26 November 2006

CHELSEA 1 (Carvalho 69)

Man United stay three points clear of Chelsea after the Clash of the Titans ended 1-1 at Old Trafford.

United had the better of the possession in a fast paced opening although both defences were holding firm with the sole chance falling to Cristiano Ronaldo whose trademark free kick was pushed over by Carlo Cudicini. The deadlock was broken out of the blue just before the half hour when Wayne Rooney found Louis Saha and after getting it under control, the Frenchman fired a shot just inside the post with the keeper unsighted and beaten. Tempers were largely kept in check until Didier Drogba caught Nemanja Vidic in the face with a flayling elbow and was booked although on another day, he may well have seen red. It temporarily sparked Chelsea into life as Edwin Van Der Sar made his first save of the game from Geremi's long range piledriver, closely followed by his second from Frank Lampard's bobbly effort.

The second half saw United almost double their lead with Ronaldo inches away from making a connection in front of goal after excellent work from Michael Carrick and Rooney, however Chelsea were seeing plenty of the ball without creating anything clear cut although Andrei Shevchenko did blaze an effort miles over the bar and Frank Lampard hammered a shot wide. On the hour, Drogba then sent a header wide and Lampard had a shot saved as Chelsea gradually got closer, although at the other end, Ryan Giggs forced Cudicini into a similar near post save. It was pulsating stuff with Chelsea doing the majority of the attacking and United playing on the break, however it was the equaliser which eventually arrived from a set piece as a Lampard corner was powered home via the head of Ricardo Carvalho despite the best efforts of Saha and Van Der Sar on the line. It was end to end stuff now as United responded well, although Lampard again came close for Chelsea with a long range effort. Ronaldo was leading Chelsea a merry dance, however he instantly indicated that he needed a stretcher after being fouled by Ashley Cole and just before, Saha was clutching his hamstring, resulting in both United attackers being subbed at the same time with five minutes remaining and thereafter both clubs seemed content to settle for a point each after a terrific game.

Attendance : 75,948
Assists : Rooney, Lampard (ck)

TOTTENHAM 3 (Defoe 43, Berbatov 44, Lennon 90)
WIGAN 1 (Camara 25)

Spurs move into the top half of the table for the first time this season after coming from behind to see off Wigan. The visitors went ahead when Henri Camara latched onto Lee McCulloch's header to send a well controlled, first time volley into the roof of the net. Two superb goals in a minute before half time turned the game on it's head, firstly as Jermaine Defoe collected a pass from Dimitar Berbatov, turned his man on the proverbial sixpence and fired in at the near post. Wigan had barely recovered when Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent Berbatov away on the left and after cutting inside he curled a beauty inside the far post. Spurs wrapped up the win in stoppage time as Berbatov cut the ball back for Aaron Lennon to fire in.

Attendance : 35,205
Assists : McCulloch, Berbatov, Assou-Ekotto, Berbatov

NEWCASTLE 1 (Sibierski 69)

Newcastle won a home league match for the first time since the opening day of the season after a narrow 1-0 victory against Portsmouth. Newcastle had the better of the first half and should have been ahead when Kieron Dyer sent Obafemi Martins clear and although he finished well, the offside flag denied him the opening goal even though replays showed that he was level, and therefore onside, when the ball was played. In the second half, Newcastle again started well and this time created chances as Martins fizzed a shot just over and sub Antoine Sibierski forced a saved out of David James. Dyer then went crashing into the ad hoardings whilst chasing a pass and ended up with a gash on his leg which would have earned him a part in 28 Days Later, however he continued playing after treatment although he had no part in the opening goal a few minutes later as Martins found Charles N'Zogbia on the left and he found Sibierski with a tap-in in the middle, although ironically he was offside earlier in the build up. Sibierski almost added a second as James was caught off his line as he came out of his area to stop an attack, however the keeper scurried back in time to stop the ball from finding the net and a couple of minutes later he made a superb finger tip save to deny Emre after Dyer had skinned the injured Matt Taylor on the right. Newcastle were dominant entering the last ten minutes as Martins missed a sitter when he skied a cross from N'Zogbia and Dyer was denied by James with a thumping shot at the far post.

Attendance : 48,743
Assist : N'Zogbia

25 November 2006

BOLTON 3 (Faye 9, Anelka 45, 76)
ARSENAL 1 (Gilberto Silva 45)

Bolton inflicted Arsenal's annual Reebok defeat as former Gunner Nik Anelka netted twice against his former club in a 3-1 win.

