Norwich accept £20m Leicester bid for Maddison

Leicester have had a bid of about £20m for Norwich attacking midfielder James Maddison accepted.

The 21-year-old, who scored 15 goals in 49 games last season, is likely to have a medical at some point this week.

It is understood there have been detailed discussions between the two clubs about the structure of a deal for the former Coventry player.

His future has been the subject of intense debate since the Championship season ended last month.

Leicester have been active in the transfer market already this summer - signing Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans and Portugal right-back Ricardo Pereira.

Source: BBC NEWS

Former Man Utd Norwich player Mulryne ordained a priest

The former Northern Ireland footballer Philip Mulryne has been ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the Dominican Order.

Fr Mulryne, who is reported to have once earned £600,000 a year, has also taken a vow of poverty.

He was ordained in Dublin on Saturday by Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, who had traveled from Rome for the ceremony.

Philip Mulryne had been ordained a deacon in October last year.

Belfast-born Fr Mulryne won 27 caps for Northern Ireland in a career that included spells with Norwich City and Leyton Orient

He made his debut for Manchester United in 1997 after progressing through the youth team.

Unable to forge a lengthy career with the Premier League club, he moved to Norwich City in 1999, but his time at Carrow Road was plagued by injuries.

He officially retired from football in 2009 and began his journey to ordination, entering the Diocesan Seminary of Saint Malachy's Belfast

He spent two years studying philosophy at Queens University Belfast and at the Maryvale Institute before going to the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, to study theology for one year at the Gregorian University.

He entered the Dominican Novitiate House in Cork in 2012.

Source: BBC NEWS

Saints nearly slip up in last 5 minutes

In what was a glorious day on the south coast, it should have been wrapped up with glitter on top when Saints found themselves up 3-0 with 5 minutes to go.

Schneiderlin opened the score on 5 minutes after a neat pass into the box and empty space was latched onto by the Frenchman to lift over Ruddy. Its interesting to note that the continued form of Schneiderlin being continually overlooked by France, due to residency rules he could potentially have the option to play for England! There were a few more chances in the first half but Norwich struggled to get even a few minutes possession with the away fans shouting "Olay" every time their team strung a few passes together. Ramirez curled a shot just past the upright with Ruddy rooted to the spot. Ramirez also lifted the ball into the area again for Davies to snatch the shot just past the post.

Saints continued the possession control into the second half but the team looked casual and there were more than a few nervy moments with Boruc passing from the back for the defenders to be closed down rapidly by the Norwich strike force. The game wasn't a spectacular affair and you would have been forgiven for wondering off to get a coffee! Something needed to happen, and on 56 minutes Lallana was replaced by Lambert and a minute later after a header on from Ramirez, Lambert brought the ball down and around Yobo and passed Ruddy at the near post with the aplomb of a seasoned England striker! It was pleasing to note the Season Ticket at Saints was being used again by Hodgson!

Chris Hughton then made a triple substitution for the visitors by bringing on strikers, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Johan Elmander, as well as Nathan Redmond, with Gary Hooper amongst those to make way, to a chorus of  "You don't know what your doing" by the away fans to be joined by "Your getting sacked in the morning" from the Saints fans.

The third goal came on 72 minutes as a shot from Guly da Prado was blocked by Ruddy and Lambert's subsequent shot blocked as well but the rebound falling to Rodriguez who chipped in from 15 yards.

That should have been it, wrapped up! Saints continued to press and on 81 minutes a beautiful shot from Rodriguez curling to clip the top right corner of the crossbar.

Then on 85 minutes, a sloppy pass by Schneiderlin was grasped by Elmander to make it 3-1.

Two minutes later,  a sloppy pass from Fonte  was seized and the subsequent shot parried by Boruc into the path of Snodgrass who made no mistake in claiming Norwich's second goal in two minutes.

The stadium was stunned with reminiscent of going down 4-3 to Leeds after being 3-0 up in 2005.

