It was yet another intriguing Saturday of action around the Barclays Premier League with 6 games in action including both of the Manchester clubs and fellow title hopefuls Liverpool all in action. Some other notable games on the slate included Newcastle’s journey to Wales to take on Cardiff City, Hull’s home match against a depleted and Benteke-less Aston Villa, and Fulham’s clash with Stoke City as Martin Jol’s seat gets increasingly hotter at Craven Cottage.
We’ll start in Manchester at the Etihad Stadium for the lunchtime match between Manchester City and Everton. The match featured 2 teams going in opposite directions at the moment with the home Citizens struggling and keeper Joe Hart playing very poorly while Everton entered the match as the ONLY unbeaten team left in the BPL and Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku bagging goals by the bag load for them. It was indeed Lukaku who opened the scoring in the match as well, giving Everton the lead after 16 minutes by finishing past a stretched out Joe Hart, who could only get a piece of the shot as it bounced into the net behind him. The disgruntled City fans only had but a few seconds to fume though as Alvaro Negredo leveled the match only a mere minute later by expertly placing past Tim Howard having been allowed far too much space to operate in the Everton defense. From that moment onwards, the match truly belonged to City as they had the lions share of the possession and attacking threats thereafter, leading to Sergio Aguero’s eventual match winner in first half stoppage time courtesy of a power shot past an exasperated Howard. A final Manchester goal was added in slapstick style come the 69th minute when an Aguero penalty was denied by Howard before it rebounded off the post, off of Howard’s majestically shiny cranium, and into goal for the tumultuous own goal that finally put Everton out of the match with City cruising from that point to a 3-1 victory.
Our next stop is Cardiff for the Bluebirds’ showdown with Alan Pardew and Newcastle, who lost a thriller last time out 3-2 to Everton at Goodison Park. The Magpies appeared to rebound nicely in the early going though as QPR loanee Loic Remy notched two goals in the first half only 8 minutes apart to give Newcastle a 2-0 halftime advantage. The first was a dipping strike on 30 minutes that Cardiff keeper David Marshall would have liked to done better with, while the secondly was a well placed effort in the 38th that Marshall could do nothing about. Cardiff mounted a nice response in the second 45 and found a goal on 58 minutes through Peter Odemwingie, but that was all they could muster as a couple late Tim Krul stops secured the win for Newcastle.
Simultaneously over by the Thames, Fulham picked up their 2nd win of the season by way of a 1-0 decision over visiting Stoke with Darren Bent claiming the late winner come the 83rd minute. It was an all important 3 point for Martin Jol’s men, as both the Dutch manager and his players had come under fire for a lack of results (and goals) in recent weeks. The same criticisms seemed destined for them again when Bent intervened, producing a truly splendid goal that saw him out maneuver 3 Stoke defenders including keeper Asmir Begovic before finishing into a now empty net.
Here is Mark Hughes after the game reflecting on the performance put on by his Stoke side.
Next we visit Hull for the Tigers’ encounter with a bare-bones Aston Villa side missing a number of key players, not the least of whom being Cristian Benteke, who is out until at least the end of the month due to the hip injury he suffered versus Norwich City. Conversely, Hull City were also missing their main goal scorer and penalty taker extraordinaire Robert Brady for the match as he also missed out due to injury. The resulting match was unsurprisingly one of few chances for each side and the capacity crowd at the KC Stadium were treated (?) to a scoreless draw as Hull continue to rack up the points under the radar.
No highlights, the game was simply just not that entertaining…
Liverpool hosted Crystal Palace at Anfield in the final of the 3:00pm kickoff matches. This was exacted to be a huge uphill battled for the Londoners and frankly, it was just that as the Merseysiders recorded a cool, crisp 3-1 win. It was the Suarez and Sturridge show early on for the ‘Pool as both notched goals within the first 20 minutes to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead. A Steven Gerrard penalty only added to the traveling support’s misery on 38 minutes as the hosts claimed and took a 3-0 lead into the break. Palace played better in the second half (they couldn’t have been much worse) and managed a consolation header from Dwight Gayle on 77 minutes, which dulled the pain a bit from the heavy defeat they suffered nonetheless.
Finally, the day’s action wrapped up at the Stadium of Light with Sunderland hosting Manchester United, who were in desperate need of win in any form. Any form is exactly how they took it too as relatively unknown Albanian midfielder Adnan Januzaj played the role of hero for the Red Devils. United found themselves in an awful position after just 5 minutes with Craig Gardener firing the Black Cats to an early lead. It was a lead which they held for sometime as well and it wasn’t broken until the 55th when Januzaj claimed his first of the day. He went on to complete his brace and win the match for United only 6 minutes later through a cracking volley with his left foot that found the bottom left corner of goal as Manchester United avoided total disaster while further plummeting Sunderland into the deep black hole known as the drop.
(apologies for the crappy footage but anyways, here is Januzaj’s winner)