Tuesday 25 December 2012

United top of the Christmas tree

Manchester leads the way at Christmas with United on top and City 4 points behind them. Since losing 1-0 at Norwich, the Red Devils picked up 5 straight wins including a 3-2 last gasp victory at Manchester City before drawing 1-1 at Swansea. City, who finished bottom of their Champions League group, dropped points in a 1-1 draw at home to Everton and played goalless matches at Chelsea and West Ham. Chelsea with new interim manager Raffa Benitez are in 3rd place with a game in hand after returning from Japan (where they failed to win the World Club Cup) to annihilate Aston Villa 8-0, while Arsenal's topsy turvy season sees them in 4th place after 3 straight wins including a 5-2 routing at Reading. The Gunners, who had earlier thumped North London rivals Tottenham 5-2, lost points at home in a 3-3 draw with Fulham and 2-0 defeat to Swansea. Everton, Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion are equal with Arsenal on points but behind them on goal difference. Liverpool may have drawn 2-2 at Everton and 1-1 at Chelsea, but they have been less than convincing at home losing 3-1 to Swansea and Aston Villa. Stoke and Norwich make the remaining top ten equal on points with Liverpool with the Canaries having registered 1-0 home wins over Arsenal and Manchester United. An inconsistent Swansea find themselves in 11th spot followed by London teams West Ham and Fulham. Newcastle and Sunderland are dangerously close to the relegation zone with Aston Villa also going through worrying times. Southampton and Wigan are sharing the last relegation spot, with Queens Park Rangers (having recently elected Harry Redknapp as their boss) and Reading rooted to the bottom of the table.

Friday 5 October 2012

Blue top

Six weeks into the English Premier League and the top of the table has a blue look to it, though it is the blue of Chelsea rather than reigning champions Manchester City followed by Everton. A 2-1 win at Arsenal strengthened Chelsea’s position at the top, with a goalless draw at bottom club Queens Park Rangers their only failure to win so far this season. Everton got off to a great start with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United and despite a 2-0 loss at West Brom and a 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle find themselves in 2nd place after their recent wins against Swansea and Southampton. Manchester United and City are equal on 12 points with the Red Devils having suffered a rare 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham after a 2-1 win at 10-man Liverpool while City are unbeaten in the league but have dropped points in a 2-2 draw at Liverpool and 1-1 draws at Stoke and at home to Arsenal. Tottenham got off to a slow start losing 2-1 at Newcastle and only managing 1-1 draws at home to West Brom and Norwich but are in 5th spot after wins over Reading, QPR and Manchester United. Like Tottenham, West Brom and West Ham are also on 11 points. The Baggies began win a fantastic 3-0 home triumph over Liverpool and sent Everton home 2-0 losers but were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at Fulham while the Hammers enjoyed a 3-0 win at home to Fulham after enduring their only loss by the same scoreline at Swansea. Arsenal, Fulham and Newcastle are on 9 points. The Gunners began their campaign with scoreless matches at home to Sunderland and away to Stoke before finding their scoring boots with 2 goals at Liverpool and putting Southampton to the sword 6-1 at the Emirates. A creditable 1-1 draw at Manchester City was followed by a disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea while Fulham began with a sackful of goals scoring 5 without reply at home to Norwich before losing narrowly losing a 5 goal thriller at Manchester United, and Newcastle opened by beating their visitors from Tottenham 2-1 before losing 2-0 at Chelsea followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa and 2-2 draws at Everton and Reading with single-goal victory at home to Norwich sandwiched in between. Next in the table come Swansea, Stoke, Sunderland and Liverpool who after a shaky start which included a 2-2 home draw against Manchester City and 2-1 defeat to Manchester United gained some confidence with a 5-2 win at Norwich thanks to a hat-trick from Suarez. Aston Villa, Wigan, Southampton, Norwich and Reading make up the rest of the table with Queens Park Rangers sitting at the bottom having picked up only 2 draws at Norwich and at home to league leaders Chelsea.         

