zaterdag 10 december 2011

Premier League

Arsenal 1-0 Everton

Robin van Persie nets stunning second-half goal to give Gunners narrow triumph
Arsene Wenger's side mark their 125th anniversary in apt manner after captain and talisman strikes emphatically late on to steal all three points in encounter with the Toffees.

The 125th anniversary of Arsenal Football Club was celebrated in fitting fashion as Arsenal saw off a resilient Everton side 1-0 at the Emirates.
In a first half that was all bark and no bite, the Gunners dominated their visitors, although it wasn’t until the closing minutes that the hosts managed to break down their opponents.

An Alex Song pass carved open the Everton back four, allowing Robin van Persie to stride on and sink a left-footed, first time volley in off the far post, taking the Arsenal captain just one strike away from the visiting Thierry Henry’s club record for goals in a calendar year.

It was a win that crystalised Arsenal’s Premier League renaissance, carrying them into the top four of the table for the first time this season.

The home side enjoyed much the better start of the two, regularly threatening with the pace of wide men Theo Walcott and Gervinho on the counter.

It was the English winger who burst through for the first chance of the game, opting to square for Gervinho, though the Ivorian was distracted enough by Tony Hibbert to miscue his effort at the open goal.

Aaron Ramsey manoeuvred excellently in the box after being played through by Alex Song but his left-footed effort hit the top of the net moments before Howard denied Gervinho from close range.

Arsenal turned the screw as the half reached its closing stages, though with Walcott getting the better of Leighton Baines several times down the right flank there was little by way of end product to put the hosts in front.

The second half started exactly as its predecessor ended, though in the same exasperating fashion. Walcott blazed over after cutting in off the wing, then stung Howard’s palms with a drive from similar range before Vermaelen halted a rare Everton attack by taking the ball off the head of Tim Cahill at the far post.

With David Moyes opting to introduce Sylvain Distin for Louis Saha with half an hour left, the Gunners job of breaking down an obstinate back four was made all the more difficult.

Neville bent an effort just over the bar as Everton began to sense that they could maybe steal something from the encounter.

However, that sentiment was duly snatched away as Van Persie broke the deadlock in emphatic style. Alex Song lofted a delightful ball over the top of the Everton back four and the Gunners’ captain latched onto the pass, striking the ball first time with his left foot, in off the far post.

Substitute Conor McAleny nearly grabbed an equaliser for Everton in the dying seconds, though Arsenal managed to see out the game to claim victory on a momentous day in the history of the club.

Manchester United 4-1 Wolves

Nani & Wayne Rooney hit doubles as hosts make perfect response to Champions League exit.
The England striker returned to form with two goals to lead the Red Devils to victory over Mick McCarthy's team as they bounced back from their midweek disappointment.

Manchester United bounced back from their midweek Champions League elimination in style as they cruised to a 4-1 victory over Wolves at Old Trafford.

Nani and Wayne Rooney bagged two goals apiece to hand the Red Devils three points against a Wolves side that once again failed to provide much in the way of resistance against one of the Premier League's top teams, Steven Fletcher's goal early in the second half aside.
United quickly began to assert their control over the game, having been woken up by an early effort from Fletcher that missed the target. Their first chance came when a gap between the Wolves defence and midfield was effectively exploited by Rooney. Carrick’s through ball gave him an opportunity to the left of Wayne Hennessey but the Welsh goalkeeper saved well.

One man currently enjoying a rich vein of form is Nani and he slammed a low shot in from the edge of the box to give the home side a 17th minute lead. The Portuguese winger starred against Basel and was prominent again here, cutting in from the left past two Wolves players to set himself up for the opener.

Wolves came from behind to beat United last season but there looked to be little chance of a repeat here. Rooney, whose barren spell prior to this match had stretched to eight league games, has never gone nine Premier League matches without a goal and ensured that record stood up with a precise finish from 18 yards after 27 minutes.

