Like us to subscribe
Ji Dong-Won might have been offside when he scored Sunderland's winner against Manchester City on Sunday, but he won't mind. Neither will Martin O'Neill or the Sunderland faithful, who will probably remember this goal against this team as long as they live. Despite playing with two natural defenders, one playing out of position and the other coming off injured, Sunderland kept a clean sheet and snatched a late winner, defeating Manchester City 1-0.
City were, unsurprisingly, on top for the entire match. Martin O'Neill is a very experienced manager who has a history of being able to keep clean sheets against top teams, but he hasn't exactly had a lot of time with this Sunderland team. With two midfielders at fullback and a center of defense featuring John O'Shea and Wes Brown, no one expected him to pull off any magic. When Wes Brown came out injured for Matthew Kilgallon in the 26th minute, it was an all but foregone conclusion that City would win. Kilgallon had not played for Sunderland since May of 2010.
While the visitors created 27 shots, only five were on target. Simon Mignolet was very good in net, but it was hardly a case of the goalkeeper robbing the better team of points. He made a couple of solid saves, with the most important one coming in the 84th minute. David Silva, who was rested and played as a substitute, took a rip that Mignolet had to save. The rebound fell to Micah Richards, but he hit the crossbar with his header.
With City pushing everyone forward to find a winner, they were caught out on the counter by Ji and Stephane Sessegnon, who were both very good in their entire times on the pitch. With City struggling to get back, Sessegnon threaded a through ball to Ji, who rounded Joe Hart and calmly placed the ball into the back of the net. Ji moved early and was a tad offside, but the linesman was behind the play.
The goal shouldn't have been allowed, but there's no excuse for City going 92 minutes without a goal against one of the most makeshift back lines anyone is ever going to see in the Premier League. City are going to have to pick themselves up quickly, as they face Liverpool in mid-week.
Roy Hodgson and David Moyes set up with relatively conservative gameplans at The Hawthorns in the Premier League's first match of 2012, with both teams doing very little going forward. Tim Howard did not have to make a single save, while Ben Foster was only pressured into three. There were very few chances in the match, as that statistic indicates, but Everton were able to hit the back of the net with one of them. Victor Anichebe grabbed a late winner, giving the Toffees a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Though WBA lost the match and Hodgson will catch criticism for playing such a negative style against a mid-table side at him, it's actually tough to argue that he didn't get his tactics right. Until the goal, his team had created easily the best two chances of the night, and they were created for their two in-form strikers. Shane Long put a clear header over the bar in the 18th minute and Peter Odemwingie hit a shot over the bar while one-on-one with Howard in the 47th minute.
The winner finally came on a free kick in the 87th minute, and it was exactly the type of goal one would have expected Everton to score if they were ever going to find one. The free kick from outside the area created a scramble in the box, which resulted in the ball falling to Anichebe about eight yards from goal. He made himself a small opening and fired past Ben Foster, giving his team all three points in a match where they failed to create much at all.
Hodgson and West Brom might feel a bit hard done by, as their tactics more or less worked perfectly, but a case of two bad shots for them and a lucky bounce for Everton gave the visitors all three points. Though, when a team goes forward as little as West Brom did today, it's tough to feel bad for them when luck doesn't go their way.
With a big match against Liverpool looming, Roberto Mancini has made some changes to his Manchester City side for their match against Sunderland. Of course, because Manchester City has just about the most expensive team in the world, the players that he's selected are still world class or thereabouts, and this starting XI still looks like one that could win the Premier League. Sunderland's one big piece of news is that goalkeeper Kieran Westwood is injured. Martin O'Neill will play with his normal wide and rigid 4-4-2, with Stephane Sessegnon as a second striker.
Manchester City Lineup (4-5-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; De Jong, Barry, Y. Toure, A. Johnson, Nasri; Dzeko
Sunderland Lineup (4-4-2): Mignolet; Gardner, Colback, Brown, O'Shea; Larsson, McClean, Cattermole, Vaughan; Sessegnon, Bendtner
Kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local time. You can catch the game on FOX Soccer Channel in the USA, Sportsnet World in Canada, and Sky Sports 1 in the UK.
