Stoke have fallen out of the top half of the Premier League after losing 2-0 at Arsenal on Saturday. Potters ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen saved a first half penalty from Cesc Fabregas, one of four missed spot-kicks this weekend, but the hosts showed their class, sealing victory through Andrey Arshavin and Aaron Ramsey, though from a Stoke perspective the game was overshadowed by an alleged brawl between manager Tony Pulis and forward James Beattie in the dressing room after the game which had to be broken up by the club masseuse. This is very worrying as a Stoke fan; how could a masseuse overpower one of our players?
It was a bad weekend for Chelsea, who were beaten 2-1 at Manchester City. The home side’s Emmanuel Adebayor put through his own net to give the Londoners the lead, but the Mancunians hit back through Adebayor and Carlos Tevez to claim the win, while Shay Given saved a penalty from Chelsea’s Frank Lampard. The result allowed Manchester United, who enjoyed a rather more routine away day at West Ham, to close the gap at the top of the table to just two points, with goals from Paul Scholes, Darron Gibson, Luis Antonio Valencia and Wayne Rooney making for a comfortable 4-0 win.
Tottenham, perhaps the main pretenders to the top four, were stung late at Everton. Goals from Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson put the visitors into a commanding 2-0 lead, but the Toffees, inspired by 21 year-old home debutant Seamus Coleman, drew level in the final fifteen minutes with goals from Louis Saha and Tim Cahill. Spurs were then awarded an injury time penalty, but Tim Howard saved well from Defoe, allowing the struggling Scousers to laugh last.
Rock bottom Portsmouth are now just four points from safety, as their 2-0 win over Burnley, who are abysmally poor on the road, meant the lower reaches of the table became rather more compressed. Burnley’s Brian Jensen saved an Aruna Dindane penalty in the first half, but goals from Hermann Hreidarsson and Dindane in the closing stages allowed Pompey to record just their third win of the campaign. Two of the other struggling clubs, Wolves and Bolton, met at Molineux, with the hosts securing a much-needed win thanks to goals from Jody Craddock and Nenad Milijaš, with Johan Elmander’s late strike not enough for the visitors.
Birmingham won entertainingly at Wigan, despite falling behind to a fine Charles N’Zogbia finish. A Sebastian Larsson double and Christian “Chucho” Benitez’s second goal in English football turned the game on its head though, with Jordi Gomez’s late strike making the Blues sweat, but they were able to hold on for a 3-2 triumph. Aston Villa also won, coming out of their home game with Hull as 3-0 victors thanks to goals from Richard Dunne, James Milner and John Carew, who actually scored a penalty.
The bad times continue for Liverpool, who after very few recent wins could only manage a goalless draw at Blackburn, while Fulham saw off Sunderland by a seventh minute Bobby Zamora goal to nil.