Bolton 0 v Wigan 1
The progress of Bolton has suffered a blip somewhat after enjoying four back-to-back wins, and one defeat out of nine in the EPL before their game last week. They had the majority of the possession in the first half yesterday in this Lancashire derby, and carved an excellent opportunity via El-Hadji Diouf's splitting pass for Nicolas Anelka to have just the keeper to beat but missed. Stelios Giannakopoulos played a one-two with Gary Speed and ran on to score only for the referee to pull it back for offside. Replays showed the decision had to have been for Diouf, who was offside, as Giannakopoulos was onside when the pass was made. A creditable goal wrongly ruled out.
Emile Heskey had to go off due to an injury and was replaced by Lee McCullouch, who came up with the only goal. Bolton had applied pressure to the visitors in the second half but were undone with 10mins to go when Kevin Kilbane and Henri Camara exchanged touches and the Ireland international found McCullouch on his right, who smacked the ball first time. Good finish.Liverpool 2 v Reading 0
Liverpool have enjoyed a nice run at home with Reading in the league cup, Aston Villa in the league and then Bordeaux in the Champions League, and they had Reading again yesterday. The visitors formed a good chance early in the game through Glen Little getting behind the Reds defence to square for a James Harper shot that deflected off Jamie Carragher's foot and away from danger. Liverpool took the lead almost on the quarter hour mark as Steven Gerrard set a high ball forward for Peter Crouch to head down into the path of Dirk Kuyt. Marcus Hehnemann had come out to get to the ball, and so Kuyt sidefooted the ball in just before the keeper could get back across.
Liverpool had dominated since then with a number of chances going amiss. Reading came out the second half and applied early pressure as they did in the first, Stephen Hunt picked up a Harper cross in the box but was blocked by Xabi Alonso. Sami Hyypia was sent through via a Gerrard ball but to no avail, and the Finn reciprocated with a ball of his own for Gerrard, whose effort was blocked. Reading scored from an Andre Bikey header that was ruled out for a foul on the keeper, and the home side doubled the lead just after. Hehnemann did get to hold a Jermaine Pennant corner and Kuyt was on hand at the rear post to volley it in.Charlton 1 v Man City 0
Both teams fighting for those vital three points to help cajole their spluttering season start to get themselves further up the bottom half of the table, much less the table on a whole. Charlton have picked up their playability since their Alamo fight with Bolton in the League Cup at home, drawing away to Newcastle and now gathering a vital win yesterday. The irony is the South East London side are rooted at the bottom as two other sides found fortune too which moved them both from the bottom three positions, subject to the West Ham v Arsenal result today. City cannot hold top gear right now and were unlucky not to muster a goal from the chances they made. This was their fifth defeat in the league to add to three wins and three draws, and to that of their league cup exit to Chesterfield.
Charlton scored through Darren Bent, quite easily. Jerome Thomas jingled on the left and cut in to cross into the box, with three City defenders surrounding Bent. The ball went over Richard Dunne but Bent was sandwiched between Slyvain Distin and Ben Thatcher but neither defender jumped, leaving Bent to glance a header past Nicky Weaver. City found Scott Carson in splendid form in goal and when they managed past him they were denied by the post when Hatem Trabelsi sent low a left foot shot from outside the box. One thing City miss is David James and Andy Cole, because since their departure Darius Vassell has to find form and only Georgios Samaras has some promise in scoring, and not Bernardo Corradi.Watford 2 v Middlesbrough 0
Watford still seeking that elusive first Premiership win, Middlesbrough seeking to rejuvenate their position. The home side have youth and pace, tenacity and a good keeper in Ben Foster behind them, Marlon King eager upfront. Boro had bought Robert Huth to play alongside Jonathan Woodgate, two sturdy defenders but only one of them had some credit yesterday. As Huth dealt with high balls that came his way, the visitors showed a low amount of determination and energy to make Watford sweat. Watford skipper Gavin Mahon threw in the ball, Woodgate half cleared, it fell to Hameur Bouazza who shot low, the ball would have gone off for a goalkick but for Woodgate's stuck out foot diverting the ball tightly inside the near post.
