22 January 2007

Watford (1) 2 (Emerton (og) 12, Demerit 70)
Blackburn (1) 1 (McCarthy 45)

Watford won only their second league game of the season as in-form Blackburn were beaten at Vicarage Road. They needed an element of luck to go ahead when Brett Emerton nodded past his own keeper at the far post from Tommy Smith's cross, however just before half time Rovers were level when David Bentley's cross was superbly headed in off the bar by Benni McCarthy. Watford clinched a vital win when Jay DeMerit netted the third header of the game as he converted Hameur Bouazza'a cross. Spare a thought for Rovers though for whom McCarthy went off injured as did Robbie Savage with a suspected broken leg, adding to long term injuries picked up by Andre Ooijer and Steven Reid in the last week.

Attendance : 13,760
Assists : n/a, Bentley, Bouazza

21 January 2007

ARSENAL 2 (Van Persie 83, Henry 93)

Arsenal scored two late goals as they came from behind to beat league leaders Man United who lost the chance to gain more distance on second placed Chelsea after their defeat yesterday. United began and ended the first half well and almost scored twice in stoppage time when Jens Lehmann saved brilliantly from a dipping volley by Wayne Rooney and then kept out a header from Henrik Larsson from the resulting corner. Arsenal felt that they should have had a penalty when Gary Neville tripped Thierry Henry however the slightly over theatrical fall from the Frenchman probably did him more harm than good. After a tight start to the second half, United went ahead with a goal largely out of nothing. Patrice Evra found space on the left and fizzed a cross far post for Wayne Rooney to power in his first ever headed goal for United! Arsenal took a while to recover and get back into the game however a header from Emmanuel Adebayor sparked a scramble that saw United keeper Edwin Van Der Sar injured as he helped clear the ball. He stayed on though and was helpless as Arsenal equalised with seven minutes to go. The creator was Tomas Rosicky whose low cross was missed by Henry but hammered into the roof of the net at the far post by sub Robin Van Persie. With a draw looking likely, Arsenal struck again three minutes into stoppage time as Emmanuel Eboue found space on the right and his cross was thumped home by the head of Henry.

Attendance : 60,128
Assists : n/a, Henry, Eboue

EVERTON 2 (Arteta 65 Pen, 92)

Wigan's dramatic slide down the table continues as they slumped to their seventh defeat in a row at home to Everton. After a drab hour, Everton took the lead from the penalty spot after David Unsworth held and then tripped Victor Anichebe in the area. Mikel Arteta sent the kick high into the net with ease. The clinching goal came in stoppage time as Phil Neville crossed for Arteta to score from close range. On the downside for Everton, they lost striker Andy Johnson with a suspected broken ankle.

Attendance : 18,149
Assists : Anichebe (won pen), Neville

20 January 2007

BLACKBURN 3 (Pedersen 44, 62 fk, Derbyshire 90)

Blackburn's recent good form continued with a fine away win at Man City. Blackburn had the better of a drab first half and took the lead just before half time when a deep cross from David Bentley was headed powerfully in by Morten Gamst Pedersen. City's best chance came when a header from Micah Richards was cleared off the line by Bentley possibly with the help of his arm. Blackburn added a second just after the hour when Pedersen again found the net, this time with a fiercely struck free kick which went over the wall and beat keeper Nicky Weaver at his near post. City should have pulled one back almost straight away only for Darius Vassell to be denied at point blank range by keeper Brad Friedel. The salt was rubbed in the City wound late on when sub Matt Derbyshire found space in the area and slotted past keeper from a very acute angle. The strains of 'Bad Day' came over the PA system at the final whistle. It seemed apt for City!

Attendance : 36,590
Assists : Bentley, Pedersen (won fk), Friedel

ASTON VILLA 2 (Mahon 86 og, Agbonlahor 92)

Villa left it late to see off bottom club Watford although in truth only away keeper Ben Foster had kept his side in the game until the late stages. The freakish breakthrough came with four minutes left when a shot from Gavin hit defender Malkay Mackay and then found the net via the knee of his team mate Gavin Mahon. Watford pushed forward for an equaliser but were caught on the break in stoppage time when a long ball was chased by Gabriel Agbonlahor and having shrugged off his marker, he slotted in the second.

Attendance : 35,892
Assists : n/a, n/a

FULHAM 1 (Montella 84)
TOTTENHAM 1 (Chimbonda 88)

A point each for Fulham and Spurs in a game dominated by the home side even after they were reduced to ten men. The red card came early in the second half when Heidar Helguson saw his second yellow for a late challenge on Tom Huddlestone, however with just six minutes to go, Fulham went ahead when Brian McBride's shot was deflected away from goal by the arm of Michael Dawson, allowing Vicenzo Montella to calmly score from the spot. Spurs equalised with two minutes left when Huddlestone's chipped free kick found Pascal Chimbonda in space at the far post to control and fire in.

