11 May 2005

Arsenal 7 (Van Persie 8, Pires 11, 50, Vieira 37, Edu 69 pen, Bergkamp 77, Flamini 85)
Everton 0

Arsenal celebrated clinching second place in the league with a crushing
7-0 win over fourth placed Everton who looked shell-shocked from the
constant barrage of attacks handed out against them. Everton began confidently
enough, however they were rocked by two goals in a three minute spell.
The first was direct from Holland as Dennis Bergkamp collected the ball in
the final third, slotted it between defenders to send Robin Van Persie
through and his first time, side-footed effort found the back of the net with
ease. Bergakmp then sent a longer ball forward down the flank for Jose Antonio
Reyes to run onto. His cutback found Robert Pires on the edge of the area
and although his shot was well saved by Richard Wright, he was first to
the rebound and looped a header home via the underside of the bar. A third
goal followed eight minutes before the break, starting with a lovely series
of one touch passing and culmnating with Bergkamp again at the heart of
things as he found another chipped through ball to send Patrick Vieira clear
and he flicked it over Wright and in. If that wasn't bad enough for Everton,
the Gunners sent on Thierry Henry at half time for his first game since
recovering from a groin injury and within five minutes, he set up a
goal, alebit with an element of luck as his attempted pass struck Lee Carsley
and fell perfectly for Pires to slot past Wright. They needed a bit more
luck for the fifth as Carsley handled in the area, despite looking as though
he was trying to get his arm away from henry's pass, and the ref awarded a
penalty. The ball was handed to Edu - playing his final game at Highbury
before leaving in the summer - and his shot found the bottom corner,
although Wright was very close to keeping it out. Eight minutes later, a
long punt forwrad by Jens Lehmann was nodded on by Reyes and as David
Weir tried to clear, he hammered it against Bergkamp who was first to the
dropping ball to bobble a shot past the stunned visiting keeper as
Arsenal became the first side to score more than five in a Prem game this
season. They still weren't finished though as a further eight minutes on saw
Henry cross for Reyes to cut it back across goal at the far post and sub
Mathieu Flamini fired home his first goal for the Gunners.

Attendance : 38,073
Assists : Bergkamp, n/a, Bergkamp, n/a, n/a, n/a, Reyes

10 May 2005

Man United (1) 1 (Van Nistelrooy 8)
Chelsea (1) 3 (Tiago 17, Gudjohnsen 61, Cole 82)

Champions Chelsea showed their credentials by coming from behind at Old
Trafford to become the first team to win away at Man United in the
league this season. United began well and could have scored twice early
on through Cristiano Ronaldo before taking the lead through the
returning Ruud van NIstelrooy. The provider was Wayne Rooney whose
corner was cleared back to him via a Paul Scholes shot blocked by Robert
Huth. Rooney then drilled the ball across goal in an attempt probably
meant as a shot, however Van Nistelrooy just stayed onside and tapped
the ball in from close range. If United's goal was on the cards,
Chelsea's equaliser was totally out of the blue (pun intended!). It came
from Tiago who collected a pass from Claude Makelele in midfield and
then unleashed a swerving, dipping shot from 30-yards that sailed in via
the top of the post, leaving Roy Carroll to stand and admire it. Chelsea
began the second half well as Joe Cole had a shot well saved, although
United came desperately clos when Darren Ferguson cracked a shot against
the bar from long range. Chelsea took the lead just after the hour mark
when Tiago's through ball pur Eidur Gudjohnsen away and he cooly clipped
it over Carroll and in, although thekeeper did go to ground rather
quickly. United were all at sea at the back and almost went further
behind when Wes Brown walloped a clearance against William Gallas and
was relieved to see the ball rocket inches over. This was emphasised
further with eight minutes to go when they gave the ball away in their
final third and when Frank Lampard crossed, Joe Cole was at the near
post to tap in the third, although replays did show that he was a yard
offside. The win also breaks two United Prem records for 38 games in
that Chelsea now have 29 wins and 94 points with still one more game to
come! It equally confirms second place for Arsenal, giving United a two
legged game to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League next

