal from his team-mate's low delivery forced Szczesny into a save but he could only parry straight into the feet of Dzeko no more than a yard out.

Thereafter the rest of the first half proved to be the proverbial stroll in the park for City as only Wilshere's presence on the goal-line prevented Javi Garcia from adding a headed third from Milner's corner.

After the interval Arsenal at least dug a little deeper but still it was City who conjured the first real opportunity when Milner stood one up at the back post only for Dzeko to head over.
Wilshere drove the play forward wherever possible and it was from one of his bursting runs that Gibbs saw his drive from the edge of the box blocked by the industrious Milner.
Referee Dean was busier than either goalkeeper though for the most part of an ill-tempered rather than malicious contest that saw Thomas Vermaelen, Milner, Wilshere, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Garcia and Gareth Barry all pick up bookings.
With 20 minutes remaining and City content to hit Arsenal on the counter-attack, Tevez was guilty of profligacy when after he was played through by Dzeko an over-elaborate attempt to round Szczesny allowed the keeper to save.
Substitute Olivier Giroud will be disappointed with a headed effort wide from a set-piece but it will be Kompany's red card that will be given more column inches. The Belgian's tackle on Wilshere looked to take the ball but Dean ruled it to be two-footed and dangerous.
City spent the remainder of the contest largely on the back foot but for the most part Arsenal were restricted to no more than half chances, with substitute Joleon Lescott earning his win bonus when clearing Theo Walcott's late effort off the line in a rare moment of genuine danger.
Roberto Mancini's side kept their heads though to stay within seven points of neighbours and league leaders Manchester United.

Manchester United 2 - 1 Liverpool
Manchester United saw off a late Liverpool rally to beat their old rivals 2-1 at Old Trafford and tighten their grip on top spot in the Premier League.
Robin van Persie had given United a first-half lead and Nemanja Vidic extended their dominance in fortuitous fashion early in the second half.
But substitute Daniel Sturridge's first league goal for Liverpool brought the visitors back into the game and there were one or two nervy moments before the Red Devils confirmed the three points.
United took the lead with the opening chance of the game on 19 minutes when van Persie swept home first time from Patrice Evra's low cross following a patient build-up by the leaders.

Van Persie was almost in again on 27 minutes after Ashley Young's pass found him in space just inside the box, but the Dutchman's first-time finish on this occasion flew over the bar.
Joe Allen was enduring a difficult afternoon and the midfielder's loose pass was seized upon by Danny Welbeck before Daniel Agger produced a great block to deny the striker.
Luis Suarez blazed over Liverpool's only shot of the first half before Tom Cleverley flashed a volley wide after Allen's poor headed clearance from Young's cross.
The Red Devils should have extended their lead just before the break, but van Persie's flick from Rafael's cross was cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel and Pepe Reina was hurt in a collision with Shinji Kagawa in the scramble for the loose ball.
United struck again on 53 minutes when Skrtel was booked for hauling back Welbeck and van Persie's delivery was met by Evra, whose header was inadvertently deflected in by Vidic.
Liverpool were quick to respond and pulled a goal back within four minutes when Sturridge, a half-time replacement for Lucas, was sharpest to the loose ball after David de Gea could only parry Steven Gerrard's low drive from outside the box.
Kagawa forced a flying save out of Reina with a deft curler before Glen Johnson, Sturridge and another substitute Fabio Borini all failed to find the target in a five-minute spell of Liverpool pressure.
Sturridge had Liverpool's best chance in the closing stages, but scooped his shot over the bar and United spent the last couple of minutes of stoppage-time deep in opposition territory before Howard Webb blew for full-time.

Stoke 0 - 4 Chelsea
Chelsea moved back into third place in the Premier League as they produced a commanding display to beat Stoke City 4-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
Rafa Benitez saw his side bounce back from their midweek defeat to Swansea with a convincing performance as they could, and should, have won by an even bigger margin in the Potteries.
But it was a real day to forget for Stoke's Jon Walters as he scored two own-goals before firing over a late penalty as the home side saw their unbeaten home record disappear.
The Potters had not lost at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League since February and have proved formidable opponents for the league's big guns, but this was their biggest home loss since returning to the top flight in 2008.
After a relatively uninspiring opening half, Chelsea went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Walters put a diving header into his own net as he looked to clear Cesar Azpilicueta's cross with Juan Mata pressuring him.
On the hour the officials made a huge call as referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot when Azpilicueta looked like he caught Matthew Etherington but, much to Chelsea's relief, assistant Sian Massey had flagged for offside and replays showed she was right.

