zondag 18 december 2011

Premier League

Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: David Silva winner sees hosts return to top of Premier League after entertaining clash
In a match with numerous goalscoring opportunities at both ends of the pitch, it was the Spain international who made the difference for Roberto Mancini's men


Manchester City returned to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win against Arsenal in a pulsating game at the Etihad Stadium.
David Silva’s second half goal secured all three points in a brilliant match that swayed to and fro from the first minute.

City came into the game showing three changes from their first defeat of the season against Chelsea on Monday with Arsenal old boys Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri, as well as Pablo Zabaleta replacing Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Gael Clichy, while the Gunners were unchanged from their defeat of Everton last Saturday.

City’s bright start should have seen them take the lead in the ninth minute as Zabaleta was played clear on the left hand side from Gareth Barry before playing the ball across the front of both Arsenal centre-halves to Sergio Aguero, whose first touch was exemplary before firing over from 15 yards.

Against the run of play, Arsenal almost took the lead moments later. Gervinho managed to get in behind the home defence for the first time and his powerful shot was saved by Hart. From the resultant corner which Van Persie took short, Ramsey’s deflected effort from the edge of the area was saved once again by the England goalkeeper.

Wojciech Szczesny added to his burgeoning reputation midway through the half with a superb save from Mario Balotelli. Mertesacker was outmuscled by the Italian in the area and had the goal gaping from six yards, but the goalkeeper spread himself brilliantly to block the shot.

An open start to the second half saw both teams push forward for the opening goal, which duly came in the 53rd minute as Balotelli was given far too much space on the left hand side. He stole a yard on Alex Song before unleashing a powerful strike that could only be parried by Szczesny to Silva, who couldn’t miss from a yard out.

The response from Arsenal was superb as first Theo Walcott forced a fine save from Joe Hart and then Van Persie had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside call.

City remained dangerous on the break, however, and should have doubled their lead just after the hour mark. Nasri linked well with Silva before finding space behind the defence, and all he had to do was play across goal for Balotelli to stroke home, but his pass was woefully overhit and the ball went harmlessly out for a goal kick.

The away side felt they should have had a penalty in the 78th minute as Koscielny’s cross was flicked on to the right arm of Micah Richards. The full back knew little about it and had his hand was by his side, which would have helped influence the referee’s decision.

Andrey Arshavin had a chance late on to work Joe Hart at the back post but his shot was taken frightfully quickly and it went harmlessly into the side netting. 

Thomas Vermaelen then went close with a strike from outside the area but it was to no avail as City held out in what was a breathless game and move back ahead of rivals United at the top of the table.

QPR 0-2 Manchester United: Wayne Rooney & Michael Carrick strike early in each half to keep up the pressure on City
Comfy afternoon for Premier League champions as they canter to victory that never looked in doubt after England striker glanced home after only one minute of play


Manchester United enjoyed a comfortable afternoon at Loftus Road, going top of the Premier League courtesy of a 2-0 win against QPR.
It was largely one way traffic from the off, with Wayne Rooney scoring within a minute to give the visitors the lead.

Michael Carrick solo effort early in the second half put the result beyond doubt, with United having a plethora of other chances to further extend their advantage.

The win takes Manchester United a point clear of rivals City at the summit of the league, with the latter entertaining Arsenal in the final game of the day.

It took the reigning champions under a minute to stamp their authority on proceedings, with Rooney releasing Antonio Valencia down the right flank before stooping to glance the Ecuadorian's cross just inside the far post.

From there on United barely relinquished the driving seat. Danny Welbeck should have finished when released through on goal, then had the ball in the back of the net though was called offside.

As Welbeck flicked on a corner Jonny Evans headed against the bar, before Rooney released Phil Jones down the middle but the converted midfielder rifled his effort into the legs of Radek Cerny.

The Czech keeper then made a fantastic save to deny Welbeck from close range after Rooney’s effort was blocked, with QPR then somehow managing to clear the ball off the line as the move came to an end.

