23 September 2007

MANCHESTER UNITED 2 (Tevez 45, Saha 90 Pen)

The post-Mourinho era began at Chelsea with defeat at Old Trafford as Man United move to within two points of leaders Arsenal.

United began well as Wayne Rooney forced a stunning save from Petr Cech inside the opening two minutes, however Chelsea enjoyed good early possession without making the best of some decent attacks. Carlos Tevez with a shot and Nemanja Vidic's header both had Cech working again however in between came the incident that added a new twist to the tale. John Obi Mikel and Patrice Evra went for a loose ball resulting in Mikel being slightly late and catching the United man with his studs. The ref showed a straight red card which seemed harsh in the extreme and whether United players rushing to the ref to remonstrate at the tackle influenced him we'll never know although this happens with every team, everywhere with Chelsea themselves past masters. To rub salt in the wounds, United went ahead deep into first half stoppage time when Ryan Giggs sent a near post cross in for Tevez to head in his first United goal.

The second half was played at a much slower pace with United dominating possession and playing keep ball, intent on grinding Chelsea down now that the urgency for a goal had gone. Tevez did sent a free kick over the bar and Giggs did similar with a volley from closer range. Joe Cole then launched into a tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo in full flow which infuriated United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and looked far worse than the Mikel tackle but only resulted in a booking! Cole was subbed two minutes later to be replaced by Claudio Pizarro. Into the last ten minutes and Ronaldo fizzed a free kick which Cech dealt with well in the wet conditions whilst Pizarro made space at the other end but dragged his effort well wide. United wrapped it up late on when Ben Tal Haim tripped Louis Saha in the area and although the United man made a lot of it, there was certainly contact. Saha sent the kick straight down the middle to double the lead.

Attendance : 75,663
Red Card : Mikel 32 (Chelsea)
Assists : Giggs, Saha (won pen)

PORTSMOUTH 1 (Kanu 25)

Blackburn's unbeaten record was broken at home to Portsmouth who join Rovers in mid table. The only goal came from a header by Papa Bouba Diop which was collected by Nwankwo Kanu who rounded Brad Friedel and showed excellent strength to hold off tackles before clipping past a defender on the line.

Attendance : 19,506
Assist : Bouba Diop

BOLTON 1 (Campo 39)
TOTTENHAM 1 (Keane 34)

Two of the bottom three met at the Reebok and a draw ultimately did Bolton or Spurs much good. The visitors went ahead when a shot from Jermaine Jenas was well saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen however the loose ball eventually fell to Robbie Keane to fire home although the keeper again got something on it. Five minutes later, Bolton equalised as Ivan Campo's firm header found the net from El Hadji Diouf's deep free kick.

Attendance : 20,308
Assists : n/a, Diouf (fk)

ASTON VILLA 2 (Carew 14, Agbonlahor 60)

Villa move into eighth after a goal in each half saw them beat Everton who struggled after their European disappointment on Thursday. Everton's back line couldn't cope with crosses into the area and after another wasn't cleared properly, John Carew controlled the ball well before drilling low into the net. The second was the very epitome of the long ball game as a clearance from keeper Scott Carson found Gabriel Agbonlahor onside and in miles of space and after a superb first touch to control the dropping ball, he slotted neatly past the keeper.

Attendance : 38,235
Assists : n/a Carson

NEWCASTLE 3 (Viduka 3, Viduka 41, N'Zogbia 76)
WEST HAM 1 (Ashton 32)

Newcastle moved to within five points of leaders Arsenal after a comfortable home win against West Ham. Newcastle took an early lead when Charles N'Zogbia's cross was superbly headed home at the near post by Mark Viduka, however the Hammers equalised following a long throw which was headed on by both Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole resulting in Ashton volleying the loose ball in from close range. A long ball out of defence put Newcastle back ahead as it fell nicely on the left for N'Zogbia who beat his man and sent in a low cross for Viduka to scuff in from close range although he certainly didn't connect cleanly. Early in the second half, Michael Owen collected another knock and was replaced by Obafemi Martins and it was the new arrival who set up the third as he made space in the area to cross low for N'Zogbia to bundle in from inside the six yard box. Martins could have added a fourth late on but having latched onto a defensive error from Matt Upson, he rounded the keeper but only managed to fire into the side netting with the goal gaping.

