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Premier League Review ~ 2nd Jan 2012

last updated Tuesday 03rd January 2012, 12:52 PM

Premiership table - 02:01:12
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 19 9 0 0 28 4 5 3 2 25 12 37 45
2 Man Utd 19 7 1 2 30 14 7 2 0 19 3 32 45
3 Tottenham 18 6 1 1 17 8 6 2 2 18 12 15 39
4 Chelsea 20 6 1 3 23 16 5 3 2 16 9 14 37
5 Arsenal 20 7 2 1 16 6 4 1 5 20 22 8 36
6 Liverpool 19 4 6 0 14 8 5 1 3 10 7 9 34
7 Newcastle 19 4 3 2 12 11 4 3 3 14 14 1 30
8 Stoke 20 4 4 2 14 11 4 1 5 8 20 -9 29
9 Norwich 20 4 3 3 17 15 2 4 4 13 20 -5 25
10 Everton 18 3 2 4 9 10 4 1 4 10 10 -1 24
11 Swansea 20 4 5 1 12 4 1 3 6 8 19 -3 23
12 Fulham 20 4 3 3 16 15 1 5 4 6 11 -4 23
13 Aston Villa 20 3 2 5 11 13 2 6 2 11 13 -4 23
14 West Brom 19 2 2 6 7 12 4 2 3 12 15 -8 22
15 Sunderland 19 3 4 3 14 11 2 2 5 9 11 1 21
16 Wolves 20 3 2 5 14 17 1 3 6 8 19 -14 17
17 QPR 20 1 4 5 9 17 3 1 6 10 18 -16 17
18 Wigan 19 1 4 4 9 16 2 2 6 8 21 -20 15
19 Blackburn 20 2 0 8 13 21 1 5 4 16 22 -14 14
20 Bolton 19 1 1 8 11 24 3 0 6 12 18 -19 13
Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas woke up to tabloid headlines of a mutiny in West London but on their travels to the Midlands his Chelsea players demonstrated enough unity to record a hard-fought victory over Wolves.

In a story that could have been penned by a Hollywood screenwriter, Chelsea ended a four-match winless run courtesy of an 89th-minute winner from Frank Lampard.

At Craven Cottage, old habits retuned to Arsenal after they were left to rue the sending-off of Johan Djourou at Fulham in a a 2-1 defeat which rocks their top-four hopes.

Elsewhere Blackburn and Aston Villa suffered delayed hangovers following their New Year's Eve heroics, as they lost home games to Stoke and Swansea respectively.

Premiership Games/td>
Monday 2nd January 2012
15:00 Aston Villa 0-2 Swansea  
15:00 Blackburn 1-2 Stoke  
15:00 QPR 1-2 Norwich
15:00 Wolves 1-2 Chelsea
17:30 Fulham 2-1 Arsenal Sky1
Tuesday 3rd January 2012
19:45 Tottenham v West Brom
19:45 Wigan v Sunderland  
20:00 Man City v Liverpool Sky1
Wednesday 4th January 2012
20:00 Everton v Bolton  
20:00 Newcastle v Man Utd Sky1
In the battle of the Championship's top two from last season it was Norwich who further cemented their Premier League credentials with a late win at QPR, who spent the best part of an hour playing with ten men after Joey Barton was dismissed.

Tuesday could see Tottenham end just 3 points behind the League leaders with a home victory over West Brom. Man City and Liverpool also meet with both clubs desperate to win, Man City could go clear at the top and Liverpool could go joint fourth. A bottom of the table scrap between Wigan and Sunderland completes the Tuesday programme.

Wednesday has bottom club Bolton facing another difficult game away at Everton while Man Utd visit Newcastle in desperate need of three points to stay in touch with Man City.

Monday 2nd January

15:00 - Aston Villa (0) 0 Swansea (1) 2

Aston Villa were another club to suffer what looked to be a New Year's hangover as they followed their heroics against Chelsea with an insipid home defeat to Swansea.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was unstinting in his praise for Brendan Rodgers' side after escaping from the Liberty Stadium at the weekend with a point and on this showing it's hard to disagree with the Spurs chief.

That said, for all for Swansea's trademark easy-on-the-eye neat football, it was Villa who were the architects on their own downfall when in just the fourth minute Stephen Warnock got it horribly wrong with a short, blind back pass that was intercepted by Nathan Dyer, who made inroads before firing across Brad Guzan for a gifted opener.