Attendance : 67,832
Assists : n/a, Makelele, Tiago, Lampard

8 May 2005

Arsenal 3 (Pires 25 fk, Reyes 29, Fabregas 90)
Liverpool 1 (Gerrard 51)

Everton are guaranteed fourth place and a Champions League spot (UEFA &
the FA permitting!) after local rivals Liverpool were beaten 3-1 at
Arsenal who themselves effectively guaranteed second place barring a
mathamatical freak show over their final two games. Two goals in five
minutes set the Gunners up, firstly when Robert Pires clipped in a 20
yard free kick that left keeper Jerzy Dudek rooted to the spot and then
he set up Jose Antonio Reyes to waltz through a static Liverpool defence
to fire in the second. Liverpool battled back after half time and pulled
a goal back when Dietmar Hamann tapped a free kick to Steven Gerrard to
drill in from the edge of the area, however in stoppage time, Arsenal
confirmed victory when Lauren and Dennis Bergkamp combined to put Cesc
Fabregas through and he finished well to wrap up the points.

Attendance : 38,119
Assists : Vieira (won fk), Pires, Hamann (fk), Bergkamp

7 May 2005

Manchester United 1 (Giggs 21)
West Brom (Earnshaw 63 pen)

Former Man United legend Bryan Robson returned to Old Trafford as boss
of West Brom and haunted his former club by coming from behind to earn an
unlikely draw. United totally dominated the first half and went ahead
under controversial circumstances when Ryan Giggs took a leaf from Thierry
Henry's book and took a quickly taken free kick on the edge of the area, albeit
with the permission of the ref, and found the bottom corner past Russell
Hoult who had been injured in an earlier incident. West Brom began the second
half better and created a couple of half chances, however United should have
doubled their lead only for Kleberson to blaze over from 12 yards.
Cristiano Ronaldo then shot inches wide before more controversy, this time in
favour of the visitors. John O'Shea's weak bcak header was chased by the United
defender and Geoff Horsfield and although both seemed to be holding each
other, the forward went down a little easily and the ref awarded a penalty.
Robert Earnshaw kept his cool and sent Roy Carroll the wrong way to give
the Midland side a lifeline. Within four minutes, United made a triple
change with Paul Scholes, Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney all coming on and they
had an impact as Saha had a shot well saved and Scholes fizzed a long range
effort that thudded back off the post. Rooney forced a superb save from the
keeper from a free kick and with it went United's final chance to snatch a win.
The Baggies now need to win their final game against Portsmouth AND hope
that other results go their way to stand any chance of beating the drop. For
their part, United will fall six points behind second placed Arsenal if
they beat Liverpool tomorrow, leaving United needing to win their final two
games and hope that the Gunners lose theirs.

Attendance : 67,827
Assists : Smith (won pen), Horsfield (won pen)

Aston Villa 1 (Angel 62)
Manchester City 2 (Wright-Phillips 5, Musampa 12)

Man City kept up their unlikely late surge for a UEFA Cup spot with a
win at fellow hopefuls Aston Villa who are rapidly falling away. City
had it won inside twelve minutes, by which time they were two goals up.
The first was a cracking solo run from Shaun Wright-Phillips,
culminating in a shot into the bottom corner and the lead was doubled
when Antoine Sibierski and Jonathon Macken set up Kiki Musampa whose
shot from the edge of the area found the top corner. Villa pulled one
back on the hour when Lee Hendrie's dummy found Juan Pablo Angel who
engineered enough space to fire in at the near post, however the defeat
officially put Villa out of the running for European football next
season, unless they fancy the InterToto of course.

