Premier League Review
Shaun Wright-Phillips came back to haunt former club Chelsea with a winning goal for QPR that could kickstart their survival bid. Liverpool started 2013 in the best possible fashion with victory over Sunderland while the two Manchester clubs are still at loggerheads at the Premier League summit after winning their first games of the New Year.
Chelsea 0-1 QPR: QPR’s bid to avoid the drop is well and truly up and running after Shaun Wright-Phillips earned an unlikely win at capital rivals Chelsea. The R’s gave themselves every chance of clambering to safety after Wright-Phillips struck 12 minutes from time, rifling home from the edge of the area to settle a fraught encounter at Stamford Bridge. Harry Redknapp’s men remain at the foot of the table but are now only five points from safety after inflicting Rafael Benitez’s first home defeat as Blues boss.
Newcastle United 1-2 Everton: Newcastle began life without Demba Ba with a defeat as Everton came from behind to move up to fifth in the table and strengthen their hopes of snatching a Champions League place. With Ba’s move to Chelsea all but complete the onus is now on Papiss Cisse to fill the goalscoring void left by his Senegal compatriot. And the 27-year-old did exactly that inside the first minute, looping a header over Tim Howard from close range after reading the flight of Tim Krul’s long punt upfield. The Toffees soon found their groove and equalised two minutes before half time when Leighton Baines smashed a free kick through the wall and into the top corner after Marouane Fellaini was fouled 25-yards from goal. The turnaround was complete on the hour mark as Victor Anichebe slid home Nikicia Jelavic’s left wing cross just 90 seconds after coming off the bench and made it nine defeats in 11 games for the hosts.
Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland: Luis Suarez scored twice for Liverpool as they eased to victory over Sunderland at Anfield. The Reds have been in impressive form of late and followed up Sunday’s victory at QPR with a display of real attacking vigour with new £12 million signing Daniel Sturridge watching from the stands. Despite a confident start from the visitors they were beind with 19 minutes on the clock as teenager Raheem Sterling showed composure beyond his years to delicately lob Simon Mignolet after meeting Suarez’s lofted pass. The Uruguayan striker would double that lead seven minutes later, brushing off Carlos Cuellar and striking the ball past Mignolet at the near post. And the scoring was complete just after the break when Suarez controlled an arrowed pass from Steven Gerrard and finished confidently in front of the Kop to register his 15th goal of the season.
Southampton 1-1 Arsenal: An own goal from Guly Do Prado rescued a point for Arsenal at St Mary’s as Southampton climbed out of the relegation zone. Returning former Saints stars Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott dominated the headlines before kick off but a sluggish performance from the Gunners made the headlines after the final whistle as they began 2013 on a low note. After a bright start the home side snatched the lead in the 34th minute when Gaston Ramirez seized upon a loose ball and drilled low past Wojciech Szczesny. But four minutes before the break the visitors found themselves level. Walcott whipped in a free kick from the left and Do Prado needlessly stuck out a leg to send the ball into his own net past Artur Boruc.
Manchester City 3-0 Stoke City: Manchester City started 2013 as they mean to proceed with victory over Stoke at the Etihad Stadium to remain seven points behind leaders United at the top-flight summit. Robert Mancini’s men were forced to remain patient against a resolute Potters side but found their way to a win they hope will pave the way to clawing back the advantage built up by their local rivals. City had to wait until two minutes before half time before opening the scoring with Pablo Zabaleta pouncing to score after Asmir Begovic spilled James Milner’s right wing cross. That lead was doubled in the 56th minute by Edin Dzeko, as he continued his recent hot streak in front of goal, showing excellent strikers instinct to slot home after another fumble from Begovic. And 16 minutes from time Sergio Aguero scored from the spot despite Steven Nzonzi’s foul on David Silva appearing to take place outside the box.
Swansea City 2-2 Aston Villa: Danny Graham smashed home an injury time equaliser to spare Swansea’s blushes and deny Aston Villa a morale boosting victory. Paul Lambert’s men had leaked 15 goals in their three games over Christmas and were determined to get back on track in south Wales, but found themselves behind after just nine minutes. Some fine buildup play from Leon Britton and Pablo Hernandez was finished off by Wayne Routledge to give the home side a deserved lead at the expense of his former club. That was usually where Villa would begin to crumble but on the stroke of half time they responded as Andreas Weimann stroke the ball home from the edge of the area after Christian Benteke was given time and space to find his strike partner. Then, with six minutes left to play, Nathan Dyer brought Weimann down in the penalty area and Benteke confidently converted from the spot to put Villa on the cusp of a morale boosting victory. But such has been their luck of late they were denied all three points when Graham beat Brad Guzan at the second attempt with a powerful right-footed effort.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Reading: Tottenham cruised to third in the table after coming from behind to dispatch Reading with ease at White Hart Lane. The hosts were left stunned when Pavel Pogrebnyak reacted sharply to nod past Hugo Lloris after Ian Harte’s free kick rebounded back off the bar. Sadly that was as good as it got for the Royals and within five minutes Michael Dawson met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner with a diving header to restore parity. And soon after the break Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs into the lead with powerful header from Aaron Lennon’s cross before Clint Dempsey’s sealed the win 11 minutes from time with a strike that deflected off Mikele Leigertwood and looped over Adam Federici into the net.
West Ham United 2-1 Norwich City: Norwich slumped to a fourth consecutive defeat after a controversial penalty from Mark Noble put West Ham on the road victory at Upton Park. The Canaries have gone way off the boil since their 10-game unbeaten run was ended just before Christmas and will need to improve swiftly if they’re to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle in the new year. The Hammers, on the other hand, have their eyes on challenging for Europe and got off to the best possible start when Noble scored from the spot after three minutes after referee Mark Clattenburg adjudged Ryan Bennett to have impeded Winston Reid. The home side were well on top and were two goals to the good in the 26th minute courtesy of Joey O’Brien’s cool 10-yard finish after good work from Noble. It wasn’t until the 90th minute that Norwich mustered a response when Russell Martin volleyed home from Elliott Bennett’s cross
Wigan Athletic 0-4 Manchester United: A brace each for Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez ensured Manchester United preserved their seven point lead at the top of the table with an easy win at Wigan. The DW Stadium has proven somewhat of a bogey venue for United over the years but they turned in a performance of the highest professional standard to start 2013 off in style. They had to wait until the 35th minute before breaching the Latics rearguard with Hernandez side footing home after Ali Al-Habsi beat Patrice Evra’s shot into his patch. Van Persie then scored his first of the afternoon two minutes before the break, bending a delicious effort past Al-Habsi from distance. And just after the hour Hernandez wrapped up the points, driving the ball into the net after Van Persie’s free kick came back off the wall, before the Dutchman hit a fourth with two minutes remaining after capitalising on a defensive mix-up.
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Fulham: Dimitar Berbatov produced a virtuoso display to inspire Fulham to only their second away win of the season with victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns. The Bulgarian striker has been a shining light in what has been a disappointing campaign for the Cottagers but turned on the style in the West Midlands to give supporters reason to be optimistic in the new year. It was Berbatov who gave Fulham the lead six minutes before half time, arrowing an effort through Ben Foster’s legs from Ashkan Dejagah’s cut back. The Baggies have been formidable on home turf this term and responded four minutes of the break when Romelu Lukaku turned in Billy Jones’ cross despite appearing to be in an offside position. Fulham regained the lead just before the hour when Bryan Ruiz clipped a ball into Alex Kacaniklic and the Swedish winger turned Jones and Gareth McAuley on the edge of the area before cooly finishing past Foster.