Another pulsating weekend of football has consummated in England as the English Premier League entered round 23 of the season. It was a weekend of famous derbies, which, as always, are thrilling to watch, even for neutral audiences. First up on Saturday was one of the famous London derbies between West Ham United and Arsenal. The Gunners ran out clear winners as they comfortably bagged three goals, much to Avram Grant’s despair. A decision on the Turk’s reign will be taken this week. Sunday was a much more exciting hamper with the Birmingham derby at St. Andrews followed by the majestic Merseyside derby at Anfield. Over at Birmingham, the teams had to share the spoils at the end of 90 minutes with the final scoreline- 1-1. Same was the case at Liverpool where local rivals came back from a goal down to take the lead at 1-2 but the players gave Dalglish a consolation when Kuyt netted in the spot kick to make the final scoreline 2-2.
The Manchester rivals did not have it easy as each team looked to ouster the other at the top. City invited minnows Wolverhampton but were treated with shock as the Wolves made a comeback each and every time the Citizens took the lead. Thanks to the final whistle, Mancini’s men gained top spot in the League for atleast 24 hours. One could, however, never say if this was to change as Manchester United travelled to White Hart Lane to face a rising Tottenham team who have been really hard to beat this season. And hard to beat they were, as the Red Devils tried their best to break Tottenham’s tactics and overpower their players. The final result (0-0), although disappointing to Alex Ferguson, sent Manchester United to the first place. Champions Chelsea showed grit and determination to overcome Blackburn Rovers at home with a 2-0 victory. Lampard’s confession of the team losing its winning mentality might have just taken a U-turn.
Stars of the Week: Carlos Tevez & Aaron Lennon
Manchester City captain scored a fantastic double over Wolves and helped his side secure all three points against Mick McCarthy’s men. Wolves had gained an early lead after just 12 minutes but after a Kolo Toure equalizer, it was the Argentinian who turned on the screws and restored City’s lead early in the second half. His first goal was an act of pure class and brilliance. His second goal scored now makes him joint top scorer in the Premier League alongside Dimitar Berbatov. To add to the celebrations, the striker publicly stated his commitment to the club and their desire to win the league and more trophies.
Aaron Lennon from Tottenham also deserves a mention here. The England international gave Fergie’s men the run around on Sunday and Patrice Evra had a tough time keeping the speedster at bay and in the process also picked up a yellow card. Lennon came on strong against the Red Devils in the second half and was sending in the crosses time and again, keeping Vidic and Ferdinand on their toes throughout.
Match of the Week: Manchester City 4 – 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
The game at Eastlands, never at any point looked one-sided. The sides went into half time with a 1-1 scoreline but Carlos Tevez had other ideas coming out of the tunnel. The captain scored within five minutes into the second half and brought the game back in City’s favour. The Citizens then doubled their lead when Yaya Toure scored a second in the 54th minute. It was Edin Dzeko’s first assist. Ten minutes later, the menacing Tevez got onto the scoresheet yet again, coming in at the end of a Pablo Zabaleta cross. The scoreline read 4-1 and it all seemed over for the Wolves.
It was then that the unexpected happened. Two minutes after Tevez increased City’s lead, Wolves won a penalty and the Irish striker Kevin Doyle stepped up and converted it to perfection. 4-2. Celebrations were yet to begin. City knew they had to pile on more pressure and launched attack after attack on the opposition. Football though, as we all know, is a funny game. With just 4 minutes left on the clock, Roland Zubar’s header crossed the line before Nigel De Jong stuck out his leg for the clearance. It was the right decision by the referee and suddenly Manchester City knew the last few minutes of the game were going to be harder than the rest of the game they had played. Luckily for them, the sound of the whistle echoed before Wolves were to ruin the party. Mancini’s team won 4-3. Who could tell?
Goal of the Week: Carlos Tevez against Wolverhampton wanderers
Too much of Tevez? Well, it was indeed a brilliant goal. The captain collected the pass at the edge of the box, made his way through 3 defenders, all the time keeping complete control over the ball knowing where exactly he wanted to place it. Goalkeeper Wayne Henessey was confident that his defenders would shut Tevez out but it was too late before he came to his senses. The keeper charged forward, which is exactly what Tevez was waiting for. The result left even the neutral audience jaw-dropping.
Tevez is ruling the roost.
Flop of the Week: Referee Phil Dowd (Liverpool Vs Everton)
Time and again we see managers yelling at them, fans yelling at them, twitter mocking them but somehow they seem to be in a happy state of oblivion. Phil Dowd is one such man. The referee got both the decisions wrong in the Merseyside derby which lead to the Everton goals. Slow motion replays clearly show that the Victor Anichebe toed the ball back in order for Baines to make the run, collect it and whip in a cross. What happened instead? He toed the ball, Baines gave up since it was going to cross the line and over for a corner (supposedly), Dirk Kuyt, who was closer to the ball than Leighton Baines was, let it run thinking it would be a goal kick. Phil Dowd, standing less than 10 steps away, sees it as a corner. Advantage Everton, header by Distin and all was square at Anfield at 1-1.
Phil Dowd however was not satisfied with his earlier performance. Hence he decided not to give it a foul when Victor Anichebe and defender Martin Kelly went for the ball in the air and Anichebe raised his elbow not to say ‘Hi’ to his mom in the crowd but to smack the 20 year old defender in the face. Dowd allowed play to continue and seconds later, Jermain Beckford fired in from close range to give the Toffees the lead. Congratulations Phil, hope the champagne was good.
The Race for the Golden Boot:
- Dimitar Berbatov – 14
- Carlos Tevez – 14
- Andy Carroll – 11
- Tim Cahill – 9
- Samir Nasri – 9
- Johan Elmander – 9
Save of the Week: Ben Foster against Aston Villa
The former Manchester United recruit did not have the best of games in the derby but he pulled off a fantastic save when Nathan Delfouenso shot from distance in the dying moments of the game. The shot looked certain to land in the back of the net but Ben Foster managed to get the tip of his gloves to come in contact and deflect the ball onto the crossbar. Had it not been for his acrobatic save, Villa would have won the game certainly and Gerard Houllier would walk out a happy man.
Team of the Week:
The Team of the Week comprises of top performers of the week from all the teams to have played over the weekend. The following players picked themselves with superb performances for their respective teams.
Weekend results from the Barclays Premier League:
Stoke City 2 – 0 Bolton Wanderers
Chelsea 2 – 0 Blackburn Rovers
West Bromwih Albion 3 – 2 Blackpool
Wigan 1- 1 Fulham
West Ham United 0 -3 Arsenal
Manchester City 4 – 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Sunderland 1 – 1 Newcastle United
Birmingham City 1- 1 Aston Villa
Liverpool 2 – 2 Everton
Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 0 Manchester United