Around The Premier League Grounds - 20/2/10-21/2/10
Feature by Dan Buxton
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2010
Alec Vjestica rounds up the weekends Premier League action
Stoke enjoyed victory at home to Portsmouth back in November and tasted victory against Pompey again at Fratton Park on Saturday. With Portsmouth in dire financial straits and faced by the threat of going out of existence, that winning feeling in the Fratton area of Hampshire may never be felt by Stoke fans again though. The club are forced to operate only on a week to week basis and this week's result was another poor one. Their day started well enough, however, Frederic Piquionne's goal giving them a lead at the break, but the Potters levelled through Robert Huth. The game swung Pompey's way again though, as Stoke's Andy Wilkinson was harshly sent off, but when your luck's against you there's not a lot you can do. Crazy things happen, crazy things like Salif Diao, a player who hadn't scored a Premier League goal since 2002, running half the length of the pitch go get onto a cross in injury time and guide home the winner. 2-1 to Stoke it finished then.
Aston Villa had taken more than ten hours of football to score their last four home league goals before Sunday's meeting with Burnley, but then did so in just twelve second half minutes on their way to a 5-2 win. Steven Fletcher had given Burnley, still without an away win in the Premier League, a shock early lead, but Ashley Young equalised before the break. A Stewart Downing double and strikes from Emile Heskey and Gabriel Agbonlahor during that twelve minute spell then broke the visitors' resistance, but former Stoke striker Martin Paterson did salvage some respectability, tapping home his side's second late on.
Everton's David Moyes will doubtless be the happiest top flight manager returning to training today after watching his players pull off an excellent home win over Manchester United. Dimitar Berbatov put the away side ahead but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's stunning stike cancelled out their advantage. It was two of Moyes's young stars that ultimately made the difference in the final fifteen minutes, first with twenty year-old Dan Gosling finding the net and then Jack Rodwell, two years his junior, scoring a fine solo goal in injury time, sealing a magnificent 3-1 triumph for the Toffees. Chelsea were never going to let their main title rivals' slip-up go unpunished. They added three more points to their Premier League lead after a routine 2-0 victory at Wolves, both goals coming from Didier Drogba.
Arsenal are also still in with a chance of claiming the championship and saw off Sunderland by the same scoreline at the Emirates Stadium. Nicklas Bendtner gave the Gunners the lead and Cesc Fabregas made the points safe with a penalty in stoppage time, though Sunderland, now very much in a relegation battle, can take some pride from a decent battling performance. Blackburn and Fulham also found comfort on home soil. Rovers brushed off Lancashire rivals Bolton on Sunday thanks to goals from Nikola Kalinić, Jason Roberts and Gael Givet, while the Cottagers beat Birmingham the hard way. Chris Baird's comical headed own goal gave the visitors the advantage just three minutes in, but Damien Duff's crushing shot and Bobby Zamora's curling free-kick at the death earned the hosts all three points.
West Ham also enjoyed a home win, beating Hull 3-0. Valon Behrami set the tone for the afternoon with an early opener, before the fit-again Carlton Cole and the impressive Julien Faubert added the gloss, with Craig Fagan seeing red for the struggling Tigers. Spurs were also 3-0 winners, away at Wigan, giving them an aggregate 12-1 victory over the Lancashire club this season, having thrashed them 9-1 in the autumn. The offside Jermain Defoe, who scored five in the last meeting of the two clubs, put Tottenham ahead before a second half Roman Pavlyuchenko brace completed a fine away day for Harry Redknapp's men.
Finally, the game which promised the most of all the weekend's fixtures, the clash of Manchester City and Liverpool, blue and red, Manchester and Merseyside, Mancini and Benitez, ended with a hugely disappointing goalless draw. At one point, Manchester City had a shot on target.