zondag 4 december 2011

Premier League 03 december

Aston Villa 0-1 Manchester United
 Phil Jones' first career goal gets Red Devils back on track after League Cup exit

The England starlet registered the only strike of a game dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson's visitors but had Javier Hernandez stretchered off within the first 10 minutes
Manchester United got back on track as Phil Jones scored the first goal of his young career to secure a 1-0 victory away against Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Not everything went the Red Devils' way in a muted match, however, with striker Javier Hernandez being forced off on a stretcher within the opening 10 minutes having appeared to injure his ankle.

Jones' strike came after 20 minutes, an impressive finish at the end of an athletic run into the box, where he met Nani's left-sided cross.

Sir Alex Ferguson had opted for Anders Lindegaard in goal ahead of the benched David de Gea, while Wayne Rooney lined up just behind Chicharito in attack as the visitors looked to bounce back from their midweek League Cup disappointment. 

Captain Stilyan Petrov returned to the substitutes' bench for Alex McLeish’s home side, with Charles N’Zogbia left out after reportedly 'breaking a club rule'.

An early blow came for United when Hernandez went down in the box having appeared to twist his ankle nastily, immediately signalling to be withdrawn, with Antonio Valencia replacing him in a tactical reshuffle which saw Young move into a central role behind Rooney.

The visitors dominated the opening 20 minutes without finding much quality in the final third, but eventually Villa lost sight of Patrice Evra in the space in front of the back four. With all the time in the world, the Frenchman slipped Nani through down the left, who delivered a clipped cross towards Jones, who made a run into the box and struck right-footed to impressively score the first goal of his senior career.

Nani might have made it two a minute later, but the Portuguese offered a very tame header having been teed up by Valencia on the right, and Shay Given had no trouble holding it.

In a rare opportunity inside the away half, Gabriel Agbonlahor showed some threat cutting in from the left flank and jabbing a smart pass into Barry Bannan, but the Scot’s first touch saw him carry it too far wide and the chance petered out.

McLeish then reacted in apoplectic manner after the Villa defenders stood off Valencia, allowing the Ecuadorean space to hammer a 25-yard effort just over the crossbar.

More bad news for the Scottish manager arrived moments later when Given, having rushed out to scramble a clearance, was forced off with an apparent hamstring problem, necessitating the introduction of Brad Guzan for only his second Premier League appearance.

After eight minutes of injury-prompted stoppage-time were played out, United went into half-time in unchallenged control.

Bad day at the office | Given's injury summed up a disappointing evening for Villa

Ten minutes into a sedate second half, Stephen Warnock shut down a potentially-dangerous United move when he expertly slid in to rob Rooney on the edge of the area.

There followed yet another sudden injury when Jermaine Jenas, only making his first start for Villa since arriving from Tottenham in the summer, appeared to trip over something in the pitch and was also stretchered off.

His replacement, Emile Heskey, seemed to give the hosts another option going forward, being targeted immediately from a corner. The ex-England striker was found at the far post after Richard Dunne flicked a header on but he nodded high to waste a decent chance.

Young responded for the visitors by cutting inside from the left wing and slicing a long-range effort low and just wide of Guzan’s near post.

With 15 minutes remaining, Villa finally forced Lindegaard to make a save, with James Collins heading powerfully towards the top corner from a corner only to be denied by the leaping Dane. 

Late substitute Danny Welbeck nearly lit up the turgid second half as he beat three home defenders in a skilful, weaving run into the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Manchester United striker, though, he could not quite skip past the final man at the post and lost the ball.

Rooney then had a chance to finish the game as he careered forward on the break and bore down on the Villa area, but he opted to pass into the path of Welbeck, who put the ball in the net but was comfortably offside.

Manchester City 5-1 Norwich
Aguero & Nasri set up stunning rout as Premier League leaders extend 100 per cent home record

Roberto Mancini's side edge further clear at the top of the table thanks to a resounding win over the Canaries at the Etihad stadium

Roberto Mancini's side were dominant from the off, with Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Samir Nasri among the scorers, and move seven points clear for the time being, with rivals Manchester United featuring at Aston Villa later on Saturday.

Mancini decided to line up with  Aguero and Edin Dzeko up front, while Balotelli started from the bench after serving a suspension in midweek.

