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Roy Hodgson's return to Anfield was a happy one - but not for Liverpool, who were consigned to yet another bizarre home defeat. No fewer than thirty shots were fired at the West Bromwich Albion goal over the course of the match, including two that rattled Ben Foster's woodwork and several chances that came following spills by the big goalkeeper, but Liverpool simply could not force the ball home.
West Brom had their chances too - a fine save from Pepe Reina in the 28th minute against Chris Brunt kept the visitors from going ahead against the run of play, but as the match continued and Liverpool's attempts to grab the opener continued to fall somewhere between futility and hilarity, it looked increasingly likely that the Baggies would be able to snatch something on the break.
So it proved in the 75th minute, when Youssuf Mulumbu intercepted a too-clever pass from right back Glen Johnson and fed Peter Odemwingie at the edge of the box. The striker had been a non-factor in the match up to that point, but he made no mistake in blasting past a helpless Reina to give West Brom the lead.
They would not relinquish it. It's difficult to say whether it was awful luck or abysmal finishing from Liverpool's point of view - some of the shots the hosts contrived to miss with seemed guided by a particularly malicious deity - but whatever it was, it wasn't good enough.
Manchester City didn't have things their own way in the second half, and didn't manage to add much to their goal difference as they wasted numerous chances to put the game to bed. It's a sad day for Wolves though as they drop out of the Premier League and a return to the Championship after a season of turmoil.
It wasn't the start to the second half Manchester City wanted. Wolves came flying out the traps, and looked the better team up until the hour mark.
Matt Jarvis did lots of good down the left hand side, but unfortunately nobody was willing to gamble on the ball making it into the danger zone. Jarvis himself spooned an effort wide on 53 minutes after good work from Michael Kightly on the opposite flank.
Wolves' best chance of the game came on 53 minutes when Steven Fletcher rose the highest as the ball bumped, bobbled and bounced around the City penalty area, forcing Joe Hart to be at full stretch and tip away for a corner kick.
Indeed City were under so much pressure Roberto Mancini made the unusual swap of Nigel De Jong on for David Silva, and it was needed as the away side simply couldn't get out of their own half for long periods of the second half, never mind add to their goal difference as would have been the intention.
In the 70th minute Karl Henry nearly had all Wolves' good work undone as he casually lost possession to Carlos Tevez near his own penalty area, but the home side's captain will have been thankful of the covering defenders who didn't make life easy for the Argentinean forward, and the shot was eventually blocked by Richard Stearman.
In the 73rd minute Tevez was brought to the ground on the halfway line. There was some moans from the Wolves side as to the awarding of the freekick, but while they complained and lost their concentration Tevez took the kick quickly. It was given back to Tevez, who played a defence-splitting ball to Samir Nasri, who unlike the first half made no mistake in slamming past De Vries.
To add insult to injury, or in this case injury to insult, Sebastian Bassong pulled up injured during the play clutching his hamstring and was immediately substituted and replaced by Christophe Berra.
Adam Johnson, recently on as a substitute, nearly made it 3-0 on 75 minutes when his right-footed drive was aimed towards the bottom corner of De Vries' goal, but the big Dutchman, who had quite a good game on his league debut managed to claw it away.
Sergio Aguero should later have made it 3-0 in the 81st minute after being put clean through on goal by Johnson, however rather than simply smash the ball past De Vries, the striker chose to dawdle and in the midst of all this wondering what to do was tackled by the recovering defender. Roberto Mancini was absolutely furious on the near touchline.
As the game closed out, on 84 minutes, Richard Stearman nearly added a contender for own goal of the season as his bullet header was superbly turned round the post by De Vries. From the resulting corner, Joleon Lescott headed wide of the front post as a third goal simply wouldn't come.
Meanwhile Wolves, for all their early endeavor were reduced to pot-shots from distance, all of which were easily picked off by Hart.
Wolves showed plenty of fight throughout the second half, but unfortunately for them there just wasn't the quality in the squad to get back in the game. Ultimately, this lack of quality though has cost them their Premier League status as they required an unlikely win before kick off to stave off relegation for another week.
It's all over for them now, but for the visitors the title race is very much back on.
Manchester City have the lead at Molineux, but still have work to do as they look to increase the all important goal difference against a Wolves side who are looking more and more doomed to relegation with every passing minute.