The next 5 minutes ended up with Norwich fans lifted for the first time in 87 minutes and the Saints 18 yard box being continually bombarded by long balls and crosses. Five minutes injury time then drew gasps from the crowd and an increasingly decibel barrage from the away fans. Saints tried to slow the barrage down by making a late substitution with Gallagher coming on for Rodriguez. Saints were rooted to defending their now slender lead. further delays were had when Lovren had an unfortunate injury making him leave the field and Saints down to 10 men.

It all looked like Saints digging out what should have been an easy win but instead hanging on a knife edge to a barrage from the Canaries. Fortunately a ball rebounded out of the box for a Norwich defender slipping to cross it back in, Steven Davies latching on to the loose ball and making a full pitch sprint towards Ruddy's goal with Sam Gallagher in support. With the crowd on their feet they both calmly worked the ball into the net to be cleared by a Norwich defender, only for the goal technology system showing the ball had crossed the line and announcing G O A L  4 - 2 on the screens to a delightful and much relieved stadium.

 

 

 

Weekend Premier League Round-Up 29th 30th December

The Premier League really served up something special for us all this weekend although that may differ dramatically depending on your loyalties. Here is a quick round-up of each game over the final weekend of 2012.

 

Sunderland 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham started well and both Emanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale went close early on before Adebayor missed the target from 5 yards after some sloppy Sunderland defending. The home team then proceeded to punish the Londoners wastefulness five minutes before the break as they failed to clear a free-kick before John O’Shea prodded home. Spurs started the second half as they did the first and their pressure paid off as Carlos Cuellar headed into his own net to restore parity. The away side grabbed what turned out to be the winner just six minutes into the second half as Aaron Lennon showed lightening pace to race clear of the defence before finishing brilliantly. Despite plenty of attacking promise from both sides this was the way the game ended and Tottenham gratefully took all three points back to London.

 

Aston Villa 0 – 3 Wigan Athletic

After being hammered by London’s two highest placed clubs it was imperative Villa started this game well but must have feared the worst after just 2 minutes when they fell behind. Following a penalty appeal that was waved away for the visitors they took the lead from the resulting corner as Ivan Ramis rose unchallenged to head home. It took a disallowed goal by Christian Benteke to spark Villa into life but they found themselves two down 7 minutes after the break after a brilliant run by Emmerson Boyce was finished equally well into the bottom corner. Arouna Kone rounded Brad Guzan four minutes later and coolly slotted into the empty net to compound the home fans grief sending the most upset of them for the exits with 35 minutes left to play.

 

Fulham 1 – 2 Swansea City

Dimitar Berbatov should have given Fulham the lead after showing good strength to shrug off his marker only to volley over the bar from six yards from a corner. David Stockdale will shoulder responsibility for Swansea’s first goal as he failed to clear a Nathan Dyer cross before Danny Graham tucked the ball into the back of the net. Brian Ruiz hit a free-kick just wide early in the second half but minutes later Stockdale scuffed a clearance that fell to Pablo Hernandez, rebounding off Brede Haangeland in the process, and the Spaniard teed up the ball for Jonathan De Guzman to slot home. Fulham got back into the game four minutes later as Brian Ruiz shot against offside team-mate Sascha Riether but were unable to grab an equalizer and Berbatov headed over in stoppage time to make the defeat a little more painful for the hosts.

 

Manchester United 2 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

West Brom had a confident penalty appeal turned down before they fell behind with only nine minutes played as Ashley Young drilled a low cross into the box which Gareth McAuley unfortunately turned into his own net. Ben Foster brilliantly denied United twice on the half-hour mark to keep his side in the game going in at half time. The Baggies tried hard to get back into the game but rarely troubled David De Gea in the United goal and a bitty game was finished by Robin Van Persie, who curled a sublime left foot effort past a helpless Foster into the far corner to wrap up all the points.

