Saturday, 15 December 2012

Last 4 days in English football:



Hello and welcome to my latest installment of my EPL Blog. 
Today, I analyse the last 4 days in English football, because of the matches during midweek including 3 Capital One Cup Quarter-Final Matches, 2 EPL matches and 1 Club World Cup Semi-Final match - featuring last season's UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea.

Monday and Tuesday's EPL Match:

Monday - Fulham 2 Newcastle United 1

This match was played at Craven Cottage, as 13th placed Fulham hosted 14th placed Newcastle in a mid-table clash between two sides who are desperate to play in the Europa League next season. They both have not been on form over the past few months, and need to get back on track if they are to play in the Europa League.

Midfielder Steve Sidwell broke the deadlock in the 19th minute after having a powerful strike deflect off Newcastle defender Mike Williamson before beating goalkeeper Tim Krul and finding its way into the net. 

Vital deflection: Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell celebrates his 19th minute opener against Newcastle.

In the second half, Newcastle were desperate to get back into the match, and that is exactly what they did.
Winger Hatem Ben Arfa equalised in the 54th minute with a great shot which flew past Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer into the back of the net.

Great equaliser: Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates his goal against Fulham.

The home side were not happy that they conceded, and 9 minutes later a free-kick was whipped deep into the box by midfielder Damien Duff.
Striker Hugo Rodallega was lurking inside the box, and headed the ball past a stranded Tim Krul to give The Cottagers their first league win since October. 

Back in-front: Fulham striker Hugo Rodallega heads the home side back into the lead in the 63rd minute.
Important goal: Hugo Rodallega looks up to the sky to thank God for his header against Newcastle.


Fulham move 3 points ahead of Newcastle and are now 6 points away from 4th placed Everton, having played 16 matches. 

Tuesday - Sunderland 3 Reading 0

This match was played at The Stadium of Light as Sunderland hosted Reading in a bottom of the table clash. 

Sunderland midfielder James McClean broke the deadlock for the home side in the 3rd minute with a great shot past the goalkeeper into the net. 

Sunderland midfielder James McClean breaks the deadlock for the home side after 3 minutes against Reading.
Quick-fire goal: McClean celebrates his 3rd minute goal against Reading with the home fans and team-mates.

There were doubts whether he was going to play due to suffering an injury a few weeks ago, but striker Steven Fletcher made it 2-0 in the 28th minute with a cool back flick past goalkeeper Adam Federici into the net.

Cheeky: Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher scores to make it 2-0 with a cheeky back-heel past Federici.
Loyal: Fletcher shook off an injury to return to the Sunderland side, and was rewarded with his 7th goal of the season.

In the 90+3rd minute, Sunderland midfielder Stephane Sessegnon added insult to injury for Reading with the icing on the cake for his side with a comfortable performance throughout.

He made it 3-0 after using his strength to push past a defender before skilling up the goalkeeper and tapping home a nice finish into an empty net.

Easy: Sessegnon beats Federici before tapping the ball into the net to give Sunderland a 3-0 win.

Last 8: Arsenal, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Swansea and Norwich are the only teams in the EPL left in the CO Cup.

Capital One Cup Quarter-Final Matches:  

Bradford City 1 Arsenal 1 (AET) (PENS 3-2)

Bradford City provided the Capital One Cup with one of the shocks of the season, after beating Premier League side Arsenal on Tuesday night in an important night in their history as a club.

They started the match well at home, and gave Arsenal's defence problems throughout the match with the wingers and midfielders one step ahead in the first half.

They were eventually given a reward with a goal after 16 minutes thanks to a free-kick which found Garry Thompson who took an ambitous shot, and Szczesny was not able to stop it from going past him into the net.

Well played: Bradford pressed Arsenal for the first 15 minutes of the match, and got their reward with a goal.
Shock lead: Thompson celebrates his goal to put the hosts ahead against EPL side Arsenal.

Arsenal were in complete shock after conceding, especially as manager Arsene Wenger had fielded a strong side and did not expect to be under the knife so quickly away from home.

In the second half, Arsenal played much better with inspired substituions from Rosicky, Chamberlain and Chamakh.
Gervinho was taken off after missing an OPEN GOAL, where he should have finished and missed a lot of other goalscoring chances between being put out of his misery by Wenger.

How did he miss that? Gervinho missed an open goal after a ball was played low into the box.