Friday 18 May 2012

Blue heaven at last gasp

Manchester United picked up all 3 points on offer with a single goal at Sunderland and waited anxiously for the outcome of the match at Manchester City where the hosts fell 2-1 behind to Queens Park Ranger, who were a man short after the dismissal of Joey Barton, but equalised in stoppage time and scored the winner with virtually the last kick of the season to win the Premier League. Losers QPR, were also celebrating, after Jonathan Walters completed his brace with a penalty at home for Stoke to force a 2-2 draw and relegation upon Bolton leaving the Londoners with life in the top division. Tottenham defeated Fulham 2-0 at home, but Arsenal came from behind at West Bromwich Albion, who were managed by Roy Hodgson in his final match before taking on the England job, to win 3-2 and finish 3rd guaranteeing a place in next season’s Champions League. Emersson Boyce scored twice for Wigan as they ended the season with a 3-2 home win over relegated Wolves while Liverpool lost 1-0 at Swansea in what turned out to be Kenny Dalglish’s last match in charge of the Reds, and Newcastle lost 3-1 at Everton. Chelsea beat Blackburn 2-1 at home while Aston Villa lost 2-0 at Norwich before parting company with manager Alex McLeish.
In Spain champions Real Madrid reached 100 points with their 4-1 win at home to Real Mallorca with Özil netting twice, while ten-man Barcelona salvaged a last minute 2-2 draw at Real Betis.
With one match remaining, Montpellier are a point away from winning the French league ahead of PSG while Dortmund, Ajax, Anderlecht and Porto have already won their respective leagues.

Friday 11 May 2012

One win away

Yaya Toure scored both goals at Newcastle as Manchester City moved to within touching distance of winning the Premier League while Manchester United kept the heat on with a double at home to Swansea. Arsenal, who took the lead with a brace from van Persie after falling behind at home to Norwich, were pegged back to 3-3, but remain in 3rd spot after ten-man Tottenham drew 1-1 at Aston Villa. Wigan secured their safety with a 1-0 win at Blackburn who were relegated while a last minute goal gave QPR a vital win at home to Stoke and 2 late West Brom goals denied Bolton a much needed home win. Sunderland were defeated 2-1 at Fulham and Everton drew 0-0 at Wolves while three days after lifting the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Liverpool, Chelsea travelled to the Merseyside and were soundly beaten 4-1 at Anfield. In Spain newly crowned Real Madrid recovered from an early goal to win with 2 late goals at Grenada while Lionel Messi scored all 4 goals in Barcelona’s home win against Espanyol. Atletico Madrid won the Europa League with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in Bucharest. A full report can be read at www.footballreporter.co.uk together with the FA Cup final report.

Friday 4 May 2012

Blue Moon rising

A Manchester City goal against arch rivals Manchester United just before the break at the Etihad sent the Blues to the top of the Premier League on goal difference with only 2 matches remaining while 3rd place Arsenal dropped points in a 1-1 draw at Stoke, and Chelsea hammered Queens Park Rangers 6-1 with Torres scoring a hat-trick for the home side. The shock of the week came at Wigan who took Newcastle apart 4-0 with 2 goals from Victor Moses, but the Magpies bounced back in midweek to stun Chelsea with 2 superb goals from Papiss Cisse at the Bridge. Relegated Wolves came from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 at Swansea while 2 goals from Jelavic helped Everton to a 4-0 home win over Fulham and Liverpool defeated the Canaries 3-0 in Norwich with a Suarez hat-trick that included a goal from the half-way line. Kevin Davies scored both goals for Bolton who picked up a point at Sunderland while Aston Villa played a goalless match at West Brom and Blackburn lost 2-0 at Tottenham. In other midweek matches, Everton drew 1-1 at Stoke while Liverpool lost 1-0 at home to Fulham and Tottenham returned from Bolton with a 4-1 victory thanks to a double from Adebayor. In the Championship, after a 4-0 home win over Coventry, Southampton became the 2nd team to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League.
In Spain Barcelona demolished hosts Rayo Vallecano 7-0 before returning home to defeat Malaga 4-1 with a Messi hat-trick in midweek, while Real Madrid beat their visitors from Savilla 3-0 with a brace from Karim Benzema before their 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday that secured Jose Mourinho’s men the Spanish title.         