 

Norwich City 3 – 4 Manchester City

Machester City were two up in four minutes thanks to an Edin Dzeko brace to seemingly end the game early, but ten minutes later Anthony Pilkington’s deflected free-kick gave Norwich hope in a game that offered plenty of twists and turns. Samir Nasri was sent off a minute before the break accused of clashing heads with Sebastien Bassong leaving the away dug-out fuming. Five minutes into the second half a wonderful Yaya Toure ball found Sergio Aguero who delicately lifted the ball over an onrushing Mark Bunn. Refusing to lay down The Canaries cut the deficit once more with a good move finished off by Russell Martin but City scored a fourth as a Dzeko shot rebounded off the post and in off unlucky Bunn. Martin set up a tense finish by scoring his second goal from close range with 15 minutes to play but City held on to claim all three points.

 

Reading 1 – 0 West Ham United

This scrappy affair was won on five minutes as James Collins’ horrendous back-pass was easily picked up by Pavel Pogrebnyak who gratefully slotted past the exposed Jussi Jaaskelainen with his left foot. With both teams operating with a lone striker chances were few and far between, with both front men appearing to need back-up whenever they had the ball. Despite dominating second half possession The Hammers almost found themselves two down as Jem Karacan thundered a shot past Jaaskelainan only to see it cannon off the underside of the bar. West Ham should have been level late on but Ricardo Vaz Te headed wide from three yards despite being unchallenged and the game ended 1-0 to the home side.

 

Stoke City 3 – 3 Southampton

It took just ten minutes for Southampton to penetrate the Premier League’s best defence with Rickie Lambert tapping in a low cross that beat several Stoke players. Kenwyne Jones restored parity six minutes later with a brilliant piece of improvisation as he swivelled and back heeled into the bottom corner. The hosts’ normally sure footed defensive line was panicking again eight minutes later as Robert Huth’s attempted clearance hit the bar and fell to Jay Rodriguez who tapped in from a yard out. Things went from bad to worse on 36 minutes as Andy Wilkinson diverted a Lambert knock down past his own keeper. The second half was comparatively quiet until the 67th minute when Matthew Upson turned in a rebound to give the home side hope but suffered a huge setback when Steven N'Zonzi was, perhaps harshly, given a straight red card for a rash challenge. Despite having a goal ruled out Stoke continued to press for an equaliser and looked to have ran out of time before Cameron Jerome hit a goal of the season contender to snatch a dramatic point.

 

Arsenal 7 – 3 Newcastle United

Despite a good start Newcastle found themselves behind after 20 minutes thanks to a smart finish from Theo Walcott. Demba Ba grabbed an equaliser two minutes before half time setting the game up for a special second half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored five minutes in but Newcastle equalised once again nine minutes later thanks to Sylvain Marveaux. Lukas Podolski scored from close range to restore the home side’s lead on 64 minutes but Newcastle were level again five minutes later as Ba grabbed his second goal of the game. Not to be out-done, Walcott then grabbed his second with a composed finish and it seemed Arsenal had finally worn down Newcastle’s resolve ten minutes later as Olivier Giroud scored a diving header, which was quickly followed by his second. Walcott had the last say in stoppage time as he appeared to be felled inside the box only to re-find his feet in time to chip the ball sumptuously past a helpless Tim Krul.

 

Everton 1 – 2 Chelsea

Only 62 seconds had passed when Phil Jagielka’s cross was headed against the post, falling to Steven Pienaar who finished smartly giving the home side the lead. Everton almost double their lead shortly after but Nikica Jelavic’ curled free-kick rebounded out off the post and Petr Cech brilliantly denied the Croatian before Frank Lampard headed well from inside the box to equalise a few minutes before half time. Jelavic hit the woodwork again in the second half with a brilliant header that had beaten Cech but it was Chelsea that took the lead as Lampard found himself in the right place at the right time to volley in a rebound with 20 minutes left to play. Everton threw everything at Chelsea in the closing stages in search of a deserved equaliser but Chelsea defended well and took all three points back to London with them.

