Arsenal wins over Newcastle and weekend roundup
March 13, 2012
Post created by Alex
This weeks results serve as a perfect advertisement for the quality of competition in the English Premier League (with only Liverpool vs Everton still to play), while fixtures in La Liga largely followed the prepared scripts and Seria A competition saw the re-assertion of intent from the much maligned Inter Milan.
Coming off a surprise defeat in Europe, Manchester City continued their uncharacteristic stumble. Saturday saw the Mancurian moneybags losing at home to a Swansea side that seemed to retain possession with minimal effort, patiently biding their time until late substitute Moore came on to nod a fantastically placed cross beyond the stretching Joe Hart. The provider was Routledge, a sometimes overlooked winger fielded in place of the suspended Dyer, and a player determined to ensure Swansea coach Brendan Rodgers will have a tough time with team selection once both these talented wing players are available. Swansea could have won by a larger margin, but Hart proved his worth in the 7th minute, saving Scott Sinclair’s poorly taken penalty.
Manchester United will finally feel at home back on top of the table after out muscling West Brom by a scoreline of two to nil. Few will be shocked to learn that Wayne Rooney was the scorer of both for the reds, especially given the performances of Ronney’s strike partners. Particularly worrying to United fans will be the stunning miss on an open goal by local Danny Welbeck in the sixtieth minute and the generally uninspired play of last year’s surprise purchase Javier Hernandez. Perhaps the shock of the game was that Welbeck’s inevitable substitution came as last as the 76th minute.
Meanwhile in the London camps, Arsene Wenger publicly targeted the third place spot currently occupied by rivals Tottenham and true to that intention fielded an attacking team against a Newcastle side that has upset the Gunners before. Falling behind early to a fantastic shot by Ben Arfa it only took Van Persie and Co. a mere 53 seconds to equalize and from then on the home team always looked like winners. It was no forgone conclusion though, as Newcastle played with a tight defensive structure and held on until the last minute when Thomas Vermaelen was presented an opportunity in the opposition box thanks to Theo Walcott’s cross. He did not squander the chance and the nervy Emirates crowd exploded in euphoria. This is Arsenal‘s fifth win in five games – what is even more impressive is that four of these games has seen the Gunners, so often criticized for a lack of winning mentality over past seasons, come from a scoreline deficit to secure their victory.
Tottenham were nursing a record of two loses in a row heading into Saturday’s game against Everton and might have known David Moyes was playing for a win to cap his ten years in charge of the Toffies. Criticized for a team selection that saw Bale and Modric played out of their most effective positions – it only went wrong for Spurs manager Redknapp when Everton’s January purchase Jelavic scored on his home debut in front of the Everton support. It’s no shame to lose at home to one of the best managed teams in the EPL though, and Harry will only wish these difficult recent fixtures weren’t thrown at his team so fast and thick. Some relief is on the horizon in the form of next week’s match against Bolton.
Chelsea meanwhile have Mata and Drogba to thank for the three points they took against Stoke. It was an expected result that almost looked like it wouldn’t happen – despite having an extra man for 65 minutes (Fuller was rightly sent off for a ridiculous stomp of Ivanovic). The goal didn’t materialize for Chelsea until very late in the game, a reality that is hardly inspiring given Stoke have lost 5 of their last seven including defeats to Fulham, Sunderland and West Brom, admittedly all games that Stoke lost only by a narrow margin.
Junior Hoilett scored a brace for Blackburn against fellow relegation favorites Wolves, while Victor Moses secured a draw for Wigan by equaling Norwich’s singular effort scored by Hoolahan. Bolton registered their first win in 5 games, although a goal should have been awarded to QPR after Adam Bogdan ‘saved’ a headed effort that, on replay, had clearly crossed the line. Fulham’s good recent run of form was ended by a late strike from Aston Villa’s substitute Weinmann.
In La Liga the major surprises were scorelines as Real Madrid eked out a marginal victory over Real Betis (2-3), and Espanyol dominated Vallencano 5-1. Osasuna won by a margin of 2-1 over Bilbao (who scalped Man United in their midweek Europa test) and Villarreal were upset by Getafe, 1-2.
Serie A contests saw the city of Milan victorious with AC Milan cruising to victory over Lecce, two to nil, while Inter Milan switched on at the last minute to score two over Chievo thanks to Argentinian pair Samuel and Milito. Napoli sent a warning to Tuesday’s Europa league opponents Chelsea coming out on top in a 6-3 goal fest against Cagliari, while Juventus registered yet another draw against Genoa.