Friday 27 April 2012

Chelsea march to Munich

The gap at the top of the Premier League was reduced to 3 as Manchester United were pegged back to 4-4 at home to Everton who hit their title-chasing hosts with 2 late goals in a match where Rooney and Jelavic scored twice for their respective teams while Manchester City picked up a 2-0 win at Wolves, relegating their hosts in the process. Ahead of their trip to Barcelona, Chelsea held Arsenal to a goalless draw at the Emirates and a double from Cabaye helped Newcastle to a 3-0 victory at home to Stoke while Tottenham lost 1-0 at Queens Park Rangers with goal-scorer Taarabt seeing red with 12 minutes to go. Wigan were defeated 2-1 to a last-minute goal at Fulham while Norwich lost 2-0 at Blackburn and Swansea drew 1-1 at Bolton. There was more disappointment at Anfield as Liverpool lost 1-0 to West Brom while Aston Villa drew blanks at home to Sunderland and sank further into trouble in midweek when Blackburn hit back immediately with 2 goals in quick succession to earn a 2-1 win at Villa Park.
In the Spanish league, Barcelona lost the top-of-the-table clash 2-1 at home to their bitter rivals Real Madrid before hosting Chelsea in the Champions League where John Terry received his marching orders in the 37th minute leaving the Blues to fight back from 2 down and eliminate the reigning champions with a 2-2 draw. Bayern Munich will meet Chelsea in the final after taking the match to extra-time with a 2-1 defeat at Real Madrid whom they overcame in a penalty shootout.
The Europa League final will be contested between 2 Spanish sides after Athletic Bilbao scored their 3-1 winner with 2 minutes remaining to avoid extra time against Sporting Lisbon and Atletico Madrid completed their double over Valencia with a single goal away from home.        

Friday 20 April 2012

Blues semi joy

Chelsea thumped Tottenham 5-1 at Wembley to reach the FA Cup final where they will meet Liverpool who came from behind to defeat Everton 2-1 with a late winner from Carroll while in the Premier League Arsenal failed to recover from 2 early goals and lost 2-1 at home to Wigan. Norwich City had their wings clipped 6-1 at home to Manchester City with Carlos Tevez claiming a hat-trick while Rooney scored twice at Old Trafford as United put 4 past Aston Villa without reply and bottom-of-the-table Wolves earned a point in a goalless match at Sunderland. Swansea eased 3-0 past their visitors from Blackburn and QPR fell to a single goal at WBA. In the Championship, after returning from a 3-1 victorious trip to Southampton, Reading sealed promotion to the Premier League with a 1-0 home win against Nottingham Forest in midweek.
In the Spanish league the top 2 both won with Real Madrid defeating Sporting Gijon 3-1 in the capital and Messi scoring both goals in Barcelona’s 2-1 win at Levante while Valencia were stunned 4-0 at Espanyol.
In the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals a single goal at Stamford Bridge gave Chelsea the advantage over Barcelona while Bayern Munich take a 2-1 lead to Real Madrid after a late goal from Mario Gomez at the Allianz Arena.
In the Europa League Falcoa netted twice as Atletico Madrid defeated Valencia 4-2 while Sporting Lisbon overcame Athletic de Bilbao 2-1 in the other first-leg semi-final.

Friday 13 April 2012

Easter shocks

A full week of fixtures was completed on Easter Monday and the evenings following it in which Manchester United suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Wigan allowing Manchester City to narrow the gap after a 4-0 home win over West Brom with Aguero bagging a brace. Arsenal eased to a 3-0 win at Wolves who played most of the match with 10 men while Tottenham also suffered a shock loss, losing 2-1 at home to Norwich, and Chelsea shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Fulham. Andy Carroll scored a last minute winner for Liverpool at Blackburn after the 25th minute dismissal of Liverpool keeper Doni had helped Yakubu wipe out an earlier double from Maxi Rodriguez while Everton demolished Sunderland 4-0 at Goodison Park and Queens Park Rangers swept Swansea aside 3-0 at Loftus Road. Newcastle are level on points with 4th placed Tottenham after 2 goals against their visitors from Bolton while Stoke drew 1-1 at Aston Villa.
In Spain Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid won 4-1 at Atlelico Madrid while Barcelona put 4 past visiting Getafe without reply and the top-of-the-table clash in Germany ended in a 1-0 win for hosts Dortmund against Bayern Munich

Monday 9 April 2012

Judgment day

In another week of poor refereeing Queens Park Rangers lost 2-0 at Old Trafford after the early and controversial dismissal of their captain Shaun Derry which lead to the opening goal from the spot and gave Manchester United an 8 point lead at the top as Manchester City lost 1-0 at Arsenal with Balotelli - who should have been shown red earlier - receiving his marching orders in the last minute. A gutsy performance by Wigan was not enough as they lost 2-1 at Chelsea with the officials once again at the centre of controversy while Newcastle won 2-0 at Swansea on Friday with Cisse scoring both goals and Tottenham played a goalless match at Sunderland. Clint Dempsey struck twice as Fulham triumphed 3-0 at Bolton and Blackburn lost by the same scoreline at West Bromwich Albion while Liverpool could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa and 2 goals from Jelavic gave Everton a share of the spoils at Norwich City. Wolves remain rooted to the bottom after losing 2-1 at Stoke.
Celtic cemented the Scottish title with a 6-0 avalanche at Kilmarnock while in Spain Barcelona narrowed the gap at the top with a 4-1 victory at Zaragiza as Real Madrid were held to a goalless draw at home to third place Valencia.   