 

Queens Park Rangers 0 – 3 Liverpool

Liverpool started the final game Premier League of 2012 brilliantly and they were rewarded for their early dominance with a goal after ten minutes with Luis Suarez showing some good footwork before firing past Julio Cesar. The Uruguayan doubled his tally and Liverpool’s lead just six minutes later after picking up the ball rather fortuitously and placing it confidently into the corner. Liverpool looked like a team possessed and Rangers had no answer to the crisp, accurate passing and forceful forward threat that was being served up. The visitors extended their lead and finished off the game before half an hour had even been played courtesy of a fine header from Daniel Agger and could of added a fourth but Steven Gerrard saw his shot cleared off the line on the second attempt. QPR looked better in the second half but never threatened to get back into the game as their opponents comfortably saw out the game.

 

 

I have decided to add a new feature to my weekend report and it is quite simply my opinion on the best player, best team performance and my Game of the Weekend.

 

Best Team Performance

It’s hard to tell how much was down to a poor showing by Harry Redknapp’s team, but Liverpool win this one for me despite Tottenham and Wigan also really impressing me over the weekend.

 

Best Player

I was almost set on Luis Suarez for this one but I can’t ignore what was possibly Theo Walcott’s finest display in an Arsenal shirt. A mixture of goals and assists should be enough alone, but the style in which he delivered is much more important to me.

 

Best Game

Arsenal v Newcastle served up ten goals, Stoke v Southampton served up the best goal I’ve seen this season but Norwich v Man City offered a bit of everything so I think it edges it for me.

 

Follow: @andrew_willcox

 

 

Daily Football Report 11th December

Good evening all,

 

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry has been charged by the FA for using abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official after the Manchester Derby on Sunday. He has until 4pm on Thursday to appeal the decision or he will be hit with a one match ban but if he appeals and loses the ban would be increased to two games.

 

Twitter hit the headlines again today as a 15-year-old boy has been arrested for a racist comment sent to Rio Ferdinand on the social networking site during the derby match.

 

The Football Supporters’ Federation is trying to re-introduce standing into football grounds across the country. Following the Hillsborough disaster 23 years ago terraces were banished from top level football grounds but a FSF spokesman has said that it is now safe to re-introduce standing areas as crowd management has improved dramatically since the introduction of all-seater stadiums.

 

Scott Parker is set to return from the injury against Swansea on Sunday. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has been out for the season so far and now faces an uphill battle to fight his way into Andre Villas Boas’ first team plans.

 

Chelsea midfielder Oriol Remeu has been ruled out for the season with a ruptured cruciate ligament suffered in Saturday’s win at Sunderland. The Blues are said to be making signing a replacement their main priority in January with Sampdoria’s Pedro Obiang apparently high on the list.

 

Some might find it hard to believe that Michael Owen is still a player but he has confirmed he is fit for selection against Everton on Saturday. The striker hasn’t featured for Stoke since the end of October but managed 70 minutes in a behind closed door against Preston today and has declared himself ready for the first team again.

 

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has called for video evidence to be introduced after title rivals Borussia Dortmund were on the receiving end of several poor refereeing decisions in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Wolfsburg.

 

Swansea forward Michu has said he will not be leaving the club in January saying he is very happy with the current squad at the Liberty Stadium. He has also said his team are aiming for the final of the Capital One Cup and said there is no reason they can’t make it.

 

Despite interest from Liverpool and Arsenal, Stoke City keeper insists he is focussed solely on his current club and said he isn’t looking to move in the transfer window.

 

Sunderland are said to be interested in signing Manchester City ace John Guidetti in January. The player has yet to make an appearance for City this season and is expected to leave either in January or at the end of the current league campaign.

 

Premier League Weekend Roundup 8/9th December

This weekend saw the battles at each end of the premier League table intensify and included a face-off between the top two teams, Champions Manchester City and Manchester United who sit top of the league. Here is a roundup of each game that took place.