Watford finished the first half with a number of chances and Boro, to their credit, began to fire up in the second. Watford had lost Foster and replaced him with Richard Lee, who was said to have come out early before the second half kick-off to get a feel of the ball, something which he lacked as a compliment to Boro's first half progress. Lee had to parry away a curling low cross from Stewart Downing as Boro urged themselves into action, but they could have gone behind further as Bouazza raced down the left and cut back for Ashley Young to hit high and over from mere yards. Young did manage to make the Boro defence pay after skipper George Boateng inexplicably headed back towards weakly, either for Woodgate or Huth to get or for Mark Schwarzer, the ball falling to Young to run with and slot past the keeper. A first win to help soothe over missing King for the entire season.Fulham 1 v Everton 0
Everton started dominating the first half, particularly Andy Johnson being a thorn in the Fulham defence. Johnson ran onto the ball inside the box and came under an Ian Pearce challenge, from which Johnson went down. The referee waved no penalty and I felt it was a correct decision. Johnson went further nonetheless and latched onto a Tim Cahill ball but steered it high and over. Mikel Arteta was through on goal with a hatful of Fulham players playing catch up, Johnson to his left to whom the Spaniard should have passed to after his third touch on the ball but he went on and was stopped by good defending by Leroy Rosenior.
Cahill should have been booked for an elbow on Tomasz Radszinki and Johnson for a late foot on possibly Claus Jensen. Jensen was involved in another ugly moment as he poised to take a corner, where he was struck on the face by possibly a 10p coin which seemed to come from the direction behind Everton's goal. However the home side turned after the hour and got the goal. Jensen gathered it on the left and turned past Cahill to shoot an effort that deflected past Tim Howard via Lee Carsley. Johnson had another chance to score, put through by Cahill, but was denied by Niemi twice.Man Utd 3 v Portsmouth 0
Twenty years at Old Trafford for Sir Alex Ferguson tomorrow, surviving an early period where his head was called for some three years or so into the managerial seat, a period which may have turned on one game against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. Had Ferguson been released in compliance of those calls, who knows what would have happened to the Red Devils, however what we do know is he brought eight Premiership titles, five FA Cups', two League Cups', five Community Shields (one shared), the UEFA Cup, Intercontinental Cup, the SuperCup, the European Cup and Manager Of The Year six times.
Utd were superb last week away at The Reebok and they did not relent to Portsmouth. They gained a penalty through Wayne Rooney, who outsmarted Andy O'Brien and ran onto a Gary Neville throw-in, no offside therefore, and with Dejan Stefanovic catching up, Rooney went down from his challenge. I didn't think it was a penalty but it was given and Louis Saha slotted well past David James. Utd threatened constantly through Gary Neville's runs behind the defence and gained another through a foul on Saha. Ryan Giggs and Christiano Ronaldo poised and it was the Portuguese winger who simply smacked the ball towards goal, James seeming to sight the ball just too late to stop it, such was the velocity of the strike. James was again in good form and denied them on occasion but couldn't deny a third goal, Neville crossing for Nemanja Vidic to head another textbook header.Newcastle 0 v Sheff Utd 1
Playing so soon after having to face Italy's Serie A current joint-top side Palermo 48hrs before couldn't have aided further progress for Newcastle, and they went into yesterday's match without Shola Ameobi, Obafemi Martins and we know about Michael Owen. That left loanee Giuseppe Rossi alone upfront with Duff as support. Why couldn't this fixture be played today and the league cup tie at Watford on Wednesday? Craig Moore may have been lucky to stay on after flattening Rob Hulse off the ball and Newcastle were flattering in front of Utd's goal, to the frustration of the home fans.
The telling point came in the second half. Nick Montgomery deceived Emre and turned on the ball, with space and time to run on and deliver, despite Alan Hansen's 'not a great ball' opinion, a timed ball for Danny Webber to head in. Replays showed Titus Bramble, Moore and Stephen Carr in the vicinity and no communication from any of them to the danger, particularly the good view Carr had. Webber was unmarked for what turned out to be Utd's first away goal and eventually away win of the season. Alan Quinn raced down the left for a chance to increase the lead, and with Steve Harper coming out, Quinn's effort bounced off the near post.West Ham 1 v Arsenal 0
What follows now are two match reports on two London derbies where the favourites are away against two respective home sides in the bottom half of the table, respective home sides who have not beaten their opponents for some years. Apparently West Ham had not beaten Arsenal since 1999 and this one at Upton Park started very well with both sides using 4-5-1, Lee Bowyer came in to aid the midfield yet Arsenal still played around the middle to draft some chances. It was fine to pack the middle with five players but the Hammers needed their midfield to be sharp on Arsenal's toes and shut them down early to prevent them playing. One definite good change has been Robert Green in goal, who appears not only on the England list but keen to impress in the top league and he made sure his handling was of the utmost best in getting to a Robin Van Persie volley. Before that the Hammers forged a chance from a short corner and Matthew Etherington curling a drive across goal that Bobby Zamora just agonisingly missed. Tomas Rosicky was put through with a superb touch from a high ball from Thierry Henry but shot wide and Henry himself became frustrated with the lack of guile on the West Ham goal and took it on himself down the left flank, only to be denied just inside the box. West Ham defended with good valour.
