LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores a headed goal from a corner past Brad Friedel of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane on March 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Premier League, Week 27: Manchester United Hammer Tottenham 3-1

Tottenham Hotspur thoroughly outplayed Manchester United, but lost anyway thanks to three goals against the run of play.

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Tottenham Hotspur Vs. Manchester United, 2012 Premier League: United Earn 3-1 Win

Manchester United earned a key win against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, but they did so in a rather unorthodox way. The visitors ended up pretty comprehensively outplayed by an injury-hit Spurs side, but whenever they looked like they were about to concede, they went up and scored instead.

With the hosts dominating the first half, it seemed like only a matter of time before they'd get the ball into the back of the net, and Emmanuel Adebayor seemingly obliged by retrieving a Louis Saha shot and flicking home. However, Martin Atkinson rather objected to the striker using his arm to control the ball in the buildup, and it was United who scored instead, with Wayne Rooney nodding home an Ashley Young corner in what was virtually their first attack of the game, right at the stroke of halftime.

United extended their lead at the hour mark, absorbing fifteen minutes of furious Spurs pressure before Ashley Young crashed home a wonderful scissor volley from a tight angle. Nine minutes later, the England winger was at it again, this time bending a beautiful curler past Brad Friedel and straight into the top corner.

Despite all of their industry, Spurs knew the jig was up and a late goal from Jermaine Defoe failed to disguise the fact that the match was well and truly lost. It's been a rough couple of weeks for Tottenham, having lost two straight, but they'll look to regroup and consolidate their hold on third place now. United, meanwhile, are right back in the title hunt.


Tottenham Hotspur Vs. Manchester United, 2012 Premier League: Rooney Gives Visitors Halftime Lead

Unfortunate for Tottenham Hotspur. After dominating most of the first half, they went behind just before the break completely against the run of play after Wayne Rooney flicked a header past Brad Friedel from a corner kick. The fact that Manchester United are ahead in this match seems criminal after they spent so long being pegged back by a Spurs side who are putting in an absolutely sublime performance, with Jake Livermore and Sandro looking like world-beaters in the centre of the pitch.

The home fans are annoyed that they had an Emmanuel Adebayor goal ruled out after Louis Saha's shot struck him on the arm before the Manchester City loanee turned the ball in, but it was the right call and Tottenham really don't have any excuse for not turning their dominance into an actual goal or two. Now they'll need to throw everything away and start again with a 1-0 deficit.


Tottenham Hotspur Vs. Manchester United, 2012 Premier League: Lineups

A week after the calamity at the Emirates Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur have to entertain second-place Manchester United without the services of Scott Parker, Rafael van der Vaart or Gareth Bale. It'd be a difficult task for Spurs even at full strength, but this looks ugly. United will be looking to take full advantage of their hosts' injury/suspended list as the Red Devils try to chase down Manchester City at the top of the league.

We'll have a much clearer picture of just how the final Premier League table will look after this clash. Either City will go well clear in first place or Tottenham will be dropped into a dogfight with Arsenal. Based on who's missing, the latter seems more likely.

Tottenham Hotspur starting lineup (4-4-2): Brad Friedel; Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Ledley King, Younes Kaboul, Kyle Walker; Luka Modric, Jake Livermore, Sandro, Aaron Lennon; Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor.

Manchester United starting lineup (4-4-1-1): David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones; Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Nani; Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.


Newcastle United Vs. Sunderland, 2012 Premier League: Thrilling Tyne-Wear Derby Ends 1-1

Newcastle United grabbed a thrilling stoppage time equalizer against Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear Derby, but they will be very disappointed that they weren't able to take all three points against their rivals at St. James' Park. The Black Cats picked up a red card and gave away a penalty in the second half, but Newcastle didn't do enough to take advantage of those gifts as the match finished 1-1.

