Archive for ‘Premier League’

January 31, 2011

Record breaking transfer deadline day closes, as Carroll, Torres, Suarez and Luiz all move

Fernando Torres after scoring goal against Vål...

Image via Wikipedia

There was no sign of austerity on transfer deadline day , as Premier League Clubs spent a record £214 million on new signings. The bulk of this was made up by four major deals involving Chelsea and Liverpool. The blues splashed out £21 million on David Luiz, and £50 million on Fernando Torres. The bulk of the Torres fee received by Liverpool went on buying Newcastle’s Andy Carroll, who’s £35 million price tag broke the British transfer record. Oh yeah, Liverpool also signed  World Cup wonder Luiz Suarez for £22 million from Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea vs Liverpool on Sunday will be rather tasty then, although Caroll will not be fit for at least a month, which makes his already excessive price tag seem more ridiculous. Torres has been out of form too, but obviously Chelsea think they can get the best from him once again. Clearly Roman Abramovich has decided to back under pressure Ancelotti, allowing him to also bring in highly rated Brazilian defender David Luiz from Benfica. Luiz is only 23, and can play across the back four. The signings could really reignite Chelsea’s bid to retain the Premier League title they won last year, although it is seems that these are signings that Abramovich has funded are once again try and win the Champions League.

While the hype will obviously be about Torres and Carroll, VN reckons Suarez is the real man to watch. Fulham also have pulled of a top signing,  bagging the services of Eidur Gudjonson until the end of the season. Gudjohnson is a proven goalscorer, strong, and experienced. His contribution helped Tottenham qualify for the Champions League last year (remember that vital goal at Stoke,) and means that Fulham are certainly safe for another year, and could even challenge for the top half of the table.

Not all the deals happened though. Charles N’Zogbia will still be a Wigan player, after the club rejected bids of £10 million and £12 million from his former side Newcastle. Harry Redknapp put in his now mandatory last minute bid, this time for Blackpool’s Charlie Adam, but the Seasiders keep their man, as time ran out on the deal. Spurs also had bids turned down for Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguerro and, erm, Phil Neville, and must be disappointed with their months (lack of) work. North London neighbours Arsenal still havn’t sorted their goalkeeper problem, and there were no big new names coming in to Old Trafford either.

This time last year, the relatively poultry sum of £29 million had been spent, but four major deals blew that sum out of the water today. Clearly Chelsea and Liverpool’s owners have decided to back their managers long-term, and try and reinvigorate their seasons short-term with some big money signings. If Liverpool sneak into the Europa League, or even the Champions League, thanks to their new fire power, and Chelsea win the title or the Champions League, the money men will consider it worth every penny.

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January 28, 2011

Ian Holloway to offer resignation as Blackpool manager

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BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 27: Ian Holl...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway will offer his resignation as Blackpool manager, it is being reported. He threatened to quit if Blackpool received any punishment for making 10 changes to their team against Aston Villa last November, a game Holloway’s side lost 3-2. Yesterday Blackpool were handed a fine of £25K for the incident. Wolves had been given a similar fine, but suspended, for the same offense.

It seems crazy that the Premier League can decide what a manager’s ‘strongest’ team is, particularly in this age of large squads and multiple competitions. No punishment has ever been given to teams rotating their squad to play lower league teams in the League or FA Cup, and nor should it. This is despite the fact that those actions have devalued those competitions more than a one-off Premier League squad rotation ever could.

Blackpool acting Chief Exec Karl Oyston has pledged to reject the resignation, but this is an unnecessary distraction for a club fighting to retain their place in the Premier League.

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January 18, 2011

Sunderland cash in on £18m Darren Bent, as Spurs swoop for Pienaar

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Picture via The Telegraph

Striker Darren Bent has moved from Sunderland, initially for £18 million. This fee could though rise up to as much as £24 million. Bent  undoubtedly has an impressive Premier League scoring record, and was the highest scoring English forward last season. Since 2005 on Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more goals than Bent. Despite this,  many fans will find it hard to believe he has cost such a vast sum of money. Is he worth the same as Fernando Torres? Is he worth three times Rafael Van Der Vaart? However, desperate times call for desperate measure for Aston Villa, who sit in real trouble one place above the Premier League drop zone. New Villa manager Houllier will be hoping his new signing can score the goals to to propel them to safety and beyond.