Friday 6 April 2012

Late title race

Manchester United scored 2 stunning late goals at Blackburn on Monday evening to extend their lead at the top of the table as City had only managed a point at home to Sunderland with 2 late goals of their own after going 3-1 down to their visitors while Adebayor scored twice in Tottenham’s 3-1 home victory over Swansea to put the Londoners level on points with neighbours Arsenal who went down 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers. Two goals from Ivanovic and a late goal from Torres sealed a 4-2 win for Chelsea at Aston Villa while Bolton won 3-2 at bottom club Wolves and Fulham defeated Norwich 2-1 at the Cottage. There were 2-0 home wins for Everton against West Bromwich Albion, Wigan against Stoke and Newcastle against Liverpool with Papiss Cisse scoring both goals for the Magpies. Real Madrid and Barcelona both won in Spain with Real thumping their hosts Osasuna 5-1 and Barcelona putting 2 past Athletic de Bilbao at the Camp Nou while in Italy the most eye-catching result was Inter’s 5-4 win over Genoa.
 Chelsea progressed to the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 2-1 home win over ten-man Benfica where they will meet Barcelona who defeated Milan 3-1 with Messi scoring twice from the spot. Apoel’s dream ended 5-2 at Real Madrid who will meet Bayern Munich after Olic scored twice against their guests from Marseille. Spanish teams dominate the Europa League with 3 representatives in the semi-finals after Valencia smashed AZ from Alkmaar 4-0 and Atletico Madrid won 2-1 in Hannover while a 2-2 home draw against Schalke was enough to see Athletic de Bilbao through joining Sporting Lisbon who drew 1-1 with Metalist in Ukraine.  

Friday 30 March 2012

Reds open gap

Manchester United laboured to a 1-0 home win over Fulham on Monday evening to open a 3 point gap at the top over Manchester City who had been held to a 1-1 draw at Stoke City while Arsenal took advantage of Tottenham’s goalless draw at Chelsea to create a similar gap over their neighbours with a 3-0 victory at home to Aston Villa. Djibril Cisse was sent off for Queens Park Rangers who lost 3-1 at Sunderland while Grant Holt scored twice for Norwich before being sent off as the home side defeated Wolves 2-1 and in an emotional match in Bolton, as the thoughts of all was with the recovering Muamba, David Wheater netted twice to give the hosts a 2-1 win over Blackburn. Liverpool suffered a shock 2-1 loss at home to troubled Wigan while Everton struck twice at Swansea and 2 goals from Papiss Cisse helped Newcastle to a 3-1 victory at West Brom.
In Spain Cristiano Ronaldo became the fastest to 100 league goals as he netted twice in Real Madrid’s 5-1 home triumph over Real Sociedad while Barcelona kept up the pressure with 2 goals at Real Mallorca.
In the FA Cup Tottenham won their rescheduled match at White Hart Lane 3-1 against Bolton to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea while Everton will face Liverpool after winning their replay 2-0 at Sunderland.  
Real Madrid all but booked their passage to the next round of the Champions League with Karim Benzema bagging a brace in their 3-0 win at Apoel Nicisia while Chelsea enjoyed a 1-0 win at Benfica. There were no goals between Milan and Barcelona while Bayern Munich scored twice at Marseille.       
There were 2-1 home wins in the Europa League first-leg matches for Atletico de Madrid over Hannover, AZ Alkmaar against Valencia and Sporting Lisbon against Metalist while Athletic de Bilbao celebrated a 4-2 win at Schalke.        