 

 

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

Arsenal almost took the lead in the opening exchanges as Boaz Myhill punched the ball to the feet of Gervinho only for the striker to scuff his shot over the bar. With 25 minutes on the clock Santi Cazorla went down in the box without contact and Mikel Arteta converted the wrongly awarded penalty. Arsenal continued to spurn clear cut chances until just after the hour mark Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain seemed to push Goran Popov to the ground before bursting into the box and being fouled. Arteta stepped up to convert his second penalty but West Brom were understandably peeved but never really threatened to grab a goal of their own and the north London club ended comfortable winners.

 

Aston Villa 0 – 0 Stoke City

This was most definitely a game won by the defenders, with very little in the way of goal mouth action. Aston Villa could have taken the lead early on but Christian Benteke’s close range volley was cleared off the line by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross. Benteke had another chance just after the break but it was Asmir Begovic that this time denied the striker. The main talking points of this game were the decisions made by referee Roger East which culminated in two bookings given to Ryan Shotton. The first was given for what looked like a good tackle and the second, in stoppage time, seemed to come after he made no contact at all.

 

Southampton 1 – 0 Reading

Southampton were vastly superior in this game but despite their possession were unable to test the Reading goal seriously until just after the half-hour point when Jason Puncheon headed in only for the referee to blow for a push on Adam Federici. Jay Tabb did break free in a counter attack but shot straight at Saints keeper Kelvin Davis. The away side almost snatched a lead before half time as Hal Robson-Kanu hit the post. Southampton continued to press Reading in the second half and eventually took the lead on the hour mark as Puncheon hit the bottom corner with a cross goal shot. The south coast club held on comfortably and in fact looked the more likely to add to the scoring as they continued their impressive form.

 

Sunderland 1 – 3 Chelsea

Chelsea started very quickly and in fact had a penalty appeal turned down before Fernando Torres scored a well hit volley after ten minutes. Stephane Sessegnon forced Petr Cech into a save with a long range shot before Torres added a second from the penalty spot on the stroke of half time. Four minutes into the second half Torres was denied his hat-trick by the crossbar but fellow Spaniard Juan Mata tucked in the rebound to effectively end the game. With just over an hour played Sunderland did grab a goal thanks to Adam Johnson but were unable to stage an unlikely comeback despite testing Cech on several occasions.

 

Swansea City 3 – 4 Norwich City

The game started brightly and Steven Whittaker scored his first goal for Norwich on 16 minutes to give his side a deserved lead. Swansea started to work their way into the game but found themselves two down five minutes before the break as Sebastien Bassong headed in Grant Holt’s cross at the near post. Holt completed a brilliant half for Norwich by heading his side further ahead just two minutes later. The home side started the second half explosively though and Michu gave them hope five minutes after the restart. A comeback seemed likely when Jonathan de Guzman scored a second for Swansea with an hour left but Robert Snodgrass curled in a free-kick on 77 minutes to give Norwich all three points. Michu did score again for Swansea but there wasn’t enough time to snatch a point from The Canaries.

 

Wigan Athletic 2 – 2 Queens Park Rangers

QPR started the game brightly but found themselves behind before seriously testing Wigan as James McCarthy hit a fantastic volley past Robert Green on 18 minutes. Ryan Nelson scored a powerful header seven minutes later to put Rangers level and that’s how it stayed until half time. Wigan started to dominate in the second half but spurned chance after chance before Djibril Cisse scored what looked to be a winner with 20 minutes to play after a defensive error by Adrian Lopez. But Wigan got the goal they deserved just four minutes later though as McCarthy slotted home his second and the game ended all square.

 

Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United

City started the game the better of the two teams but it was United that struck first as Wayne Rooney’s weak shot wrong footed Joe Hart on 16 minutes. United grew into the game more with every passing minute and extended their lead on 29 minutes with Rooney again putting the ball past Hart. United should have been three up as Ashley young was controversially ruled offside before putting the ball into the City net and minutes later found their lead halved as Yaya Toure scored with an hour played. With four minutes to play City grabbed a dramatic equaliser through Pablo Zabaleta but a brilliant Robin Van Persie free kick won the game for United in stoppage time.

