The squeaky bum time has well and truly begun – every game throws up fascinating duels with everything still up for grabs in this most amazing league season in years. Sir Alex Ferguson and his United side were made to work really hard by David Moyes’s Everton side but Mexican sensation Javier Hernandez grabbed three valuable points that put the Red Devils on the cusp of yet another league title. Chelsea and Torres made light work of London rivals West Ham as they breezed past the Hammers in a convincing manner. The Fernando Torres jokes can finally die off now as the Spaniard opened his account after 14 games for the Stamford Bridge outfit. Arsenal’s bid of ending their six season long trophy drought was met with a fatal blow, as they faltered yet again and have thus almost been ruled out of the title race.
Tottenham did what they do best; after a stunning performance against London rivals Arsenal, Harry Redknapp’s side dropped two more crucial points at home to less fancied West Brom. The result further dented Spurs chances of Champions League qualification while Roy Hodgson’s midlands side ensured their stay in the Barclays Premier League next season. Liverpool were the best team on display this weekend as they hammered five past a hapless Birmingham side. Maxi Rodriguez of all people starred in the win with a memorable hat trick. King Kenny has all but secured the Liverpool job for a longer period now as European football still remains a possibility for this Merseyside club.
Newcastle and Blackpool played out an entertaining 1-1 draw that helped Blackpool move out of the dreaded relegation zone. The other side from Tyneside, Sunderland, moved themselves to safety with an important win against fellow strugglers Wigan.
Game Of The Weekend: Sunderland 4-2 Wigan
The game was a bit of a drab in the first half with chances coming few and far between for either side and both sides going into the break with the score tied at 0-0. But the second half was a totally different affair as six goals were scored by both teams in an end to end display. Mohammad Diame brought the game to life with a screamer after 52 minutes. It came as a shock to Sunderland who suddenly woke up to equalize within three minutes with Gyan on target. The goal gave the home crowd a lift as they urged their team forward. Sunderland players also responded to their faithful as they surged forward with Henderson pulling the strings from midfield. The Black Cats scored three times more (two from Henderson and a penalty from Sessegnon) before Wigan grabbed a late consolation with Di Santo tapping the ball into the net from close range.
Player Of The Weekend: Maxi Rodriguez
Yes, that’s right. Maxi scored a hat-trick to guide his Liverpool side to a crushing 5-0 win over Alex Mcleish’s Birmingham side. Rodriguez opener was a gift from ex-Man Utd goalkeeper Ben Foster as he yet again showed why he couldn’t make the cut at Old Trafford by spilling a strike from Shelvey. Maxi was at the right place at the right time and made the visitors pay. Rodriguez had his best display in the Liverpool shirt as he volleyed home from Suarez’s cross to score his second. Rodriguez was heavily involved all game long and looked to have formed a telepathic understanding with fellow South American Suarez. After getting his hat-trick, the Argentine was subbed off to a standing ovation from the Kop faithful. Will this performance convince the naysayers at Merseyside?
Danniel Sturridge deserves an honourable mention for his brilliant display against the Gunners. The young English striker was menacing as he drifted wide, dropped deep and caused untold grief to Arsene Wenger young guns. Sturridge scored his 7th league goal in just nine appearances for Bolton.
Goal Of The Weekend: Simon Cox Stuns White Hart Lane
There were several wonderful goals this weekend with three nominees coming from the game between Tottenham and West Brom itself. But it was Simon Cox who bags the honour for a brilliant strike from 25 yards out, ten minutes from time. With Gallas in front of him, the Englishman made half a yard for himself before firing an unstoppable right footed shot towards the far top corner, leaving no chance for Gomes. It was the first goal in the league for Cox – one which could not have come at a worse time for Spurs as it dented their aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League.
Assist Of The week: Ashley Cole Made It Easy For Lampard
The left back, as always, was involved in many Chelsea attacks against West Ham and it was his sublime pass that enabled Lampard to put Chelsea in the lead. After sublimely put in by Drogba, Cole served it on a plate for Lampard who made no mistake in smashing the ball into the net after making another one of his trademark late runs in the opponents’ box.
Drogba also should get half a assist to his name as it was a sumptuous ball through the West Ham defence for Cole that resulted in the ball ending in the back of the net.
Save Of The Weekend: Van Der Sar – Is He Really 40?
The Flying Dutchman was at it once again as he made a brilliant save in the 69th minute to deny Everton’s Jack Rodwell. With nothing much to do up until that point, Van Der Sar showed brilliant agility and concentration to deny a fierce drive from Rodwell from outside the area, which had taken a deflection of Jonny Evans as well. It turned out to be a crucial save as it kept the score to 0-0 before Hernandez won the game for United.
