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We can remember this weekend’s Premier League action in many ways – for the ‘Promised Land’ that was finally touched by both the teams from Manchester, or for the undying passion and the incredible fight shown by the relegation-battling clubs; or we can simply remember it as a rare weekend when Fernando Torres contributed towards a Chelsea goal.

Harry’s classy Tottenham outplayed King Kenny’s men to paint Anfield, and Andy Carroll in particular, an embarrassing shade of red. Chelsea’s super show of spirit and unity for Carlo was ruined by a Newcastle team that had nothing to play for. Good ol’ Mick McCarthy came back as opposition manager to haunt the same club he had haunted as the club’s own manager a few years ago. And Arsene Wenger’s new habit of tormenting water bottles on the touchline was seen in full flow at the Emirates; Sir Alex’s gum chewing doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

The Hammers have been relegated, much to the delight of Millwall supporters. Avram Grant has led a team down to the championship for the second season running. Carling cup winners Birmingham City are now genuinely in danger of relegation, deservingly so, after being torn apart at home by a club that struggles on their travels. While they could be playing Europa league from the championship, another team might have missed the chance to play in Europe’s secondary competition due to Ian Holloway’s antics on the touchline.

Wigan’s incredible comeback and Blackpool’s refusal to be pegged back are among other highlights of a fascinating weekend of Premier League actions.

Match of the weekend – Blackpool 4-3 Bolton

It will be a miracle if Blackpool survive this season. No team from the championship has dared to play such an open, attacking brand of football and gotten away with it! When Owen Coyle’s Bolton visited Bloomfield Road, the Tangerines knew they needed a win to stand any chance of safety, because they make a trip to Old Trafford on the final day of the season.

The match turned out to be one of the best games of the season. Bolton took the lead through Kevin Davies to silence the home crowd, but quick goals from DJ Campbell and Jason Puncheon put Blackpool ahead. Matt Taylor’s rasping drive leveled things up on the half-hour mark. DJ Campbell gave Blackpool the lead just before half-time, as the home side went one up at the break. Blackpool were pegged back once again, this time by Daniel Sturridge.

Blackpool - FansA happy chap at Blackpool! But for how long?

Only ten minutes later, just after the hour mark, Blackpool broke forward in numbers and Charlie Adam smashed in the winner – a finish that was as emphatic as the moment itself – to send the home fans wild. Ian Holloway locks horns with Fergie’s reserves on the final day to determine the result of their survival bid. Whatever be the result, hats off to Holloway and his men for richly enhancing the Premier League experience.

Fair Play of the weekend

James Morrison (West Brom) was on the receiving end of a hard tackle by Everton’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, which was a foul and nothing more. The referee, however, judged it to be a red card challenge and Morrison, on seeing the colour of the card, tried to persuade the referee in changing his decision. In the days of imaginary card waving begging for players to be booked, it was a quite a refreshing sight to see.

Goal of the weekend

Charles N’Zogbia’s wonderful free-kick that arrowed into Robert Green’s right hand top corner started Wigan’s famous comeback. Stephane Sessegnon’s acrobatic finish at the Stadium of Light to put Sunderland level was an absolute delight to watch. Darren Bent’s chest control and mini-lob over the goalkeeper at the Emirates was a finishing masterclass.

However, our goal of the weekend goes to Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham). The Spurs midfielder produced a sublime effort to send Tottenham on their way to Europe. It was quite similar to Maxi Rodriguez’s famous goal for Argentina against Mexico in the World Cup. He chested the ball up and volleyed into the corner of Reina’s net to stun Anfield.

Team of the Weekend

You can’t hate Wigan Athletic, can you? You can pity them for there semi-filled stadiums, since Rugby is the major sport around the region. You can admire them for the thrilling football they put on show, most of the times. Or you could just shed a tear for them if they go down. But you can’t hate them, not with a sweet manager like Roberto Martinez capable of pulling off a miraculous half-time team talk.

Championship beckons?
(image courtesy [email protected])

With the knowledge of Blackpool and Wolverhampton’s wins the previous day, Wigan knew they needed a win to have any chance of safety. They went 2-0 down at half-time after being dominated by bottom club West Ham in this relegation six-pointer. The second half saw Wigan score three goals, and the DW rocked like it has never rocked before.

Miss of the Weekend

Carlton Cole (West Ham) spun around, away from the defender, to meet a ball from the right. He did the first part well and slipped past his marker, but lost his bearings and failed to guide the ball into the back of the net from barely three yards out. Crucially for West Ham and Wigan, this was in the dying moments of the game and would’ve put West Ham 3-2 up.

Save of the Weekend

It’s that man Ben Foster (Birmingham) again! And this time we don’t need to sum him up, since he did it himself. When Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer punted the ball from his own penalty box into opposition’s penalty area, the ex-Man United keeper misjudged the bounce and almost let the ball go over his head. In the end, though, he pulled off an incredible finger-tip save to divert the ball inches away from the goal.