There was a very open start to the game, with chances at both ends as both clubs played like they knew exactly what was at stake this afternoon.
Carlos Tevez was the first man to get a shot in at goal when his effort from distance after just 16 seconds fizzed over the bar of Dorus De Vries. The Dutch goalkeeper had to be ready again on 6 minutes when Sergio Aguero broke the offside trap, and despite Sebastian Bassong recovering, the Argentine was still able to get a shot in which went narrowly past the far post from an acute angle.
Bassong was involved at the other end too when his deflected effort had Joe Hart scrambling across goal to see out for a corner, while David Davis also had Hart troubled when he side footed an effort towards the top corner after good work from Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher in the buildup.
Manchester City should have had the lead after 15 minutes when Pablo Zabaleta played a delicious one-two with Aguero, and in turn teed up Samir Nasri inside the area, only for the Frenchman to shoot wide of goal with it at his mercy.
Aguero squandered another chance after 20 minutes when following good work from David Silva the striker fired his shot, once again, narrowly wide of De Vries' goal. City had been creating the best chances of the opening period, but simply couldn't convert, or force the keeper into a meaningful save.
A goal had been coming, and eventually on 26 minutes Sergio Aguero had his goal. Gael Clichy's ball into the on rushing striker looked like it would be cleared by Bassong, but the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur defender got his footing horribly wrong, missed the ball and allowed Aguero to slot the ball past De Vries for a precious lead.
It was one way traffic from then on as the visitors took control of the game, and as Tevez, Nasri and Aguero all rained shots down on the Wolves goalmouth, nothing was coming which will leave Roberto Mancini disappointed at halftime despite the holding the lead at halftime.
Having saw Manchester United falter earlier in the day, the onus was on Manchester City to get a result at Wolverhampton Wanderers to keep the title race going. The home side won't go without a fight though, as anything less than a win for Wolves sends them down to the Championship. That said, it will be a hard ask for the hosts who've not won in their last eight home games.
Wolves boss Terry Connor handed a league debut to summer signing Dorus De Vries as regular goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has been ruled out for the season. Connor also goes with five in midfield as the look to contain the visitors, but look for dangerous wingers Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly to get forward and join Steven Fletcher at every opportunity.
Meanwhile City boss Roberto Mancini selected a strong and attacking lineup, with Sergio Aguero floating in and around the now well liked Carlos Tevez in attack. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure anchor the midfield allowing the two Argentines, along with Samir Nasri and David Silva to do the damage up front.
The Blues were once again without controversial striker Mario Balotelli, who sits this one out through suspension having been sent off against Arsenal a few weeks ago, while Micah Richards missed out entirely too.
Wolverhampton Wanderers Team (4-5-1): Dorus De Vries; Kevin Foley, Richard Stearman, Sebastian Bassong, Stephen Ward; David Davis, David Edwards, Karl Henry, Matt Jarvis, Michael Kightly; Steven Fletcher.
The game kicks off at 4pm local time, and is shown live on Sky Sports 1, and in the USA you'll find the game on Fox Soccer Channel at 11am ET.
A second half goalfest threw the title race wide open as Everton fought back from a two goal deficit twice to earn a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford, meaning the Red Devils may have just handed the advantage to Manchester City in the Premier League title race.
Antonio Valencia put the initial ball into the box, which after much fumbling and bobbling around was nodded into the path of Welbeck by Luis Nani. Welbeck sold John Hetinga a dummy on the edge of the area before unleashing a delicious curling effort from 18-yards into the top corner.
On 60 minutes, United had their third goal, and it was every bit as lovely as Welbeck's just minutes before hand. Slick one and two touch passing around the edge of the area involving Michael Carrick, Welbeck and Nani lead to the Portuguese winger being clean through to finish with the simplest of chips over the advancing Tim Howard.
It could well have been four when Welbeck smashed into the side netting a minute later, as United moved up through the gears to totally dominate Everton in the second half, who were simply a shadow of themselves in the first half.
Perhaps the United side felt the game was over in the same way the watching public did. They, like us, should have known better as on 66 minutes Marouane Fellaini made it a one goal game again. Tony Hibbert again provided the assist with a low cross into the area, where an unmarked Fellaini smashed the ball low on the volley past a helpless David De Gea from close range.
