By Ross CraeFollow @JfGpodcasts
Transfer deadline day is over. The frantic wheelings and dealings were kept to a boring minimum this time around, with the only real excitement coming from Peter Odemwingie’s antics and the man that looked like a potato hijacking a report from White Hart Lane. Jim White has slammed the window firmly shut and Natalie Sawyer has taken off her yellow dress. Hey, snap out of it, there’s football to round-up.
Newcastle United welcomed Chelsea to St James’s Park having added the entire population of France to their playing staff. It was an Argentine, however, who gave Les Magpies the lead in the 41st minute as Jonas Gutierrez headed in a great cross from Davide Santon.
The goal came just a few minutes after ex-Toon striker Demba Ba received Fabricio Coloccini’s boot to his face in the box and was unlucky not to either score or be given a penalty.
The Senegalese striker’s facial injury denied him the chance of playing in the second half, but initially it seemed like he wouldn’t be missed as Frank Lampard’s sensational strike levelled the scoring on 55 minutes.
Chelsea took the lead with an equally magnificent goal just after the hour mark. Ba’s replacement, Fernando Torres, provided a lay-off for Juan Mata to curl a shot past Tim Krul in elegant fashion.
Newcastle debutant Moussa Sissoko stole the show and the points for Newcastle. Petr Cech could only parry a shot from Yoan Gouffran into the path of Sissoko who provided the finish in the 68th minute.
Newcastle’s French contingent weren’t for surrendering, and Sissoko’s low shot from edge of box won the game for the Magpies in the 90th minute.
Aston Villa have been nothing short of shambolic in the past few weeks, so a visit to Goodison Park to face Everton wasn’t exactly what they would have wanted. That didn’t seem to be the case though as Christian Benteke powered past Johnny Heitinga in just the second minute to give the visitors the lead.
The Toffees got themselves back into the game in the 21st minute, in form Victor Anichebe shrugged off Villa defender Ciaran Clark to fire past Brad Guzan.
The score only remained level for a further 3 minutes before Gabriel Agbonlahor headed Villa back in front. Their lead stretched further in the second half as the game was taken over by the Belgians. Benteke’s second goal of the afternoon on 61 minutes was wonderful, a sublime cross from Andreas Weimann found the stooping striker who nodded past Tim Howard.
The other big Belgian on the pitch, albeit with slightly more hair, inspired Everton to a draw. Marouane Fellaini netted in a packed box with aid of deflection on 69 minutes and in the third minute of added time headed in a corner to ensure Villa remain in the bottom three.
Who are this Reading team? Whoever they are, they aren’t the one that were a bit rubbish at the start of the season and Sunderland were about to find that out. The Royals gained an early lead when Jimmy Kebe was given too much room in the box and hit a powerful shot past Simon Mignolet as the clock struck 7 minutes.
Craig Gardner levelled for the Black Cats from the penalty spot on 29 minutes after Pavel Pogrebnyak’s poor challenge on John O’Shea. The challenge was as difficult to justify as it is difficult to spell the Pog’s name.
It was Jimmy Kebe who won the game for Reading, heading in a free-kick from Ian Harte in the 85th minute as once again Reading scored late on to secure valuable points.
Southampton made the trip to Wigan, one which is thoroughly recommended by most guidebooks. In opposite-land. To make matters even worse, they conceded to a man that one of my former teachers referred to as a “waffle”, Gary Caldwell, in the 25th minute. The Scotland international headed a corner past Artur Boruc, just like he used to in his days at Celtic.
The game was bereft of goals until later in the second half, with a Rickie Lambert header in the 64th minute bringing the Saints level. They took the lead in the 85th minute, Jay Rodriguez bursting forward and providing a perfect ball for Morgan Schneiderlin to side-foot home right in front of goal.
That looked to have won it for Southampton, but Shaun Maloney netted from a corner in the 90th minute to claim a vital point for the Latics.
Arsenal welcomed their favourite team Stoke to The Emirates and Lukas Podolski scored the only goal of the game as the Gunners were kept at bay by fine goalkeeping from Asmir Begovic.
A stroke of luck for the home side was what they needed to win a hard fought encounter, Podolski’s 78th minute free-kick taking a deflection off Geoff Cameron before beating Begovic. Olivier Giroud had been in an offside position but, after consulting with his assistant, referee Chris Foy gave the goal. Sir Chris Hoy may be receiving a lot of Twitter abuse from confused Stoke fans again who, by the looks of the coverage on transfer deadline day, are every bit as scary as their manager, captain and team.
Swansea left West Ham with the bitter taste of defeat and the misfortune of being Andy Carroll-ed. The on-loan Liverpool striker scored the only goal of the game on his return from injury. Swansea created few chances, but their goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel was kept busy and made a series of good stops.
Carroll was to beat him, however, in the 77th minute. The hairband sporting man-horse headed in a Mark Noble corner from six yards out to consign Swansea to their first defeat in 8 games.
Unsurprisingly, QPR and Norwich served up a goalless draw. Canaries keeper Mark Bunn made up for chopping down Jamie Mackie in the box by saving Adel Taarabt’s second half spot-kick.
Julio Cesar was also busy, thwarting several attempts on goal in a game that could have been much different if the clubs involved had managed to sign Gary Hooper and Peter Odemwingie during the transfer window.
Manchester United travelled to Fulham, with poor old Rafael wearing twin brother Fabio’s boots. Easy mistake to make. It was an interesting encounter, not just because all of the floodlights went out 3 minutes before half time. The pitch was pitch black, not pitch green as usual.
Fortunately the lights came back on and the game could carry on, albeit running slightly later than planned. Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the game, collecting a long ball forward from Patrice Evra in his stride before placing it in the far corner after 78 minutes.
The end of the game was frantic as Fulham desperately sought a draw. Robin Van Persie headed off the line and Javier Hernandez came close to a goal at the other end in the closing stages but United earned all three points.
Sunday came along and Spurs took on West Brom at The Hawthorns. Gareth Bale scored the only goal of the game, one of three major incidents throughout the match. First, Jermain Defoe hobbled off in the first half after twisting his ankle, and worryingly the Spurs striker was seen with crutches at full time and there is a lack of strikers available to take his place.
Goran Popov was then sent off early in the second half for spitting at Kyle Walker. The two had tussled briefly and Mark Clattenburg saw no hesitation in brandishing the red card and telling Goran to pop off.
Finally, Bale’s tremendous goal on 67 minutes came as the sending off allowed Spurs to dominate and to see out the game.
Perhaps the most exciting fixture of the weekend was Liverpool’s visit to Manchester City. Edin Dzeko gave City the lead against the run of play in the 23rd minute with a simple tap-in after being found by a ball in from James Milner.
In the 29th minute, Daniel Sturridge scored the equaliser with a stunning strike as Liverpool played on through a chorus of boos. Dzeko had stayed down after a challenge with Daniel Agger but play continued and the visitors took full advantage.
A trademark Steven Gerrard super-strike in the 73rd minute gave Liverpool the lead, the captain blasting in from 25 yards.
If Gerrard’s goal was spectacular, Sergio Aguero’s 78th minute equaliser was audacious. Pepe Reina went walkabout and Aguero took full advantage, curling a shot in from a ludicrously tight angle to earn a draw for City, now 9 points behind Manchester United.