It was a costly misjudgment, though, since what should have been a routine ball for Foster to catch, turned into a corner from which Fulham took the lead.

Quote of the Weekend

‘Blackburn are all over United, territorially!’Sky Sports Commentator on the farcical last fifteen minutes of the Blackburn-Man United game. Since United had camped in their own half and Blackburn had no intentions of provoking the sleeping giant, it might have broken the record for the longest time in their own defensive half.

Howler of the Weekend

Robert Green (West Ham) is a generous man. He knew West Ham would be relegated anyway, so he gifted Wigan another shot at survival by calmly letting N’Zogbia’s shot slip beneath his body. Since this is a Green trademark, nobody doubted the authenticity of the act.

Player of the Weekend

You haven’t played a game for seven months. Your team is in incredibly poor form. Next up is a visit to a team in red hot form and are also your direct rivals for the European spot. What do you do? You go out there and put in a flawless performance that has the pundits drooling all over you. For this, Ledley King (Tottenham) is our player of the weekend. On a day when Anfield was ready to celebrate the official signing of their own King, it’s the other King that stole all the headlines. And rightly so!

File:Ledley King.jpg

A Spurs legend!

Historic Moment of the Weekend

Since Man United had virtually wrapped up their 19th league title last weekend, let this go to the other team (or perhaps, the only team) from Manchester – Manchester City. Wembley witnessed tears of joy, as Manchester City finally won their first major trophy in 35 long years after beating a stubborn Stoke City by a Yaya Toure goal to nil. The goal came just in time as well, since City were odds on to go one man down judging by the frustrated antics of Mario Balotelli.

The irony, however, is that on the day the noisy neighbours finally made some real noise after 35 years, Fergie’s men were making bigger noise of their own. City just can’t get a break!

Best Banter of the Weekend

“Avram Grant – Millwall Legend” – This banner was flown above the DW Stadium on a plane in the middle of the Wigan-West Ham game. Avram Grant is a favourite of Milwall supporters, since he has reunited them with their biggest London rivals in the championship. Next season, all hell will break loose!

Foolish Act of the Weekend

A great man once said ‘The second you see a goalkeeper with a brain, sign him up!’. Paul Robinson (Blackburn) is quite popular for his weird positioning on free-kicks – standing half-way between the wall and the goal at times. Today, though, he is extremely popular with the Man United community for his foolish decision-making that calmed whatever little nerves that were creeping into the champions.

Chicharito wasn’t going in the direction of the goal, but Robinson felt the need to charge out and hack him down to concede a silly, but historic, penalty. Man United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak was grateful for Paul’s howlers, since it took all the attention off a nervous display from the United second-choice goalkeeper.

He was run close by Luis Suarez (Liverpool) who decided to kick out at Dawson early in the Liverpool-Tottenham match. He was lucky to have not been sent off.

Worst Referee of the Weekend

There was a time when referees used to miss close decisions that ‘could have gone either way’. Not anymore, though. Clear-cut fouls and non-fouls that could be seen from row Z by a spectator are now being wrongly awarded. And on the penultimate weekend, these decisions could be really costly for any club. What will the FA do about it? Nothing, of course. What will the world do about it? Blame Barcelona, of course; for embedding the notion of player theatrics so heavily in a referee’s mind that it is tough to get a correct decision out of them.

Referee Howard Webb gave Tottenham a penalty at Anfield when John Flannagan shoulder barged Steven Pienaar off the ball, just outside the box. To make things worse, the referee was in the best position possible to see it. The same referee was also lenient in giving Suarez only a yellow card when he kicked out at Dawson early in the match.

Aaron Ramsey was blatantly fouled in the box by Richard Dunne, who should have conceded a penalty and been given his marching orders. However, referee Michael Oliver did not see it that way. The same referee also ruled out a Chamakh goal for a push on a defender; an incident that worried Peter Crouch since all his headed goals consist of a slight push on the neighbouring defender. Referee Anthony Taylor harshly sent off Everton’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov when even the opposition player couldn’t believe the colour of the card was red.

Referee Mike Jones takes the award after denying both, Sunderland and Wolves, a clear penalty each. One being when Hunt tackled Sessegnon from behind, and got nothing of the ball, to prevent the Sunderland midfielder from shooting towards the goal. The other being when John Mensah handled the ball in the penalty area and his arms were as outstretched as they could possible be. The same referee also wrongly awarded Wolves a corner, overlooking a foul, from which they scored the opening goal.

TheHardTackle’s XI of the Weekend

football formations

Race For The Golden Boot

Dimitar Berbatov – 21 ( = )

Carlos Tevez – 19 ( = )

Robin van Persie -17 ( +1 )

Darren Bent – 17 ( +2 )

Peter Odemwingie – 15 ( = )