Friday, 10 May 2013

This weekend's EPL Action with Analysis:

An important weekend of EPL football took place on Saturday and Sunday, with the conclusion to the 2012-13 season well underway with just 3 matches to play.

Fulham, West Brom, Southampton and West Ham were among those all in action on Saturday as they looked to end their respective seasons on a high after all playing well but not good enough to qualify for European competition.

Saturday's EPL Action:

Swansea City 0 Manchester City 0

2nd placed Manchester City went to Wales to play against the inconsistent Swansea, who had a good season until mid-February where they won the Capital One Cup but struggled after that.

It was a goal-less draw at The Liberty Stadium, as both sides failed to take their chances and both took just the one point.
Notable chances missed included Edin Dzeko and Michu who both had good chances to break the deadlock but were unlucky not to finish. 

Unlucky day: David Silva was among the City players who missed chances against Swansea.
Stress: Roberto Mancini knows that Manchester City are not completely safe in 2nd place just yet!
West Bromwich Albion 2 Wigan 3

End-to-end match at The Hawthorns, and it needed to be between 9th placed West Brom and relegation-fighters Wigan.

Republic Of Ireland Striker Shane Long broke the deadlock for the hosts in the 29th minute, sliding in at the far post to tap-in the net after a through ball across the post.

Ahead: Shane Long celebrates his 8th goal of the season against Wigan to put the hosts ahead at home.

Ivorian striker Arouna Kone equalised for Wigan in the 39th minute with a bullet header into the top corner of the net from Jean Beausejour's cross, before Gareth McAuley put West Brom back in the lead after half-time in the 50th minute with a downward header out of reach for Wigan goalkeeper Joel from a corner.

Bullet finish: Ivorian striker Arouna Kone heads Wigan's equaliser in the 39th minute.
James McArthur equalised in the 58th minute just minutes after coming onto the pitch, lurking inside the box before finishing clinically with a diving header past Ben Foster. 

Super sub: James McArthur scored a diving header to equalise for Wigan and make it 2-2 in the 58th minute.

Youngster Calum McManaman scored the winner for Wigan in the 80th minute after some great play by Shaun Maloney to get past two defenders on the wing, before he tapped the ball straight down the middle into the net. 

Vital: McManaman has scored a few vital goals this season, helping Wigan get to the FA Cup final among others.

It's Wigan's time of the year again! They always seem to find the right results at this time of the season, as well as playing much better and getting the vital points they need against the big teams. 

They are still in 18th place, but only 3 points off 15th place Norwich with 3 games to play (due to their progress in the FA Cup).

Norwich 1 Aston Villa 2

Former Norwich manager Paul Lambert returning to his old club and ground at Carrow Road in an interesting relegation-battle match between 15th placed Norwich and 18th placed Aston Villa.

The hosts dominated the first half with many chances, but were unable to take their chances and score.

Gabriel Agbonlahor had a great solo effort before unleashing a strike from 20 yards out to break the deadlock for Aston Villa in the 55th minute.

Can't hear you: Gabriel Agbonlahor celebrates his first goal of the day against Norwich.
Villa had more chances to double the lead thanks to Benteke and Agbonlahor, but Norwich striker Grant Holt equalised in the 74th minute from the penalty spot after young defender Joe Bennett held onto Snodgrass' shirt inside the box, pulling him down.    

1-1, but not for long: Grant Holt celebrates his penalty goal against Aston Villa to equalise.

Agbonlahor scored a late winner in the 89th minute on the counter attack after a great through ball fell to him, before he used his pace to get past Bassong and then he hit a sweet strike away from the goalkeeper Mark Bunn into the bottom corner of the net. 

This capped off a great win for Aston Villa who moved up into 13th, having won 2 out of their last 2 games (6-1 vs Sunderland on Monday night) 

Fulham 2 Reading 4

Fulham hosted newly-relegated side Reading at Craven Cottage.  
Hal Robson-Kanu broke the deadlock in the 12th minute for the visitors from the penalty spot, before he doubled the lead in the 62nd minute with a lovely curled effort inside the box which fell into the bottom corner of the net nicely out of Mark Schwarzer's reach.

