Imagine Soccer Blogs

Silva's Golden Goal Keeps City Top

Pressure mounting on Kean and Coyle

Posted Dec 19, 2011 by Chris White

Manchester City stay top after a narrow win at home to Arsenal

With the busy Christmas period likely to test most teams, Manchester City still lead the way after winning a thriller against Arsenal, while Manchester United have turned up the pressure, moving to the top of the Premier League for a matter of hours on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, at the other end, the games keep coming at the likes of Bolton and Blackburn who are falling deeper and deeper into trouble.

City went into their clash with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium, knowing that avoiding defeat would see them return to the top of the table. In a cagey first half, it was the home side who had the better of the chances, with Sergio Aguero firing over and Mario Balotelli denied by a fine save from Wojciech Szczesny in the Arsenal goal. The deadlock was eventually broken after 53 minutes, when David Silva prodded home after Szczesny failed to deal with Balotelli’s skimming effort. Pablo Zabaleta almost doubled the lead but he saw his strike rebound off the upright. Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen both went close for the Gunners, and Robin van Persie had a goal ruled out for offside, but it was City who took the points to move two clear of United ahead of this week’s games.

United were top of the pile for a matter of hours after beating QPR 2-0 at Loftus Road. Wayne Rooney gave the champions the perfect start, heading in an Antonio Valencia cross after just 52 seconds. United could have extended their lead on several occasions, with Jonny Evans seeing one effort hit the crossbar and another cleared off the goal line, while Phil Jones was denied by a fine save from Radek Cerny. Rangers came into the game a bit more in the second half but United were always in control, and doubled their lead when Michael Carrick picked up the ball in his own half, jinked past Joey Barton and was allowed to run on unchallenged before firing low into the bottom corner for his first of the season. DJ Campbell could have pulled one back for QPR but saw his effort loop tamely over the bar, but United looked much more like the side we all know and saw out the game comfortably.

Bolton occupy the bottom spot in the table after suffering another defeat. This time it was at the hands of Fulham in a 2-0 defeat at Craven Cottage. A header form Clint Dempsey put the home side in front, before Bryan Ruiz burst through the Bolton defence and coolly lobbed Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal. Wanderers go into the busy Christmas period five points from safety, and facing a must-win game this week.

They travel to local rivals Blackburn on Tuesday night, with Rovers just a point above them in the table and in similarly wretched form. In a game they were capable of winning at home to West Brom, Blackburn managed to concede a last minute goal to come away with nothing. James Morrison volleyed in a stunning effort from the edge of the area to give West Brom the lead, but Scott Dann hit back for the home side from close range to level the scores. With the game seemingly destined for a draw, Peter Odemwingie was allowed to cut in from the right flank and fired home the winner with three minutes remaining, as the boos echoed around Ewood Park.

Wigan are currently in the final relegation place, but they picked up what could prove to be a huge point at home to Chelsea thanks to a late equaliser. In a quiet first half, the game turned in an instant when Daniel Sturridge scored out of nothing, giving Chelsea the lead just before the hour mark. Then, with Chelsea looking comfortable, Petr Cech spilled the ball and in fell kindly for Jordi Gomez to tap in from six yards out.

Tottenham moved above Chelsea into third place in the table after a 1-0 win against Sunderland at White Hart Lane. Spurs weren’t at their fluent best, but they eventually took the lead when Rafael van der Vaart’s through ball found Roman Pavlyuchenko, and the Russian struck low into the bottom corner to give his side all three points, putting them two points clear of their London rivals with a game in hand, and the two meet at the Lane on Thursday.

Two goals in four minutes saw Liverpool cruise past Aston Villa 2-0 at Villa Park. The home side were missing their usual front two and looked out of ideas once Craig Bellamy prodded home from close range on 11 minutes. When Martin Skrtel headed home from a corner four minutes later, the game was over, but Liverpool went close to extending their lead on several occasions, with Luis Suarez chipping the goalkeeper only for his effort to bounce back off the post.

After going 1-0 up, Wolves suffered yet another defeat, this time at the hands of Stoke City at Molineux. Stephen Hunt gave Wolves the lead from the spot after Jonathan Woodgate brought down Matt Jarvis inside the area after 17 minutes. However, a Robert Huth free kick was deflected in off Kevin Doyle in the wall to make it 1-1, and Peter Crouch headed in at the back post on 70 minutes to seal the points for the Potters.

A deflection off the boot of Leon Osman rescued a point for Everton at home to Norwich in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. Grant Holt turned well inside the crowded penalty box to fire home from a narrow angle to give Norwich the lead, but when Royston Drenthe drilled low at goal from 25 yards, Osman stuck out his boot to divert the ball past the impressive but helpless John Ruddy in the Canaries goal.

Newcastle were unlucky not to pick up all three points from their game with Swansea, instead having to settle for a 0-0 draw. Demba Ba hit the woodwork and went close on several occasions, but the ball just wouldn’t go in for the Magpies, while at the other end, Scott Sinclair went closest for Swansea who will see the result as a good point.

This weekend’s results in full:

Aston Villa 0 – 2 Liverpool (Bellamy 11’ Skrtel 15’)

Blackburn 1 – 2 West Brom (Dann 72’; Morrison 52’ Odemwingie 89’)

Everton 1 – 1 Norwich (Osman 81’; Holt 28’)

Fulham 2 – 0 Bolton (Dempsey 32’ Ruiz 34’)

Manchester City 1 – 0 Arsenal (Silva 53’)

Newcastle 0 – 0 Swansea

QPR 0 – 2 Manchester United (Rooney 1’ Carrick 56)

Tottenham 1 – 0 Sunderland (Pavlyuchenko 61’)

Wigan 1 – 1 Chelsea (Gomez 88’; Sturridge 59’)

Wolverhampton 1 – 2 Stoke (Hunt pen 17’; Doyle og 58’ Crouch 70’)

Who was your player of the weekend? Whose was the best goal? Ruiz, Carrick maybe, or what about Morrison’s volley or Odemwingie’s late winner for West Brom? Give us your thoughts here, on Twitter @ImagineSoccer or on Facebook by clicking here.

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