 

Everton 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur

This game was all about defences as both teams defended very well for almost the whole game. Everton were denied several times by a stern Spurs defence in the first half and even had an optimistic penalty appeal waved away. The second half continued in the same vein with both teams being limited by on-form defenders but Spurs struck first with 15 minutes to play as Clint Dempsey’s deflected shot looped over Tim Howard. This looked to be the winning goal until Steven Pienaar scored against the club he played for briefly last season with the clock ticking over into stoppage time. Spurs were rattled but Everton weren’t finished and dramatically won the game as Nikica Jelavic squirmed free of the defence to slot the ball past Hugo Lloris and win the game for the home side.

 

West Ham United 2 – 3 Liverpool

Liverpool started the game brightly and got their reward after just 11 minutes as Glen Johnson put them ahead. West Ham equalised on 36 minutes with Mark Noble slotting home from the penalty spot and were leading before half time as an unlucky Steven Gerrard steered the ball past his own keeper. West Ham looked good for their lead but with 15 minutes left Joe Cole grabbed an equaliser for the away side and three minutes later the reds were in front as James Collins deflected the ball past his own keeper and Liverpool held on for all three points.

 

Follow: @andrew_willcox

 

 

 

Daily Football Roundup Monday 3rd December

Good evening all,

 

Here is a quick round up of the goings on in football today. The focus remains on the up-coming transfer window but now with games piling up some managers are starting to feel the pressure from above.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s has hinted today that Jose Mourinho could be the man to replace him at Manchester United when he retires. Mourinho has refused to comment on his future though avoiding any questions on the subject in a press interview.

 

Manchester City star David Silva has not travelled to Germany for his side’s final Champions League tie due to a hamstring injury. The playmaker is also a big doubt for the Manchester derby on Sunday with manager Roberto Mancini saying: “We don’t know if he can recover for the derby but we will try.”

 

The president of the Scottish FA has said the national team job is not being limited to Scottish managers although Gordon Strachan remains favourite to get the job. Campbell Ogilvie said they will appoint the best man for the job, no matter where he is from.

 

Newcastle United front man Demba Ba has apparently turned down the club’s latest contract offer sparking fears he will leave in January.

 

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert, however, is much more confident of keeping his star striker through the transfer window. When asked if Christian Benteke was likely to leave he just smiled and said, “No chance.”

 

Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson has been given a vote of confidence from chairman Darragh MacAnthony. Despite a poor start to the season MacAnthony took to twitter to say: “Sacking the most successful manager in our recent history would be ridiculous.”

 

When Roberto Di Matteo was sacked as Chelsea manager just months after winning the Champions League most managers came out to defend the Italian but today West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has stepped out in defence of owner Roman Abramovich. “He’s entitled to do what he wants when he has pumped so much money into the club, if you’re the manager you have to deliver,” Allardyce told reporters.

 

Adam Lallana said Southampton showed Liverpool too much respect in the 1-0 defeat played on Saturday. In an interview he said: “Maybe the occasion got to a few of us today in the first half, maybe we showed them too much respect.”

 

Arsene Wenger apparently launched a tirade of criticism at Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho and Carl Jenkinson after the defeat to Swansea at The Emirates on the weekend.

 

Yesterday saw the big boys join the FA Cup as the third round was drawn at Wembley by Ledley King and Fabrice Muamba. I have included a list of the full draw below.