Cazorla's cross into the box with seconds to go plus stoppage time found defender and captain Thomas Vermaelen unmarked at the far post who headed the ball past the goalkeeper into the net to give The Gunners hopes of a semi-final place against either Swansea/Middlesborough, Aston Villa or Chelsea/Leeds. 

After all of that: Arsenal defender and captain Thomas Vermaelen heads The Gunners back into the match to force extra-time.

 Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs celebrate Vermaelen's equaliser to give The Gunners hope.

Extra time had come and gone, and Bradford had held on for their dangerous weapon. Penalties. They had not lost a penalty shootout in their last 7, and wanted to get to the semif-inals desperately.

Long story short:


Wilshere and Chamberlain (The Young Gunners) dispatched their penalties easily. The opposite could be said for Chamakh, who should NEVER take a penalty again, it was that poor.
Vermaelen and Cazorla both hit the post, and Bradford just scored 1 more than Arsenal to get into the last 4.

History: Bradford have NEVER got to the last 4 of the League Cup - until now with a win over Arsenal.

Other Capital One Cup ties:

Swansea 1 Middlesborough 0

The Swans move into the Last 4, after beating Middlesborough 1-0 at The Liberty Stadium thanks to an own goal by Seb Hines in the 81st minute. 

Norwich City 1 Aston Villa 4

This match was played at Carrow Road, as Norwich City hosted Aston Villa in the 2nd Quarter-Final match. 
 
The main story coming into the match was whether former Norwich manager Paul Lambert would get a good reception or not back at his old club after leaving for Villa last season.
He did not get a good reception, but no criminal activity as the fans were focused on the match.

Steve Morision broke the deadlock after 19 minutes to give the hosts the lead, before Brett Holman equalised 2 minutes later to make it 1-1 at half-time.

Power over placement: Striker Steve Morison gives the hosts the lead against Aston Villa after 19 minutes.
Ahead at Carrow Road: Morison is congratulated on his goal by team-mate Snodgrass.

Striker Andreas Weimann scored a brace in 6 minutes 79th and 85th minute to seal Villa's progress into the Last 4, before Benteke rubbed salt into the wounds to score in the 90+1st minute.

Ahead: Weimann celebrates his first goal against Norwich to give Aston Villa the lead after 79 minutes.
Bullet strike: Benteke rubs salt into Norwich's wounds to make it 4-1 in stoppage time.



FIFA Club World Cup Semi-Final:

Chelsea 3 Monterrey 1

This match was played in Japan, in the second semi-final match to determine who would face Brazillian side Corinthians in Sunday's final.

Chelsea started the match off well with good link-up play between Mata and Hazard but the latter failed to finish a lovely finesse shot which narrowly missed the post.

In-form winger Juan Mata broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with a ruthless effort past the goalkeeper after a corner was not cleared.

Ruthless: Mata continues his great form from the EPL into the match by scoring the opener after 17 minutes.
Encouraging: Mata celebrates breaking the deadlock in the semi-final after 17 minutes in Japan.

The Blues started the second half well, with under-fire striker Fernando Torres scoring in the 46th minute to give them a comfortable 2-0 lead after a great footwork and skill combination for the goal.

Slowly but surely: Torres celebrates his goal with Ashley Cole to make it 2-0 just after half-time.

2 minutes later, Chelsea went on the counter attack and Mata's low cross into the box was turning into the net by Monterrey defender Chavez to make it 3-0.

Game over: Chelsea celebrate against Monterrey, which sealed their place in the final on Sunday.

Chelsea took their foot off the gas, and let Monterrey play football as they felt as though the match was already won.

Despite missing a couple of chances, striker De Nigris scored a consolation goal for Monterrey in the 90+2nd minute after hitting a powerful shot from the far post past Petr Cech into the net.

2nd final in 3 years: Benitez guides Chelsea to the final of the Club World Cup, after winning it with Inter in 2010.

Recap:

  • Chelsea have sealed their place in the final on Sunday in Japan against Corinthians.
  • Fulham beat Newcastle 2-1 at home 
  • Sunderland comfortably beat Norwich by 3 goals to nil 
  • Arsenal are OUT of the Capital One Cup after a shock defeat to Bradford
  • Swansea, Aston Villa and Bradford are all in the Last 4
  • Chelsea or Leeds will join them