Hennessey was called into action again a short time later, just doing enough to get a fingertip to a Rooney effort which deflected off of Roger Johnson towards the far corner. He went on to make two further saves from Rooney and Nani before the half drew to a close.

If there was one spell in which Wolves were on top in the first half, it was in the first 60 seconds. History was to repeat itself in the second period and this time Ferguson’s men were punished for their early lethargy. Jarvis sped down the left and evaded Chris Smalling before standing up a cross for Fletcher, who powerfully rose above Patrice Evra to bring Wanderers within one.

United, once again, belatedly sprung into life and a cross from the wonderfully energetic Phil Jones just beat the toes of Rooney and Welbeck.

It was Jones who would instigate the move that restored United’s two-goal lead. The 19-year old released Valencia down the right wing and the Ecuadorian picked out Nani in the box, who tapped past by Hennessey.

Valencia, who grew into the game as it went on, was arguably even more impressive than Nani and he set up United’s fourth. Cruising into space down the right-hand side he pulled a cross back for Rooney to convert for his second of the match.

Ferguson was confident enough to introduce 19-year old Zeki Fryers at left-back with just under 25 minutes to go. The young defender is the first player to play for United in the Premier League who was not born when the competition began in August 1992.

Substitute Federico Macheda was denied by Hennessey in the late stages of the game but it mattered little as United moved back to within two points of league leaders Manchester City with the sort of positive response they urgently needed.

Liverpool 1-0 QPR

 Second-half Luis Suarez header helps hosts end frustrating run of Anfield draws
A tight game was decided by the Uruguayan striker as the away side's goalkeeper Radek Cerny was on top form to deny Maxi Rodriguez and others at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez brought his side's disappointing run of Premier League home draws to a close as his header earned a 1-0 win over QPR.

It was a tight match with the home side dominant throughout, and QPR goalkeeper Radek Cerny was on top form to give his side a chance, but the hosts could not be broken down.
Liverpool lined up for QPR’s first visit to Anfield since February 1996 with Charlie Adam hoping to pull the strings in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson.

QPR took to the field with Jay Bothroyd the lone striker with Shaun Wright-Phillips deployed on the left wing and Jamie Mackie wide right.

The first real action of the match came in the 10th minute as Suarez planted a header straight at Radek Cerny but he really should have done better after he found himself unmarked in the centre of the penalty area.

Suarez was at the heart of Liverpool’s best moves in the opening 20 minutes, roaming around the attacking third before firing in a dangerous ball across the face of goal but Maxi Rodriguez was unable to get on the end of it.

It was all Liverpool as half time approached. Stewart Downing embarked on a fine run down the right wing before sliding Suarez in at a tight angle. He initially attempted to chip the keeper, and when the rebound fell to him he blazed a shot well over.

QPR were perhaps fortunate to go in at half time all square, but that fortune didn't last long as Luis Suarez opened the scoring.

It wasn't a goal that required Suarez's blend of skill and speed, more a defence content on poor defending, leaving the striker unmarked from Charlie Adam's cross to head home from six yards for his first goal in eight Premier League games.

And things went from bad to worse for QPR moments later as Ferdinand was forced off with a hamstring injury following a tackle with Charlie Adam.

Liverpool were beginning to cut open the QPR defence at will, but Cerny was having a fine game in goal, tipping Maxi's effort from 12 yards onto the post before getting down well to stop a Kuyt volley minutes later.

QPR hadn't been in the game in an attacking sense, but did begin to exert some pressure as the game wore on, with Joey Barton putting in some dangerous crosses, one of which in particular Pepe Reina had to be alert to as he punched clear from just under his crossbar.

With minutes remaining, the away side had a credible penalty appeal turned down as Faurlin chested the ball down before Martin Skrtel appeared to kick him in the arm.

Wright-Phillips almost found the back of his own net, sliding back to try and clear a cross but hitting the crossbar.

The away side continued to assault the Liverpool box, but it was to no avail as they could not find the goal that would earn them a point.


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