BPL: Match Week 23 Review
Manchester City moved to the summit of the Barclay’s Premier League with a 5-1 demolition of Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Wednesday. City’s talisman Sergio Aguero set Manuel Pellegrin’s side on the road to victory when he opened the scoring in the 15th minute, the Argentine forward has now scored 50 Premier League in 81 games for the Blues. Yaya Toure converted a penalty five minutes into the second half to double their advantage after Danny Rose was harshly sent-off for a foul on Edin Dzeko. Dzeko then added a third for City before Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany rounded out the scoring. The only dark mark from a Manchester City perspective was an injury to Aguero, who sustained a hamstring problem in the first half and is now unavailable for Monday’s crucial meeting with Chelsea at the Etihad. Apart from the injury, it was an outstanding performance from Pellegrini’s side who confirmed they are the team to catch at the top of the table.
Arsenal slipped to second in the table after being held to a 2-2 draw by Southampton in an entertaining encounter at St. Mary’s on Tuesday. Jose Fonte headed in Luke Shaw’s excellent cross to give the Saints a deserved lead, but Arsenal turned things round with two quick goals after half-time, from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. Adam Lallana equalized for Southampton when he turned in a Jay Rodriguez pass before Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini was sent off for a brash challenge. Arsene Wenger’s Gunners looked a shadow of their usual free-flowing selves as they opened the day for title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.
Liverpool maintained their pursuit of a top-four finish as they destroyed Everton 4-0 in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield on Tuesday. Hyped as one of the most highly anticipated battles between the Red and Blue sides of Liverpool in 30 years, the contest was all but over inside 35 minutes as the Reds stormed into a three goal lead. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard opened the scoring before Daniel Sturridge scored two goals in the space of three minutes. Luis Suarez added a fourth to ensure Liverpool’s biggest derby victory since November 1982. Everton manager Roberto Martinez’s woes were compounded when star forward Romelu Lukaku was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage.
Chelsea slipped up in the title race as they were held to a 0-0 draw by West Ham at Stamford Bridge. The Blues controlled the match but were frustrated by Sam Allardyce’s Hammers, who defended admirably. The hosts, meanwhile, stay two points adrift of Arsenal, who drew with Southampton on Tuesday, but are three behind Manchester City, who went top with a 5-1 win at Tottenham. Chelsea face City at Etihad Stadium on Monday. West Ham will be buoyed by the positive result, but the Hammers remain in the relegation zone, two points from safety.
Manchester United recorded a morale boosting 2-0 victory over Cardiff City at Old Trafford on Tuesday. Record signing Juan Mata made a confident start to his United career by helping to create Robin Van Persie’s opener, who scored on his return after missing 11 games through injury. Ashley Young slammed home a sublime 25-yard effort after the break to seal the victory for the Red Devils. After losing four of their past six games, the win and the return of key personnel will give United a chance to build momentum before they face Premier League leaders Arsenal on 12 February. On the other hand, it was an unhappy return to Old Trafford for Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his side are rock bottom of the table and the Norwegian is still looking for his first BPL win.
Aston Villa fought back from two goals down to beat West Bromich Albion 4-3 in a remarkable West-Midlands derby on Wednesday. A roller coaster first half saw the Baggies establish a two goal led within nine minutes but Villa hit back as the bitter Birmingham rivals went into the break at 3-3. Christian Benteke converted a second half penalty to seal the vital victory for the Villians. Benteke has now scored in three consecutive matches after almost four months without a goal. Villa are up to 10th in the table while the Baggies remain 15th, but are now only three points above the relegation zone.
Newcastle United were held to a 0-0 draw by Norwich City at Carrow Road on on Wednesday. The Magpies were without influential midfielder, Yohan Cabaye, who has joined Paris St-Germain. Newcastle’s top scorer Loic Remy hit the woodwork twice before being sent off for an off the ball incident with Bradley Johnson. Elsewhere, Swansea ended a run of eight Premier League games without a win as they beat Fulham 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Fulham, who are second from bottom, have now conceded 50 goals this season, the most in the Premier League. Crystal Palace moved up to 14th in the Premier League table as Jason Puncheon’s first-half goal gave Tony Pulis’s side a 1-0 victory over 10-man Hull. Finally, Sunderland moved out of the Premier League bottom three for the first time since August with a narrow 1-0 win over 10-man Stoke. Adam Johnson continued his excellent form as he tapped home the game’s only goal in the 17th minute. The English winger has now has scored or provided an assist in Sunderland’s last seven goals.
Barclay’s Premier League action returns Saturday 1st February, Sunday 2nd, and Monday the 3rd
Newcastle v Sunderland
West Ham v Swansea
Cardiff v Norwich
Everton v Aston Villa
Fulham v Southampton
Hull v Tottenham
Stoke v Man United
West Brom v Liverpool
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
Man City v Chelsea
Source: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk, NBC SportsBPL: Match Week 23 Review by Craig Smith