Villa went out for the second half with a flea in their ear but whatever Alex McLeish said at the interval failed to have the desired effect, as they were caught cold just a couple of minutes after the restart.

When Guzan limply cleared upfield Wayne Routledge easily stole possession and made for Villa's box. From his cutback Danny Graham rattled the post but Routledge had continued his run into the area to angle a lovely effort into the far corner for what was, remarkably, his first-ever Premier League goal.

Aston Villa Guzan, Cuellar (Hutton 55), Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Ireland (Albrighton 68), Petrov, Clark (Bannan 85), N'Zogbia, Agbonlahor, Bent.
Subs Not Used: Marshall, Heskey, Weimann, Gardner.

Booked: Collins, Dunne.

Swansea Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor, Britton, Agustien, Orlandi (Allen 58), Dyer (Sinclair 78), Graham, Routledge.
Subs Not Used: Tremmel, Monk, Lita, Moore, Richards.

Booked: Caulker, Agustien, Orlandi, Vorm.

Goals: Dyer 4, Routledge 47.

Att: 35, 642

Ref: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

15:00 - Blackburn (0) 1 Stoke (2) 2

For Blackburn it was a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' as they followed up their shock success at Old Trafford with a home defeat to Stoke.

Steve Kean was afforded a warmer than usual reception upon his arrival at Ewood Park but the mood soon soured when just past the quarter of an hour mark Stoke striker Peter Crouch held off the attentions of Chris Samba, from Dean Whitehead's pass, to lash past Blackburn keeper Mark Bunn.

The beanpole striker loves playing against Blackburn and before half-time had added his second, an eighth in seven starts against Rovers, when after taking down Matthew Etherington's pinpoint left wing delivery on his knee he allowed the ball to bounce once before smartly firing home.

Blackburn's defending was as dire as it was dogged against Manchester United just 48 hours earlier.

With 20 minutes to go Blackburn substitute David Goodwillie threatened to inspire a comeback when he scrambled home to reduce the deficit but while they showed no little endeavour, the home side lacked the necessary guile to breach Stoke for a second time.

Blackburn Bunn, Lowe, Samba, Hanley, Henley (Givet 71), Nzonzi, Formica, Dunn (Rochina 73), Petrovic (Goodwillie 59), Pedersen, Yakubu.
Subs Not Used: Kean, Morris, Vukcevic, Blackman.

Booked: Hanley, Rochina.

Goals: Goodwillie 69.

Stoke Sorensen, Woodgate, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Shotton, Whitehead (Diao 87), Whelan (Delap 82), Etherington (Jerome 80), Crouch, Walters.
Subs Not Used: Begovic, Jones, Pennant, Upson.

Booked: Huth.

Goals: Crouch 17, Crouch 45.

Att: 20, 615

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

15:00 - QPR (1) 1 Norwich (1) 2

At Loftus Road it was all about Barton. Queens Park Rangers' agent provocateur was toasted by all in blue and white when on 11 minutes he produced a lovely controlled volley from Clint Hill's cross on the overlap to open the scoring, but that was to be the highlight of the proverbial mixed afternoon.

Before half-time he was sat in the home side's dressing room, rueing his lot, after he was adjudged to have put his forehead into the face of Bradley Johnson after an off-the-ball altercation with the Norwich man.

QPR were furious and even more so when before half-time Anthony Pilkington scored a beauty of his own, his fifth of the season, to restore parity. Pilkington was playing League One football last season but has quickly adapted to life in the top flight and after taking possession 30 yards from goal, he showed all his ability with an arching drive that left Paddy Kenny clutching thin air.

After the break the enigma that is QPR playmaker Adel Taarabt rattled the crossbar with a 25-yard free-kick before Steve Morison does what he does best in being in the right place at the right time, to score his seventh of the season.

Pilkington fired in a deep cross Elliott Bennett could not quite control but from seven yards the Welshman made no mistake when the ball fell fortuitously into his path.

QPR Kenny, Young, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Hill, Derry, Faurlin, Barton, Taarabt (Campbell 85), Mackie (Wright-Phillips 46), Helguson (Macheda 80).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Orr, Connolly, Hulse.

Sent Off: Barton (36).

Booked: Helguson, Wright-Phillips.

Goals: Barton 11.

Norwich Ruddy, Martin, Whitbread, Ayala, Drury (Fox 66), Bennett, Johnson, Lappin (Hoolahan 66), Pilkington, Holt (Morison 66), Jackson.
Subs Not Used: Rudd, Surman, Wilbraham, Naughton.

