Around The Grounds: 22/11/09-23/11/09
Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Tuesday, 24th November 2009
Alec Vjestica rounds up the weekends action
As the wind and the rain flew in around the Premier League grounds this weekend, so did the goals, with no fewer than 34 scored in the ten matches played. Just one was enough for Stoke to see off struggling Portsmouth, for whom Kevin-Prince Boateng missed a penalty, though, Ricardo Fuller's classy first league strike of the season settling a singularly unentertaining game at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
About the same time Fuller was putting paid to Pompey, Spurs were demolishing Wigan by nine goals to one in an astonishing game at White Hart Lane. Peter Crouch opened the scoring for the hosts, while Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjčar and a Chris Kirkland own goal added to the visitors' deficit, while Aaron Lennon became the first Premier League player in ten years to net five in a single match, a feat that does his chances of making Fabio Capello's final England squad for next summer's World Cup no end of good. Paul Scharner notched the scantest of consolations for Wigan, whose dreadful day only serves to show the Stoke fans who moaned about yesterday's poor quality fare that things could be a whole lot worse.
Chelsea flexed their top of the table muscles by breezing past Wolves at Stamford Bridge 4-0, goals from Florent Malouda, and Joe Cole and a brace from Michael Essien putting Carlo Ancelotti's side temporarily eight points clear at the Premier League's summit. Playing two hours later than their the Londoners, the pressure was on Manchester United to beat Everton and keep in touch at the top. They duly obliged, goals from Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Luis Antonio Valencia crowning a 3-0 triumph.
The world's richest draw specialists, Manchester City, predictably drew on their visit to underperforming Liverpool. Martin Skrtel bundled the hosts in front, but quickfire goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Stephen Ireland turned the game on its head, before Yossi Benayoun rescued a point for the Merseyside club. The Mancunians, who have now drawn six on the spin, will be happier with the result than Liverpool, who have won on just one of their last ten outings.
It was also a bad day for the final member of the so-called "big four", Arsenal, as Darren bent's second half strike condemned them to defeat at Sunderland. After the match Gunners boss Arsene Wenger blamed the length of the trip for his side's poor showing. It must certainly have made a welcome change from having other teams' playing attempt to deliberately injure his. Aston Villa, meanwhile, remain fifth after becoming just the second team this season to avoid defeat at Burnley's Turf Moor. They left it late, Emile Heskey's header four minutes from time cancelling out Steven Caldwell's early opener and ensuring the points were shared.
Hull and West Ham shared six goals after an action-packed game at the KC Stadium. Guillermo Franco headed the Hammers in front inside five minutes, and Gianfranco Zola's side were flying six minutes later when Jack Collison made it two. Carlton Cole's own goal gave the hosts hope though, and Kamil Zayatte's volley a minute before the break drew them level. There was time for one more goal before the interval though, West Ham's Julien Faubert committing the heinous crime of standing near Hull's Craig Fagan, with the home side being awarded the softest penalty of the season. Jimmy Bullard was able to avoid injury during his run-up and slam the ball home. Hull were reduced to ten men when Bernard Mendy saw red for a cynical last-man tackle, giving the visitors the momentum to push on and claim a point thanks to Portuguese defender Manuel Da Costa's tidy finish.
A David Dunn stunner and a comical own goal from Sam Rickett's helped Blackburn win Lancashire bragging rights, and all three points against Bolton. Finally, Birmingham secured a good home win over Fulham thanks to Lee Bowyer's fourth goal of the campaign.