Robin van Persie set Arsenal’s record for most Premier League goals in a calendar year with his winner on the hour mark. Andrey Arshavin grabbed a loose ball in the midfield before slipping through van Persie, who slotted it home past Radek Cerny. Until then, Arsenal had been frustrated, with van Persie missing a chance after he weaved his way through the QPR defence, and Theo Walcott missed a glorious chance when he was one on one with the keeper. van Persie, though, saved his teammate’s blushes as his goal sends Arsenal into 4th place. They still need a full back, and quite possibly a winger/striker, but given the state they were in at the beginning of the season, to be in 4th is a real achievement.
Swansea 1 Spurs 1
Tottenham missed the chance to gain on Manchester United, as they dropped points to Swansea City. Rafael van der Vaart had given Tottenham the lead on the stroke of halftime, who chested down Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross after the Cameroonian had blown past Ashley Richards on Spurs left. The goal, however, was slightly against the run of play, and Swansea leveled after 84 minutes. Angel Rangel had come on for Richards at half time, and his cross wasn’t cleared by Friedel or Gallas, and Scott Sinclair finished from 2 yards, giving Swansea a well-deserved point, and making Spurs 6 points behind Manchester City, and only 3 points ahead of Arsenal.
Wigan Athletic responded to their 5-0 defeat at Old Trafford to earn a point at the Britannia. The Latics took the lead on the stroke of halftime, with Victor Moses scoring his 2nd Premier League goal of the season. Ronnie Stam and Hugo Rodallega combined on the right, before the Colombian crossed for Moses to slot home. It was the first clear chance of the match, after both keepers had been tested by long-range efforts.
Stoke leveled in the 76th minute; Gary Caldwell handled Cameron Jerome’s header as it was going in, and was subsequently sent off. From the spot, Jonathan Walters scored, and Stoke looked to have all 3 points when Jerome finished cooly after flicks from Crouch and Walters put him in behind Wigan’s defence. Wigan, though, showed great character and spirit to level the scores again, with Ryan Shotton pulling down Hugo Rodallego to give the visitors a penalty. Ben Watson came on specifically for the spot kick, and sent Thomas Sorensen the wrong way. A point a piece, then, and for Wigan, it marks 3 points from 4 extremely difficult games.
Bolton failed to move off the foot of the table after a disappointing home draw with fellow struggling side Wolves. In an ugly game, the returning Sam Ricketts fired a long range effort past Wayne Hennesey (maybe Arsenal should’ve tried that last Tuesday). Wolves, though, responded through Steven Fletcher, who scored from Matt Jarvis’ free kick with a free header. Both sides had chances later on, especially Bolton, but were unable to take advantage. Bolton are bottom; Wolves are 2 points off the relegation zone.
Norwich 1 Fulham 1
Simeon Jackson’s late late goal for Norwich rescued a point, after Fulham striker Orlando Sa scored his first goal to give the visitors a lead to cling onto. Sa’s goal came after poor defensive play from the Canaries, with Bradley Johnson culpable for Moussa Dembele’s easy run and pass for Sa, who beat Zak Whitbread with ease before firing past John Ruddy from the edge of the area. Norwich, though, have a spirit and resolve that has seen them climb two divisions in two years, and it is these kind of performances that will see them stay in the Premier League. Norwich pushed Fulham back, but couldn’t finish their chances until Jackson’s header in the 94th minute from a superb cross gave the Canaries a deserved point. Norwich end the year in the top half, while Fulham are 2 points behind in 13th.
Aston Villa came from behind to win 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, knocking Chelsea out of the top 4. Andre Villas-Boas’ side have now gone 4 games without winning, including very winnable fixtures against Fulham, Wigan and now Aston Villa.
The opening 23 minutes were slow for Chelsea, with their passing ponderous and their play uninspiring. They were, however, gifted a penalty when Richard Dunne lunged to take Didier Drogba down. The Ivorian took the penalty, squeezing it past Brad Guzan for his 150th goal for the club (and, if reports from BBC Radio 5 Live are to be believed, which they are not, his last). Villa, however, came back. Without Darren Bent they have looked unthreatening up front, but today they looked fresh, direct and threatening. Charles N’Zogbia and Stephen Ireland have disappointed since their arrival at Villa Park, but the two combined to level the scores, with N’Zogbia’s cutback being turned in by Ireland on the second attempt.