 

FA CUP 3RD ROUND DRAW

1 Crystal Palace v Stoke City
2 Brighton & Hove Albion v Newcastle United
3 Tottenham Hotspur v Coventry City
4 Wigan Athletic v AFC Bournemouth
5 Fulham v Blackpool
6 Aston Villa v Ipswich Town
7 Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town
8 Barrow or Macclesfield Town v Cardiff City
9 Barnsley v Burnley
10 Manchester City v Watford
11 Swansea City v Arsenal
12 Leicester City v Burton Albion
13 Millwall v Preston North End
14 Cheltenham Town or Hereford United v Everton
15 Derby County v Tranmere Rovers
16 Crawley Town v Reading
17 Aldershot Town v Rotherham United or Notts County
18 Middlesbrough v Harrogate Town or Hastings United
19 Accrington Stanley or Oxford United v Sheffield United
20 Southampton v Chelsea
21 Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion
22 Peterborough United v Norwich City
23 Lincoln City or Mansfield Town v Liverpool
24 Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland
25 Nottingham Forest v Oldham Athletic
26 West Ham United v Manchester United
27 Hull City v Leyton Orient
28 Blackburn Rovers v Bristol City
29 Leeds United v Birmingham City
30 Bury or Southend United v Bradford City or Brentford
31 Luton Town v Wolverhampton Wanderers
32 Sheffield Wednesday v Milton Keynes Dons

Weekend Premier League Roundup 24/25th November

This weekend saw almost every team in the Premier League play their 13th game and we can see familiar patterns starting to form in the league table. While, of course, nothing is won or lost in November we are starting to see the wheat separated from the chaff. The games now start to roll in thick and fast as the Christmas madness approaches, with the teams playing again in midweek not being limited to European competitors.

 

Here is a run through of how the teams fared this weekend:

 

Sunderland 2 – 4 West Bromwich Albion

The weekend was started with probably the best game of the lot and Sunderland started very brightly. After missing a string of chances though the home team were eventually punished as Zoltan Gera cracked a 25-yard thunderbolt past a helpless Simon Mignolet, and just before half time the keeper lost control of a misguided through ball and Shane Long capitalised before tapping the ball into an empty net. With the game moving from end to end Sunderland did grab a goal on 73 minutes with Craig Gardner’s free kick deflecting of a defender and into the net. Eight minutes later though The Baggies restored their two goal lead as Romelu Lukaku scored a penalty that seemed harsh to be given and seemingly ended the game. Stephane Sessegnon scored with three minutes to play to set up a high pressure finish, but Marc-Antoine Fortune scored from a fortuitous counter attack to finally end Sunderland’s hopes of a comeback.

 

Everton 1 – 1 Norwich City

 

Everton started this game very well and opened the scoring after just 12 minutes as Bryan Oviedo squared the ball to Steven Naismith who planted the ball into the back of the net. Everton continued to test Norwich ‘keeper John Ruddy in the first half but were unable to add to their goal tally. The second half was a different story as Norwich finally joined the game and Robert Snodgrass had a shot cleared off the line shortly after the break. Ruddy kept the score as it was as Leighton Baines danced through the Canaries defence only to be denied by the keeper. With the game almost over Norwich were given a free kick 35 yards from goal, which Javier Garrido whipped towards the back post finding Sebastian Bassong who headed in the equaliser.

 

Manchester United 3 – 1 Queens Park Rangers

 

QPR had seemingly been set out to frustrate United as they sat back for half an hour soaking up pressure. Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney both tested Rangers ‘keeper Julio Cesar in quick succession and this sparked the game into life as seven minutes later Jamie Mackie scored a disallowed goal for the away side. Mackie gave the visitors the lead shortly after half time with a rebound from a Kieron Dyer shot, and this enforced a double substitution by Sir Alex Ferguson. The hosts equalised on 64 minutes and took the lead four minutes later as the changes transformed United. The two subs Anderson and Javier Hernandez linked to put the game beyond QPR a few minutes later, with Hernandez scoring his eighth goal in as many games to finish off the game.