Block Of The Weekend: Danny Gabbidon Saves The Day (Or At Least Tried To)
Nicolas Anelka had the chance to seal the game for Chelsea in the 79th minute, when Torres squared the ball to him with only Robert Green to beat. Anelka, in all fairness, did brilliantly as he lifted his shot over Green, but just as everyone thought that the Frenchman has scored, Gabbidon came from nowhere and headed the ball clear and out of danger. However, his heroics did not prove to be enough as his side was easily beaten in the end.
A rather unfortunate mention in this category goes to Javier Hernandez who embarrassingly found himself in front of a goal bound shot from Nani which was destined for the back of the net with Tim Howard rooted to the spot. However, the majestic Mexican made amends as his winner won the game for United.
Miss Of The Weekend: Frank Lampard – Unbelievable
The ex-Hammer, having scored in the first half, had a great chance to double his and his team’s tally but somehow managed to miss. Drogba found space on the right hand side and played a beautiful ball for the onrushing Lampard, but somehow the England midfielder was unable to connect from six yards out and the ball went safely to an amazed but rather grateful Robert Green. However, to be fair to lampard, the soggy pitch did not do him any favour.
Embarrassment Of The Weekend : Bad Foster Turns Up For Birmingham
Ben Foster has always remained an enigma ever since he joined United from Watford. On his day there isn’t any one better; with superlative displays in the Carling Cup Finals for Birmingham and even Man United, Foster has always seemed capable of the ridiculously brilliant. However, for a keeper of his calibre there seems to be too many off days. The bad Foster turned up at Anfield and spilled an easy shot which led to Maxi Rodriguez and Liverpool opening the scoring. There was no way back for the Blues from that costly error as they were spanked 5-0 by Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool side. Foster’s evening went from bad to worse after picking up an injury in a scramble, he was subbed off but the damage had been done.
Kevin Davies escapes the ignominy as his Bolton side went on to win their game against Arsenal despite their captain’s failure to score the spot kick. Kevin Davies has now scored just once in his 24 appearances against the Gunners.
Controversy Of The Weekend: Blackpool’s Penalty Claims
Martin Atkinson was again in the thick of things as he denied two very strong penalty claims for Blackpool. The first one was a nailed on penalty as Newcastle keeper Krul brought down Campbell in the area but the referee did not see it as a foul, much to the anger of the home side. The referee got a chance to redeem himself later as Danny Simpson handled the ball in the area but was again let off the hook as Atkinson deemed it to be unintentional. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, leaving Blackpool in the relegation dogfight with only four games to go as Martin Atkinson went off the pitch under the chorus of boos from the home fans.
Headline Of The Weekend: Torres Scores For Chelsea
‘Has Fernando Torres scored for Chelsea?‘ has finally got the answer in the affirmative, as the Spaniard finally scored his much awaited first goal in the Blue of Chelsea. The West Ham back four couldn’t contain him, even the thunderstorms in London couldn’t stop El Nino from finally doing what he does best. The celebrations summed up what it meant for the club, the fans and even his team mates who literally mobbed him as the ball went in past a helpless Robert Green. Ominous signs for the rest of the league – has the sleeping giant finally woken up? Well, the 50 million monkey is finally off his back, for the time being at least.
Same ol’ Of The Weekend: Delap Throw-In Joins Arsenal
Well, Arsenal fall in this category once again as they blew their faint chances of winning the title at the Reebok Stadium as they missed several chances and in the end lost 2-1 to Bolton, courtesy of their shabby defending.
But Stoke’s trademark opening goal against Aston Villa comes under this category as well. It was Rory Delap who fired yet another of his throw-in missile into the penalty box where Kenwyne Jones rose the highest and headed the ball into the corner of the net. Is football really that simple?
Team Of The Weekend
Friedel (Aston Villa), Jagielka (Everton), Cahill (Bolton), Coloccini (Newcastle), Anderson (Man Utd), Modric (Spurs), Henderson (Sunderland), Sessengon (Sunderland), Maxi (Liverpool), Sturridge (Bolton), Bent (Aston Villa)
Race For The Golden Boot
Dimitar Berbatov – 21
Carlos Tevez – 19
Darren Bent – 15 (+1)
Robin van Persie -14 (+1)
Andy Carroll -13
Results Of The Weekend
Manchester United 1-0 Everton
Tottenham 2-2 West Brom
Aston Villa 1-1 Stoke City
Wolverhampton 1-1 Fulham
Blackpool 1-1 Newcastle
Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham
Sunderland 4-2 Wigan
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham
Bolton 2-1 Arsenal
– Nipun Malhotra and Nitin Goel