Van Persie went to take a throw and appeared to have been struck by an object, a second such incident over the weekend. Jens Lehmann kicked a goalkick that reached Yossi Benayoun, who dwelled on the ball too long instead of passing quickly to Bobby Zamora, Zamora obtained it and found Jonathan Spector who crossed for Yossi Benayoun to head wide near the post. Alan Pardew saw differently after the hour to move into 4-4-2, bringing off Bowyer and Zamora for Teddy Sheringham and Marlon Harewood, which brought experience, vision, speed and strength to the frontline to finally challenge the Arsenal defence. Arsenal should have had a penalty when Aleksander Hleb played a one-two with Henry and beat Spector to the ball in the box, replays showing the American had little of the ball and more of Hleb's right leg. It was a decision Wenger was understandably annoyed with, exchanging some words with Pardew.
However West Ham were spurred into action with two devious strikers and the likes of Matthew Etherington and Benayoun began to make ways down the flanks in anticipation, one chance coming into the box for Sheringham only to be denied by a timed block by Gael Clichy. Harewood had a great chance as Sheringham headed on and William Gallas lost his footing, leaving Harewood one-on-one from an angle with Lehmann where he fired straight at the keeper. Kolo Toure was set up with a fizzing shot that looked in but just curled away from the post literally by the merest of inches. But a minute from time West Ham made their play pay. Etherington battled with sub Mathieu Flamini and won the ball, played a one-two with Sheringham and then crossed low behind the defence where Harewood poached and pounced from behind Clichy.
Pardew celebrated with the Hammers staff, perhaps in an over-zealous manner that seemed to have upset Arsene Wenger and lead to him pushing Pardew away as the Hammers man came towards to speak to him. Later footage showed the two managers continued to exchange words but on a more colloquial manner. At the end Pardew went over to Wenger to shake his hand but the Arsenal man showed no inclination and assistant Pat Rice reluctantly gave out a hand before Pardew was ushered away down the tunnel. Pardew made an apology afterwards in the post-match interviewSpurs 2 v Chelsea 1
This derby goes further back than West Ham's Arsenal record, nine years further back the last time Spurs defeated Chelsea. Key to this was Man Utd's win on Saturday for Chelsea, for Spurs it was simply the need for more points to climb the table. Although Hossam Ghaly went on a run of some promise, Chelsea started the brightest when Didier Drogba headed down to Michael Ballack, the German then sending a high ball over the defence for the onside Arjen Robben to race onto, one-on-one with Paul Robinson. Ledley King made an exceptional recovery from some yards to catch up the speedy Robben and superbly touch the ball away just before the Dutchman was about to strike. From the resulting corner John Terry got up to head the ball and it fell down to Claude Makelele, who half-volleyed across the ball to spin it past Robinson. After that Robben ran down the right to set up Frank Lampard with a shot over the bar, and another corner brought a Drogba headed goal that was disallowed. Graeme Poll explained the decision was for Terry pulling on King, the MOTD commentator pointed Drogba had apparently pushed on Matt Dawson. I didnt see any infringement by Terry.
Spurs then turned up the pace on Chelsea and it was Dimitar Berbatov who drew a foul from Paulo Ferreira on the left side, from which Jermaine Jenas delivered the ball for Dawson to get above all and nod on past Hilario. Spurs had come back, after a period where Chelsea had threatened to increase their lead. After a Spurs corner that resulted in a little melee and the box bouncing off for another corner, Aaron Lennon was his usual whippet self and teased down the right side, drawing the attention of Ashley Cole and Ballack before twisting and then hooking a left foot cross for Robbie Keane to steal behind the unsighted Ferreira and head just over the bar. Jose Mourinho took off Ferreira and replaced him with Khalid Boulahrouz at the break to strengthen the right back position where Spurs had more fluidity than the Chelsea boss preferred. This may have been a wrong move.
Some six minutes into the second half, with Spurs under attack, Dawson cleared to the left where Keane loitered within their own half, the Irishman made Boulahrouz commit himself and then went on the sprint down the flank. Boulahrouz caught up with him and after two stepovers lost his balance, leaving Keane to move on and cross with his left. Makelele managed a foot to the ball which sent it over the defence to Lennon, who dummied Ashley Cole to cut onto his left and sent the ball past Hilario. Ghaly was booked for an elbow on Michael Essien, something which I thought was meant to be a red card offence but may have seen to Mr Poll as unintentional, nonetheless chelsea came gunning for an equaliser whereas Spurs sensed a potential upset. Boulahrouz didn't get to a high ball over the defence and Keane obliged by chesting the ball and coming in to square for Berbatov, who couldn't finish.