Friday 23 March 2012

At the heart of the matter

English football was dominated by the news that Bolton player Fabrice Muamba suffered heart failure in the 41st minute at Tottenham and had to be taken to intensive care as the FA Cup match was postponed while in other cup matches Sunderland drew 1-1 at Everton and Stoke lost 2-1 at Liverpool. Fernando Torres found the net twice for Chelsea as the home side enjoyed a 5-2 win over Leicester City. In league matches Manchester Unite had a feast at Wolves as they struck 5 with Hernandez scoring 2 for the leaders while Manchester City came from a goal down to earn a 2-1 home win over Chelsea and Tottenham salvaged a 1-1 draw with a last-gasp goal at home to Stoke but were overtaken by Arsenal who won 1-0 at Everton. Gylfi Sigurdsson scored twice as Swansea brushed Fulham aside 3-0 at the Cottage and Norwich were beaten 1-0 at Newcastle while WBA drew 1-1 at Wigan. Queens Park Rangers came from 2 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 with 2 late goals at Loftus Road and Blackburn sent Sunderland home 2-0 losers. In Spain Barcelona picked up 6 points with a 2-0 win at Savilla and a 5-3 home victory over Granada thanks to a Messi hat-trick while Real Madrid dropped points to a last minute goal in a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga and suffered another late blow when they conceded a late 1-1 equalizer after being reduced to 9 men at Villareal in midweek. An eye-catching result in the English Championship was 7-3 demolition of Leeds United by Nottingham Forest with Garath McCleary scoring 4 times for the visitors.

Friday 16 March 2012

United top and out

Manchester United took advantage of a 1-0 City defeat at Swansea to go top with a double from Wayne Rooney against West Brom at Old Trafford while a last-gasp goal at the Emirates gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Newcastle and took them within a point of Tottenham who lost 1-0 at Everton. Queens Park Rangers lost 2-1 at Bolton and Liverpool fell to a single goal at Sunderland while ten-man Stoke lost 1-0 at Chelsea. David Hoilett scored both goals for Blackburn at Wolves and a last-minute goal at Aston Villa settled the match in favour of the hosts against Fulham while Wigan drew 1-1 at Norwich. On Tuesday evening Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick for Liverpool as Everton were taken apart 3-0 at Anfield.
In Spain the top 2 both won away from home with Ronaldo scoring twice in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win at Real Betis and Messi scoring both goals from Barcelona at Racing Santander.
Bayern Munich hammered Hoffenheim 7-1 with a Gomez hat-trick in the German league and went on to batter Basel 7-0 with Gomez bagging another 4 in the Champions League where Real Madrid cruised 4-1 past their visitors from CSKA Moscow. A 2-1 home win was not enough for Inter as Marseille progressed on the away-goals rule while Chelsea overturned their 3-1 defeat at Napoli to take the match to extra time and win 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. The Europa League saw the exit of both Manchester sides with United going down 2-1 away to a dominant Athletic Bilbao and City going out on away goals at home to Sporting Lisbon despite heroically coming back from 2 down to score 3 times after the break.     

Friday 9 March 2012

Change at the Bridge

Two goals from Ashley Young helped Manchester United to a 3-1 victory at Tottenham while Arsenal came from an own-goal down to win 2-1 at Liverpool with Robin van Persie completing his brace in stoppage time, and Chelsea fell further adrift with a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich that resulted in the dismissal of manager Andres Villa Boas. Manchester City remain at the top after their two goals at home to Bolton while Sigurdsson scored both goals to give 10 man Swansea 3 points at Wigan and Norwich fell to a single goal at Stoke. Pavel Pogrebnyak netted a hat-trick as Wolves were torn apart 5-0 at Fulham while at Newcastle the hosts earned a 1-1 draw with a last-minute goal in a tempestuous match against 10 man Sunderland who had another player red-carded after the final whistle, and there were also 1-1 draws for Everton at QPR and Aston Villa at Blackburn Rovers.
Ten-man Barcelona defeated Sporting Gijon 3-1 at home but Spanish league leaders Real Madrid won their home match 5-0 against Espanyol and in Germany Bayern Munich suffered a 2-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen while Leaders Stuttgart won 4-0 at Hamburg. In Italy Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick in Milan’s 4-0 win at Palermo.
Chelsea travelled to Birmingham with new manager Robero di Mateo to win their FA Cup replay 2-0 while Stevenage took the lead at Tottenham but lost 3-1 with Defoe netting twice for the hosts.
In the Champions League Arsenal opened up Milan 3 times in an explosive first-half but failed to add to their tally after the break and went out 4-3 on aggregate and 2 goals for Benfica put the hosts through against Zenit while Lionel Messi scored a record 5 goals as Barcelona battered Bayer Leverkusen 7-1 at the Camp Nou and Apoel went through on penalties after winning 1-0 against Olympiakos in Nicosia.
Both Manchester sides lost their first-leg matches in the Europa League with City going down to a single goal at Sporting Lisbon and United losing 3-2 to Athletic Bilbao at Old Trafford.  

