Stoke lost points after conceding late for the third time already this season this weekend, with Hull coming from behind to secure a 2-1 win at the KC Stadium. The burgeoning Matthew Etherington put the Potters ahead in the first half, but former Stokie Seyi Olofinjana hit back for the Tigers, and when Potters captain Abdoulaye Faye was sent off late on, the home side dug deep to find the winner, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink providing the goal. Experts claim that on the back of the result Hull manager Phil Brown’s chances of remaining in his job into next year, as well as his chances of achieving his true dream, appearing on next year’s “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, have slightly improved.
Next up for Stoke is Portsmouth, who remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after a 3-1 defeat at Blackburn on Saturday. Jamie O’Hara opened the scoring for the visitors, but the hosts hit back strongly to earn the win thanks to a brace from Jason Roberts and a Ryan Nelsen strike. At the other end of the table, Chelsea have opened up a five point lead after narrowly beating title-rivals Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, with John Terry’s controversial late strike, which led to a predictable Alex Ferguson rant at the referee, the only one of the game.
Arsenal are going unexpectedly well and moved into second after a convincing win at struggling Wolves. Own goals from Ronald Zubar and Jody Craddock put the Gunners two to the good, and Cesc Fabregas, continuing his recent good run in front of goal, extended the lead before the break. Andrei Arshavin added one more before Craddock headed his third goal in two games at the right end to claw back some respectability for Mick McCarthy’s men.
If Arsenal are exceeding expectations, Liverpool are underachieving to levels only previously experienced by Francis Jeffers. Having won just one of their previous eight games, they could only draw at home to newly promoted Birmingham and had to resort to cheating in order to do so, David Ngog taking a clear dive to earn the penalty that brought Steven Gerrard their equaliser twenty minutes from time. Ngog had put Rafael Benitez’s side ahead early on, but the Blues turned the game through Christian “Chucho” Benitez’s first goal in English football and Cameron Jerome’s spectacular first of the campaign, and will feel hard done by not to have taken a famous scalp.
West Ham remain in trouble, and lost 2-1 at home to Everton, Louis Saha and Dan Gosling putting the Toffees two goals up, before a Tony Hibbert own goal gave the Hammers ultimately futile hope. Meanwhile, Aston Villa thrashed Bolton 5-1, thanks to goals from Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew, James Milner and Carlos Cuellar, while Johan Elmander’s first league goal in eleven months was the only bright point for Gary Megson and Bolton.
Manchester City and Burnley played out the weekend’s most exciting clash with a topsy-turvy encounter at Eastlands. A typically precise Graham Alexander penalty and a Steven Fletcher striker put the visitors into an unlikely lead, but after quick-fire goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips, Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy the hosts looked to be in control. There was time for one more twist though, as Clarets striker Kevin McDonald struck with just three minutes on the clock to give the Lancashire club their first ever Premier League away point.
Up the road at the DW Stadium, Wigan’s mid-table match-up with Fulham ended honours even, with Emmerson Boyce putting the Latics ahead, before Clint Dempsey equalised from the penalty spot, while Spurs beat Sunderland 2-0 at home, with Robbie Keane and Tom Huddlestone finding the target.