Makelele came off for Shaun Wright-Phillips, making Chelsea's line up now 4-3-2-1, and five minutes later removed Boulahrouz for his final substitution of Salomon Kalou, potentially leaving Essien to hold behind Ballack, Lampard and SWP, Kalou and Robben aiding Drogba. A sense of frustration came into Chelsea where Terry brought down Berbatov on the half-way line and earned the skipper a booking. Then with under twenty minutes of normal time, Benoit Assou-Ekotto fouled Kalou on the Chelsea right which gave an excellent opportunity to equalise. After the melee in the box the ball went over all for a goalkick, but from that melee players gathered from both teams to remonstrate, particularly Pascal Chimbonda and Didier Zokora who were incensed with Terry. Mr Poll reached for his card, ushered for Terry to come over and booked him again, the defender making no complaints or comments as he walked.
Despite the disadvantage, Chelsea came forward. Lampard broke down the left and shot over the bar. Ballack found Robben on the right and the Dutchman cut inside to curl a sweet left foot beyond Robinson but not the post. I had taken Terry to be a cool personified player, even if Chelsea are behind, as he was in the Nou Camp to set up Drogba. But yesterday during a Spurs corner in the first half he came down from a jump and was stepped on by possibly Zokora or Chimbonda or Assou-Ekotto and was annoyed with possibly Mr Poll not noticing it. Quite possibly he carried that thought into the second half and it culminated into the rash challenge on Berbatov and then the sending off, as replays showed an infuriated King saying something to him and Terry retorting. It is potentially Terry's words that probably upset Chimbonda and Zokora.
Mr Poll apparently stated or indicated he disallowed Drogba's goal because of a pull on King's jersey by Terry, and he issued Terry's second booking for a pull on King during that freekick. I couldn't see anything in either incidents but judging from Terry's reaction to the sending off and that of Chimbonda and Zokora, added with the non-committal of referees to reveal exactly why a booking is issued, I sense Terry was booked for something he said rather than he did.Aston Villa 2 v Blackburn Rovers 0
This fixture has been an entertaining one of recent seasons. With Villa looking to come back to winning ways after last week had ended their unbeaten run, and Blackburn in good spirits following a good job in Europe on Thursday, chances went to either side to open the scoring. Gabriel Agbonlahor remains on the wings where his pace and delivery into the box is proving an asset, Chris Sutton started with Juan Pablo Angel. Blackburn were without Robbie Savage due to injury so Aaron Mokoena partnered Tugay in central midfield. Villa were awarded a penalty five minutes from the break when Sutton lifted the ball into the box and it came off Andre Ooijer. Replays showed it was mostly off the uper left chest area below the shoulder than the arm but the linesman gave it. Gareth Barry sent the ball down the middle.
A goal five minutes before half time, another goal five minutes into the second half, for Villa. Michael Gray had possession by the Blackburn box and passed it back to Zurab Khizanishvili, which left the Georgian defender with too much to do in such a short space and he was dispossessed by Angel, the Colombian slotting past Brad Friedel. If the penalty given against Ooijer was a firm decision, then the one against Stiliyan Petrov should have been given. A Blackburn freekick taken by David Bentley struck the Bulgarian on the right arm, and was for me a penalty but Howard Webb, who incurred the wrath of Mark Hughes at half time, waved any appeals away.LA Primera Liga & Serie A
Barcelona had followed their inability to hold onto a win on Wednesday against Chelsea with a draw at Deportivo, where they had the lead through a Ronaldinho penalty. Depo's Juan Rodriguez equalised with fifteen minutes to go and Barca endured six bookings. Real Madrid and Sevilla had their chance to group the table, but Madrid sent down at home to Celta Vigo 1-2 and Sevilla jumped up with a 2-0 win over Osasuna with former West Ham and Spurs man Freddie Kanoute scoring from the spot. In Serie A, from where I reported on Inter's stuttering progress home and in Europe, the 'Nerazzurri' notched another win against Ascoli to remain joint top with Palermo, who also won against Palermo, while AC Milan went down 2-0 at Atalanta. The significance in both of these respected leagues is Barcelona and Real Madrid stuttered in taking top spot and AC Milan have looked well in Europe but clearly are not recovering from the match-fixing scandal at home.RedsMan.