By Ross Crae
While other media sources are engulfed in scandals, Jumpers for Goalposts continues to uphold fine journalistic standards in bringing you top quality reporting from the weekend’s Premier League fixtures. If, of course, you define “fine journalistic standards” as shoehorning woeful puns into match summaries half-heartedly written whilst falling asleep watching Match of the Day. And Googling player names that are tricky to spell.Follow @JfGpodcasts
To start our weekend there was a thrilling London derby at the Emirates which saw six goals as Arsenal drew with Fulham. Olivier Giroud appears to have found his shooting boots, or indeed his heading head. The Frenchman netted a powerful header after just 11 minutes, before Lukas Podolski added a second. Mikel Arteta found space in the box and squared for the German international to flick in from close range.
Arsenal looked to be in control but Dimitar Berbatov popped up to get the Cottagers back into the game. The Bulgarian bandit was in inspirational form and set up Alex Kacaniklic for Fulham’s equaliser five minutes before the break. A beautiful clipped cross set up the Swede to fire a header past Vito Mannone.
Berbatov was coolness personified as his second half penalty gave Fulham the lead and sent Arsenal into turmoil. The Fetching Frenchman was not about to stand for this, levelling for the Gunners with another handsome header. Giroud’s initial shot came off the post but Theo “Sign da Ting” Walcott retrieved it and sent it back in for Ollie’s second.
Giroud also had a 30 yard shot saved by Mark Schwarzer and rather bafflingly wasn’t given the chance to complete his hat-trick when Arsenal were awarded a penalty in stoppage time. Instead, Mikel Arteta stepped up but had his shot saved by Schwarzer.
More frustration for the Gunners, but Arsene Wenger’s men must surely be congratulated for their efforts to drive Piers Morgan closer to the fury fuelled self-combustion we all want to see.
Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland have had a miserable season so far and would not be looking forward to a visit to Goodison Park to face Everton. Sunderland had early goal-scoring chances, but unsurprisingly missed them all. Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon spurned chances as the Black Cats started brightly. Simon Mignolet and Tim Howard were both kept busy in a first half that was often end-to-end stuff. Yes, top quality analysis is this round-up’s forte.
Adam Johnson scored on the stroke of half time, becoming Sunderland’s joint-second-top-scorer, a title he shares with Demba Ba. Who plays for Newcastle. It was a nice goal, Craig Gardner sending in a cross for former Man City winger Johnson to curl in.
The Toffees were obviously embarrassed that such a woeful bunch were beating them, and set about rectifying this in the second half, rampaging forward and dominating possession.
The breakthrough came in the 76th minute as Marouane Fellaini drilled a shot straight through most of Sunderland’s defenders in the box. The afroed hero was involved in Everton’s second, a cute flick just inside the box allowed Nikica Jelavic to pounce and finish with precision.
Well what do you know, Reading v Norwich ended 0-0. The Royals are yet to register a Premier League win this season and a flock of resilient Canaries weren’t in the mood to help them out. There were few chances in the first half, but Reading upped the tempo in the second half but ultimately failed to make the breakthrough. Norwich weren’t much better. Moving on…
The spark seems to have vanished from Sparky’s eyes as QPR slumped to defeat against Stoke at the Britannia. In the first half, Junior Hoillet steamed forward and played in show-off Adel Taraabt for what should have been a clinical and decisive finish to give QPR the lead. Instead, the Moroccan opted to go for a cheeky chip and made a complete mess of it. This move seems to sum up QPR’s season so far – they have the opportunity to be good but ultimately make a complete hash of everything.
It’s not just in attack that Mark Hughes’ men were lacking, slack defending from Armand Traore allowed Charlie Adam to take advantage at the back post to score his first Stoke goal in the 52nd minute. Julio Cesar conceded to Charlie Adam. Say that slowly.
Southampton threw away the chance to earn a rare victory when yet another defensive error cost the Saints against Swansea. They had taken the lead in the 64th minute, a deep cross into the box was knocked down by Rickie Lambert to Morgan Schneiderlin who juggled the ball briefly before nodding over Gerhard Tremmel in the Swans goal.