Picture via SkySports.com

One of Bent’s former clubs, Spurs, also made moves in the transfer market today. The have secured the signing of Everton and South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar for £2.5 million. Pienaar can play across the midfield, but may find it hard to oust Tom Huddlestone, Wilson Palacios and Jermaine Jenass from their roles in the Tottenham side. However, there is no doubt that the Spurs squad has increasing strength in depth, and quality cover in most positions. With his arrival though, it wouldn’t surprise VN to see other Spurs players going the other way, and midfielder Jamie O’Hara has already been offered on loan.

Looks like the transfer window is just warming up.

January 17, 2011

United stay top, but title rivals maintain pressure

>Manchester United ended the weekend at the summit of the Premier League, but only on goal difference. The Reds went into their clash on Sunday with three games in hand on their closest rivals Manchester City knowing that all three points would end Tottenham’s slim title hopes, as well as put them firmly ahead of the other challengers. At the other end of the league however things remained as they were prior to the weekend.

On a grey, rainy afternoon, the football action brightened things up. Chelsea returned to winning ways with a two nil victory over Blackburn Rovers. Ancelotti had threatened that he would start without Drogba and Essien, but both were present as Chelsea struggled to break down a stubborn Rovers side. Chelsea looked the more dangerous as Drogba went close, but efforts on goal were few and far between from both sides. The second half hour was a different story as Chelsea punished Blackburn from some set play routines. A corner was flicked on my Terry to Ivanovic, who guided his shot past a helpless Robinson to send sighs of relief around Stamford Bridge on fifty seven minutes. The lead was deserved, and Chelsea extended it when Ivanovic rose highest from yet another corner to head goalwards, with Anelka getting the slightest of flicks to send the ball home. Chelsea saw out the game to give them a much needed victory, a win that fans hope triggers the start of a good title charge.

Elsewhere, Manchester City and Wolves played out a rollercoaster of a game as new Bosnian signing Dzeko made his debut. City have been notoriously slow starters, and were punished by an efficient and hardworking Wolves side who took the lead, Milijas prodding home from close range. Wolves were much the better team, and could have made it two had it not been for a crucial block from Kolarov from Jarvis’ goalbound effort. City eventually got their act together, and got the much needed equaliser thanks to a scrambled effort from Kolo Toure before half-time. However, despite much of the pre-match attentions being focused on Dzeko, it was talisman Carlos Tevez who dragged City into the lead once again with a brilliant individual effort. The Argentinian picked the ball up on the left, cut inside and used his quick feet to twist and turn inside three defenders before slotting the ball into the net. Minutes later it was three one as Yaya Toure received the ball, following great link-up play between Dzeko and Tevez, and buried it past the Wolves ‘keeper. It was soon to be four as Tevez then nodded home a Zabaleta cross, and City looked to be cruising their way to the top. Wolves though were not finished. They found a way back into the game through a Kevin Doyle penalty, after Lescott clumsily bundled over Doyle. Wolves then hit the bar, before Zubar’s header was adjudged to have crossed the line, setting up a nervy finale to the game. City clung on though, and the result that leaves Wolves in the drop zone.

Similarly, West Ham remain rooted to the bottom of the league thanks to a three nil defeat at the hands of Arsenal. The Gunners took the lead through a clinical Van Persie effort, and the lead was doubled thanks to Walcott nipping in behind Bridge to tap home. Arsenal’s work was completed when Walcott outpaced Bridge who hacked the England winger down in the box, to bring an end to what was a miserable debut for the left back. Van Persie converted the penalty convincingly, and sealed the three points for Arsenal who lie third. West Ham however face a massive challenge to beat the drop and find some stability, as doubts continue to grow over the future of manager Avram Grant.

On a brighter note, Blackpool and West Brom played out a thriller at The Hawthorns. Vaughn put Blackpool in the lead with a brilliant curling effort, while West Brom turned the game on its head with well taken goals from Odemwingie and Morrison. Taylor-Fletcher looked to have salvaged a point for The Seasiders, only for his effort to be undone by a long ball down the field that was not dealt with by Cathcart, and was punished by a tidy finish from Odemwingie to give West Brom a much needed win.

Slightly further up the league, Stoke gained an impressive win over Bolton. A Matthew Etherington penalty and a Danny Higginbotham goal were enough to see off the increasingly impressive Lancashire team. Higginbotham scrambled home an untidy goal eight minutes before half time, before Knight committed a bad foul on Etherington, and could have no complaints at the decision. Jaaskelainen was unlucky not to keep the effort out as he guessed the right way and got a hand to the ball. The result meant that Bolton and Stoke are now level on points in the league in seventh and eighth, although Stoke do have a game in hand.