Then, just minutes later, Chelsea doubled their lead and amazingly it was another own goal from Walters as he flicked in a Mata corner with Asmir Begovic helpless.
Suddenly the game was beyond Stoke when Chelsea won a penalty on 65 minutes as Mata went down under pressure from Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, and Frank Lampard stepped up to hammer home.
Lampard could, and should, have added to that goal but he was denied from point-blank range by Begovic, who in truth kept the score respectable.
The game was put to bed 18 minutes from time and it was the pick of the goals as Eden Hazard fired into the top corner from 30 yards, a wonderful finish from the little Belgian.
Another huge cheer came from the away side as Chelsea captain John Terry made his long-awaited return from injury and the former England star did make a contribution as he gave away a late penalty.
Walters was quick to take the ball, but the Irishman's day went from bad to worse as he lashed his spot-kick high and it clipped the top of the bar.
The three points take Chelsea into third, above Tottenham who were held to a goalless draw at QPR earlier in the day.

QPR 0 - 0 Tottenham
Queens Park Rangers produced a disciplined performance to hold Harry Redknapp's former club Tottenham Hotspur to a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road.
In a game which only sporadically sprung into life, QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar made smart stops in the early stages of each half to ensure Redknapp's new club moved off the foot of the table for a few hours until Reading's victory over West Brom.
Tottenham could have been in front after just five minutes, but were denied by a tremendous double save from Cesar.
The Brazilian firstly tipped Jermain Defoe's thumping drive onto the post before recovering quickly to get down low to keep out Emmanuel Adebayor's shot from the rebound when the Togo striker should have scored.

QPR responded through Shaun Wright-Phillips, who saw his shot deflected past the upright by Michael Dawson after the winger had been played in by a superb pass from Adel Taarabt.
But chances were scarce for the rest of the opening 45 minutes as Spurs were forced to bring on Scott Parker for the injured Sandro before the half closed with Wright-Phillips shooting wide after he had skipped past Kyle Walker and Dawson.
Spurs started the second half strongly as Gareth Bale's swerving free-kick was parried by Cesar, who could then only watch as Walker's arcing free-kick dipped just over the crossbar.
The visitors continued to carry the main attacking threat and Defoe found a yard of space in the box on 53 minutes only for the England international's shot to clatter off Cesar.
Hugo Lloris had been a virtual spectator in the second half, but the Spurs keeper was out smartly with 13 minutes to go to clear the danger after Taarabt had again tried to slip Wright-Phillips in behind the defence.
Taarabt and Wright-Phillips linked up to good effect again with five minutes to go, only for the former Chelsea winger to stumble in the penalty area as he prepared to shoot.
Spurs tried to exert pressure in the final few minutes, but their passing lacked incision as QPR comfortably held out for a deserved point.

Everton 0 - 0 Swansea
There was to be no separating Everton and Swansea at Goodison Park, with the two sides cancelling each other out in a 0-0 draw.
Ashley Williams did hack a Victor Anichebe effort off the line as Everton pushed for a first-half breakthrough, and the in-form Michu saw an attempted lob tipped onto the crossbar by Tim Howard at the other end, but there were few clear-cut opportunities created in 90 minutes.
Everton were boosted by the presence of Leighton Baines, who overcame an ankle problem, while Swansea freshened up the side which claimed a Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea in midweek with Michel Vorm, Nathan Dyer, Dwight Tiendalli and Kemy Agustien.
Marouane Fellaini had the first chance of the game for Everton inside the opening minute, but his 20-yard shot was easily claimed by Vorm.
Vorm then needed to be alert after a poor back-pass from Ben Davies allowed Nikica Jelavic in, but the goalkeeper blocked and then cleared as Anichebe threatened.
Swansea had their first serious opportunity when Pablo Hernandez launched a counter-attack, but his ball inside for Nathan Dyer was too strong and Howard gathered.

Hernandez, one of four Swansea Spaniards hoping to impress in front of national coach Vicente del Bosque, then attempted a spectacular shot from outside the area but screwed his effort well wide.
Anichebe went close when he reacted quickly after Fellaini headed on a Phil Jagielka ball, but Vorm palmed away his header and Williams hacked off the line.
Michu was inches away from giving Swansea the lead as he raced onto a fine ball from Dyer and delicately attempted to chip Howard from close range. Howard backtracked and managed to palm the Spaniard's fine effort onto the bar.
Everton made a positive start to the second period as Phil Neville took up an attack from Seamus Coleman and forced Vorm to save a low shot.
The Toffees kept up the pressure with Fellaini winning a loose ball and Anichebe lifting the ball across the box, but Jelavic failed to make contact with an attempted overhead kick.
The game became rather scrappy as it wore on but Baines still offered quality and he presented Jagielka with a fine chance from a corner 16 minutes from time, but the centre-back headed over.
Everton sent on Steven Naismith in a late attacking change but were unable to break through with Fellaini heading at Vorm but being penalised for a push and Jelavic shooting over.
  Other results include :
FT Aston Villa 0 - 1 Southampton

 FT Fulham 1 - 1 Wigan Athletic

 FT Norwich C. 0 - 0 Newcastle U.

 FT Reading 3 - 2 West Bromwich A.

 FT Sunderland 3 - 0 West Ham U.

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