Swansea’s equaliser was of the Saints’ making – in more ways than one. Paulo Gazzaniga’s pass out to Maya Yoshida put the Japanese defender in a spot of bother. Yoshida’s poor touch was pounced upon by Southampton academy graduate Nathan Dyer who cracked his shot in off the far post to heap more misery on his former club and poor old Nigel Adkins.
Wigan and West Brom have both been interesting to watch this season and this weekend the two were thrown together. The Baggies took the lead in the 31st minute when James Morrison headed in from Chris Brunt’s cross.
Wigan had had most of the possession up until that point but soon found themselves two goals behind. Generically named Billy Jones skipped his way into the box, nutmegged Ben Watson and scored via a deflection off that well known disaster waiting to happen, Gary Caldwell.
The Latics hauled themselves back into the game just before the break, Arouna Kone prodded home an inviting ball from Jean Beausejour.
The second half was more subdued but West Brom had the best chance when Romelu Lukaku was denied only by the fingertips of Ali Al-Habsi. The score was destined to end 2-1 and indeed, it did.
The late kick-off (confusingly on Sky and not ESPN) saw Aston Villa try to end their disastrous record against Manchester United. Paul Lambert sent his men out to defend for their lives and then spring forward on the counter attack and lo and behold, it actually worked.
Christian Benteke bullied his way past Chris Smalling in first half injury time, picking out Andreas Weimann at the edge of the box who thumped in a shot almost as powerful as the Big Belgian who had set it up. Five minutes into the second half, Weimann got a second, netting from close range after some neat build-up play.
After eight minutes of bewilderment at the fact that Aston Villa- yes, Aston Villa- were winning a game of football 2-0, normal service resumed.
In the space of five minutes, United scored twice to get back on level terms, thanks to The Little Pea that had been brought on at half time. Hernandez collected a long ball forward and finished clinically through the legs of Brad Guzan. Minutes later, he got on the end of Rafael’s cross and diverted the ball past Guzan with the aid of a deflection off Ron Vlaar.
Robin Van Persie then hit the bar twice with his head and then with his foot, as if he was playing crossbar challenge against himself.
Javier Hernandez bagged his hat-trick on 87 minutes to complete the comeback for United and continue their unbeaten run against Villa. The super-sub got his head on the end of a Robin Van Persie free-kick and diverted the ball past a helpless Brad Guzan.
First up on Sunday, Manchester City took on Spurs at the Etihad. The visitors took the lead in the 21st minute, with Tom Huddlestone’s perfect free-kick delivery finding Stephen Caulker. Joe Hart couldn’t keep a hold of the defender’s header and Caulker nabbed his second goal of the season.
As the half went on, City misplaced more and more passes, and gave away far too many silly fouls as tempers began to fray.
In the second half City were much better and eventually earned the three points. Sergio Aguero got the first, capitalising on poor Tottenham defending to cut inside and finish smartly past Brad Friedel after 65 minutes.
Edin Dzeko was once again a super-sub, ghosting through the Spurs defence to collect a sublime dinked pass from David Silva in the 88th minute. The Bosnian lashed the ball past Friedel to keep City hot on the heels of their cross city rivals.
The visit of West Ham to Newcastle brought Big Sam, Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll back to their former stomping ground. It was Magpies old-boy Nolan that scored the only goal of a fairly miserable affair.
The king of chicken dancers didn’t perform his party piece out of respect for his former club after turning in a wayward shot from Joey O’Brien in the 37th minute.
Jussi Jaaskelainen just about kept out an early first half header from Demba Ba, despite Newcastle players’ protests, but the Magpies didn’t deserve anything from a very poor performance.
The final game of the weekend took place at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Liverpool. John Terry returned to the fold from his four-match ban and opened the scoring after 20 minutes, heading in from a corner.
Terry left the field on a stretcher late in the first half after a collision with fellow super-villain Luis Suarez in which the Chelsea captain came off worse.
The second half was played at some pace, but Chelsea still dominated. They wasted chances and this came back to haunt them when Suarez pounced at a corner to equalise in the 72nd minute.
It was a good point for Brendan Rogers’ men, and another entertaining encounter between the Reds and the Blues.