Friday 2 March 2012

Demolition derby

While Liverpool were winning the Carling Cup on penalties after a 2-2 extra-time match against Cardiff at Wembley, Arsenal came from 2 down to brush their high-flying neighbours Tottenham aside 5-2 at the Emirates with Walcott claiming a double and there were 3-0 home wins for Chelsea and Manchester City against Bolton and Blackburn respectively. West Bromwich Albion were once again in goal-scoring mood as they put Sunderland to the sword 4-0 with Peter Odemwingie netting twice in front of his home crowd, while at Newcastle Wolves overcame 2 early goals to draw 2-2 with Terry Connor in charge for the first time. A last-gasp goal gave Manchester United a 2-1 win at Norwich while Swansea lost 2-0 at Stoke and QPR fell to a single goal at home to Fulham. There were no goals between Wigan and Aston Villa.
In Spain Real Madrid picked up another 3 points with a goal at Rayo Vallecano while Barcelona returned from Atletico de Madrid with a 2-1 win and in Italy Juventus drew 1-1 away to Milan. In Germany Ribery scored both goals for Bayern Munich at home to Schalke while league leaders Dortmund defeated their visitors from Hannover 3-1 with 2 from Robert Lewandowski.     

Friday 24 February 2012

London cup failure

Arsenal returned from their midweek mauling in Milan to surrender 2-0 at Sunderland in the FA Cup and Millwall lost by the same scoreline at home to Bolton Wanderers while the 2 other London clubs struggled to earn replays, with Chelsea coming from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home to Birmingham and Tottenham drawing blanks at minnows Stevenage. In other matches Blackpool came unstuck to 2 early goals at Everton and Norwich had their wings clipped 2-1 at home to Leicester while 2 goals at Crawley Town saw Stoke City through despite the visitors playing most of the match with 10 men, and Liverpool rocked Brighton 6-1 at Anfield thanks to 3 own goals.
In Spain Lionel Messi scored 4 times as Valencia were battered 5-1 at Barcelona while 2 goals for Karim Benzema helped leaders Real Madrid to a 4-0 home win over Racing Santander.
In the Champions League Chelsea lost 3-1 at Napoli while there were 1-0 home wins for Basel and Marseille over Bayern Munich and Inter respectively and Real Madrid drew 1-1 at CSKA Moscow.
City sailed 4-0 past reigning Europa League champions Porto in Manchester to go through 6-1 on aggregate while Stoke were knocked out 1-0 at Valencia and Manchester United lost 2-1 at home to Ajax but progressed to the next round 3-2 on aggregate.

Friday 17 February 2012

North London rising

Arsenal came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Sunderland with a last minute goal from Thierry Henry but remain 10 points behind Tottenham who demolished Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane while at the top Manchester City picked up another 3 points with a single goal at Aston Villa and 2 goals in quick succession from Rooney gave Manchester Untied a 2-1 victory at home to Liverpool. Jamie Mackie scored twice but Queens Park Rangers lost 3-2 at Blackburn and Swansea lost by the same result at home to Norwich with Danny Graham scoring twice for the Swans and Grant Holt netting a double for the victorious visitors. Bolton lost 2-1 at home to fellow-strugglers Wigan, and Stoke were beaten 2-1 at Fulham while Chelsea lost 2-0 at Everton. Mick McCarthy was sacked as Wolves were humiliated 5-1 at home to West Bromwich Albion with Peter Odemwingie claiming a hat-trick.
In Spain Real Madrid extended their lead at the top after a Ronaldo hat-trick gave them a 4-2 home win against Levante while Barcelona lost 3-2 at Osasuna for whom Dejan Lekic scored twice.  
In the Champions League Arsenal were thumped 4-0 away to Milan with Robinho netting a double and Bayer Leverkusen lost 3-1 at home to Barcelona with 2 goals from Sanchez while Benfica lost 3-2 at Zenit St Petersburg and Lyon gained a slender 1-0 lead to take to Apoel Nicosia.
Manchester United opened their Europa League account with a 2-0 win at Ajax and Manchester City triumphed 2-1 at Porto while Stoke were toppled by a Topal wonder strike at home to Valencia. Metalist were the biggest winners hitting 4 without reply at Red Bull Salzburg with Cristaldo on target twice for the Ukrainians.          