Arsenal began well yet fell behind when Abdoulaye Faye headed in El- Hadji Diouf's corner inside the opening ten minutes. It looked to be the difference between the clubs at half time until the four minutes of stoppage time brought a goal for each side. Firstly, a long ball from Kevin Davies forced Anelka wide. He then cut in from the left and unleashed a brilliant strike from well outside the area that dipped viciously and thudded into the net via the crossbar for his first goal for Bolton against one of his former clubs. The lead was halved within a minute when Cesc Fabregas crossed for Gilberto Silva to head in. The first half also saw four yellow cards including one for Davies who pushed Emanuel Eboue to the ground as the pair squared up and was lucky to stay on as I've seen players sent off for less.

The second half started with Arsenal coming out with all guns blazing. Fabregas had a shot well saved and Emanuel Adebayor was also denied by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Freddie Ljungberg thumped a header against the post after excellent work from Theo Walcott who himself had an effort deflected over the bar. Ironically, after surviving 25 minutes of incessant pressure, Bolton almost scored when a floated free kick was helped on by an Arsenal defender and after Lens Lehmann reacted quickly to parry the ball away, he was on hand again to push Anelka's rebound against the post. It proved to be a warning for the Gunners as, three minutes later, Anelka did find the net again as he latched onto Ivan Campo's superb through ball to fire a first time shot across Lehmann and inside the far post. Arsenal still continued to pepper the Bolton goal as Adebayor hammered a shot against the post with the keeper beaten as did Fabregas in stoppage time, the third time that Arsenal had hit the woodwork in the second half.

Ultimately it's a result that puts Bolton back into third place, however Arsenal will feel hard done by to go away with no points.

Attendance : 24,409
Assists : Diouf (ck), Davis, Fabregas, Campo

WEST HAM 1 (Mullins 36)

As West Ham start their new era under Icelandic control, their new owner saw them record a narrow win over fellow strugglers Sheffield United. The only goal came from a Matty Etherington corner that was flicked on by Anton Ferdinand and headed in by Hayden Mullins. Sheffield United throught they'd levelled it late on, however Robert Kozluk's last minute tap in was disallowed for an apparent foul on the keeper.

Attendance : 34,454
Assist : n/a

LIVERPOOL 1 (Gerrard 67)

Liverpool still flatter to deceive after a tight home win against Man City. In truth, it was a poor performance from the home side and they needed City's help to win it. A loose pass from Joey Barton was collected by Dirt Kuyt who set up Steven Gerrard to drill in what was, remarkably, his first league goal of the season.

Attendance : 44,081
Assist : Kuyt

READING 1 (Doyl 17 Pen)

Reading continue their excellent start to the season with a narrow win at ten man Fulham. The key incident came when Kevin Doyle burst into the area only to be fouled by Ian Pearce as he prepared to shoot. The ref rightly awarded a penalty and sent the veteran defender off. Doyle took the kick himself and calmly slotted it into the bottom corner.

Attendance : 22,673
Red Card : Pearce 16 (Fulham)
Assist : Doyle (won pen)

ASTON VILLA 1 (Barry 45 Pen)
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (Christie 43)

Two goals in as many minutes before half time saw Aston Villa and Middlesbrough share the points at Villa Park. The visitors went ahead when a scramble in the area ended with Yakubu prodding the ball through for Malcolm Christie who turned and shot home. Replays showed that Christie, playing his first game of the season ,was a couple of yards offside which explained his surprise that the goal was awarded! Controversy then at the other end as keeper Mark Schwarzer was judged to have brought down Stilian Petrov in the area despite contact being minimal. Gareth Barry walloped the penalty straight down the middle to earn a point.

Attendance : 33,162
Assists : Yakubu, Petrov (won pen)

CHARLTON 1 (Reid 68)
EVERTON 1 (Hreidarsson 52 og)

Bottom club Charlton came from behind to earn a useful point at home to Everton. The visitors had the better of the first half although scoring opportunities were restricted to half chances as both Lee Carsley and James McFadden had on target efforts blocked. Charlton's best chance fell to Dennis Rommedalh who made space well before dragging his shot wide. Charlton began the second half well but went behind to the sort of goal that those at the bottom are often the victims of. Mikael Arteta's floated free kick from just outside the box was nodded on by Leon Osman and struck Herman Hreidarsson on the knee before bobbling past his own keeper. Ten minutes later Charlton should have been level when Amdy Faye sent a free header wide from six yards out whilst Rommedalh shot wide shortly afterwards. The equaliser looked likely and finally arrived thanks to weak Everton defending as Nuno Valente lost possession on the edge of his own area and as Marcus Bent tackled him, the ball fell to Andy Reid whose low drive found the bottom corner.

Attendance : 26,435
Assists : n/a, n/a

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