EPL Weekend Recap: the Reds burn themselves, Chelski tops Arsenal, and Darren Bent the super-sub

Saturday, March 22nd

Newcastle 2, Fulham 0

Roy Hodgson did arguably nothing to try for the win in this one. Basically, Jimmy Bullard had free reign in the midfield and his “amazing shot” was deemed as the way to score. Yet none of his long range efforts hit home. McBride and Johnson started up front, but no service was given to them – except the time where both of them missed a well-struck cross 10 yards from goal. Other than that, it was frustrating as hell to watch them try and post Eddie Johnson up on Taylor and then have EJ pass it back while the Magpie centrebacks pressured him. Occasionally, this would produce space on the wing – but Simon Davies picked a bad day to become invisible (especially after a great performance against Everton). Coupled with Sunderland’s win, Bolton’s tie – it’s not looking too good for the Americans. Newcastle didn’t look too dangerous either but when you have game changers like Michael Owen and Obi Martins – games like this are bound to go your way. Owen scored the second, while Mark Viduka – back after a small stint on the sidelines – struck early for Newcastle. 

Tottenham 2, Portsmouth 0

Two late goals from Darren Bent and Jamie O’Hara gave the Spurs . One could even say the Jermain Defoe decision really affected an otherwise even match-up. Utaka, Baros, and Kanu couldn’t make up for the absence of Jermain Defoe who has struck for 6 in 6 games since coming over to Pompey. His absence, however, was part of the loan deal originally agreed upon in order to get his transfer from White Hart Lane to Fratton Park done before the deadline. Berbatov and Robbie Keane gave Sol Campbell and his back four some problems, but couldn’t find the net. It wasn’t until Ramos inserted Darren Bent in the 70th minute (super-sub mode like Jermain Defoe no less) that the goal followed. Bent also had his hand in youngster Jamie O’Hara’s goal several minutes later.

Other scores:

Middlesbrough 1, Derby 0 – Eddie Lewis played all ninety, but Sanli Tuncay gave Boro the win.

Blackburn 3, Wigan 1 – Two red cards – Samba for B’burn and Palacios for Wigan – headlined a physical performance. When Santa Cruz is on brace form though, the Rovers are really hard to beat. Brad Friedel did his part on the defensive end yet again.

Sunderland 1, Aston Villa 0 – The big upset of the weekend. Thanks to Michael Chopra’s 83rd minute winner, the Black Cats received some much needed breathing room.

Everton 1, West Ham United 1 – Yakubu’s early goal was countered a late Dean Ashton goal that Timmy Howard could do nothing about. Jonathan Spector came on in the 82nd after returning from successfully leading the US U-23s to an Olympic berth.

Reading 2, Birmingham 1 – A huge step-up from an unlikely hero allowed the Royals to grab three against a relegation foe. Cameroonian Andre Bikey captained an effective back four and also scored the brace that gave Reading the win. Valued at $30 million, Mauro Zarate grabbed the consolation goal for the Blues, who looked pretty disorganized. Marcus Hahnemann did his duty, while Bobby Convey didn’t dress. Stephen Hunt kept his stock rising heading into the offseason with another inspired performance on the wings.

Bolton 0, Manchester City 0 – A point is a point right now for the Wanderers and even though Gary Megson said Nicolas Anelka’s absence won’t matter in this relegation battle, they could have used the now Chelsea man on Saturday. One good sign for Bolton was that they dictated the run of play, but their remaining fixtures put them in dark territory the rest of the way. 

Sunday, March 23rd

Manchester United 3, Liverpool 0

Liverpool was in it – they were getting crushed on shots attempted, etc, but they were still in it to say the least. That is until…Javier Maschareno bitched himself out of the game. The Argentinian decided to continue protest of a call past the boiling point of the head ref while he was already carrying a card to his name. None of his teammates decided to intervene and tell the man to shut his trap. Right before half time, Mascherano was sent off and United took control of the game. The Reds fought, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both broke through with 10 minutes to go and the game was put out of reach. Wes Brown scored the first goal for United. Can anyone stop Ronaldo from scoring?

Chelsea 2, Arsenal 1

Didier the decider. Two late goals from the Ivorian trounced an earlier go-ahead goal by Arsenal’s fullback Bacary Sagna. Sagna headed home a Cesc Fabregas corner and his first goal ever for the Gunners to push ahead 10 minutes into the second half, but Drogba came through after surviving a frustrating first half. Partly thanks to Lampard and Joe Cole’s endeavors in the midfield, Drogba was given the firm opportunity to lift the spirits of Chelsea’s faithful past their growing disdain for Avram Grant’s tactics and style of play. The Blues have moved into second now, trailing Manchester United by 5 points – making that eventual derby a BIG one. 

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EPL Daily 12.28: Dorman finds home in SPL? (I know, I know), Barton the Convict

CONVICT BARTON: Joey Barton has done it again. This time, I don’t feel like commenting. So there. This to go with terrible Newcastle form, Big Sam Allardyce teetering on the edge of unemployment…Newcastle really does have some sort of curse.

BIANCHI: Rolando Bianchi has hit out at English culture, cuisine, referees, and his teammates in his latest tirade. This time, however, he has made it clear he wants to return to Italy as soon as possible. Bianchi came over from Reggina in the summer and has made a decent impact despite being unsettled.

YOUTH SIGNING: Liverpool has started off their soon-to-be New Year preparing for their future. The Reds signed 16-year old Ross County star Alex Cooper for $200k. Is this another youth grab? Possibly but most of their noise was made this past summer with the signings of Alex Kaciniklic (Helsingborg), David Amoo (Millwall), Marvin Pourie (Borussia Dortmund), Ryan Crowther (Stockport), Kristzian Nemeth and Andreas Simon (MTK Hungaria), Nikolay Mihalov (Levski Sofia), Damien Plessis (Lyon), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao), Ronald Huth (Tacuary FC)…….you get my point??? Two are English. Cooper is Scottish.

ANDY DORMAN: St. Mirren of the Scottish Premier League are looking to lock up an 18-month deal with the Revolution’s Andy Dorman. Dorman’s past MLS season was one of roller coaster proportions. He started the year off with a bang coming off an even better 2006 season.

MAN CITY 2, BLACKBURN 2: Manchester City’s perfect home record dissipated after Roque Santa Cruz’s 84th minute put-away ruined it all. It wasn’t without controversy though – as the linesman originally called a non-active David Dunn offside but the referee waved it off as Dunn attempted to flick the ball on to Roque Santa Cruz, but never actually touched it. Santa Cruz scored, ending the perfect home record for Sven’s boys. Elano was dangerous when inserted with about 30 minutes to go. Citeh still sits in 5th heading into this Sunday’s clash with Liverpool. Former United man (D.C. that is) Ryan Nelsen had an own goal go in off him to give City the lead early in the game. Brad Friedel was rock solid in goal as he went the distance for the Rovers.