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Goalkeepers Shine as Spurs Close Gap
Hart and Krul on form to secure draws for their teams
Posted Nov 28, 2011 by Chris White
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Joe Hart and Tim Krul produced stunning performances between the posts to ensure their sides took something away from their difficult away matches in the Premier League this weekend, with Tottenham the only side in the top four to win, closing the gap on the top two to just two points with a game in hand.
However, all the action this weekend has been overshadowed by the sad news that Wales boss Gary Speed has lost his life at the age of 42. The former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton midfielder was a much-respected player and a true gentleman of the game. I’d like to pass on my condolences to his family and friends, and hope he rests in peace.
Spurs came from behind to beat West Brom 3-1 at the Hawthorns after Youssuf Mulumbu headed the Baggies into the lead. Nicky Shorey brought down Aaron Lennon inside the area, and although Ben Foster saved the penalty from Emmanuel Adebayor, the Togolese striker converted the rebound. A fine individual effort from Jermain Defoe, and a second from Adebayor gave Spurs all three points to close keep the pressure on the Mancunians at the top of the table.
Manchester City are still five points clear at the top, but they were indebted to keeper Joe Hart, who made a string of fine saves to ensure his side drew 1-1 away at Liverpool. City went into the lead when Vincent Kompany diverted the ball into the corner of the net off his shoulder, but an own goal from Joleon Lescott just two minutes later, inadvertently sending an effort from Charlie Adam into his own net, brought the home side level.
Adam nearly put Liverpool in front just moments later, but a fine block from Hart kept him at bay. City were left clinging on near the end after Mario Balotelli was shown red for picking up two yellow cards having come on as a substitute, lasting less than 20 minutes on the field. Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were both denied by Hart late on as the leaders hung on.
City and Tottenham are separated by Manchester United, who drew 1-1 with Newcastle in a game full of controversy and stunning goalkeeping. Tim Krul made a string of fine saves in the Newcastle goal to deny Javier Hernandez, Nemanja Vidic and Ryan Giggs, while David de Gea made a fine save to deny Fabricio Coloccini. United went ahead in the game when the ball rebounded in off the knee of Hernandez, but the Magpies drew level in controversial style.
Rio Ferdinand appeared to play the ball as he slid in for a challenge with Hatem Ben Arfa, only for the linesman to over-rule the referee and award a penalty, which Demba Ba converted. Newcastle were forced to battle hard for their point against the champions who looked like they were returning to their best, and that was made more difficult when Jonas Gutierrez was dismissed for a second yellow card. Hernandez had a last minute goal ruled out for offside, despite appearing to be level with the last defender as United were left frustrated.
Chelsea bounced back from their Champions League defeat in midweek with a comfortable 3-0 win against Wolves to ease some of the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas. John Terry put the Blues in front, and Daniel Sturridge and Juan Mata made it three before the break. Chelsea had plenty of chances to extend their lead after the break, but they were forced to settle for three with some wayward shooting and some good defending from the visitors.
Arsenal missed a chance to go level with Chelsea after drawing 1-1 at home to Fulham. Thomas Vermaelen went from villain to hero in the game at the Emirates, diverting the ball into his own net to give Fulham the lead, before heading home at the right end to equalise.
Second half strikes from Marouane Fellaini and Apostolos Vellios gave Everton a vital 2-0 win at Bolton to move up to eighth in the table. Bolton were reduced to ten men after just 20 minutes, when defender David Wheater was shown a straight red card for a dangerous lunge on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, but they managed to hold the Toffees until the 49th minute, when Fellaini broke the deadlock, while Vellios tapped into an empty net with ten minutes to go.
Norwich won the battle of the promoted two at Carrow Road, earning a 2-1 win at home to QPR. Russell Martin volleyed home from a corner early on to give Norwich the lead, only for Luke Young to finish well after an effort from Jamie Mackie came back off the post. However, substitute Grant Holt, who saw a header cleared off the line moments before, diverted in a cross from Wes Hoolahan to secure all three points for the Canaries.
Stoke cruised to an easy 3-1 win at home to bottom of the table Blackburn. Rory Delap headed home late in the first half to give the Potters the lead, before a deflected effort from Glenn Whelan doubled the advantage. Peter Crouch added a third to secure the points before Ruben Rochina added a late consolation.
The pressure is mounting on Steve Bruce as his former side Wigan scored a late winner to beat Sunderland 2-1. Sebastian Larsson gave the Black Cats the lead, but Jordi Gomez equalised from the spot for Wigan. With the game destined for a draw, Victor Moses pounced on a poor touch from Wes Brown and squared for Franco di Santo to score the winner.
Swansea City and Aston Villa played out a goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium, with many players on the field affected by the news of Gary Speed’s death, particularly Villa ‘keeper Shay Given, who was in tears prior to the kick off.
This weekend’s results:
Arsenal 1 – 1 Fulham
Bolton 0 – 2 Everton
Chelsea 3 – 0 Wolves
Liverpool 1 – 1 Manchester City
Manchester United 1 – 1 Newcastle
Norwich 2 – 1 QPR
Stoke 3 – 1 Blackburn
Sunderland 1 – 2 Wigan
Swansea 0 – 0 Aston Villa
West Brom 1 – 3 Tottenham