13 December 2006

Chelsea 1 (Drogba 74)
Newcastle 0

Chelsea left it late to clinch a win at home to Newcastle to reduce Man United's lead at the top to five points. The only goal came with sixteen minutes left as Arjen Robben's cross was helped on by Andrei Shevchenko and turned in at the near post by Didier Drogba.

Attendance : 41,945
Assist : Shevchenko

Wigan 0
Arsenal 1 (Adebayor 88)

Arsenal left it even later to win at Wigan and move into third place. Again just one goal settled matters as Cesc Fabregas played a through ball for Emmanuel Adebayor to chase and slot past the keeper.

Attendance : 15,311
Assist : Fabregas

11 December 2006

SHEFFIELD UNITED 2 (Quinn 50, Webber 64)
ASTON VILLA 2 (Petrov 2, Baros 65)

Honours even at Bramall Lane as Sheffield United and Aston Villa shared four goals in a cracking game.

Villa had by far the better of the first half, aided hugely by a goal inside 76 seconds. It came from Stilian Petrov, his first goal for Villa, with a first time low shot from the edge of the area after Chris Sutton's shot was blocked. Sutton later hit the underside of the bar whilst Gary Cahill was denied twice in quick succession by keeper Paddy Kenny as Villa looked to increase their lead. United stuttered through the half with Rob Hulse shooting over from a decent position.

United began the second half with all guns blazing and after Nick Montgomery had fired over, the equaliser arrived five minutes after the restart. It came from a long throw which was only partially cleared and fell to Stephen Quinn who hooked the ball in for what was also his first ever goal in only his second league game. On the hour, United should have gone ahead however Hulse's powerful header was straight at the keeper when it looked to be heading in, however it was only delaying the inevitable as a Keith Gillespie cross was nodded across goal by Chris Morgan and with his back to goal, flicked in by Danny Webber. Amazingly, just 56 seconds later, Villa were level again as the hosts failed to clear the ball and as Sutton battled for possession in the area, Milan Baros took control and belted the ball in from close range. The game then went into a ten minute spell where both clubs seemed to rest ahead of the grand finale beginning with Hulse and Christian Nade having efforts blocked during an almighty scramble and from the resulting corner, Quinn's stunning volley was saved by Stuart Taylor. A minute later, Sutton, Petrov and Gabi Agbonlahor all had shots blocked during another scramble and in stoppage time, Petrov was inches wide with a free kick.

Attendance : 30,957
Assists : n/a, n/a, Morgan, Sutton

10 December 2006

CHELSEA 1 (Essien 84)
ARSENAL 1 (Flamini 79)

Chelsea lose ground on Man United after coming from behind to draw with Arsenal in a pulsating clash at Stamford Bridge.

Despite being goalless, the first half was entertaining enough with Chelsea creating the better chances. Michael Ballack rocketed a shot just wide whilst Frank Lampard struck a shot against the post and then bobbled the rebound at Lens Lehmann after the ball hit the Gunners keeper on the head after striking the post. Michael Essien scooped a shot over and then had an effort hacked off the line, however Arsenal did enjoy decent possession and came close when Robin Van Persie shot just wide from long range.

Arsenal began the second half well with Van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor off target and Cesc Fabregas forcing the home keeper into a save. The ugly face of diving then reappeared as Didier Drogba was denied a penalty, however after Arsenal cleared the ball, Lehmann pushed Drogba in the back forcing the attacker to go down as though he'd been shot and within seconds, he did the same to Lehmann with the same result. Both were booked, presumably for crap acting abilities. Arjen Robben and Shaun Wright-Phillips came on from the bench to give Chelsea some width and Robben almost found the breakthrough with a fine run and shot which was save and then cleared before Drogba could tap the loose ball in. It proved crucial as Arsenal took the lead minutes later. Alexandre Hleb and Mathieu Flamini exchanged passes before it was played back to the latter whose drilled shot from the edge of the area found the net despite the keeper getting hands to the ball. If that goal should have been saved, there isn't a keeper on earth who would have stopped the equaliser. Lampard had possession on the edge of the area and set up Essien to drill a fantastic first time shot from 25 yards which swerved inside the far post giving Lehmann no chance. The Gunners were furious as they felt there had been a foul in the build up. Hleb then blazed over a minute later as Arsenal went straight back on the attack but it was Chelsea who had the late pressure with Drogba coming close twice and, in an astonishing spell in stoppage time, Essien almost broke the crossbar from three yards and Lampard had a shot deflected onto the post after Lehmann spilled a simple shot.

Attendance : 41,917
Assists : Hleb, Lampard

9 December 2006

BOLTON 4 (Davies 17, 52, Diouf 77, Anelka 78)

Bolton move into the top five after hammering lowly West Ham at the Reebok. There were few chances in a sedate first half, however Bolton took their's when it came along to take the lead inside the first twenty minutes. A Gary Speed header at the far post was hooked across goal by El Hadji Diouf leaving Kevin Davies with a simply chance which he walloped in on the volley from close range. The lead was doubled early in the second half thanks to the same player and from a similar range. This time it came from a corner headed goalwards by Ivan Campo and prodded in by Davies as keeper Robert Green tried to collect. Marlon Harewood almost pulled one back a minute later but dragged his shot across goal and it summed up the day for the visitors. Bolton clinched it late on with two goals in just over a minute. Diouf grabbed the first with a solo effort as he ran from near the half way line on the left and cut into the area before slotting in and with the Hammers still recovering, Gary Speed sent Nik Anelka through to clip in the fourth.