Villa looked the better side throughout the second half, and captain Stilian Petrov gave them a lead 7 minutes from time after John Terry and David Luiz gave too much space for Ciaran Clark to slid Petrov through. Another defensive mistake, this time by Frank Lampard, gave the ball to Stephen Ireland, who slid substitute Darren Bent in to seal the victory.
Blackburn Rovers came away with a surprise 3 points after a stupendous against Manchester United, though, it has to be said, United were missing Wayne Rooney among other defenders and midfielders. Blackburn, though, were also missing key defenders, and were well worth the victory.
They took the lead after 16 minutes, in classic Blackburn fashion. Dimitar Berbatov hauled down Chris Samba when the big centre half controlled Mark Bunn’s freekick, to give Rovers a penalty. Yakubu took it, and slammed it to the right of David De Gea, giving Rovers a shock lead. Understandably, they went into defensive mode for the rest of the half, and started that way for the second half. However, they were to get the second goal; Yakubu picking up a loose ball before dribbling past Phil Jones and slotting under De Gea to give Rovers a 2 goal advantage.
75 seconds later, though, United responded, as they always do. Antonio Valencia’s cross was blocked, but it came to Rafael Da Silva, who mishit his shot onto Dimitar Berbatov’s head. 38 minutes to go, and now it looked like United would comeback and win, as they have so often through Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. 10 minutes later, they were level, again through Berbatov. Morten Gamst Pedersen’s clearance went straight to Anderson, who passed for Valencia, who drove into the box before cutting back for Berbatov who slammed home. 2-2, and United surely on course to complete the comeback. However, after they equalised, the pressure dropped off, and it was Blackburn who scored, 9 minutes from time. David De Gea has been criticised for his performance under pressure, and he disappointed again, coming off his line and punching the corner straight up in the air, for Grant Hanley to head home for his first Premier League goal.
United pushed forward again, and Phil Jones had a shot cleared off the line, but Blackburn held on for 3 massive points. Not a happy 70th for Alex Ferguson.
Blackburn Rovers have taken a proper battering in the first half of their match against Manchester United, but the Red Devils have failed to find the breakthrough. They might have been a bit lucky to find their goal, but there's been nothing lucky about the way Blackburn have defended. They're doing a great job of parking the bus and sitting on a lead, and they've carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.
Thanks to a variety of injuries, Manchester United aren't really playing anyone where they prefer to be played. Antonio Valencia is a right back, Rafael da Silva is a central midfielder and Michael Carrick is a central defender. The goal came for Blackburn when another United player was in an unfamiliar position, with Dimitar Berbatov marking Christopher Samba after a set piece. Berbatov clearly fouled Samba in the box and a penalty was given, converted by Yakubu in the 16th minute.
It was all United from then until the halftime whistle, but Blackburn's makeshift defense has performed well. 17-year-old left back Adam Henley is having an excellent game, as is backup goalkeeper Mark Bunn. Based on his performances in four and a half games this season, it's honestly not unreasonable to say that Bunn is better than Paul Robinson at the moment. He's been fantastic.
Interestingly enough, no 'Kean Out' chants have been heard around Old Trafford today.
Manchester United are a bit thin on central defenders and central midfielders at the moment. Between the two positions, they are playing one true central midfielder and one true central defender. Phil Jones and Michael Carrick will likely partner in defense, while the midfield is a grab bag of players who generally don't play centrally. Park Ji-Sung will almost certainly play in the middle. After that, your guess is as good as ours. Blackburn are playing a typical side but are resting 'Junior' David Hoilett. Here are the lineups.
Manchester United Lineup (4-4-2): De Gea; Evra, Carrick, Jones, Rafael; Nani, Valencia, Park, Welbeck; Berbatov, Hernandez
Blackburn Rovers Lineup (4-4-1-1): Bunn; Lowe, Samba, Hanley, Henley; Rochina, Nzonzi, Petrovic, Pedersen; Formica; Yakubu
Kickoff is at 7:45 a.m. ET, 12:45 p.m. local time. You can catch the game on both ESPN2 and ESPN3.com in the USA, TSN2 in Canada and ESPN in the UK.
