2 January 2005

Arsenal (2) 4 (Henry (pen) 30, Hoyte 45, Van Persie (pen) 76, 90)
Charlton (0) 0
SENT OFF : Sankofa (Charlton) 28

Arsenal had few problem seeing off lowly Charlton in a game where they 
could have easily doubled the four goals that they did score. Charlton 
held out for almost half an hour before a shot from Cesc Fabregas took a 
wicked deflection and looped against the bar and as Robin Van Persie 
went to bury the the loose ball, he was held back by Osei Sankofa who 
was shown a straight red card. Thierry Henry, returning from injury, 
easily netted from the spot. On half time the lead was doubled from the 
unlikely boot of Justin Hoyte who played a neat one-two with Henry 
before clipping past Scott Carson and inside the far post from an acute 
angle. Two Van Persie goals wrapped it up. Firstly from another penalty, 
blasted in after Henry had his shirt pulled by Souleymane Diawara and 
then in stoppage time he was set up by Mattieu Flamini to score with a 
cheeky chip.

Attendance : 60,057
Assists : Van Persie (won pen), Henry, Henry (won pen), Flamini

Aston Villa (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 0

No goals at Villa Park as Chelsea again lost the chance to gain ground 
on Man United at the top. Chelsea had the better of a goalless first 
half yet never really got into top gear with Ashley Cole coming as close 
as anyone with a header straight at keeper Gabor Kiraly. The second half 
was more of the same with Villa a little more of a threat but largely 
frustrating the Champions. Late on, Frank Lampard shot over from close 
range and Didier Drogba headed over the bar in a half that saw no shots 
on target!

Attendance : 41,006
Assist : n/a

1 January 2005

Happy New Year to one and all....

Liverpool (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 1 (Cole 80)

Chelsea start the new year as they ended the old, with a hard fought
away win courtesy of a late goal from Joe Cole, this time Liverpool were
on the receiving end. Liverpool had by far the better of the first half
with Petr Cech saving well from a clearance which thudded goalwards off
of Antonio Nunez and then watching as Jamie Carragher smashed an effort
just over. The hosts also had two decent penalty shouts turned down,
including a handball against Tiago where it appeared that the referee
put the whistle to his mouth only to change his mind. The second half
was more even and more scrappy, however the points were clinched with
ten minutes remaining when a deep corner was met at the far post by the
unmarked Glen Johnson, his cushioned header was perfect for Cole to
strike from the edge of the area and it found the net via a deflection
off of the boot of Carragher.

Assist : n/a

Aston Villa (0) 1 (Solano 88)
Blackburn (0) 0

Villa maintained their surge for a European spot with a late winner
against struggling Blackburn. A poor game was decided when Nol Solano
nodded in Gareth Barry's corner, although the ball went in via a
defender on the goalline.

Assist : Barry (ck)

Bolton (0) 1 (Diouf 85)
West Brom (1) 1 (Gera 13)

Bolton ended their run of recent defeats but only thanks to a late
equaliser at home to bottom club West Brom. Like many games on New Years
Day, it was played in awful conditions with rain and strong wind
dominating and they probably played a part as the visitors took an early
lead. A mishit shot by Jonathon Greening fell to Zoltan Gera and his
effort from the edge of the area slid into the bottom corner. Bolton
earned a point with five minutes left as Andy Hunt's cross was turned in
off the bar by El Hadji Diouf.

Assists : Greening, Hunt

Charlton (1) 1 (El Karkouri 45)
Arsenal (1) 3 (Ljungberg 35, 48, Van Persie 67)

Arsenal keep up their relentless pursuit of Chelsea with a good victory
at Charlton, themselves in decent recent form. The Gunners took the lead
when Patrick Vieira surged into the area and found Freddie Ljungberg who
turned and shot home despite the close attention of three defenders.
Charlton levelled matters on the stroke of half time when a free kick
was touched to Talal El Karkouri and his blistering 30 yard effort flew
into the net, however three minutes after the restart, Ljungberg fired
in his second after a superb backheel by Cesc Fabregas had given him the
chance to run on. The points were secured when Robin Van Persie latched
onto an awful back header by Jonathon Fortune to volley home from a
tight angle.

Assists : Vieira, Holland (fk), Fabregas, n/a

Fulham (1) 3 (Cole 4, 60, Radzinski 73)
Crystal Palace (1) 1 (Johnson (pen) 35)

Fulham earn some breathing space ahead of the relegation zone with a
victory against London and drop zone rival Crystal Palace. The hosts
took an early lead when Thomasz Radzinski played in Andrew Cole who
turned and shot home the first Prem goal of 2005, however Palace
equalised when Andy Johnson was tripped in the area by keeper Edwin van
Der Sar and then fired the penalty home, although the Dutch stopper did
get his hand to the ball. Cole then restored the lead on the hour after
collecting a pass from Steed Malbranque, he beat two men and toepoked
the ball in and the win was wrapped up when Malbranque crossed for
Radzinski to slide in at the far post and add the third.