Attendance : 23,580
Red Card : Helguson 53 (Fulham)
Assists : n/a, n/a

MIDDLESBROUGH 5 (Speed 6 og, Xavier 10, Viduka 23, Downing 43, Viduka 84)
BOLTON 1 (Nolan 25)

Middlesbrough's continued their recent good run as they walloped Bolton at the Riverside. Stuart Downing had a stormer of a game and was involved in all four of Boro's first half goals. The first came when his cross was headed against the post by Abel Xavier only for the unlucky Gary Speed to be in the wrong place as the rebound hit him on the leg and bobbled in. Xavier had found his range though and within four minutes found the top corner with a header from another Downing cross. Mark Viduka grabbed the third with a controlled far post volley from yet more good work from Downing and although Bolton pulled one back when Kevin Davies set up Kevin Nolan to fire in, it was Downing's half and he capped it with a goal just before half time with a shot from 25 yards that found the near post. Things got worse for Bolton when El Hadji Diouf opened his mouth once too often and was sent off for foul and abusive language and Boro wrapped up a superb win late on when Viduka added his second with a neat volley from Lee Cattermole's run and cross.

Attendance : 24,614
Red Card : Diouf 66 (Bolton)
Assists : n/a, Downing, Downing, Davis, Boateng, Cattermole

NEWCASTLE 2 (Milner 45, Solano 53 Pen)
WEST HAM 2 (Cole 18, Harewood 22)

Newcastle came from two goals down to earn a point against lowly West Ham to end a week that's seen all the highs and lows emerge at the Tyneside club. The Hammers started well and roared into a two goal lead as Luis Boa Morte's corner was headed across goal by debutant Callum Davenport and volleyed in at close range by Carlton Cole. The second came when George McCartney sent Marlon Harewood clear on goal and he poked the ball past the keeper. Having conceded five at home on Wednesday, Newcastle fans must have feared the worst but a stroke of luck or poor refereeing decision got them back into it. Nol Solano found James Milner on the right and his cross was dummied in front of goal by Scott Parker who was miles offside and found the net at the far post. The linesman flagged for offside but referee Uriah Rennie overruled him and gave the goal. Newcastle were level early in the second half when Milner's free kick was handled by Boa Morte and Solano found the bottom corner with a crisply struck penalty.

Attendance : 52,095
Assists : Davenport, McCartney, Solano, n/a

CHARLTON 1 (Faye 79)

Portsmouth slumped to a surprise home defeat against Charlton who suddenly see some light at the end of the relegation tunnel. The only goal came from former Pompey star Amady Faye who played a one-two with Bryan Hughes and the finding the net with a shot which deflected heavily and looped in.

Attendance : 19,567
Assist : Hughes

READING 3 (Long 44, De La Cruz 50, Hunt 70)

Keith Gillespie made history as he became the quickest ever Premiership sending off and one of the quickest of all time as his Sheffield United side lost at Reading. Gillespie had been on the pitch as a sub for just ten seconds and play had not even restarted before he gave a backhand slap in the face of his marker Stephen Hunt. The ref brandished a red card although Gillespie tried to strike Hunt again as he went off. This in turn sparked a fracas on the benches as Reading assistant boss Wally Downes pushed United boss Neil Warnock and although the latter did nothing in return but laugh it off, both were sent to the stands! Before the wrestling started, Reading had taken a two goal lead as Shane Long finished well from close range after Steve Sidwell blocked an attempted clearance and Ulises De La Cruz netted after breaking clear and latching onto a pass from Hunt. Fifteen minutes after the red card, Hunt added a third after Sidwell's shot was blocked and although United pulled one back when Christian Nade made a mockery of Reading's attempt to catch him offside, the game will not be remembered for the goals!

FOOTNOTE: As regarding quick red cards, it depends whether you count time on pitch as being 'in play'. The quickest UK red card on record is listed as ZERO seconds when Walter Boyd of Swansea hit a Darlington player (Nov 1999) after coming on as sub before play had been restarted, similar to Gillespie! The quickest Prem red cards are Tim Flowers of Blackburn after 72 seconds (from the start of the game) against Leeds in Feb 1995 whilst Wigan's Andreas Johansson came on as sub against Arsenal in May 2006 and went after 90 seconds without touching the ball.

The all-time record is listed as ten seconds - again on a par with Gillespie - when Guiseppe Lorenzo of Bologna hit a Parma player in a Serie A game in December 1990.

Attendance : 23,596
Red Card : Gillespie 55 (Sheffield United)
Assists : Sidwell, Harper, n/a, S Quinn (fk)

LIVERPOOL 2 (Kuyt 4, Pennant 18)

Chelsea's title hopes took a severe dent as they crashed to a 2-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool began superbly and took a deserved lead early on when a long ball forward was glanced on by Peter Crouch for Dirk Kuyt who nodded the ball past his marker before sending a volley past Petr Cech and into the corner. The lead was doubled when Steven Gerrard's long cross was headed away by Michael Essien to Jermaine Pennant on the right edge of the area. Chelsea then allowed him stacks of time to bring the ball down and send a brilliant dipping volley into the net via the underside of the bar. Whilst Pennant's strike was superb, it was almost outdone by John Arne Riise on the hour who rattled the bar with a stunning long range effort although Chelsea had the better of the second half.

Attendance : 44,245
Assists : Crouch, n/a

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