Steven Pienaar did his best to make it 3-3 just a minute later as a galvanized Everton started to feel they could get something from the game, having been relatively awful in the second half so far.
Just three minutes removed from Fellaini's goal, Manchester United went 4-2 ahead.
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck had enjoyed a near telepathic partnership all afternoon, and when Welbeck was found in space down the right hand side of Everton's penalty area, his first time cross was on a plate for Rooney who simply swept the ball across Tim Howard restoring the two goal advantage. Rooney, as he was in the first half, fairly subdued in celebration after scoring against his boyhood club.
It could have been 5-2 when Rafael's cross eluded everyone except Patrice Evra who'd bust a gut to get forward at the back post, only for the Frenchman to see his point-blank header crash back off the post.
As said, it should have been 5-2, but just a moment later on 82 minutes, it was 4-3 as Everton hit back in what was a truly incredible game. Nikica Jelavic grabbed his second goal of the game when his low strike found the bottom corner of the net with De Gea unmoved.
Two minutes later, the Toffees fans tucked away in the corner of Old Trafford were in raptures as Steven Pienaar, quite unbelievably, made things level at 4-4 on 84 minutes.
Phil Neville played the ball into Fellaini who was lurking with intent inside the area. The Belgian turned rather than shooting, playing the ball perfectly into the path of Pienaar who poked the ball home from close range, giving the not just the blue half of Merseyside something to cheer, but also the blue half of Manchester.
In a frantic final few minutes, Nikica Jelavic scooped an effort over the bar as he searched for a winning goal and a hattrick goal, while at the other end Jonny Evans was nearly an unlikely hero when he nodded the ball over from close range in stoppage time.
On 94 minutes, an even more unlikely winner nearly stole the points when Rio Ferdinand fired a left-footed volley towards the top of the net only for Howard to claw away just seconds before referee Mike Jones put to bed an amazing game.
Manchester United haven't had it all their own way in the first half as for long periods Everton were on top of the game, goals from Nikica Jelavic and Wayne Rooney have made the score 1-1 at the half way point.
Despite the fact Manchester United are only two wins away from the Premier League title, it was a subdued start to the game at Old Trafford, where visitors Everton actually enjoyed the lions share of the chances and possession in the opening throws of the game.
After only four minutes, Nikica Jelavic squandered a great chance to give the Toffees the lead. Latching on to Leon Osman's through ball, the Croatian striker drifted wide of Rio Ferdinand, but his shot was easy for David De Gea to fall on.
Osman himself drove wide only a minute later as the home side seemed rattled, while Jelavic often found himself in plenty of space despite being the lone front man.
For the Red Devils, Luis Nani curled a low effort wide of Tim Howard's goal on 18 minutes, but aside from that, chances were few an far between for the home side in a very even opening half hour.
As the first half wore on, Darron Gibson fired a trademark strike from distance with his unfavorable left foot which had De Gea scrambling despite the fact it always seemed to be drifting wide of the goal.
Everton had been the better side, and when they took the lead on 33 minutes you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd say they didn't deserve it. Tony Hibbert's deep cross was met beyond the far post, at a very acute angle, by Jelavic who just cushioned the header with precision over De Gea and into the corner of the goal.
This seemed to finally wake United up, and Paul Scholes nearly had them level within a minute. Chaos from a Wayne Rooney corner saw the ball eventually land in Scholes territory just outside the area, and the powerful drive took a few deflections before Howard just managed to get a hand on it as he dived the wrong way.
On 40 minutes, the home side were level as Rooney nodded in his first goal in six games. Nani's inward swinging cross was met by the Scouse striker who had eluded Phil Neville inside the six-yard box for an easy finish.
Danny Welbeck's header in first half stoppage time could have given the home side the lead, but at the half way point we're all level at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have won their last 7 home games in a row, and will look to make that 8 today against an Everton side who have little to play for besides pride after crashing out of the FA Cup at the semifinal stage earlier this month.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has selected a very strong side today, with the only change from the last outing against Aston Villa being Luis Nani replacing the under fire winger, Ashley Young. Danny Welbeck, rumored to have recently signed a new contract at the club starts alongside Wayne Rooney in attack.