Attendance : 22,283
Assists : Diouf, Campo, Anelka, Speed


Poor game, few chances. Watford stay bottom.

Attendance : 19,223
Assist : n/a

WIGAN 1 (Camara 24 Pen)

Honours even at the Riverside as Middlesbrough came from behind to draw with Wigan. A disputed penalty put Wigan ahead as Emanuel Pogatetz nudged compatriot Paul Scharner as he went for a through ball. The ref awarded a penalty comverted easily by Henri Camara. The equaliser was equally as simple as Yakubu was left with a tap in after excellent work from James Morrison.

Attendance : 23,638
Assists : Scharner, Morrison

LIVERPOOL 4 (Gerrard 54, Carragher 61, Luis Garcia 66, Gonzalez 90)

A second half goal blitz gave Liverpool their second 4-0 in successive Saturday's as Fulham were swept aside at Anfield. They needed a disputed penalty to get going though as Ian Pearce handled a shot at close range. Steven Gerrard's spot kick was saved by Jan Lastuvka however he was first to the rebound and made no mistake second time. The second was a collectors item as Jamie Carragher slid in at the far post to score after Daniel Agger had nodded on Gerrard's corner. It was his first league goal since January 1999 (a 7-1 win against Southampton) and only his third ever! Luis Garcia added the third as he nodded in Agger's cross via the bar and Mark Gonzalez completed the rout with a free kick in the last minute.

Attendance : 43,189
Assists : n/a, Agger, Agger, Fowler (won pen)

BLACKBURN 1 (Pedersen 47)
NEWCASTLE 3 (Martins 31, Taylor 35, Martins 90)

Two strugglers met at Ewood with Newcastle coming out on top against ten man Blackburn. It took a while to get started, however two goals in four minutes effectively won the game for the visitors. Obafemi Martins grabbed the first with a fierce shot after Antoine Sibierski had sent him clear and Steven Taylor added the second from close range after Charles N'Zogbia had fired in a low cross. It got worse for Rovers when Stephane Henchoz was shown a straight red for a foul on Martins. He may have been last man but the offence occurred very wide near the touchline so perhaps a bit harsh. Early in the second half Blackburn pulled one back as Morten Gamst Pedersen walloped in a cracker from 25 yards, however as they pushed for an equaliser late on, keeper Brad Friedel went up for a corner and as the ball was cleared, Martins beat two men before slotting the ball into the vacant net.

Attendance : 19,225
Red Card : Henchoz 40 (Blackburn)
Assists : Sibierski, n/a, Gray?, N'Zogbia

PORTSMOUTH 2 (Taylor 14, Kanu 26)

Portsmouth continued their excellent season thanks to two stunning goals against Everton. The first was the kind that you may see once a season. Sol Campbell came out of defence and was tackled in the centre circle, however as the ball looped into the air, Matthew Taylor sent a first time volley straight over the keeper and into the net from all of 45 yards. If it had been Rooney or Ronaldinho, it would be shown for months. Somehow I doubt this will be. The second was also a good strike, albeit from closer in as Nwankwo Kanu volleyed in from the edge of the area following good work from Gary O'Neil.

Attendance : 19,528
Assists : n/a, O'Neil

TOTTENHAM 5 (Berbatov 31, Tainio 33, Malbranque 55, Defoe 63, Berbatov 66)
CHARLTON 1 (Dawson 43 og)

Spurs destroyed struggling Charlton with the sort of performance that the quality of their players have often threatened but rarely shown. Two goals in three minutes set them up as Aaron Lennon set up Dimitar Berbatov with a tap in and then did simplar for Teemu Tainio to send a deflected effort in. Charlton pulled one back when Steven Reid's cross was looped into his own net by Michael Dawson, however three goals in eleven second half minutes killed Charlton off. Steed Malbranque started it with a low drive after collecting Berbatov's header and then Jermaine Defoe added a fourth with a clinical finish after Lennon's tackle gave him the opportunity. Berbatov scored the fifth himself with a superb solo run and shot from a tricky angle.

Attendance : 35,565
Assists : Lennon, n/a, n/a, Berbatov, Lennon, n/a

MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Rooney 6, Saha 45, Ronaldo 84)
MANCHESTER CITY 1 (Trabelsi 72)

Man United go nine points clear at the top of the table after an 3-1 win in an entertaining Manchester derby. The first half was fairly even although the best chances fell to United who were two up at the interval. They scored early on when Cristiano Ronaldo's low cross was missed by Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne allowing Wayne Rooney in to drill a first time shot into the net for his 50th career Premiership goal. This feat was emulated by Louis Saha just before half time. City had chances to clear the ball near their own corner flag, however they faffed around and lost possession to Gabriel Heinze whose drilled cross was scrambled in off the bar by Saha who collided with keeper Nicky Weaver which resulted in the city stopper being subbed at the break. Saha should have scored again early in the second half, however he skied the rebound after reserve keeper Andreas Isaksson saved from Rooney and then later denied Ryan Giggs, Ronaldo and Rooney again before City pulled a goal back. Stephen Ireland found Hatem Trabelsi and after making space he hammered a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box which was close to Edwin Van Der Sar but sheer power did the damage. It set up a nervy spell for United however that ended when Rooney's deflected shot fell to Ronaldo in front of goal and his volley from close range gave the keeper no chance. The game ended on a sour note for City when Bernardo Corradi was guilty of a Ronaldo-style dive in the area and was shown his second yellow card of the game, followed by his second red of the season.

Attendance : 75,858
Red Card : Corradi 90 (Manchester City)
Assists : n/a, n/a, Ireland, n/a

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