Manchester City 2-1 Chelsea
Having conceded the lead in the race for the title the weekend before last and witnessing their rivals Manchester United pull away at the weekend, with a 5-0 hammering of a dilapidated Wolves side, Manchester City had it all to do tonight. It was made all the more harder by their opposition – a rejuvenated Chelsea team, who, since firing Andre Villas-Boas, have had their fortunes turned; firstly turning round a two goal deficit from their last sixteen first leg away tie against Napoli and then strengthened further by Sunday’s cup result against Leicester, 5-2, that was made all the more memorable with two Fernando Torres goals.
The first half saw David Silva and Samir Nasri both waste chances in front of goal, yet Chelsea couldn’t put them to the sword and punish them for their mistakes before half-time. One victim from the first half was Mario Balotelli, however: having acted as a passenger for much of the first half, including a squandered shot one-on-one with Petr Cech, the enigmatic Italian was whipped off at half-time and Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen denounced the forward, stating that he “won’t start again this season.”
The second half didn’t get off to the best of starts for the home side, who had only conceded six at The Etihad all season, when Gary Cahill’s half volley, feeding off of the ball made loose by the pushing presence of Brazilian centre back David Luiz, was deflected past a wrong-footed Joe Hart by Yaya Toure.
Yet, Carlos Tevez’ introduction to the game, his first since his controversial exploits in 2011, following the goal, acted as the catalyst for City’s comeback. Firstly Sergio Aguero converted a penalty, earned by Pablo Zabaleta, to equalise the tie with twelve minutes left, before Carlos Tevez was involved with a neat one-two with Nasri, who finished with aplomb past an oncoming Cech to complete the turnaround.
- Manchester City have the fighting spirit to push United all the way.
- But, Balotelli is unlikely to be the hero.
- Time is a healer for Carlitos.
QPR 3-2 Liverpool
With a Wembley semi-final place confirmed at the weekend, having already made the trip once this season to beat Cardiff to the League Cup trophy on penalties, Liverpool returned to their Premier League campaign with confidence running high, European football confirmed next season (irrelevant of their league finish) and Luis Suarez’ returning to his best in a Liverpool shirt.
QPR, on the other hand, have had very little to be positive about recently and going into the game, they were trying to grip at a very slippery rope. Financially, they cannot afford to get relegated – it is as simple as that. Wednesday’s performance gave Rangers fans hope that they won’t.
Although their goal was under siege for much of the game, Paddy Kenny only saw two goals go past him. The first was simply unstoppable, falling perfectly for Uruguayan defender Sebastien Coates to beautifully craft his lumbering figure into an elegant mould that succulently met the ball in the air, scissor kick-esque, to fire the ball past Kenny, combining backspin, power and control harmoniously. The second was less spectacular but typical of its scorer – Dirk Kuyt. His tireless running and constant determination saw him react quickest to a fumbled shot, poking in from close range.
Yet, for all the beauty of Liverpool’s performance in the first 75 minutes, it was the closing fifteen that could define QPR’s season. 2-0 down against Liverpool when you are facing a relegation battle is an ominous presence: however, two headers from Shaun Derry and ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, set up a grandstand finish for Jamie Mackie to steal the headlines with an acute finish from close range to steal all three points from The Reds in a fifteen minute three-goal turnaround.
- QPR have glimmers of hope and an unexpected three points, amidst the hardest run-in of the relegation battling sides.
- Liverpool’s failure to score has cost them bitterly this season, but when they do score they’ve struggled to shut up shop.
Tottenham 1-1 Stoke
Saturday’s cup game against Bolton should’ve presented the chance for Spurs to wipe the slate clean, restart a run of form and get their three consecutive league defeats out of the system. However, the unfortunate circumstances involving Fabrice Muamba, which resulted in the 23-year old being rushed to London’s Chest Hospital having suffered a cardiac arrest, meant their cup game was abandoned in the 41st minute.
Harry Redknapp told his players the best way to get over the trauma of Saturday was to play and when Stoke took the lead in a fashion typical of The Potters, it looked like the suffering would continue at White Hart Lane. Cameron Jerome had put the visitors into the lead with just fifteen minutes left and with just injury time left to play it looked as if Stoke would take all three points.
Fortunately, the diminutive Rafael Van der Vaart headed home an equaliser in the 93rd minute of the game and now Spurs can build on the momentum of their late goal, going into the weekend’s tie with Chelsea. At current, The Lilywhites have just one point from twelve – Chelsea will be tough opponents to improve that form, which has seen their blip threatening to become a trend.
- Tottenham continue to choke with under 10 games remaining in the Premier League.
- But, they’ve grabbed their first point in four games.
- However, their failure to win see them slip to fourth.
Everton 0-1 Arsenal
If Arsenal bettered Tottenham’s result on Wednesday night, The Gunners would leapfrog Spurs into third place and thus take the lead as the top London club – a much coveted plaudit between Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp.
Eight minutes into the game, Thomas Vermaelen’s bundled effort looked set to see Arsenal on course for their sixth straight league victory on the trot, with the Belgian defender putting The Gunners 1-0 up. Arsenal had already rued one miss chance before the goal and with 82 minutes left to double their lead, they were led to rue many more.
Their failure to score another, including a rare dry 90 minutes for Robin van Persie, who this week was named as one of the Premier League’s best three, by the best Lionel Messi, nearly cost the visitors, with Everton denied a clear equaliser when Royston Drenthe’s finish from inside the box was incorrectly disallowed by an offside decision.
As aforementioned, Tottenham failed to equal Arsenal’s three points on the night and thus the red North London side leapfrogged the white North London side, with the two teams swapping places in 3rd and 4th.
- Arsenal have the best 6 game run in the Premier League, with 18 points from 18.
- Since Andrey Arshavin left Arsenal on loan, The Gunners have won seven in seven
- Tottenham are back in their shadow until the weekend, at least.