It appears as though the races are down to two at the top, four for fourth, and five for relegation as just about every team has now played 30 matches. These next few weeks determine jobs, places in competitions and lots and lots of money.
Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham
Steve McManaman was correct during the broadcast of this game when he said, “This is a terrible game”. The boring 0-0 draw probably had a few factors to it, like it being a massive match in the race for fourth, or the fact that both teams had come off draining midweek fixtures, but give us a little more than what we saw Saturday, please. Juan Mata and Gareth Bale both hit the woodwork in the second half. There were also a couple close calls, like when Petr Cech and Ashley Cole kept Rafa van der Vaart off the line twice and a pair of penalty claims from Chelsea, but 0-0 was probably the correct result.
Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa
This is seven in a row for Arsenal and they now, easily, look like the favorites to finish third. Kieran Gibbs, rather surprisingly, got the opener as the Gunners looked like the winners all the way through. Theo Walcott added a good finish to a great Alex Song pass and Mikel Arteta a gorgeous free kick to make it three goals and three points.
Bolton 2-1 Blackburn
Bolton’s first match after the collapse of Fabrice Muamba went the way anyone but Blackburn fans wanted it to go. Rovers had an early penalty claim turned down and Bolton took advantage of their luck and took the lead with a David Wheater header. Six minutes later it was that man Wheater again with his head to double the lead. Stephen Nzonzi got one back after halftime but this was Bolton’s afternoon.
Liverpool 1-2 Wigan
How would Liverpool respond to the dramatic collapse when they gave up a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to QPR? Most thought that the Reds would come out strong and make a statement: wrong. A loss at home to Wigan is not what they needed. Martin Skyrtel kicked Victor Moses, which led to a penalty that Shaun Maloney converted to give the away side the advantage. Luis Suarez equalized in the second half when Steven Gerrard played in the Uruguayan. Suarez thought he put Liverpool ahead just minutes later but his goal was disallowed for a push on the goal line. The Anfield faithful were then furious as Gary Caldwell put Wigan back in front after 63 minutes. It stayed that way and Wigan gained three vital points.
Norwich 2-1 Wolves
It is starting to look really ominous for Wolves. They started brightly and even took a Matt Jarvis-inspired lead. Then Grant Holt happened. First, he ran on to a ball over the top of the defense and chipped it over the keeper’s head and finished the move off with his head. He then converted a penalty after a Wolves handball. And, to top things off he was shown a second yellow and sent off. Norwich held on without him to end their four match winless streak.
Sunderland 3-1 QPR
Niklas Bendtner gave Sunderland the lead while Djibril Cisse made things easier for the Black Cats when the QPR striker was sent off for a two-footed challenge. James McClean doubled then Stephane Sessegnon tripled the Sunderland lead. Even with a late Taye Taiwo goal, QPR didn’t show up, and you have to think that the exhausting 3-2 comeback win over Liverpool on Wednesday had some effect.
Swansea 0-2 Everton
This result was a little surprising as Swansea came in on a good run of form and at home, too. A Leighton Baines free kick and Nikica Jelavic tap in on either side of halftime undid Brendan Rodgers side and earned Everton and impressive away victory.
Stoke 1-1 Manchester City
It took until the 59th minute for someone to score in this game but what a goal it was. Peter Crouch’s deep volley may be the goal of the season and gave Stoke the lead in this important match. Yaya Toure leveled with a long-range shot of his own but the score line wouldn’t change after that. Two more dropped points for City and the title is getting harder and harder to win.
West Brom 1-3 Newcastle
This one was over early as Newcastle went 3-0 up after just 34 minutes thanks to two goals from Papiss Demba Cisse and one from Hatem Ben Arfa. West Brom did pull one back when Shane Long took advantage of a defensive error but it meant nothing in the end as Newcastle took home all three points.
Manchester United 1-0 Fulham
A lone Wayne Rooney, follow up goal was all United needed to add yet another just-get-the-job-done type win to their record. With this win the Red Devils move three points clear of City at the top of the table. Fulham came to play but didn’t have enough in this very average match.
Player of the week is going to Peter Crouch, because his goal was simply awesome. Team of the week has to go to Bolton for getting the win for their teammate, Fabrice Muamba. There wasn’t a ton of late drama this weekend but plenty of movement and important results were earned. Eight games to go folks.