Assists : Radzinski, Johnson (won pen), Malbranque, Malbranque

Man City (2) 2 (Bosvelt 19, Wright-Phillips (S) 40)
Southampton (0) 1 (Phillips (pen) 90)

Southampton remain in serious trouble at the bottom after another
defeat, this time at the hands of Man City. The home side had blown a
win in their previous home game against West Brom courtesy of a freak
own goal by Richard Dunne, however he had a hand in both goals this time
around as firstly his far post header from a corner was nodded in by
Paul Bosvelt and then his pass to Shaun Wright-Phillips saw the
youngster turn brilliantly, run at goal and then drill the ball from
from 25 yards off the post. Saints did grab a late consolation thanks to
a blasted penalty by Kevin Phillips, however the kick was awarded
because Peter Crouch seemed to fall over a combination of his feet and
the ball, rather than from a tackle by Sylvain Distin.

Assists : Dunne, Dunne

Newcastle (2) 2 (Ameobi 6, Bowyer 44)
Birmingham (0) 1 (Heskey 64)

Three useful points for Newcastle, although they were made to swaet a
little by Birmingham's second half comeback. The home side took an early
lead when Shola Ameobi headed home powerfully from Craig Bellamy's cross
and with half time approaching, the lead was doubled when Laurent Robert
took advantage of a slip by Mario Melchiot and crossed for Lee Bowyer to
fire in. Birmingham pulled a goal back when Clinton Morrison set up
Emile Heskey to blast a shot inside the near post, but the equaliser
never arrived.

Assists : Bellamy, Robert, Morrison

Portsmouth (0) 1 (Yakubu (pen) 61
Norwich (1) 1 (Francis 9)
RED CARD: Edworthy (Norwich) 5

Remarkable game at Fratton Park that saw a three times taken penalty and
visitors Norwich a man down and a goal up inside the opening nine
minutes. The red card came as Diomansy Kamara threatened to burst clear
and was tripped by Marc Edworthy. Despite being 40 yards from goal, the
referee produced a straight red for one of the quickest sendings off in
Premiership history. Norwich made light of it though and took the lead
shortly afterwards when a cross by Darren Huckerby was cleared to Damien
Francis who controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed in from the
edge of the area. The equaliser came on the hour after a handball in the
area by Leon McKenzie gave Yakubu a chance from the penalty spot and
although he cheekily chipped keeper Robert Green, the referee awarded a
retake due to Kamara being almost level with his team mate as he struck
the ball. Yakubu then sent Green the wrong way only for another
encroached played to be spotted by the eagle-eyed official who awarded
the kick to be taken yet again. Third time lucky for Portsmouth as
Yakuby produced a carbon copy of his second effort to earn a point.

Assists : n/a, n/a

Spurs (2) 5 (Marney 16, 80, Ziegler 27, Mendes 59, Keane 68)
Everton (1) 2 (Cahill 40, McFadden 87)

Spurs are rapidly challenging the Big Three as regards recent form is
concerned as they walloped fourth placed Everton in a game that they
could have easily netted double their eventual five. Twenty year old
debutant Dean Marney stole the show with two goals, the first a lovely
lob after Robbie Keane had flicked on a chip from Pedro Mendes and the
second with ten minutes to go, a fine run from the half way line,
culminating with a brilliant curling effort from fully 25 yards. There
was much to admire between his brace though as Reto Ziegler doubled the
lead with what was also his first goal of a season, a near post volley
after Fredi Kanoute was nodded on a long throw. Everton then pulled one
back as a double header from Marcus Bent set up Tim Cahill to score with
a stinging volley, however the two goal cushion was restored when Mendes
decided that his first goal for the club was overdue also and having
collected a pass from Kanoute, made space on the edge of the area and
fired in. Keane added a fourth with a far post tap in as Marney turned
provider and after the youngster's encore, Everton had the final say
when Cahill found James McFadden wide and he belted the ball inside the
far post.

Assists : Keane, Kanoute, Bent, Kanoute, Marney, Carrick, Cahill

Middlesbrough (0) 0
Man United (1) 2 (Fletcher 9, Giggs 79)

Man United kept the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea with a comfortable
win at Middlesbrough with Ryan Giggs again at the heart of the victory.
It was a shot from the Welshman that helped open the scoring as his
effort was parried by Mark Schwarzer only for Darren Fletcher to tap
home the rebound. The lead was doubled late on when Eric Djemba-Djemba
found Giggs on the edge of the area and having jinked past one man, he
prodded the ball past the keeper and it rolled agonisingly over the line
inside the far post.

Assists : n/a, n/a

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