Booked: Ayala.

Goals: Pilkington 42, Morison 83.

Att: 18, 033

Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).

15:00 - Wolves (0) 1 Chelsea (0) 2

Chelsea's performance at Molineux was more perfunctory that perfect but it was light years away from the aberration they served up on New Year's Eve against Aston Villa.

A game in which Wolves surprisingly opted to leave out top goalscorer Steven Fletcher, Matt Jarvis and Stephen Hunt was for the most part a nip and tuck affair, with both sides guilty of profligacy in front of goal prior to Ramires' 54th-minute opener.

Juan Mata showed a surprising lack of composure after being put through by a splendid pass from the recalled Fernando Torres early on, while Roger Johnson headed against the outside of a post from a Wolves set-piece.

Mata's lofted corner early in the second half was fairly routine but when Wolves failed to clear, Ramires showed quick feet in swivelling before lashing beyond Wayne Hennessey with a rising finish from around ten yards. In what looked to be an orchestrated show of togetherness Chelsea's players joined Villas-Boas in celebration.

Smiles turned to scowls, though, six minutes from time when Wolves' twin substitutes Jarvis and Fletcher combined to tee-up Stephen Ward for a well-crafted equaliser.

Earlier in the game Lampard was perhaps fortunate to stay on the field after a late tack on Adam Hammill earned him only a caution, but it was at the death he was to write the headlines.

Torres' cute ball fed in a buccaneering Cole on the overlap and from his drilled cross from the byline, Lampard timed his run from deep perfectly to nudge the ball home. On this occasion there was no impromptu celebration with Villas-Boas.

Wolverhampton Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Forde (Jarvis 46), Frimpong (Fletcher 61), Henry, Hammill, Edwards (Foley 76), Doyle.
Subs Not Used: De Vries, Elokobi, Ebanks-Blake, Hunt.

Booked: Hammill, Henry, Doyle.

Goals: Ward 84.

Chelsea Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Romeu, Meireles, Lampard, Mata (McEachran 83), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Lukaku, Ferreira, Hutchinson, Bertrand, Chalobah.

Booked: Lampard, Romeu.

Goals: Ramires 54, Lampard 89.

Att: 27, 289

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

15:00 - Fulham (0) 2 Arsenal (1) 1

Arsenal, when leading London derby rivals Fulham going into the final six minutes at Craven Cottage, looked set to add to the murmurs which had suggested they could sneak back into the title race.

Laurent Koscielny's 21st minute goal seemed set to move Arsene Wenger's team back above Chelsea in fourth place and leave them level on points with other capital rivals Tottenham.

But Martin Jol's Fulham, who were denied a win during injury time against Norwich on New Year's Eve, this time endured better fortune in what was a gripping end-to-end match and were rewarded before the final whistle.

Djourou had received a first yellow card in the 63rd minute for a foul on Steve Sidwell and the defender then collected his second booking, and a suspension which Wenger could do without amid an injury crisis at the back, in the 78th minute.

Fulham promptly made the extra man count and Arsenal resembled the side which have in the past been accused of a lack of strength in depth combined with a naivety, as first Sidwell equalised and then, in time added on, Bobby Zamora returned to strike the winner and leave Wenger fuming.

Fulham Stockdale, Kelly, Hangeland, Senderos, John Arne Riise, Dembele, Murphy (Frei 69), Sidwell, Ruiz, Zamora, Dempsey.
Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Baird, Orlando Sa, Gecov, Duff, Hughes.

Goals: Sidwell 85, Zamora 90.

Arsenal Szczesny, Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Coquelin, Song, Arteta, Walcott (Rosicky 65), Ramsey (Squillaci 81), Gervinho (Benayoun 74), van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Almunia, Arshavin, Chamakh, Miquel.

Sent Off: Djourou (78).

Booked: Djourou.

Goals: Koscielny 21.

Att: 25, 700

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

Tuesday 3rd January

19:45 - Tottenham Hotspur v West Brom

Tottenham have the chance to close the gap on the leading Manchester clubs when they entertain West Brom at White Hart Lane on Tuesday night.

Spurs were pegged back to a draw at Swansea last time out but the result proved less damaging than it could have been after Premier League title rivals City and United both suffered defeat.

Harry Redknapp's men remain in third and are six points behind the Manchester duo with a game in hand as they look to recover winning ways against the Baggies.

Tottenham have not lost on their own turf in the league since their opening day defeat to leaders City and will be in no hurry to relinquish that solid home form.