From the penalty spot: Hal Robson-Kanu slots the ball past Schwarzer to break the deadlock.

Bryan Ruiz halved the deficit for Fulham eight minutes later with a toe-poke shot in the box thanks to a good pass by Hugo Rodallega who used skill to get past the Reading defenders before finding space in the box for the finish.   

Sweet strike: Bryan Ruiz scores the first of his two goals against Reading to make it 2-1.

Super sub striker Adam Le Fondre made it 3-1 in the 75th minute, slotting the ball into an empty net after Schwarzer was caught standing in the wrong position as he tried to retrieve the ball.

Super sub: Le Fondre celebrates scoring his 11th EPL goal of the season, in his 1st season in the top-flight.

Ruiz completed his brace two minutes later, giving Fulham hope of getting a result but Jem Karacan scored a bullet in the 83rd minute to seal the three points for the already relegated away side. 

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Southampton 0

White Hart Lane was the ground in north London that hosted The Saints as Spurs looked to improve their Champions League hopes for next season with a comfortable home win against opposition that they should realistically be beating.

It was end-to-end action throughout, with Defoe and Clyne both coming close at the start of the match but both were unlucky not to score their chances. 

Southampton striker Rickie Lambert hit the post with a free-kick 25 yards out near the end of the first-half, and he was also unlucky not to score as his strike beat Lloris but not the woodwork. 

Welsh winger Gareth Bale was practically ineffective until the 80th minute where he burst into life, using his pace to his advantage to scare the Southampton full-backs on the wing...

He inevitably broke the deadlock in the 86th minute with a bullet strike into the bottom corner of the net past the goalkeeper after using his pace and skill to get past Luke Shaw momentarily before finding a yard of space to unleash his strike. 

Bale added to his class finishes over this season with a 20-yard bullet against Southampton to win the match.
Remember me? Bale gives a round of applause to the home Spurs fans after the match against his former club.
FACT: Bale has now scored 20 EPL goals this season, and he is the first Tottenham player to do this since Jurgen Klinsmann in 1995.       

The Saints will feel disappointed that they lost the match, especially in the dying minutes to one of their former wonderkids despite playing well with their chances which were unlucky not to go in. They currently have 39 points and should be safe from the relegation drop zone.

QPR 0 Arsenal 1
 
This match was played at Loftus Road in the mini London derby, as already relegated west London side QPR hosted north London's Champions League chasing Arsenal.

Theo Walcott broke the deadlock after just 21 SECONDS, after some good quick build-up play found him in space inside the area. He clinically finished is strike past goalkeeper Robert Green who was helpless to stopping the shot.

Clinical: Walcott shocked the QPR fans with a quick goal inside the first 25 seconds of the match to make it 1-0.

Deja-vu? Walcott celebrates his quick-fire goal, for the 2nd time in 2 matches after his strike against Man United.

He hit the post soon afterwards, before QPR winger Andros Townsend had a swerving effort parried away by Szczesny in the opposite end.

Rob Green had to deny both Cazorla and Walcott along with Koscielny in the second half, and Szczesny had a great save late on from French striker Loic Remy's powerful effort to keep a clean sheet and ensure that The Gunners kept all three points on the way back to The Emirates.  
 
West Ham United 0 Newcastle United 0

Both sides took just a point at Upton Park, despite chances for both teams.
Diame, Carroll, Ben Arfa and Cabaye all could have opened the scoring throughout the match, while West Ham were denied a penalty claim which was waved away by the referee.

West Ham's Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis were both denied by good saves from goalkeeper Rob Elliot, while Frenchman Yoan Gouffran narrowly missed for Newcastle as goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen came out of goal and allowed him space to shoot - and miss. 

Shola Ameobi had an effort wide of the post as Newcastle tried to break the deadlock, while Papiss Cisse had a trailing strike cleared off the line by defender Winston Reid.

It was a tedious match with lots of chances but no goals all round.      

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