Everton will be looking to finish the season strongly though, and manager David Moyes has put out a strong, if defensive looking side which moves John Heitinga or Phil Jagielka into a midfield five as they look to stifle the home side at every opportunity. On the bench there's room for hot young prospect Ross Barkley after a lengthy injury spell.
The game kicks off at 12:30pm local time, and 7:30am ET. The game is televised live on Sky Sports 1 in the UK, and on Fox Soccer Channel in the USA.
In a game where Aston Villa, desperate for points, and Sunderland out of sorts at the moment, it was never going to be a classic encounter - which is exactly what was served up at Villa Park. Lots of scrappy football, interspersed with a few moments which may have swung the game one way or another didn't do any favors for either side. Nicklas Bendtner had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside, while Villa will feel aggrieved that Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet remained on the pitch after it was adjudged he handled outside the area. Craig Gardner was sent off for a second yellow card in the dying embers of the game.
Steve Kean's side moved up from second bottom to third bottom, level on points with Queens Park Rangers (prior to their evening game against Tottenham Hotspur) as the bottom of the Premier League tightened up. Goals came just either side of half time from Mauro Formica and Junior Hoilett to condemn Norwich to defeat, giving the home side a deserved victory as the away side never seemed up for this one.
A result which will leave fans of both sides disappointed. Scott Sinclair had the away side in front after just six minutes, however Chris Eagles equalized for the home side less than ten minutes later. Eagles could have won it for the home side in the 83rd minute when he flashed a shot narrowly wide, but it all means now that the game between Wanderers and Villa on Tuesday suddenly becomes massive in the race for Premier League survival.
Form team Wigan suffered defeat at the hands of Fulham at Craven Cottage today, severely denting their chances of survival in the Premier League. Things looked good for the Latics when Emmerson Boyce slammed thte ball home in the 57th minute from the edge of the penalty area, but only 71 seconds later Fulham equalized through Pavel Pogrebnyak's neat finish. Swiss defender Philippe Senderos broke the visitors hearts when he nodded in a free-kick with just a minute left on the clock. Further bad news for Wigan is that Franco Di Santo left the game early in the first half through injury.
The Magpies dominated Stoke City today to move into fourth position in the Premier League, giving themselves an excellent chance of Champions League qualification this season. Yohann Cabaye grabbed a double, while goal scoring machine Papiss Demba Cisse added another in what turned out to be a very comfortable and routine victory. Stoke were quite awful, and will have to return to the drawing board if they are to ensure their season doesn't go out with a whimper. Newcastle meanwhile will be hoping this incredible run their on continues, and can cap a magnificent season with European competition next year.
Arsenal and Chelsea were supposed to play an entertaining clash in their fight for Champions League places, but they instead decided to play one of the most dire matches of the Premier League season. Neither team was at their best, and it seemed very obvious that Chelsea were looking ahead to Barcelona and that Arsenal's best midfielders were missing. The biggest events were blocked shots and bad misses in a poor 0-0 draw.
The first half was mostly controlled by Chelsea, though Arsenal had the only two clear-cut chances of the period. Robin van Persie failed to make the most of a great free kick by Theo Walcott in the 13th minute, missing badly at the far post. Arsenal's other good opportunity of the half also came on a free kick, with Laurent Koscielny hitting a header off the crossbar.
Things didn't get much more interesting in the second half. Here is a summary of Robin van Persie's performance on the afternoon.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, the biggest event of this game was probably an injury. Early in the second half, Theo Walcott pulled up with a hamstring problem. He attempted to continue, but pulled up lame again and appeared to make his injury worse in the process. He was replaced by Gervinho in the 60th minute, and Arsenal could be without him for a couple of games.
Chelsea did have one good attack late in the game, created by Juan Mata who came on as a substitute, but some great defending by Koscielny prevented it from ever being dangerous. In the 87th minute, the ball fell to Daniel Sturridge in the penalty area, but Koscielny got across for a great block.
In a poorly played and uneventful match that was basically devoid of highlights, Koscielny's play was almost certainly the highlight of the match. A man of the match award has to go to someone even in terribly poor games, and he was consistently the best player on the pitch in the game. Unfortunately for the Gunners, none of the players in front of Koscielny did much at all.
At the other end of the table, Chelsea travels to the Emirates to take on Arsenal in a game that could all but knock the Blues out of the Champions League race.
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