By Ross CraeFollow @JfGpodcasts
This is the second dose of Premier League round-up fun this week, but after the midweek mediocrity will there be a wonderful weekend for witticisms?
Saturday’s early kick-off was at Upton Park. Life isn’t easy for Rafael Benitez. The poor chap hasn’t been shown a lot of love since his arrival at Chelsea and he wasn’t about to change that as his side travelled to West Ham. It started well for him, with Juan Mata opening the scoring after 13 minutes and Chelsea creating several chances in a first half which they seemed to be in control of. Indeed, they seemed very sharp and inventive.
One expects Big Sam dug out his hairdryer in time for the break (he’s a man’s man so it’s never used for personal grooming) and turned the dial to “absolute rollicking”, and it seemed to work as the Hammers mounted a magnificent comeback.
Carlton Cole headed them level just after the hour mark before Mohamed Diamé hit a shot (that certainly stayed hit) with four minutes remaining to put the hosts ahead. A mistake from Ashley Cole which left the Blues defence all at sea led to Modibo Maiga’s 90th minute third as Chelsea slumped to a seventh game in a row without a win. Surely Rafa won’t be sacked in the morning, as the cruel Hammers fans chanted?
‘Arry ‘ad a good start at QPR with a midweek draw, but his side conceded early to fellow strugglers Aston Villa. Robert Green got a hand to an 8th minute shot from Brett Holman from 25 yards, but the England keeper couldn’t keep it out.
Just 10 minutes later, however, QPR were level. Jamie Mackie’s header got them back in the game, but a draw was all the Rs could manage as they continue their epic quest to actually win a Premier League game.
Marouane Fellaini is having a tremendous season so far, and he provided the opening goal at the Etihad as Everton faced Manchester City. The afro sporting Belgian was on hand to net a rebound after Joe Hart produced a great save from his initial header.
The Toffees midfielder then spoiled the great start by tugging ever so slightly on Edin Dzeko’s shirt in the box, with Carlos Tevez equalising for City from the penalty spot just before half time.
City were just about the better team in the second half but couldn’t push on to victory – Everton coming closer to the three points from Nikica Jelavic’s late free-kick. In the end, the points were shared.
Swansea’s late surge saw them leave the Emirates with three points and a 2-0 win over Arsenal. Once again, Michu stole the show for the Welsh side, netting a late double to snatch a stunning victory.
His first came in the 88th minute, sumptuous build-up play allowed the Spanish striker clear to curl the ball past Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
In the dying minutes of the game, Michu popped up again with a cool finish after being put clean through on goal to send the Emirates into an apoplectic fit of boos.
Spurs registered a comfortable victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage. The first half ended goalless, a half in which yet again Gareth Bale was booked for diving. Insert topical yet predictable joke about him being nominated for the “Fallon d’Floor” award here.
Sandro opened the scoring in the 55th minute with a superb 30-yard drive that Mark Schwarzer should really have dealt with, but didn’t, despite it being his job.
A Jermain Defoe double eased Spurs over the finish line. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who replaced the injured Bale, set up Defoe after a lovely twist and turn in the box. Defoe’s second came after he was played through by ex-Fulham star Clint Dempsey with a superb pass which no doubt pleased the home fans.
Daniel Agger’s header just before half time saw Liverpool beat Southampton at Anfield. The Saints rarely threatened and the home side were in control for the majority of the game.
As is often the case, Liverpool created plenty of chances but couldn’t build on their slender lead. Luckily for them, Southampton have a tendency to be fairly useless at times and failed to assert any authority on the game.
West Brom are having a mini-slump after an incredible start to the season, and lost out at home to Stoke. If the Potters were real potters, they’d rarely deviate from making boring old pots. The Baggies are more creative and wanted to make statues and vases, but the away side defended resolutely and frustrated them into being equally boring.
Confused? Prepare for further bafflement as Dean Whitehead was the source of Stoke’s 75th minute winner – he hasn’t scored for 59 games.
The evening meeting of Reading and Manchester United turned out to be one of the most thrilling games you’re likely to see while eating your tea in front of the telly.
All of the game’s seven goals were scored within the first 35 minutes. Hal Robson-Kanu opened the scoring after 8 minutes for the Royals but the lead didn’t last long as Anderson’s powerful shot in the 13th minute levelled the scoring.
United took the lead through a Wayne Rooney penalty just three minutes later, Jay Tabb penalised for knocking over Jonny Evans in the box. Clumsy oaf.
Set pieces looked to be unnerving for United, Adam Le Fondre headed in from a corner in the 19th minute, and Sean Morrison did likewise in the 23rd to give Reading the lead once again. It was starting to get ridiculous.
As the whirlwind first half continued, Rooney equalised on the half hour mark and Robin Van Persie scored what turned out to be the winner in the 34th minute. Phew.
Van Persie should really have had a hat-trick, his effort five minutes before the break looked to have crossed the line but wasn’t given, and the Dutchman had a dreadful miss in the inevitably goalless second half, after an error from Adam Federichi presented him with an open goal.
There was only one game on Sunday, with Norwich hosting Sunderland. Like a deep-sea diver sinking slowly downwards, pressure is increasing on Martin O’Neill and defeat at Carrow Road leaves the Black Cats just one point above the relegation zone.
Sebastien Bassong opened the scoring in the 8th minute for the Canaries, and Anthony Pilkington added a second on 37 minutes.
Sunderland pulled a goal back before half time through Craig Gardner and had a chance to equalise in the second half, but Matt Kilgallon’s horrible miss in front of an open goal left them defeated.
The Black Cats had improved substantially in the second half but couldn’t capitalise on their chances, as resolute Norwich defending kept them at bay.