Attendance : 50,104
Assists : N'Zogbia, Cole, N'Zogbia, Martins

22 September 2007

FULHAM 3 (Davies 12, Bouazza 47 fk, Murphy 74)
MANCHESTER CITY 3 (Petrov 35, Mpenza 49, Petrov 59)

Pulsating game at Craven Cottage as Fulham and Man City shared six goals. The hosts took the lead after a sweeping move that began near their own corner flag ended with Hameur Bouazza crossing for Simon Davies to nod in at the near post. City levelled when Michael Johnson found Martin Petrov wide on the left and after cutting inside, his toe poked effort somehow found the net through two defenders and the keeper. Early in the second half, Bouazza smashed Fulham back into the lead with a 20 yard free kick but almost straight away, Petrov's shot was parried by Antti Niemi for Emile Mpenza to nod in the rebound. City then took the lead for the first time when Petrov played a neat one-two with Elano and drilled his shot inside the near post, however Fulham grabbed a deserved point when Danny Murphy latched onto Seol Ki-Hyeon's header to slot in.

Attendance : 24,674
Assists : Bouazza, Johnson, Kamara (won fk), n/a, Elano, Kamara


Liverpool lost ground on the leaders after only drawing at home to Birmingham. Boss Rafa Benitez again shuffled his squad, leaving record signing Fernando Torres on the bench although late on his overhead kick would have won Goal of the Season had it gone in rather than over. Steven Gerrard had an effort cleared off the line whilst John Arne Riise's shot cleared the bar as the hosts struggled to break an organised Birmingham side down.

Attendance : 44,215
Assists : n/a

READING 2 (Kitson 28, Harper 90)
WIGAN 1 (Bent 49)

Reading moved out of the bottom three with a much needed win against Wigan. They took the lead when keeper Chris Kirkland spilled a shot from Kevin Doyle and Dave Kitson nipped in to score. Wigan were then awarded a penalty when Jason Koumas was tripped, however after consulting the linesman, the ref gave a free kick on the edge of the area which, as replays proved, was the correct decision. Koumas then smacked the free kick against the underside of the bar. Wigan levelled early in the second half when Marcus Bent thumped home a header from a Koumas corner but in the last minute, Kitson's neat pass set up James Harper to slot in the winner at the near post.

Attendance : 21,379
Assists : n/a, Koumas (ck), Kitson

ARSENAL 5 (Diaby 9, Adebayor 24, Adebayor 49 Pen, Fabregas 69, Adebayor 78)

Arsenal maintain top spot after blitzing Derby at the Emirates, largely thanks to a hat trick from Emmanuel Adebayor. The visitors barely had a look in after Abou Diaby walloped the Gunners ahead after collecting a pass from Cesc Fabregas, he jinked past three men and fizzed a long range effort goalwards that clipped in off the post. Adebayor's first came after he was put clear by Fabregas and coolly rounded the keeper before finding the net and his second, and Arsenal's third, was a penalty slotted into the bottom corner after Eduardo had been hauled back by Matt Oakley. Fabregas added the fourth with another long range effort having been found by Eduardo and the rout was completed when Denilson's long ball was controlled on the chest by Adebayor and slotted into the bottom corner for his third and Arsenal's fifth.

Attendance : 60,122
Assists : Fabregas, Fabregas, Eduardo (won pen), Eduardo, Denilson

MIDDLESBROUGH 2 (Arca 14, Downing 66)
SUNDERLAND 2 (Leadbitter 1, Miller 89)

Middlesbrough and Sunderland shared four goals in the north-east derby at the Riverside. The visitors were ahead early when Michael Chopra's shot hit Grant Leadbitter who reacted quickly to fire the loose ball across goal and inside the far post. Former Black Cat Julio Arca equalised with a far post header from Gary O'Neil's cross although keeper Craig Gordon almost kept it out. Both clubs had good claims for a penalty turned down before Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole got into a brawl and were lucky only to receive yellow cards. Midway through the second half, George Boateng found Stuart Downing who unleashed a drilled shot from 30 yards that flew past the keeper and in. Sunderland grabbed a point in the final minute when Liam Miller chested a loose ball into the air and struck a superb volley from the edge of the area and found the top corner.

Attendance : 30,675
Assists : Chopra, O'Neil, Boateng, Jones

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