Friday 10 February 2012

The catch-up game

With Manchester City winning 3-0 at home to Fulham, United needed a win to end the week level at the top but found themselves 3 down at Chelsea and had to fight back to earn a 3-3 draw with Rooney scoring twice from the spot while ten-man Blackburn were gunned down 7-1 at Arsenal with van Persie scoring a hat-trick to send the Gunners into 5th place ahead of Liverpool whose 0-0 home draw with Tottenham on Monday evening was also a favourable result for Newcastle who had picked up a 2-1 win at home to Aston Villa. Norwich beat Bolton 2-0 while the dismissal of Cisse at QPR helped Wolves come from behind to win with 2 goals in the second half and Swansea enjoyed the same scoreline at West Brom. Sunderland won by a single goal at ten-man Stoke who had Huth sent off and Everton drew 1-1 at Wigan.
In Spain there were narrow wins for the top 2 as Real Madrid won 1-0 at Getafe and Real Sociedad lost 2-1 at Barcelona who defeated Valencia 2-0 in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey at the Camp Nou in midweek.
In FA Cup replays the away teams all prospered with Blackpool scoring 3 at Sheffield Wednesday without reply, Millwall getting a last-minute 3-2 winner at Southampton and Sunderland winning 2-1 in extra-time at Middlesbrough.
The biggest talking point of the week was the resignation of Fabio Capello as England manager.      

Friday 3 February 2012

Cup and League week

With FA Cup matches being played at the weekend a full fixture of league matches took place in midweek. On Friday evening Watford were knocked out of the cup 1-0 by their visitor from Tottenham and Fulham lost 2-1 at Everton while among other matches at the weekend Queens Park Rangers lost 1-0 at home to a controversial Chelsea penalty and Manchester United were beaten 2-1 at Liverpool.  Crawley Town claimed another scalp 1-0 at Hull and Newcastle lost by the same result at Brighton while Birmingham triumphed 4-0 at Sheffield United with Adam Rooney scoring twice. Millwall scored late to earn a 1-1 draw and a trip to Southampton and Swansea lost 2-1 at Bolton while there were 2-0 wins for Stoke at Derby and Leicester at home to Swindon. Arsenal came from 2 down at home to defeat Aston Villa 3-2 with the help of 2 van Persie penalties and West Bromwich Albion lost 2-1 at home to Norwich while Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at Sunderland.
In the Premier League a brace from Bale helped Tottenham win 3-1 at home to Wiagn while Liverpool won 3-0 at Wolves and Chelsea drew 1-1 at Swansea. Manchester United are level on points with Manchester City after winning 2-0 at home to Stoke while City lost 1-0 at Everton. Djibril Cisse scored on his debut for QPR at Aston Villa but the hosts came from 2 down to earn a draw and there were draws 1-1 for West Brom at Fulham and 0-0 for Arsenal at Bolton while Norwich lost 3-0 at Sunderland and Newcastle won 2-0 at Blackburn.
In Spain Real Madrid won 3-1 at home to Real Zaragoza while Barcelona coyuld only draw 0-0 at Villarreal. The big match in the Dutch Eredivisie saw Feynoord defeat Ajax 4-2 with Guidetti claiming a hat-trick.

Friday 27 January 2012

No revenge for North London

After the humiliating defeats for Arsenal and Tottenham to their Manchester rivals earlier in the season, Arsenal lost 2-1 to United at the Emirates while Tottenham were defeated 3-2 in Manchester with Balotelli - who was lucky not to have been shown red - scoring a last minute winner from the spot. Clint Dempsey scored a hat-trick as Newcastle were taken apart 5-2 at Fulham and Wigan lost 3-1 at QPR while Chelsea played a goalless match at Norwich. Robbie Keane scored twice for Aston Villa who won 3-2 at Wolves and WBA grabbed a late 2-1 winner at Stoke. while Swansea fell 2-0 at Sunderland. Liverpool went down 3-1 at Bolton and Everton were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn.
In Spain Real Madrid and Barcelona won 4-1 at home to Atletico de Bilbao and away to Malaga respectively with Messi netting a hat-trick for the Catalan side, and the 2 Spanish giants clashed in the Copa del Rey with hosts Barcelona going through 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw.
Cardiff City reversed their 1-0 away defeat to Crystal Palace to take the match to extra time and penalties, with the visitors reduced to 10 men, and earn a place in the Wembley final where they will meet Liverpool for the League Cup trophy after the Reds drew 2-2 at home to Manchester City.   