 

Stoke City 1 – 0 Fulham

 

In a rain soaked affair Fulham started the brighter of the two teams, with Giorgos Karagounis flashing a shot wide after only two minutes. The 26th minute saw Charlie Adam cleverly control the ball inside the six-yard box before turning towards goal and giving Stoke the lead. Ten minutes later Ryan Shawcross was unlucky to rattle the bar with a powerful header, Fulham broke away as a result but Mladen Petric was unable to find the net at the crucial moment. Kenwyne Jones thought he had doubled the home sides lead right at the death but was correctly flagged for offside.

 

Wigan Athletic 3 – 2 Reading

 

The home side started the game brightly and could have been 2-0 up within 25 minutes with Arouna Kone missing two brilliant chances. They were inevitably punished for this wastefulness as Reading took the lead courtesy of Sean Morrison ten minutes later. Wigan continued to test Adam Federici and equalized on 57 minutes with Jordi Gomez scoring the goal, a feat he repeated 11 minutes later to give his side the lead. Ali AL Habsi seemed to have gifted Reading a point when he fumbled a seemingly harmless looping ball into his own net with just over ten minutes left, only to have his blushes spared by Gomez who completed his hat-trick with moments to go in the match.

 

Aston Villa 0 – 0 Arsenal

 

In a game of few chances Villa did have the ball in the net on 37 minutes, only for Andreas Weimann to be flagged offside. Laurent Koscielny had a good chance for Arsenal just before half time, but he turned Olivier Giroud’s cross well over the bar from about ten yards. Aaron Ramsey hit a good shot wide for the away side in the 75th minute but Brad Guzan looked to have it covered. Villa in fact came closest to stealing all three points as Brett Holman smashed a brilliant shot towards goal which Wojciech Szczesny tipped on to the bar and away.

 

Swansea City 0 – 0 Liverpool

 

Both teams started this game brightly but it was Swansea who had the first chance, with Pepe Reina doing well to turn away a powerful shot from Wayne Routledge after 10 minutes. Raheem Sterling crashed a shot off the crossbar on the half hour mark. Jose Enrique scored a minute later, but had strayed inches offside as Luis Suarez curled his pass in. The second half moved at a fast pace with both teams searching for a winner, and as Suarez and Sterling broke free with 8 minutes left they seemed certain to score, but the final pass was just over hit and the move fizzled out. There was time though for one more chance though as Pablo Hernandez’ well struck free kick was tipped around the post by Reina.

 

Southampton 2 – 0 Newcastle United

 

Newcastle seemed to struggle with the pace of movement Southampton offered in this game and the score line wasn’t a true reflection of the south coast teams dominance. Southampton hit the woodwork three times and were repeatedly thwarted by goalkeeper Tim Krul. Adam Lallana grabbed the first goal on 34 minutes as man of the match Gaston Ramirez’ cross gave Lallana a simple job to put The Saints into the lead. Ramirez did get his reward with half an hour to play, as he turned the ball in after a Krul save saw the ball fall at his feet from 6 yards.

 

Chelsea 0 – 0 Manchester City

 

Premiership champions Manchester City met European champions Chelsea in a game that saw the teams seemingly cancel each other out. City had the best of the first half, with Serio Aguero missin the best chance of the first half, a point blank header that Petr Cech comfortably gathered. Chelsea were the better team in the second half with their best attempt coming courtesy of right back Ashley Cole, who saw his fierce shot tipped over the bar by Joe Hart. This was a drab affair that seemed to revolve more around Chelsea’s new manager Rafa Benitez than the football served up on the field.

 

Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 1 West Ham United

 

Tottenham bossed this game and almost took the lead on 10 minutes with Gareth Bath smashing a shot against the crossbar. A minute before half time Spurs did take the lead with an amazing goal by Jermain Defoe which came after half an hour of possession that lacked penetration. With 57 minutes on the clock Clint Dempsey’s perfectly weighted pass found Bale inside the box, who this time saw his shot bounce in off the post. Good work by Sandro in midfield released Aaron Lennon who squared the ball for Defoe to tap in his second. Andy Carroll gave The Hammers a glimmer of hope with his first goal for the club with 8 minutes to play, but Spurs held on for victory.

 

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