BPL: Week Twelve Review
This weekend's action kicked off with an enthralling Merseyside Derby as Liverpool tied 3-3 with Everton at Goodison Park. The battle between the Red and Blues sides of Liverpool got off to a frenetic start as Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead within five minutes. However, the Toffees leveled terms three minutes later when Kevin Mirallas equalized. The Belgian international was then lucky not to be sent off after a shockingly high tackle on Luis Suarez. Everton suffered a set back as Suarez curled in a wonderful free kick to give Liverpool the lead heading into half time. Roberto Martinez's side responded in style, Romelu Lukaku equalized before scoring a commanding header to give the hosts the lead with eight minutes remaining. The powerhouse forward has now scored seven goals for the Toffees since joining from Chelsea on-loan. Just as Everton thought they were on the verge of a massive win over their rivals, Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge headed home a Steven Gerrard free kick to rescue a point for the Reds. This was one of the most entertaining Merseyside Derby's in years, and the result means Liverpool remain in second place just four points behind Arsenal.
Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over an impressive Southampton team at the Emirates. The Gunners took the lead in the 22nd minute after a calamitous mistake from Saints keeper Artur Boruc. The veteran shot-stopper dwelled on a back pass before trying to dibble himself out of trouble. Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud stole the ball and tapped home one of the easier goals of his career. Giroud sealed the win for Arsene Wenger's team in the second half, the Frenchman converted a penalty after Per Mertesacker was fouled in the box. Arsenal were not at their free-flowing best but Gunner's fans will be delighted with the three points against a very good Southampton team.
Chelsea moved up to third in the table with a comfortable 3-0 over fellow Londoners West Ham at Upton Park. Former West Ham product, Frank Lampard, scored a goal in each half to ensure three points for the Blues. Jose Mourinho would have been wary heading into the match, considering his side had only won one of their last five away matches in the league. However, West Ham failed to get into the game and never looked troubling.
Newcastle United won their third game in a row as they beat Norwich City 2-1 at St. James' Park. Alan Pardew's side took an early lead when Loic Remy pounced on Norwich's poor defending to head home his 8th goal of the season. The Magpies moved up to 8th in the table and Remy has started to look like a potential signing of the season candidate.
In Saturday's other matches, Crystal Palace recorded their second win of the season as they beat Hull City at Selhurst Park. Before the match, Palace announced Tony Pulis as their new manager, meaning care-taker boss Keith Millen would be managing the Eagles for the last time. Pulis was in attendance as Barry Bannan scored a late winner to give Palace they first win in eight attempts. Also on Saturday, Swansea City beat Fulham 2-1 to increase the pressure on Fulham boss Martin Jol. The result was the first win in five matches for the Swans and pushed Jol's side back into the relegation zone. Finally, Stoke City picked up their first win in nine matches with a controversial 2-0 victory over Sunderland. The visiting Black Cats went down to ten men in the first half, as Wes Brown was wrongly sent off for a challenge on Charlie Adam.
In part one of Sunday's double header, Manchester City produced a scintillating performance to thrash Tottenham 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium. City were on the front foot after only 14 seconds as Jesus Navas opened the scoring with a superb chipped effort over Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris. Things went from bad to worse as a Sandro own goal increased the lead for Manuel Pellegrini's men. The home side ripped apart the Tottenham defense at ease, and Sergio Aguero scored twice to become the league's top scorer with 10 goals. The result reasserted Manchester City's credentials as title contenders, and are unbeaten at home this season. Tottenham, on the other hand, are winless in their last three games, and manager Andre Villas-Boas finds himself under the spotlight for the wrong reasons following the nature of the defeat.
Also on Sunday, Manchester United were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw by Cardiff City. Wayne Rooney was at the center of attention in the first half and was lucky not to be sent off for kicking out at Cardiff's Jordan Mutch. The English international then gave United the lead with a deflected strike in the 15th minute. Cardiff responded well and leveled through former Manchester United forward Frazier Campbell. Patrice Evra restored United's advantage on the brink of half time as the Frenchman rose highest to head home a Rooney corner. Cardiff deservedly earned a point with only minutes to play as Kim Bo-Kyung nodded home a corner. The Bluebirds again proved they are a team for the big occasion after already recorded surprise wins over Manchester City and Swansea this season.
Finally, in Monday's Midlands Derby Aston Villa fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with rivals West Brom. The home side dominated the first half as Shane Long scored two fantastic goals for the Baggies. The Villains showed great character to get back into the game, and Ashley Westwood's fierce strike completed the come back. The result means West Brom remains 11th in the league table, one place above their rivals Villa.
Sources: BBC Sport, sportsmole.co.uk