26 December 2004

Arsenal (1) 2 (Henry 12, Pires 71)
Fulham (0) 0

Arsenal continue their pursuit of Chelsea with a comfortable home win
against Fulham who are sinking into the relegation dogfight. Thierry
Henry gave the hosts the lead with a jink inside and slotted finish
having been sent clear by Freddie Ljungberg. It was the Frenchman's
128th league goal for the club, equally the tally on Ian Wright. Victory
was secured late on when Ljungberg's cross was dummied by Dennis
Bergkamp, allowing Robert Pires to dribble his way into a shooting
position and then fire home.

Assists : Ljungberg (x2)

Birmingham (2) 2 (Morrison 10, Heskey 45)
Middlesbrough (0) 0

Middlesbrough slumped to defeat at Birmingham although they felt hard
done by having had an early goal ruled out for offside. The decision
angered Boro as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's shot was sliced into his own
net by Stan Lazaridis, however Mark Viduka was standing in an offside
position behind the Birmingham man and the flag was raised. It didn't
take the home side long to capitalise and take the lead when a long kick
was Maik Taylor was helped on by Emile Heskey and Clinton Morrison slid
the ball in from a tricky angle. On half time, the points were clinched
when a Robbie Savage cross found Heskey unmarked and his header found
the net.

Assists : Heskey, Savage

Blackburn (1) 2 (Dickov 26, Todd 54)
Newcastle (2) 2 (Dyer 6, Robert 34)

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness returned to the club that he left to move
to St James, however Blackburn did him no favours as they twice came
from behind to earn a draw. Newcastle took the lead when Laurent
Robert's through ball sent Kieron Dyer clear and his crisp finish gave
the keeper no chance. Quick thinking by Barry Ferguson put the home side
level as his quickly taken free kick found Paul Dickov in the area and
he turned and shot into the net. Another free kick restored Newcastle's
lead as Robert did his party piece with a stunning shot from all of 35
yards, however early in the second half, David Thompson's long range
shot wasn't held by Shay Given and Andy Todd was on hand to bobble in
the equaliser.

Assists : Robert, Ferguson, Dyer (won fk), n/a

Chelsea (1) 1 (Duff 30)
Aston Villa (0) 0

Chelsea stay clear at the top, although they were given a run for their
money against a determined Aston Villa side. The only goal came on the
half hour as Arjen Robben found Damien Duff and after skipping inside
the defender, he fired the ball into the net.

Assist : Robben

Crystal Palace (0) 0
Portsmouth (0) 1 (Primas 69)

Crystal Palace remain in trouble after losing at home to Portsmouth, a
result which sent the Fratton Park side into the top half. Just one goal
settled matters as Linvoy Primas rose to head home Patrick Berger's

Assists : Berger (ck)

Everton (1) 2 (Cahill 22, Bent 63)
Man City (1) 1 (Fowler 42)
SENT OFF: Negouai (Man City) 83

Everton stay third after a narrow win against Man City. All three goals
were headers as firstly Tim Cahill was left unmarked to thump in a free
kick from Thomas Gravesen, however just before half time, City levelled
matters when Robbie Fowler headed in Jon Macken's cross. The points were
won when Marcus Bent nodded in Gravesen's chip at the far post, however
the game ended on a sour note when City sub Christian Negouai was shown
a straight red card for a studs-first tackle on Bent.

Assists : Gravesen (fk), Macken, Gravesen

Man United (1) 2 (Giggs 10, Scholes 89)
Bolton (0) 0

Man United remain in fourth after their recent good form continued with
a win over out of form Bolton. Ryan Giggs gave United an early lead when
he converted Gabriel Heinze's cross with a far post volley and with a
minute to go, a solo run from Giggs helped set up Paul Scholes to wallop
the ball home from 20 yards. All that is likely to be forgotten
unfortuntely as the after-match talk was of Wayne Rooney who squared up
to Tal Ben Haim and pushed the Bolton man in the face. Ben Haim reacted
as though he'd been shot, however Rooney did raise his hands and
although all the officials missed the incident, it's likely to be looked
at by the video panel.

Assists : Ronaldo, n/a

Norwich (0) 0
Spurs (0) 2 (Keane 73, Brown 77)

Spurs' remarkable recent run was extended to seven succesive victories
with a win at struggling Norwich. Both goals came late on, firstly as
Robbie Keane scrambled the ball home after the hosts failed twice to
clear a corner and then four minutes later, Keane set up Michael Brown
to fizzed a shot in from 25 yards.

Assists : n/a, Keane

Southampton (0) 0
Charlton (0) 0

No goals at St Mary's, although Southampton will be happier with a point
than Charltom who had the better of the chances. Home keeper Antti Niemi
saved well from Jerome Thomas and Radostin Kishishev, however Shaun
Bartlett will be most disappointed as he broke the offside trap only to
head against the bar from close range.

West Brom (0) 0
Liverpool (1) 5 (Riise 17, 82, Sinema-Pongolle 51, Gerrard 55, Garcia 89)
SENT OFF: Contra (West Brom) 39
MISSED PEN: Baros (Liverpool) 40 - Saved

Bottom club West Brom were lambs to the slaughter for second week in a
row as they were walloped at home by Liverpool. The visitors took the
lead when Steven Gerrard's chip found John Arne Riise and his first time
side footed volley sailed across goal and inside the far post. Any hopes
that the home side had were realistically ended when Antonia Nunez's
goalbound header was handled by Cosmin Contra, although keeper Russell
Hoult was behind him and appeared to have the effort covered. Contra was
sent off, however Hoult did keep out Milan Baros' poor spot kick to keep
the score within range. Two goals in four minutes gave the scoreline a
more ominous look as firstly Florent Sinema-Pongolle bobbled in a volley
from Riise's cross and then Gerrard fired in off the post as Dietmar
Hamann tapped a free kick to him. With eight minutes remaining, Alonso's
pass was helped on by Hamann for Riise to bullet a shot into the top
corner and late on, Luis Garcia added a fifth with a tap in from Riise's

Assists : Gerrard, n/a, Hamann fk, n/a, Riise

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