Sunderland went ahead early when Michael Turner drew a 24th minute penalty. Mike Williamson was caught pulling his shirt in the box, leading Mike Dean to give the spot kick. Nicklas Bendtner stepped up and finished, giving his team a 1-0 lead which allowed Sunderland to sit deep and play on the counter in true Martin O'Neill style.

It appeared that Sunderland were going to be able to hold onto that one goal lead without too much of a problem until the 58th minute, when Stephane Sessegnon threw an elbow into Cheik Tiote, for which he was shown a straight red card. Newcastle would step up the pressure at that point, but it would take a good 20 minutes before they looked like scoring.

In the 80th minute, Shola Ameobi was taken down in the box by a ludicrous lunging tackle courtesy of Fraizer Campbell, who missed the ball by a mile. Demba Ba stepped up to take the penalty but hit it too close to the center, allowing Simon Mignolet to make a nice save.

The rest of the game was played almost entirely in the Sunderland box, but it would take until the 91st minute for the Magpies to equalize. Ameobi netted that equalizer, poking in a finish after a flicked header by Williamson towards the back post.

After the final whistle, Lee Cattermole was shown a straight red for dissent, because he is Lee Cattermole.

For more on the two teams, head over to Sunderland blog Roker Report and Newcastle blog Coming Home Newcastle.


Premier League Wrap: City Win Again, Villa Pegged Back By Blackburn

Blackburn Rovers vs. Aston Villa

Aston Villa were denied a vital three points at Blackburn thanks to a very late goal by David Dunn. Charles N'Zogbia had put an injury-hit Villa side in front midway through the first half, beating Paul Robinson with a vicious volley after some excellent work by Carlos Cuellar. But the visitors couldn't make their lead count, and Dunn was on hand to thump a close-range header past Shay Given to make it 1-1 as time wound down.

Manchester City vs. Bolton Wanderers

Manchester City continued their march towards a first Premier League crown with a comfortable home win over Bolton. This match seemed more or less a forgone conclusion from the off, but Bolton were unlucky to concede when Gael Clichy's long-range effort looped off Gretar Steinsson and past Adam Bogdan for the opener. City's second was much better, featuring Adam Johnson ripping the visiting defence to pieces before playing it in for Mario Balotelli to score. All in all, a comfortable 2-0 win for the leaders.

Queens Park Rangers vs. Everton

A five-minute exchange of goals in the first half proved to be most of the excited at Loftus Road as Everton and QPR battled it out to a 1-1 draw. Royston Drenthe opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark, capping off a poor spell from the hosts with a neat long-range goal, but Bobby Zamora quickly pulling things back with a header past Tim Howard to make it 1-1. If not for a hilarious miss by Akos Buzsaky, who hit the post when presented with an open goal four yards out, QPR might have had the win. Alas, it was not to be for the hosts.

Stoke City vs. Norwich City

If you thought this would be a tightly-contested match decided by a long throw-in, you win! Matthew Etherington's second-half goal earned the hosts a 1-0 home win.

Wigan Athletic vs. Swansea

Wigan Athletic had a very rough day against Swansea and ended losing on the back of a brace by Gylfi Sigurdsson. The midfielder's first, a very neat curling effort, came right on the stroke of halftime, and his second, another equally neat shot, this time from a free kick, seemed to kill the game off. Not even a red card to Nathan Dyer managed to ruin Swansea's day, and they emerge from the DW Stadium with a straightforward 2-0 win.


West Bromwich Albion Vs. Chelsea, 2012 Premier League: Blues Play Poorly In Loss

Chelsea have lost away to West Bromwich Albion, which, in and of itself, is not embarrassing. West Brom are a solid team with a solid home record and they counterattack well. What is concerning to the point of almost being embarrassing for the Blues was how poorly they played on the afternoon. They were lucky that it took until the 82nd minute for WBA to score, and that goal would be all the Baggies needed in a 1-0 win.