Rooney had a golden opportunity to add to United's lead after the teams emerged after half-time but his control let him down when through on goal.

Also in similar vein to the first half, United imposed themselves in relentless fashion on their hosts and within 10 minutes they had doubled their advantage. Some tidy footwork by Carrick on the halfway line allowed the central midfielder to home in on the QPR goal and after shrugging off the attention of a couple defenders he fired in low past Cerny,

Welbeck’s bent effort from the edge of the box drew another top stop from Cerny before Jones sidefooted against the post from near identical range.

QPR nearly edged themselves back into it courtesy of their two substitutes, yet after Adel Taarabt did well to engineer a cross, DJ Campbell’s volleyed effort from point blank range was found lacking.

From there on United cantered to victory, putting themselves top of the pile and eagerly anticipating City's match up with Arsenal.


Aston Villa 0-2 Liverpool: Craig Bellamy & Martin Skrtel strike in first half as Reds coast back into top six
Two early goals from corners were just reward for the Merseyside club who dominated throughout but despite Luis Suarez hitting the woodwork twice, could not score again


Liverpool recorded a comfortable 2-0 Premier League victory against Aston Villa after first-half goals from Craig Bellamy and Martin Skrtel.

Both players scored from early corners as the Reds ran riot against a home side lacking top scorers Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor up front.

It was a dominant performance from the visitors who should have scored more than their two goals but poor finishing again robbed them of a more comfortable victory, with Luis Suarez hitting the woodwork twice.

Both sides made some surprising team choices for the match with Alex McLeish having to replace the suspended Agbonlahor whilst Bent and Chris Herd missed out through thigh and ankle injuries. In came former Liverpool player Emile Heskey as well as Nathan Delfouneso and Fabian Delph.

Stewart Downing was roundly booed by the home fans on his return to Villa Park despite being the club’s Player of the Season but after having one routine shot easily saved, it was his corner from the right which saw Liverpool take the lead.

Jonjo Shelvey’s flick was met by Suarez who tried to copy the midfielder only to miss the ball. However, after Guzan had saved the chance fell to Bellamy to bundle home from close range and give his side an early advantage.

Bellamy was on inspired form and causing the Villa back line all sorts of problems and after his run earned another corner, he delivered the cross from the left which saw Skrtel beat Richard Dunne and Alan Hutton to the ball before flicking home his side’s second goal after just 15 minutes.

Only Tottenham have scored more than one goal against Liverpool in the league this season but the home side responded with Charles N’Zogbia firing narrowly over from around 25 yards out before finding the side netting after a quick break and a pass from Delfouneso.

At the other end, the quiet Suarez nut-megged Petrov and slipped in Shelvey but his shot on the slide was tipped wide by Guzan. Heskey then flicked a header over the bar from a corner in the last chance of the half.

Liverpool started the second half like the first and should have had the game wrapped up in the opening minutes. First, Bellamy scampered down the left and crossed to the back post where Daniel Agger – who had started the move by winning the ball off Dunne – headed over.

Then moments later the Welshman dispossessed Hutton, played in Suarez who lost the ball to Dunne. However, the Uruguayan won it back, side-stepped Collins, then managed to hit the underside of the bar when he looked certain to score.

Villa were contributing to their own demise and Warnock was next to give the ball away just outside his own area and Guzan had to make an excellent save diving to his left to deny Johnson.

It was the away side who continued to create excellent chances. First Suarez hit the post from a delightful chip and then Adam was allowed to run in on goal but with Shelvey waiting for the pass, he opted to shoot from the edge of the box and his shot deflected off Collins and went wide.

As in the first-half, the game quietened down towards the end with Liverpool happy to frustrate Villa's attacks. Dalglish felt able to take off Suarez and brought on Andy Carroll as his side eased to a comfortable victory.


Source: goal.com
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