Steve Morison was playing in an isolated lone role up front for Norwich but still managed to cause Kolo Toure problems on a rare Premier League for the Ivorian.

First Toure dithered with a bouncing ball and Morison latched onto it, hitting an effort from 40 yards which sent Joe Hart scrambling to his right, before a mix-up between both City centre-backs saw Morison through on Joe Hart's goal, but a heavy touch from the striker let England's No. 1 shut off the opportunity.

The game then swiftly became one-way action with City trying to pick holes in Norwich's side as they kept 10 men behind the ball at all times, the creative trio of Aguero, David Silva and Nasri sharing the creative duties.

Dzeko had an effort blocked and the afternoon was threatening to become a frustrating one for City until they finally found a way through the wall of yellow shirts.

Nasri played the effervescent Micah Richards in down the right channel who played the ball into the box to Aguero and, when faced with five Norwich players, turned into space and toe-poked the ball through the crowd and into the Norwich goal.

City were not happy to sit back on their goal; Toure powered through midfield and played Nasri in down the right who again found Aguero at the back post but the Argentine fired his effort over and could have easily had a first-half hat-trick.

Norwich managed to hold out until half-time and had a great chance to equalise in the second minute of the second half, when Kompany missed his header and Elliot Bennett found himself through on goal.

The former Brighton winger rounded Joe Hart but the angle became too narrow and Bennett could only fire wide.

City then extended their lead minutes later. A free-kick was played in by Nasri, and the ball ending up in the back of the net after evading Norwich defenders and City attackers.

The home side were now fully into their attacking groove, Silva jinked into the box and hit a rasping effort towards John Ruddy's near post which was saved but fell to Aguero following up but he was denied brilliantly by the custodian.

A change was needed for Norwich and Paul Lambert decided to take the game to the hosts, bringing on Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan for Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett, forcing a change of formation and perhaps style.

The change failed to have the desired effect however as another City short corner was worked by Aguero and Nasri into Yaya Toure, who curled a sumptuous shot into the corner from 15 yards.

Mancini wasn't looking happy with just three, sending on Adam Johnson for Samir Nasri and one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon greeted Mario Balotelli as he replaced Aguero.

Norwich were still working hard however and were finally rewarded for their efforts, Surman's drifted cross was met by Morison, the Welshman powering a bullet header past Joe Hart.

City regained their three goal cushion through substitute Balotelli, played in by Johnson the Italian's initial shot was blocked into the air and as it fell the enigmatic forward hit the ball into the net with his shoulder.

And the Citizens extended their lead further in injury time, Vincent Kompany picking the ball up and finding Adam Johnson who slotted home from the right hand corner of the box.

Wigan 0-4 Arsenal 
Robin van Persie caps impressive victory as Gunners get back to winning ways

Arsene Wenger's side return to winning ways and extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven matches with a comfortable victory over the lacklustre Latics away.

Arsenal returned to winning ways and extended their unbeaten run in the league to seven games as they beat Wigan 4-0 at the DW Stadium.

First half goals from Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen put the Gunners in control of the game and from then they never looked like losing as Wigan struggled to get back into the game. The visitors controlled the majority of the match and extended their lead further through Gervinho on the hour mark and Robin Van Persie with 11 minutes remaining to seal all three points.

Arsene Wenger made two changes to the side who were held by Fulham, Laurent Koscielny and Gervinho recalled in place of Johan Djourou and Andrey Arshavin. Youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance against Manchester City in the Carling Cup earned him a place on the subs bench.

Both sides started the game confidently with some neat passing but the first chance of the game fell to the home side in the sixth minute. Conor Sammon controlled a long ball from Steve Gohouri, before finding David Jones on the left and he delivered a dangerous cross into the penalty area. 

Wojciech Szczesny could only palm the ball into the path of Jordi Gomez; the Spaniard looked certain to score from 10 yards with an open goal in front of him but his effort deflected off Andre Santos for a corner.

The game had been fairly even for the opening 25 minutes but the deadlock was finally broken as Arteta fired a long range shot past Ali Al Habsi. Vermaelen broke out of defence before finding the Spaniard inside the Wigan half, Diame failed to close down the midfielder quickly enough and Arteta lashed the ball into the net from 25 yards.

