By Ross CraeFollow @JfGpodcasts
Does anyone even care about the Premier League anymore? Manchester United have already won it, there are awesome German teams that you can pretend you knew all about before everyone else did and you can debate for ages how bad biting someone is. Well there is all that, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had.
There wasn’t much fun at the lunchtime game on Saturday – a fairly lacklustre affair at the Etihad between Manchester City and West Ham. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring after 28 minutes to give City a first half lead.
Samir Nasri missed from close range as the Hammers rallied in the second half and made City’s lead look more and more slender, but a powerful curling shot from just outside the box hit by Yaya Toure on 82 minutes seemed to seal the victory.
West Ham left it too late to mount a comeback but at least managed a goal in stoppage time. Moments after going down injured (and presumably being treated with shampoo) Joe Hart let an Andy Carroll shot squirm through his legs. How embarrassing.
The game everyone was looking forward to, Stoke facing Norwich, was a predictably dull contest. Charlie Adam got the only goal of the game in the 46th minute, striding into the box and finishing past Mark Bunn.
Norwich offered very little in response and were left in even more relegation trouble. Peter Crouch missed a good chance to increase the Potters’ lead, but they seem to be safe enough now.
Spurs and Wigan shared the spoils, which suited neither as they do battle at opposite ends of the table. The Latics shot themselves in the foot early on by conceding a calamitous goal after just nine minutes. Maynor Figueroa casually passed the ball back to his keeper Joel Robles, who booted a clearance off an advancing Gareth Bale and into the back of the net. Shambolic. At least they made amends quickly, and immediately levelled through Emerson Boyce heading in from a corner.
Callum McManaman fizzed in a shot in the 49th minute to give the Latics the lead, an excellent strike befitting of his first Premier League goal, but just as a crucial three points looked to be in the bag, a last minute own-goal from Boyce after a scramble in the box dented Wigan’s survival hopes.
Everton beat Fulham at Goodison Park. The only goal of the game was provided by Steven Pienaar in the 16th minute, finishing off a stylish team move involving Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman.
The Toffees had the better chances throughout the game, and should have doubled their lead when a sumptuous ball in from Leighton Baines fell to Marouane Fellaini unmarked at the back post. The Belgian’s shot ricocheted off the ground and bounced over the goal.
Fulham had chances too, coming closest through Urby Emanuelson’s 12-yard effort and a cross that Mladen Petric only just failed to connect with in front of goal, but couldn’t force a draw.
Referee Robert Madley was dishing out cards madly as Southampton welcomed West Brom. Marc-Antoine Fortune gave the Baggies the lead after just six minutes, the Saints failing to clear a corner and the ball just about crossing the line after Fortune had a couple of stabs at it.
Fortune was instrumental in the Baggies’ second in the 67th minute, playing in Romelu Lukaku who burst forward, rounded Artur Boruc and slotted home.
In a change of Fortunes for Fortune, he saw red after Gaston Ramirez appeared to elbow Shane Long and handbags ensued. Ramirez saw red for the elbow and Fortune for striking Ramirez.
Long managed to put the deadly assault behind him and scored West Brom’s 77th minute third through the legs of Boruc, and the Saints were soon down to nine as Danny Fox was dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Steven Reid. It’s all fun and games.
With Luis Suarez suspended for ten games for being a cannibal, many thought that Liverpool would lack a bit of bite up front. Chortle. Brendan Rodgers’ side swiftly proved them wrong with a rampant display at the home of Newcastle.
Daniel Agger opened the scoring after just three minutes, finding himself springing the offside trap like a striker and sending a looping header over Rob Elliot. Jordan Henderson doubled their lead in an incisive move in the 17th minute, of which Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge were architects of.
Alan Pardew brought on Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran at half time and the Magpies were momentarily back in the game but as soon as Coutinho robbed Ben Arfa of possession in the 54th minute, Liverpool sprang into action. The little Brazilian galloped forward and found Sturridge with a chipped pass, the striker finishing high into the roof of the net.
Sturridge grabbed his second on the hour mark, as captain Steven Gerrard pinged a delightful ball forward to Henderson, who found himself in acres of space in the box and squared for Sturridge to tap in.
Fabio Borini returned from a long term injury as a substitute and immediately bagged his first Premier League goal and Liverpool’s fifth of the afternoon in the 74th minute with a toe poke inside the box having only been on the pitch for a few seconds.
The final nail in the Magpies coffin came just two minutes later as Mathieu Debuchy received a second yellow card for a foul on Coutinho. From the resultant free-kick, Henderson’s ball in evaded all in the box and sailed into the back of the net.
On Sunday there was the frankly depressing clash between Reading and QPR. The game ended a goalless draw and resembled an aimless kickabout between two death row convicts preparing to face the lethal injection. Many viewers of the game would be seeking some sort of injection to liven them up after such a turgid game, which thankfully ended in relegation for both sides being confirmed.
QPR had most of the chances throughout the game but were found woefully lacking in finishing ability, their best chance coming from Esteban Granero’s shot that hit the bar. Jose Bosingwa thwarted a Pavel Pogrebnyak effort on the line at the other end. Cheerio Royals and Rs, it was nice (?) having you.
Chelsea saw off Swansea in the “ending in -sea derby”. They say that conceding a goal just before half time is the worst time to do so, so feel sorry for the Swans who conceded two. Oscar opened the scoring on 43 minutes with a powerful shot from just inside the box before Frank Lampard, who replaced an injured Ramires, netted from the spot after Juan Mata was brought down by Leon Britton.
Swansea appear to have been on holiday since their League Cup win and did little to trouble third spot chasing Chelsea, although Petr Cech did deny Angel Rangel in the second half.
Arsenal gave champions Manchester United a guard of honour at the Emirates as Robin Van Persie had an awkward date with his old lover and his new flame. The home fans were delighted when the Gunners went a goal up within two minutes after a move that all started with RVP giving the ball away. Theo Walcott looked slightly offside as he drifted behind Patrice Evra to collect a pass from Thomas Rosicky, and made no mistake in finishing past De Gea.
Inevitably, RVP scored the equaliser. He netted from the sport just before half time after former team-mate Bacary Sagna had flown into a clumsy challenge on him in the box. Both sides had chances to take the lead, but the score remained level.