Fans and pundits alike have been pleading with Andre Villas-Boas to play Ashley Cole, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard together in Chelsea's selection. Villas-Boas obliged today and the team looked much worse than they did in poor performances without them. West Brom had an incredible 25 shots to Chelsea's 13, and only two of the Blues' shots were on target. Petr Cech made a number of good saves for the Blues and kept them in the game until the very end.

Gareth McAuley scored WBA's winner following a corner kick on which Chelsea failed to clear their lines. Liam Ridgewell initially tried a shot in the 82nd minute that took a deflection, then fell to an unmarked McAuley at the back post. He had a simple finish to put the Baggies ahead, and they would hold onto the lead until the end after that goal.

Because of Arsenal's win earlier at Anfield, the Gunners now have a three-point gap on Chelsea for fourth place in the Premier League.

For more on the Blues, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History.


Liverpool Vs. Arsenal, 2012 Premier League: Robin Van Persie Wins It Late

Arsenal certainly weren't at their best at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, but finished their chances when they came, while Liverpool were extremely wasteful. Even though Liverpool had more of the ball and more quality scoring opportunities than their opponents, their only goal was an absolute gift -- a terrible own goal by Laurent Koscielny. Robin van Persie struck twice for the Gunners, and his clinical finishing was the difference between the two teams in a 2-1 Arsenal win.

Liverpool were on the front foot early and were rewarded with a penalty in the 18th minute, though it was a dubious one. Wojciech Szczesny was whistled for a trip on Luis Suarez in the box, but the contact between the two players was minimal and Suarez clearly embellished to win the spot kick. Dirk Kuyt stepped up and placed his penalty poorly, allowing Szezesny to make a save. Kuyt looked like he was going to have a better result on the rebound, but the Arsenal keeper made an even better save to deny Kuyt the second time around.

Koscielny's own goal came five minutes later, and it was a comical one. On a cross to the near post by Jordan Henderson, Koscielny stuck his leg out and deflected the ball into his own net when it was probably easier to put the ball out for a corner. What he was thinking and how he failed to clear the ball, the world will never know.

The home side continued to control the game after that, but Arsenal would find a goal from absolutely nothing. Bacary Sagna set it up with a great cross from the right towards van Persie, who completely lost Jamie Carragher. Thanks to Carragher's poor defending, he was left with a simple header and finished the chance to level the game.

Liverpool had plenty of other opportunities to score, but failed to take them. Szezesny made one brilliant save late in the half, while Suarez hit the post on another shot. The Reds probably should have been 2-0 or 3-0 up at the half, and had only themselves to blame for the game being level. If it wasn't for their simple mistakes, they would have had the win all but locked up at halftime.

Just after the halftime break, Henderson struck Mikel Arteta in the head with his arm, something which referee Mark Halsey did not appear to see. If he did, he probably would have booked Henderson and might have sent him off. The blow to the head caused an apparent concussion for Arteta, who had to be given oxygen before he was stretchered off the pitch. He appeared to lose consciousness and it took more than five minutes for him to come off the pitch.

Arteta was replaced by Abou Diaby, who made his return from a long injury layoff, but he didn't last long. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the never fit midfielder in the 80th minute.

Van Persie would find the winner a couple of minutes into stoppage time, and it was an absolutely brilliant one. Running onto a long ball from Alex Song, the Premier League's leading scorer showed off the skill that has allowed him to score with such regularity, hitting a stunning volley past Pepe Reina at his near post. Though the angle was narrow enough that Reina probably should have made a save, the technique that van Persie displayed on the goal was absolutely spectacular, and no one can call the winner undeserved.

For more on the Gunners, check out Arsenal blogs The Short Fuse and The Offside Arsenal. For more on the Reds, head over to Liverpool blogs Anfield Asylum and The Offside Liverpool.


Liverpool Vs. Arsenal, 2012 Premier League Week 27: Both Teams Riding Momentum

Liverpool and Arsenal are difficult to separate ahead of their massive Premier League clash at Anfield.

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