Friday 20 January 2012

Manchester winning

A single goal at Wigan on Monday kept Manchester City at the top of the league while the weekend matches saw Manchester United beat Bolton 3-0 with Paul Scholes opening the scoring for the host amd Chelsea also picked up 3 points with a Lampard goal against visiting Sunderland, but 3rd place Tottenham could only draw 1-1 at home to Wolves and Liverpool were held to a goalless draw at home to Stoke. Arsenal took the lead but lost 3-2 at Swansea and QPR lost 1-0 at Newcastle while Blackburn moved out of the bottom 3 after celebrating a 3-1 home victory over Fulham. Norwich won 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion and Everton drew 1-1 at Aston Villa.
In Spain Messi scored twice as Barcelona won 4-2 at home to Real Betis but Real Madrid remain at the top of the La Liga table 5 points ahead of them after a 2-1 win away to Real Mallorca while 3rd place Valencia lost 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad. In Italy the Milanese derby ended 1-0 in favour of Inter.
Among FA Cup replay matches played in Midweek Nottingham Forest were felled 4-0 at Leicester with Beckford scoring a hat-trick and Birmingham went through with a single goal at Wolverhampton while Millwall, Bolton, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton also made it to the next round.       

Thursday 12 January 2012

Cup of legends

The third round of the FA Cup saw the return of Paul Scholes for Manchester United in their visit to Manchester City where the early and controversial dismissal of City captain Vincent Kompany was instrumental in the visitors taking a 3-0 lead by half time, with a brace from Rooney, rendering a 2 goal fight back by the league leaders futile. Among other matches Liverpool came from behind to demolish Oldham 5-1 at Anfield and Ipswich fell 3-1 at Hull City while Cardiff lost 4-2 at West Bromwich Albion with Simon Cox netting a hat-trick. A Last minute goal gave Newcastle a 2-1 win at home to Blackburn while Stevenage travelled to stun Reading 1-0 and Bristol City lost by a single goal at Crawley Town. Chelmsford City earned a trip to Bolton with a 2-2 draw while Fleetwood Town were no match for Blackpool with Matt Phillips scoring a hat-trick in the 5-1 win by the visitors and 3 late goals saw Portsmouth lose 4-0 at Chelsea. Swindon came from behind to earn a 2-1 home win against Wigan, and Fulham put 4 past Charlton without reply thanks to a hat-trick from Clint Dempsey while a goal 2 minutes from time knocked West Ham out of the cup at Sheffield Wednesday. Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal to come off the bench and break the deadlock against Leeds on Monday evening while in the Carling Cup semi-finals Crystal Palace will take a slender 1-0 lead to Cardiff and Liverpool enjoyed the same result away to Manchester City. In the Premier League Tottenham moved closer to the summit with a 2-0 home win in their rearranged match against Everton.
Real Madrid extended their lead at the top of the Spanish league with a 5-1 win at home to Grenada while Barcelona drew 1-1 at Espanyol.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Toon stun champs

The weekend losers all won in midweek with Manchester United the exception as they caved in 3-0 at Newcastle. Manchester City strengthened their position at the top with a 3-0 home win over Liverpool despite being reduced to 10 men, and Lampard, who may consider himself lucky not to be sent off, scored a late winner to condemn Wolves to a 2-1 home defeat while WBA lost to a single goal at Tottenham. Arsenal took the lead but after losing Djourou to a red card fell to 2 late goals at Fulham while at Queens Park Rangers goal scorer Joey Barton who was later dismissed watched Norwich come from behind to win 2-1, and Stoke enjoyed the same scoreline with Peter Crouch netting a double at Blackburn. Swansea won 2-0 at Aston Villa while Sunderland celebrated a blistering 4-1 win at Wigan and Everton keeper Tim Howard scored from inside his own penalty box only for visiting Bolton Wanderers to hit back with 2 for the win.  

Sunday 1 January 2012

Shock end

The year ended with a shock defeat for Manchester United on Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday as Yakubu struck twice for Blackburn before Berbatov’s quick double proved to be in vain with the visitors scoring the winner too late for United to reply, while Aston Villa came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-1 with 2 late goals at Stamford Bridge and Tottenham dropped points in their 1-1 draw at Swansea. A single goal gave Arsenal all 3 points at home to Queens Park Rangers and a Bellamy brace helped Liverpool to a 3-1 win over Newcastle at Anfield. Norwich earned a 1-1 home draw with a last minute equaliser against Fulham and Wolves drew 1-1 at Bolton while ten-man Wigan drew 2-2 at Stoke. On the first day of 2012 Everton opened the scoring with a last-minute winner at West Brom and the weekend shocks continued with Sunderland breaking the deadlock with a last gasp winner against league leaders Manchester City at the Stadium of Light.