Aston Villa 2 – 0 Cardiff
Travelling Welsh side Cardiff City went into this fixture at the weekend full of confidence. On the back of an impressive win over much feared rivals Swansea, Malky Mckay’s Bluebirds’ were looking to take all three points away from a struggling Aston Villa side at Villa Park.
It was Paul Lambert’s side that started the brightest however, after working a few half chances in the opening moments through Christian Benteke and Karim El Ahmadi. The first half was contested with little clear cut opportunities, with Villa pressing Cardiff well, but with no real quality in attack to test the Bluebirds defence.
As the second half progressed it was Villa that really where in the ascendency. New striker Libor Koazk, who signed for £7m from Lazio on deadline day, tested the Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall with a powerful header. Belgian striker Benteke came close to opening the scoring again as his header could only be directed narrowly wide.
It was a moment of sheer brilliance to separate the two teams. Leandro Bacuna was the difference, as his 30-yard free kick broke the deadlock with the first goal of the game and left keeper Marshall stranded with no hope.
Villa Park was rocking again eight minutes on as Kozak doubled the lead with a header that was eventually bundled over the line.
The victory, and more importantly goals, was Lambert’s teams first since the 3-2 victory over Manchester City back in September, when the now injured Andreas Weimann bagged the winner.
The Villa win cements the Midlands club half way in the Premier League at tenth, whilst a loss for MacKay’s boys leaves Cardiff down in 13th. It could be a difficult first season for the Welsh club as they host David Moyes’ Manchester United after the international break.
Chelsea 2 – 2 West Brom
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea left it until the very last stages of the match to salvage a point to West Brom as they managed to keep hold of the Portuguese managers unbeaten home record at Stamford Bridge.
A controversial spot kick from Belgian Eden Hazard in the final moments of stoppage time was enough to rescue a point for the London club.
Chelsea went into the game on the front foot, pressing high up the park right from the off.
After a few half chances, including a sumptuous free kick from Oscar that stung the gloves of keeper Boaz Myhill, the Blues took the lead.
The goal came through striker Samuel Eto’o, who was given the nod ahead of Demba Ba after the recent injury to Fernando Torres. Eto’o pounced on a lose ball in the West Brom 18-yard box and the Cameroon international put the West Londoners ahead.
But the Baggies showed real determination to fight back. Summer signing Stephance Sessegnon and striker Shane Long were able to put the ball in the back of the net to keep Blues fans sweating.
Chelsea kept pressuring the Baggies’ defence, and it didn’t look like they were going to be broken. This was until Ramires powered his way into the box and collided with defender Steven Reid. Referee Andre Marriner took a long time to make his decision, but eventually awarded the spot kick to Chelsea and Hazard was on hand to draw the teams level.
The draw leaves Chelsea currently four points away from rivals Arsenal at the top of the table and keeps West Brom in the top half of the Premier League.
Crystal Palace 0 – 0 Everton
Bottom of the league and without a manager, it seems as if it will be a difficult season for the newly promoted London club. This weekend they hosted Roberto Martinez’s Everton who went into the game in seventh place.
The game was an unspectacular one, but Palace caretaker manager Keith Millen will rue a number of missed chances.
The Eagles went close through Kagisho Dikgacio, but the South African couldn’t test veteran keeper Tim Howard, as his header was poor and sailed over more like a clearance than an actual effort upon goal.
Jerome Thomas also went close in the match, but his shot was expertly tipped over via Howard.
The point lifts Everton into 6th place, five points off of leaders Arsenal and three behind fierce rivals Liverpool.
Palace meanwhile stays at the foot of the table. The point was the club’s first in eight matches and the London club will look to gain a more steady income of points if they are to stay in the top flight next season.
Liverpool 4 – 0 Fulham
The Red half of Liverpool will be celebrating this weekend after a emphatic 4-0 victory over Martin Jol’s Fulham.
Luis Suarez stole the show as per usual as the Uruguayan picked up a brace. He was also helped out through Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel, who has recently come back into the side after a poor season last campaign.
Brendan Rodgers’ side opened the scoring through an own goal. Steven Gerrard looked to silence critics after his bellow par performance against table topping Arsenal last weekend, and the captain helped in the opening goal. His free kick was expertly placed into the box as Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger looked to head the ball in. Both players missed and the ball eventually rebounded off of defender Fernando Amorebieta before going in.
Liverpool kept dominating the game and soon went 2-0 up through a header from Skrtel, again Gerrard with the assist.
The Reds looked rampant and didn’t want to stop. Suarez played in typical fashion and was able to make it 3-0 before half time. A expertly played team goal was finished after a glorious ball from Jordan Henderson to set up Suarez , who easily pushed the ball past the on rushing Maarten Stekelenburg.
Liverpool kept up the pressure in the second half, however were only allowed to extend their lead once more via Suarez after a string of good saves from Stekenlenburg. This was not for the want of trying as both Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge both came close to extended the scoreline.
The win puts Liverpool right back in the race for fourth spot as Rodgers’ side still lay in second, two points behind leaders Arsenal.
Southampton 4 – 1 Hull
Southampton continued their incredible start to the new campaign with a 4-1 victory at home to Hull City.
Adam Lallana was on hand to score a truly fabulous individual goal, as the Saints now lay third in the table. Lallana, who has recently just been called up to the England squad for this weeks friendlies, had a moment of pure genius, as his 30-yard solo run was ended with a sublime finish.
Other goals from Ricky Lambert, Robert Schneiderlin and Steven Davis enforced Southampton’s dominance on the game as Hull could only reply with a solitary goal from Yannick Sagbo.
The win leaves Mauricio Pochettino’s side in third place, way beyond many Southampton fans belief. The Argentine manager remembered to thank his players at the end of the match saying: “I want to congratulate all of my players. They put in an amazing performance - all of them. I think they all have amazing potential, they just all need to keep on developing their football, they all need to keep progressing as football players and playing for their national sides will give them that confidence and chance to perform at a higher quality."
The loss for Hull does need read so well however, as the Tigers ended the weekend in 12th position.
Norwich 3 – 1 West Ham
A second half fight back from Norwich rescued all three points after an early goal from youngster Ravel Morrison set the Hammers well on there way to claim all three points.
Goals from Gary Hooper, Robert Snodgrass and Leroy Fer wrapped up the points for the East Anglian club, who climb away from the bottom three to 15th.
English forward Gary Hooper was able to bag his first goal of the campaign via the spot kick early on in the second half to level the scores. This was after Finish keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen sent the striker tumbling in the 54th minute and referee Jonathan Moss awarded a spot kick.
Hooper dispatched his penalty coolly and the game almost instantly turned on its head. West Ham had been pressing Norwich all match after Morrision took the lead, but for the rest of the game they were left chasing shadows as the Canaries ran away with the game.
Firstly Snodgrass put Christ Hughton’s side ahead with a lovely curling effort, to grab his first goal of the season, before Fer was able to add a third in the last few minutes of the match.
The win eases pressure from Hughton and his side slightly after they were back to winning ways following the 7-0 thrashing they suffered at the hand of Manchester City.