By Ross CraeFollow @JfGpodcasts
As it gets closer and closer to the end of the season, there are many teams vying for European spots, Premier League survival and pride.
Saturday brought the words that many will be happy to hear. Stoke might get relegated. After a loss at home to Aston Villa, the Potters look to be in as much trouble as when Voldemort came calling. Gabriel Agbonlahor used a spell of his own called “Ballio Ingoalo” in the 9th minute to give Villa the lead. He also used “Fallio Ontheflooro” a little later and was given a yellow card for diving.
Michael Kightly levelled for Stoke in the 80th minute as they piled on the pressure, but Villa rallied to take all three points.
A magical shot from Matthew Lowton put Villa back in front in the 87th minute before Christian Benteke completed a move which saw four in claret and blue bearing down on poor old Asmir Begovic with a cool finish in stoppage time.
Thomas Rosicky was the star of the show as Arsenal beat West Brom. The Czech midfielder rarely scores goals, but gave the Gunners the lead after 20 minutes, stooping to head a goalbound Gervinho shot past Ben Foster. Goal thief.
His second on 50 minutes was his own making, sending a volley goalwards that Foster could only parry, before netting at the second attempt on the rebound.
The game could have turned sour for the Gunners as Per Mertesacker saw red for fouling Shane Long in the box, with James Morrison scoring from the spot to leave a nervy last twenty minutes.
The Baggies couldn’t however get a second, and Arsenal’s push for Champions League football next season carries on.
Norwich and Swansea shared the points at Carrow Road. Michu provided the first goal on 35 minutes, but the Swans led for only five minutes as a Robert Snodgrass diving header levelled the scoring.
Michael Turner gave the home side the lead on the hour mark with a great volley but the Canaries were denied a win by Luke Moore’s equaliser in the 75th minute. Michu also spurned a great chance to win the game in added time, but both sides really deserved a draw.
There was a Nigel Adkins derby as new Reading boss Nigel Adkins faced Southampton, a team formerly managed by Nigel Adkins. Nigel Adkins is not a miracle worker, and it looks like Nigel Adkins will be a manager in the championship next season. Nigel Adkins’ side went a goal down to Nigel Adkins’ former side as Jay Rodriguez prodded the ball under the legs of Adam Federichi. Nigel Adkins’ side had several chances beforehand, and the goal came as a bitter blow.
Nigel Adkins’ former side doubled their lead through Adam Lallana in the 72nd minute, leaving Nigel Adkins’ side bottom of the table and looking helpless. Nigel Adkins.
Sunday’s bumper fixture list started at Anfield as Liverpool and West Ham played out a goalless draw. It was a match devoid of excitement, but both sides had chances to score late in the game. Lucas Leiva cleared a header from Jack Collison off the line and Luis Suarez forced Jussi Jaaskelainen into a save in injury time. Yawn.
A relegation dogfight between QPR and Wigan saw drama in the first half , with Bobby Zamora being sent off after just 20 minutes for a high and dangerous challenge on Jordi Gomez. There was more to come, though, in the second.
Wigan struggled to dominate their opponents despite them being a man light and QPR took the lead in sensational fashion in the 85th minute. The Latics tried to be far too clever with an over-elaborate set piece routine, and the ball fell to Stephen Mbia, who burst forward and found Loic Remy who hit a dazzling shot into the back of the net.
Everyone at Loftus Road thought a vital three points were heading to the home team, but Mbia gave away a silly free-kick at the edge of the area and Shaun Maloney somehow managed to curl the ball past Julio Cesar in the final minute of the 90.
Television viewers barely had a chance to complain about the awful camera angle at White Hart Lane when Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring for Spurs against Everton in the first minute. The visitors were left shell-shocked by the quickfire opener, but didn’t let it faze them and they soon levelled, Phil Jagielka heading in from a corner after 15 minutes.
The two sides were both missing top players, with Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini all missing, but it was a thrilling encounter despite the absences. The Toffees were able to fall back on their latest sensation Kevin Mirallas, who seems to have talent in excess. The Belgian netted a terrific solo effort to give Everton the lead in the 53rd minute.
The game went down to the final minutes, where Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised after Adebayor’s shot cannoned off the post straight to the feet of the Icelandic star. Everton weren’t rattled by the equaliser, and had a chance to win the game, but Victor Anichebe was thwarted by Hugo Lloris.
The draw was a fair result between two sides vying for Champions League football.
Paolo Di Canio started his Sunderland career with a defeat at Chelsea. Thankfully, the only offensive gesture on show was Paolo wearing a horrific jumper. There was a nasty tackle on Demba Ba from Craig Gardner, however, for which the Black Cats midfielder was lucky to get away with a yellow card.
The Blues found themselves a goal down at half time, with a Cesar Azpilicueta own goal on 45 minutes coming against the run of play.
Chelsea turned the game around in the second half with two fortunate deflections. The first came in the 47th minute and was baffling to the eye. Oscar attempted a shot that Simon Mignolet smothered, but the ball trundled a long distance into the back of the net with the aid of a slight touch from Matthew Kilgallon.
That was bizarre, but Chelsea’s 56th minute second was simple. David Luiz fired a shot at goal which was flicked in by Branislav Ivanovic, wrong-footing Mignolet and giving the home side all three points.
On Sunday evening, many would be scratching their heads. “I’m sure there are two teams missing from this week’s games, you know, those teams that I can’t remember just now. Oh yes, Manchester United and Manchester City. The two squared up on Monday evening and the first half was less than exciting, with very little interesting action.
It livened up in the second half as James Milner opened the scoring after 51 minutes, after Ryan Giggs attempted a back-heel and lost possession.
City’s lead was short-lived as Phil Jones headed a Robin Van Persie free-kick in off Vincent Kompany just before the hour mark, but substitute Sergio Aguero lit up the game with a superb goal to give City a pride-restoring win. The little striker tricked his way through the United defence and fired into the roof of the net. It might not stop United winning the title but serves as a reminder City will be competing again next season.