Around The Premier League Grounds - 30/1/10-2/2/10

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 03 February 2010

Long trips at awkward times are one of the less welcome aspects of Premier league life and the Stoke fans faced one on Monday, heading up to face Sunderland one a cold night at the Stadium of Light. The on-pitch fare was far from warming, as the sides played out a desperately dull goalless draw.
 
Manchester United's visit to Arsenal proved far more eventful, as the visitors condemned the querulous Arsene Wenger's men to a second 3-1 defeat in six days. Nani's brilliance resulted in Gunners goalkeeper Manuel Almunia putting through his own net to give Alex Ferguson's side the lead and Wayne Rooney quickly doubled the advantage before Park Ji-Sung made it three. Thomas Vermaelen pulled one back for Arsenal, but it wasn't enough to salvage any credit from a very bad day for the Londoners. League leaders Chelsea then missed the chance to restore their four point advantage at the top of the table as they could only draw 1-1 with struggling Hull at the KC Stadium on Tuesday night. Steven Mouyokolo headed the Tigers ahead, but Didier Drogba soon equalised for Chelsea. Phil brown's side were able to hold their own in the second half though, securing a memorable and valuable point.
 

Manchester City are also going well, unlike their opponents on Saturday Portsmouth, who sit rock bottom and whose very existence is in jeopardy amidst severe financial woes. The result at the City of Manchester Stadium was unsurprising, with the hosts brushing aside Pompey 2-0 with Emmanuel Adebayor scoring on his first start since being on board the Togo team bus that was tragically attacked at the Africa Cup of Nations and Belgian defender Vincent Kompany also finding the net.
 
Hull and Chelsea were also in action on Saturday. Chelsea won 2-1 at Burnley with Nicolas Anelka giving them the lead, Steven Fletcher equalising and Blues captain John Terry, who is particularly good at playing away from home, hitting a late winner. Hull drew 2-2 at home to Wolves. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink put them in front early on, but Anthony Gardner's comical own goal let Wolves back into the game. Stephen Hunt, who was strongly linked with a move to Wolves during last month's transfer window but remains a Hull player restored his side's advantage from the spot. Matt Jarvis struck fifteen minutes later to give Mick McCarthy's men a rare away point, denying Hull an equally rare home win.
 

Aston Villa cemented their place in the top seven with a fine away win at Fulham's Craven Cottage. Martin O'Neill's side had not scored in any of the previous four Premier League matches, but rediscovered their touch in front of goal, with a Gabriel Agbonlahor double in the five minutes before half-time securing a 2-0 win. Their cross-city rivals Birmingham had been on a magnificent fifteen match unbeaten run, but lost at Chelsea last time out and looked to be heading for disappointment again when they feel behind to Tottenham's Jermain Defoe on Saturday. They showed the spirit that has helped them defy expectations and soar into the first half on their first season after promotion though, snatching a draw at the death thanks to left back Liam Ridgewell's strike.
 
Liverpool's immediate crisis seems to have eased, and they beat Bolton 2-0 with a goal from Dirk Kuyt and an own goal from Bolton striker Kevin Davies, who deflected Emiliano Insua's wayward shot into the net. The other Merseyside club, Everton also won, away at off-form Wigan, with Tim Cahill powering home a header to smash the deadlock and grab the points for the Toffees six minutes from time. West Ham signed three forwards on transfer deadline day and manager Gianfranco Zola will hope they will have instant effect after his side drew a blank at home to Blackburn in a drab goalless draw.

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