Spurs will also feel confident knowing Albion have only won two of their 11 Premier League games against them, with Redknapp's side having reigned triumphant at The Hawthorns in November.

Roy Hodgson's Baggies will be stinging following their last-gasp defeat at Everton on New Year's Day after Victor Anichebe grabbed a late winner.

That result saw West Brom slide down the standings into 14th, with seven points between them and the relegation zone.

The Midlanders will be keen to get back on track in North London and could storm the table into the top 10 with a maximum haul at the Lane.

West Brom's record on the road this season is impressive, with the Baggies having lost just one of their last six away games in the league.

That defeat came in North London, when they went down 3-0 to Arsenal at Emirates Stadium at the beginning of November.

19:45 - Wigan v Sunderland

Wigan will be looking to climb out of the relegation zone by beating a Sunderland side that will be full of confidence after shocking Man City.

And Latics boss Roberto Martinez admits he is wary of the 'Martin O'Neill effect' that has breathed new life into Sunderland since he took over at the club ahead of their clash at the DW Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Northern Irishman replaced Steve Bruce last month and has masterminded three victories in the five matches in which he has been in charge - most notably a shock 1-0 win over leaders Manchester City last time out.

Wigan have hit a good run of form of their own in recent weeks having earned nine points from the last seven games that included difficult ties against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Wigan are currently two points adrift of safety, while Sunderland are six clear of the Latics ahead of the midweek encounter.

But Martinez, who will be without captain Gary Caldwell as he is serving a one-match ban, knows his side will have to be at their best if they are to get anything against a revitalised Sunderland side.

While belief may be in abundance at Sunderland, what they are lacking is players as the club have been ravaged by illness and injuries in recent days.

That his makeshift side managed such an heroic victory over City speaks volumes about the commitment of O'Neill's players at the club.

But the manager admits the growing injury list is causing concern as he will be without a host of first-team regulars for the clash.

Michael Turner, Connor Wickham, Fraizer Campbell and Craig Gordon are all out with knee injuries while Phil Bardsley (thigh), Titus Bramble (ankle) and Wes Brown, who limped off with a groin problem just 26 minutes into the match against City, are unlikely to play.

19:45 - Man City v Liverpool

Manchester City and Liverpool will on Tuesday night begin what over the space of the next month is set to become a more than familiar rivalry.

The respective teams of Roberto Mancini and Kenny Dalglish will face each other three times in January and the first match, before a two-legged Carling Cup semi-final, comes in the Premier League.

City will be frustrated men going into the game at the Etihad Stadium after an incredibly dramatic defeat by Sunderland on New Year's Day prevented them from restoring a three-point lead at the top of the table.

City will want to defeat Liverpool to further damage the hopes of Arsenal, while restoring an 11-point gap to Chelsea and also putting pressure on United, who on Wednesday have a difficult trip to Newcastle.

Liverpool, though, will make the short trip to Manchester comparatively well-rested in what is always a busy time of year having not played since last Friday when they recorded a confidence-boosting win over Newcastle.

Dalglish's team currently sit sixth, but they could move level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea with a win against City and the Reds have insisted Mancini's men hold no fear going into the game.

Liverpool have this season won more games away from Anfield, where six draws, including November's 1-1 result against City, is one of the main reasons why they are not already in the top four.

Wednesday 4th January 2012

20:00 - Everton v Bolton

Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen is a major injury doubt for the Barclays Premier League trip to Everton.

Jaaskelainen picked up a thigh problem in the 1-1 draw with Wolves on New Year's Eve and will be replaced by Adam Bogdan in the starting line-up if he fails to recover in time.

Midfielder Darren Pratley missed the contest on Saturday due to illness but is available again, while manager Owen Coyle says defender Gary Cahill - who skippered the Trotters against Wolves despite a fee for him having been agreed with Chelsea - is "absolutely" a part of his plans for the clash at Goodison Park as things stand.

20:00 - Newcastle v Man Utd

Wayne Rooney is expected to return for Manchester United at Newcastle on Wednesday night after reportedly being disciplined by Sir Alex Ferguson last week.

It is believed Rooney and midfielder Darron Gibson both missed the New Year's Eve defeat to Blackburn after angering their manager by their performance in training after a Boxing Day night out.

Chris Smalling (tonsillitis) and Rio Ferdinand (back) may return on Tyneside to bolster United's injury-ravaged squad as they look to keep pace with leaders Manchester City.

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