Attendance : 39,645
Assists : Reyna, Macken, De La Cruz

Blackburn 1 (Neill 6)
Fulham 3 (Malbranque 20, 77, McBride 53)

Four goals, a missed penalty and two red cards in a minute in a crazy
game at Ewood Park, made all the more remarkable by the fact that
neither club has anything to play for except pride and league position.
Blackburn went ahead early on when Brett Emerton found Lucas Neill who
skipped past a defender and slotted home with a neat finish, however
Fulham were level less than fifteen minutes later when Lee Clark's
cutback was slotted in easily by the unmarked Steed Malbranque. Early in
the second half, the Londoners went ahead when a deep corner missed
everyone except Brian McBride who drilled the ball in at the far post.
Then the fun and games began! Firstly Blackburn were awarded a penalty
when Luis Boa Morte wrestled Morten Gamst Pedersen to the ground in an
off the ball incident - the sort that we see at many set pieces in every
game on every weekend and they are rarely given. This time it WAS given
(and rightly so!), however Robbie Savage stepped up only to see Edwin
Van Der Sar make an excellent one handed save. It seemed to light the
blue touch paper and ten minutes later, Boa Morte launched into a late
tackle and was almost instantly shoved to the ground by a furious Craig
Short. The Fulham man saw yellow, whilst Short was shown a straight red.
He was barely down the tunnel when Liam Rosenior faced up to Savage and
gave him a similar push which ultimately gained a similar straight red
to level it out at ten a side. Fulham still weren't finished though and
wrapped up the points when Clark found Malbranque to slot in the third.
As a final aside to this game, if you get the chance to see the second
red card (Rosenior), watch for his team mate Lee Clark just after he
pushes Savage. Clark is absolutely furious with his colleague and pushes
him away on a couple of occasions even before the red is brandished!

Attendance : 18,991
Red Cards : Short 69 (Blackburn), Rosenior 70 (Fulham)
Assists : Emerton, Clark, Pembridge (ck), Clark 

Crystal Palace 2 (Hall 34, Ventola 72)
Southampton 2 (Crouch 37 pen, Higginbotham 93)

Southampton are rapidly becoming the late show kings as, for the second
week in a row, the earn vital extra points with a late strike. Again, as
with last week, their opponents are fellow relegation possibles as the
battle to beat the drop gets ever tighter. In truth, both Palace or
Southampton looked nervy for the opening half an hour, however the game
burst into life with two quick goals, starting with Palace taking the
lead thanks to ex-Saints man Fitz Hall. Southampton were struggling to
clear a corner and after Andy Johnson miscontrolled on the edge of the
area, he was lucky that it fell to team mate Hall who curled in a beauty
after a neat turn and shot. Literally from the kick off, the visitors
were awarded a penalty after a blatant handball from Tony Popovic. It
took over two minutes to get the kick taken, largely due to the strong
wind blowing the ball from the spot, however eventually Peter Crouch
kept his nerve and found the bottom corner, although the keeper did go
the right way. Just before the hour, Crouch turned to villain after
clashing with Gonzalo Sorondo. The lanky striker tried, and failed, to
kick his opponent and then pushed him instead, an act that saw him red
carded. Sorondo was also dismissed and initially it appeared that he'd
done absolutely nothing wrong, however TV replays caught him swinging a
hand at Graeme Le Saux, so the decision was vindicated. Palace then went
ahead with a goal out of nothing as a long ball forward from Tom Soares
found Nicola Ventola in stacks of space and he finished with ease. Three
minutes of stoppage time was almost up when Saints had one last attack
and as Kevin Phillips sliced an effort across goal, the unlikely figure
of Danny Higginbotham was at the far post to find the back of the net.