Newcastle certainly brought plenty of fight to Anfield and looked like they were going to take a point from Liverpool at points during their game, but the Reds ultimately showed their quality and found a way to net twice in the second half, fighting their way to a deserved 3-1 victory. Newcastle scored the opener and Demba Ba played brilliantly, but Craig Bellamy and Steven Gerrard stole the show.
The opener is currently being credited as a Daniel Agger own goal, though that's harsh on the Liverpool defender. In the 25th minute, Ryan Taylor swung in a cross that Yohan Cabaye got on the end of. His header deflected off Agger, who knew little to nothing about it, and went into the back of the net.
Bellamy's answer came four minutes later. Cheick Tiote cleared a Charlie Adam cross off the line, but his clearance fell right to the feet of Bellamy. From 12 yards out, he hit a composed finish into the back of the net to give his team an equalizer. The two sides went into halftime tied 1-1, though Liverpool looked like the side with the upper hand.
Andy Carroll struggled in the first half and he continued to struggle in the second half, contributing two hilarious close-range misses to proceedings. With the spotlight on, he looked nothing like the player Liverpool thought they were getting after his impressive string of performances for Newcastle. Fortunately for him, his teammates would bail him out.
Bellamy scored a brace with his second goal in the 67th, scored off a direct free kick. The Newcastle defenders and Tim Krul looked clueless as the ball floated over the ball and into the back of the net, with Carroll confusing everyone with a screen that made the goal look like something out of an ice hockey game. Ba almost found the equalizer three minutes later, but had what appeared to be a sure goal spectacularly cleared off the line by Martin Skrtel.
Gerrard would score the clinching goal in the 77th minute, capping off what was a very solid return in the best way possible. What appeared to be a series of questionable touches took him into a tight space with a narrow angle shot and no one to cross to. He made the most of it, placing a fantastic finish into the side netting at the back post, giving his team an insurmountable two-goal lead that they would hang on to.
Newcastle and Liverpool haven't played their best football and have been a bit sloppy, but at least it's been end to end stuff and created a couple of goals. The Reds had the upper hand early, but Newcastle were able to find a goal against the run of play in the 25th minute. Less than five minutes later, Craig Bellamy was able to find an equalizer, and the two teams go into halftime level at 1-1.
The goal was an odd one, with Cabaye getting forward and getting his head to a cross by Ryan Taylor, shortly after Haris Vuckic had taken a nasty shot to the mouth. It looked like his header was going to hit the target, but hit Daniel Agger's shoulder and made a slight change of direction, giving Pepe Reina no chance to make a save.
Liverpool's equalizer came in the 29th minute, created by Charlie Adam and finished off by Bellamy. Using his right foot for the first time in who knows how long, Adam put a low cross across the face of goal that was cleared away. However, it was only cleared as far as Bellamy, who finished from 12 yards out.
Steven Gerrard will not be starting for Liverpool against Newcastle United, but their lineup still suggests that we should see a nice little throwback to the days of old. Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll are starting up top in a classic big man-little man 4-4-2 setup, and Anfield is going to party like it's 2001. Newcastle have handed a start to young Haris Vuckic, who will play behind Demba Ba. Jay Spearing returns for Liverpool after serving a suspension. Here are your lineups.
Liverpool Lineup (4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Henderson, Adam, Spearing, Downing; Carroll, Bellamy
Newcastle Lineup (4-4-1-1): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, R.Taylor; Obertan, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Vuckic; Ba
We'll have coverage of this game and all of Saturday's matches in our Premier League Week 20 StoryStream. Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local time from Anfield. You can catch the game on FOX Soccer in the USA, Sportsnet World in Canada and Sky Sports 1 in the UK.
Liverpool and Newcastle contest the Andy Carroll Derby on Friday. Yes, he's actually going to have to play.
In a week featuring few games between top Premier League teams, Liverpool-Newcastle is being treated as though it actually matters.
We'll email you a reset link.
If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
Choose an available username to complete sign up.