Premier League Week in Review (December 27th-January 2nd)
These last few days provided some great entertainment as the festive Christmas schedule was as busy as ever. Between Saturday and Tuesday, there were 20 different games, 71 goals, 7 shutouts, 2 red cards and a lot of speculation over future transfers to take place in the January transfer window. The first major move of the New Year has been the signing of Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea to Liverpool, and many, many more moves will follow. Let’s take a look at some of the high-flying games this last week:
Arsenal vs Newcastle United
In what will probably go down as the game of the Premier League Season, and therefore surely our game of the week, was Arsenal’s drubbing of Newcastle 7-3 at Emirates Stadium in front of 60,000+ supporters. Arsenal has started to play in better form these last few weeks and continued this form against an ever falling Newcastle side. First of all, it should be mentioned that Theo Walcott should only be offered an annual contract because he only plays his best when his contract starts to be negotiated. And considering that contract talks are allowed to be spoken of only 6 months prior to the end, this would give Arsenal a major advantage as Walcott would now play well for ½ of his time at Arsenal compared to only once every few years. A virtuoso performance was on display by Walcott on this day as he scored an excellent hat-trick and set up two other goals.
After a 20th minute strike by Walcott opened the scoring, Demba Ba equalized minutes before half time to let Newcastle go in at the break with a fairly deserved draw. The second half, however, would have 8 goals scored between the two sides. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Arsenal a deserved, but short lead in the 50th minute before Sylvain Marveaux scored in the 59th. Arsenal again took the lead, but this time from the German Podolski in the 64th, but Newcastle again tied the game with Ba’s second 5 minutes later. It was at this point that Walcott turned the class on as he scored the eventual game winner in the 73rd minute. From this point on, he grabbed two assists to Olivier Giroud in the 84th and 87th minutes and finished his hat trick in injury time to give Arsenal supporters a Thierry Henry-esque performance once again. I mention Henry because he was in the stands for the game and is being linked with a loan deal to the Gunners while the MLS is in the off season.
Why this Game was Important?
Newcastle finished last season with an incredible high considering they were just promoted. The St. James faithful (even though the stadium has since been controversial renamed) have not had much to celebrate this year as the club sit in lowly 15th place; just 2 points out of the relegation zone. Arsenal, on the other hand, are overdue to finally win a trophy and even though they are out of the title race this year; if their good form continues there will be some silverware at the Emirates in the near future.
To buy your own Arsenal gear, click here!
Chelsea FC vs Queens Park Rangers (QPR)
Chelsea left 2012 with a bang by defeating the up-and-coming Everton at Goodison Park, but apparently used up all of their Christmas magic as they had nothing in the tank against the worst team in the league (record wise); Queens Park Rangers. However, it was the relegation threatened men who came away with all three points as ex-Chelsea player, Shaun Wright-Phillips, scored the game winner in the 78th minute. Although this may turn out to be the biggest shock in the Premier League season for both teams, it cannot be said that QPR was an undeserved winner. They looked very together in the back line and Julio Cesar was only called upon a few times. Chelsea did not look like scoring throughout the match as they seemed destined to take a shot from 30+ yards whenever a chance opened. This is evidenced by Chelsea taking 26 shots, but only managing to keep 2 on frame.
Rafael Benitez gambled on the starting lineup by giving Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Ashley Cole a rest. Instead, he started Marko Marin for the first time in the Premier League and it almost cost Chelsea as he may have deserved a red card after only 4 minutes of play. Chelsea did find the back of the net by Frank Lampard only for it to be called back for offside in what was a close but correct call. Ivanovich almost saved Chelsea’s blushes only to be denied by the tip of the crossbar and QPR held on for a massive three points.
Why this Game was Important?
Chelsea were riding a 4 game win streak in the Premier League giving them another shot at a potential title run-in, but they now find themselves 14 points adrift with a game in hand on Manchester United. As shown by the resting of stars by Rafael Benitez, this should have been an easy game for Chelsea to win and history was clearly on their side. Although local rivals, this was the first time in over 20 years that QPR had come away with all three points at Stamford Bridge.