Attendance : 26,066
Red Cards : Crouch 58 (Southampton), Sorondo 59 (Crystal Palace)
Assists : n/a, n/a, Soares, Phillips

Everton 2 (Weir 43, Cahill 59)
Newcastle 0

Everton all but clinched that final Champions League spot (unless
Liverpool beat Milan on 25 May, but that's another story) with a win
over Newcastle. The visitors had the better of the first half but went
behind just before half time when Mikael Arteta's free kick was met at
the far post by a diving header from David Weir. Their caused was helped
when Shola Ameobi was sent off for pushing Tim Cahill in the back of the
head, although I had some sympathy for the Newcastle man as Cahill had
clearly been pulling his shirt seconds before. It mattered little though
as Cahill then doubled the lead, finishing well after Arteta's shot had
fallen straight to him.

Attendance : 40,438
Red Cards : Ameobi 56 (Newcastle)
Assists : Arteta (fk), Arteta

Middlesbrough 1 (Boateng 11)
Tottenham 0

Middlesbrough need a point from their final game to clinch the last UEFA
Cup spot after a narrow win against fellow hopefuls Spurs. The only goal
came early after Szilard Nemeth found George Boateng on the edge of the
area and his shot found the net, helped by a slight deflection.

Attendance : 34,776
Assist : Nemeth

Norwich 1 (Ashton 45 pen)
Birmingham 0

A win for Norwich in their final game will see them stay up after their
fourth succesive home win, this time against Birmingham. They were
helped hugely by a rush of blood to the head from Damien Johnson who
punched Thomas Helveg in the stomach after the pair had tussled for the
ball. The winning goal came on half time when Darren Huckerby was
tripped in the area by Kenny Cunningham and Dean Ashton converted the
spot kick with ease, sending the keeper the wrong way. Could Delia yet
stay up? A win at Fulham next Sunday would confirm it.

Attendance : 25,477
Red Card : Johnson 31 (Birmingham)
Assist : Huckerby (won pen)

Portsmouth 1 (Yakubu 72)
Bolton 1 (Diouf 11)

Bolton clinched a UEFA Cup place next season, but after only drawing at
Portsmouth, the unlikely Champions League dream has gone. They went
ahead at Fratton Park through El-Hadji Diouf who was jeered throughout
after a spitting incident earlier in the season when the clubs met at
the Reebok. The Seneglese striker briefly silenced the crowd with a solo
run and shot which went in under the keeper. Portsmouth did snatch a
draw when Yakubu bundled in a cross from John O'Neill, however their
Prem safety was confirmed for another season last week and they can look
forward to the summer.

Attendance : 20,188
Assists : n/a, n/a

Chelsea 1 (Makelele 90)
Charlton 0

Chelsea's final home game of this Championship winning season ended with
a remarkable finish that saw Claude Makelele score his first ever goal for
the club after his initial penalty kick had been saved! Chelsea had the
better of a goalless first half, although this was not the free-flowing Champions
performance that their fans expected. Joe Cole came as close as anyone
before the break with a shot which was tipped onto the bar by keeper
Stephane Andersen, although at the other end, Charlton almost took a
shock lead when Jonathon Fortune bobbled an effort just wide. The second half
began in much the same manner with Chelsea dominent but with little
urgency, although John Terry did hit the bar with a looping header, however the
home fans kept themselves entertained with the Chelsea tradition of throwing
pieces of celery at each other!! Charlton almost capitalised on a midfield mix-up
when Matt Holland's low shot was superbly fingertipped away by home
keeper Carlo Cudicini, whilst Cole kept plugging away at the other end
with a shot across goal and another from long range which drifted wide. As
the game entered stoppage time, Frank Lampard tried to burst through into
the area and was brought down by Fortune, although contact looked very
minimal and outside the box. Makelele, who'd been urged to 'shooooooot' with
every touch by the home fans throughout, stepped up only to see his kick saved
by Andersen, however he was alert enough to be first to the loose ball and
bobble it in. On the day that they were presented with the Premiership
trophy, the win also equalled two Prem records as they reached 91 points
and 28 wins (from a 38 game season), both of which were set by Man United in

Attendance : 42,065
Assist : n/a

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