Minutes later the Gunners delivered another blow to Wigan as they doubled the lead through Vermaelen. The visitors were awarded a corner on the right wing, Van Persie fired the ball in and Vermaelen rose above Caldwell and Sammon to head home at the back post.

Having conceded two goals so quickly Wigan were shell shocked and Arsenal very nearly extended their lead in the 34th minute through Van Persie. Gervinho set off on a mazy run down the left wing, he then found Van Persie on the edge of the penalty area but the Dutchman’s left foot shot was saved by Al Habsi diving to his left. 

In the second half, Wigan broke on the counterattack through Ronnie Stam,  playing in Victor Moses, who managed to wriggle free in the area but his cross was too powerful for Sammon to get on the end of and the chance was gone.

On the hour Arsenal extended their lead through the busy Gervinho. Van Persie broke into the penalty area on the left hand side, escaped two defenders but his right foot shot was well saved by Al Habsi. However, the keeper could only palm the ball into the path of Gervinho and he fired the ball into the empty net.

With the game drifting towards its conclusion Arsenal added a fourth goal with 11 minutes remaining through Van Persie. Walcott beat Caldwell to a through ball before rolling the ball back to the Dutchman who made no mistake from 12 yards and begin the mass exodus of Wigan fans.

Arsenal move to within two points of Chelsea in fourth as a result of the win, while Wigan drop to the foot of the Premier League table on goal difference.

Newcastle 0-3 Chelsea
Daniel Sturridge shines to give Andre Villas-Boas a vital victory

A superb display from young England forward guided the Blues to three points on Tyneside despite controversial David Luiz decision and Frank Lampard's missed penalty

Daniel Sturridge capped an influential display with a goal as his strike, plus efforts from Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, helped Chelsea past Newcastle in an end-to-end encounter at the Sports Direct Arena.

Both sides had chances but Andre Villas-Boas will feel his side deserved the three points, with Frank Lampard missing a first half penalty and Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul repeatedly denying Daniel Sturridge.
The atmosphere in the Sports Direct Arena was ignited before four minutes of play had passed. Referee Mike Dean produced only a yellow card when Demba Ba was hauled down by David Luiz – the Senegalese striker appeared to be through on goal as he raced on to Lovenkrands’ pass. Alan Pardew was furious but Ryan Taylor could only put the resulting free-kick into the wall.

Dean will not have improved the home manager’s mood when, minutes later, he awarded Chelsea a penalty. The call was correct – Yohan Cabaye had tripped Daniel Sturridge to goalkeeper Tim Krul’s left – but the Magpies might have felt that some semblance of justice was done when Lampard’s penalty was superbly turned away by the Dutchman between the posts.

Sturridge nearly corrected that miss shortly afterwards, again finding space in the penalty area before shooting powerfully against the post.

Chelsea were nearly punished for their early profligacy when more good work from Lovenkrands saw the Danish winger cross for Ba, who’s flicked effort forced an excellent save from Petr Cech.

Unfortunately for Pardew’s side, Ba’s opposite number was to do one better. A quickly taken throw-in deep into Newcastle territory found Mata who clipped a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Drogba showed that there is still life in him yet as he powered his header into the roof of the net beyond Krul.

It could have been worse if not for the excellent Krul, who got down quickly to deny Sturridge after the young forward had raced on to Lampard’s defence-splitting pass.

Shola Ameobi was introduced in place of Hatem Ben Arfa, who had been closely watched by Oriol Romeu, after the interval in a move that suggested Newcastle might lengthen their passing in order to exploit Luiz, who had struggled with Ba’s physicality.

Pardew’s half-time switch seemed to be working, as Newcastle looked to have more of a grip on the game, but they struggled to make their possession count and create the chances that might lead to an equaliser. John Terry in particular was colossal at the heart of the Chelsea defence and the Blues started to look more and more comfortable as the half wore on.

It was not to be the Magpies' day. Torres, introduced late from the bench, saw his shot blocked but was able to recycle the ball to fellow sub Kalou who sealed the three points.

The Blues deserved the three points but the margin of victory was undoubtedly harsh on Pardew's team. Sturridge added a third in injury time to rub salt in the Magpies' wound, and cap an excellent display from the England international who continues to shine.


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