As bad as this match was for Chelsea, however, it was amazing for QPR. They have been sitting on the bottom of the table nearly the whole season and are now only bottom because of goal difference. They have looked rejuvenated since Harry Redknapp took the throne and none more so in the game today then Adel Taarabt. He is not generally a center-forward, but played the position great today and may have found a new link for QPR to call upon.
To buy your own Chelsea gear, click here!
Manchester City vs Stoke City
In front of 47,000 supporters at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City made light work of Stoke City by defeating the visitors 3-0 off of goals from Pablo Zabaleta, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Agüero. This has come to be a regular result for the Premier League Champions as the Potters have now lost on all five Premier League appearances to Manchester City since both have been in the top flight. Stoke City has become known as the one of the sides with the toughest defense to break and it partly showed today as Manchester City dominated the possession, but could not find the back of the net. Agüero missed a shot early on that was well saved by Asmir Begovic before Yaya Toure, David Silva and Agüero all missed decent chances. With all of the offensive starlets that Manchester City boasts, it was actually the outside back, Pablo Zabaleta who opened the scoring off of a rebound from a James Milner cross.
Stoke looked to regain a bit of ground when Matthew Etherington came in for Kenwyne Jones, but no real attempts were made. Rather, it was Dzeko who scored on another rebound to double City’s advantage. Agüero finally got the goal he deserved when he scored from the spot in the 74th minute.
Why this Game was Important?
Even though the cliché mentions that every game is important, this game did not have much in store for Stoke City. They are definitely challenging for a Europa League spot, but will probably find that with ease. It was Manchester City who had to be ready to play as they attempt to keep pace with Manchester United at the top of the table. They are currently 7 points adrift…a manageable feat though considering they caught United last year when they found themselves that many points behind. They are now only 17 games left in the season and Manchester City cannot afford to drop any more points should they make a legitimate title run.
Other Scores From Around the League:
Sunderland 1 – Tottenham 2
(John O’Shea 40th and Carlos Cuellar 48th (OG), Aaron Lennon 51st)
Aston Villa 0 – Wigan Athletic 3
(Ivan Ramis 3rd, Emmerson Boyce 52nd, Arouna Kone 56th)
Fulham 1 – Swansea City 2
(Bryan Ruiz 56th and Danny Graham 19th, Jonathan De Guzman 52nd)
Manchester United 2 – West Brom 0
(Gareth McAuley 9th (OG), Robin Van Persie 90th)
Norwich City 3 – Manchester City 4
(Anthony Pilkington 15th, Russell Martin 63rd,75th and Edin Dzeko 2nd,4th, Agüero 50th, Mark Bunn 67th (OG))
Reading 1 – West Ham United 0
(Pavel Pogrebnyak 5th)
Stoke City 3 – Southampton 3
(Kenwyne Jones 16th, Matthew Upson 67th, Cameron Jerome 90th and Rickie Lambert 10th, Jay Rodriguez 24th, Andy Wilkinson 36th (OG))
Everton 1 – Chelsea 2
(Steven Pienaar 2nd and Frank Lampard 42nd,72nd)
Queens Park Rangers 0 – Liverpool 3
(Luis Suarez 10th,16th, Daniel Agger 27th)
West Brom 1 – Fulham 2
(Romelu Lukaku 49th and Dimitar Berbatov 39th, Alexander Kacaniklic 58th)
Swansea City 2 – Aston Villa 2
(Wayne Routledge 9th, Danny Graham 94th and Andreas Weimann 44th, Christian Benteke 84th)
Tottenham 3 – Reading 1
(Michael Dawson 10th, Emmanuel Adebayor 51st, Clint Dempsey 79th and Pavel Pogrebnyak 4th)
West Ham United 2 – Norwich City 1
(Mark Noble 3rd, Joey O’Brien 26th and Russell Martin 90th)
Wigan 0 – Manchester United 4
(Javier Hernandez 35th,63rd, Robin Van Persie 43rd,88th)
Southampton 1 – Arsenal 1
(Gaston Ramirez 35th and Guilherme Do Prado 41st (OG))
Liverpool 3 – Sunderland 0
(Raheem Sterling 19th, Luis Suarez 26th,52nd)
Newcastle United 1 – Everton 2
(Papiss Demba Cisse 2nd and Leighton Baines 43rd, Victor Anichebe 60th)
For all your premier league gear, click here!