The only draw of Saturday came at the DW Stadium. Wigan took the lead against Fulham thanks to a cheeky chip from Rodallega. The Latics seemed to be closing out the game, until Andrew Johnson came off the bench to nick an equaliser and send Fulham back to Craven Cottage with a share of the spoils, with a result that leaves both sides hovering nervously above the relegation zone.

And so attentions turned to Sunday its three derby contests. David Bentley produced a man of the match performance on his Birmingham debut, but could not do enough to help the Blue side of Birmingham go home with all three points. Birmingham took the lead through Roger Johnson’s close range volley, and looked to be in control of the game. Villa looked short of ideas but threw on Bannan and Delfounso, who changed the outcome of the game. Shortly after their introduction the impressive Albrighton lifted a delicate ball into the box which was smashed home by Collins. Richard Dunne produced a brilliant block to keep Villa in the game. Delfounso smacked the bar with an adventurous thirty yard drive, but the game ended all square.

The Merseyside derby also ended in a draw, but was filled with goals. Meireles gave Liverpool the lead at Anfield just before the half hour, but the lead did not last long as Distin levelled straight after half time. Dalglish must have feared the worst when Beckford gave Everton the lead eight minutes later. However, all was not lost for Liverpool as Howard, who had kept Everton ahead with some brilliant saves, brought down Maxi. Kuyt stepped up and converted the penalty, which meant both sets of fans had to settle with a point each, and King Kenny continues to search for his first win back in charge.

Up in the Northeast the points were also shared. Newcastle, minus the injured Carrol, took a second half lead through Nolan, and could almost taste another derby victory as the game went deep into injury time. However, Gyan had other ideas, and in the fourth minute of time added on he netted the equaliser to frustrate Pardew’s men.

With the local derbies now complete, White Hart Lane took centre stage. Former United hero Beckham was in the stands as he seeks to complete his longwinded deal to Tottenham, but all of the focus was on the pitch. The game was a close affair which Spurs arguably shaded. The usual suspects of Van der Vaart and Rooney went agonisingly close for their teams, but neither side could find a way through. As the game wore on United were becoming more tormented, and their frustration was told as Rafael received his marching orders for a second yellow after a cynical tackle on Assou-Ekotto. Tottenham sensed it could be their day, but in the end had to settle for a point as United stretched their unbeaten run to twenty-one games.

By Oli Holmes

January 5, 2011

>Bobby Dean’s David Beckham fantasy

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As LA Galaxy confirm that they are ‘open’ to David Beckham going out on loan, a one-time fantasy is rapidly materialising into reality. Although with it, the ancient contest between heart and mind erupts once again – will it be good for Tottenham Hostpur Football Club?

David Beckham is a hero of mine, when I say I have a hand-drawn picture and his annual calendar up in my bedroom I am not descending into inflated, fictional imagery for the sake of reinforcing my status as an uncompromising fanboy – I’m making an open admission that any socially-aware 20 year old man shouldn’t make. I am without a doubt a direct product of the Beckham Generation. I’ve grown up idolising his every move and effort, on and off the pitch, and he has given me some of the most special memories of my life – not least that freekick against Greece. To me, he is nothing short of a hero.

There is however one entity in football that attracts even greater devotion from me and that is, of course, my beloved Spurs. From Darren Anderton to Gareth Bale, I’ve followed and supported Tottenham Hotspur through a lifetime of mid-table mediocrity, hopeless underachievement, and the occasional cup-run – and often in the rubbish “insert drinking product brand here” cup for that matter. “I’m Tottenham ‘til I die”, as I’ve so often screamed in the company of thousands of others.

But things are so different now. Becks is nearly a decade away from that memorable freekick, and Spurs recently embarrassed the Champions of Europe as they swaggered their way into the knockout stages of the Champions League. With the likes of Lennon, Bale, Van Der Vaart and Modric setting the world alight, where is the room for a 35 year old Beckham who has been plying his trade in the nauseatingly comfortable Los Angeles for the past few years?

The nay-sayers’ argument goes a little something like this: “Beckham to Spurs? What do they want him for? He’s too old, his legs won’t keep up with the Premier League, besides they’re doing fine without him – wouldn’t want to disrupt their form. The media circus that surrounds him won’t be good for the club either – it’s all about him, him, him. It must be about selling shirts”.

If it is at all possible, and I dare say it isn’t at all, I would like to claim with minimal bias that the nay-sayers are wrong. Of course if I was speaking with my heart alone there is no question; but the battle for my mind is a little more complicated, and I still settle in favour. Here’s five reasons why:

  1. David Beckham is an absolute professional. Not only does this mean he will set a fantastic example to the rest of the squad, but he will ensure that he is fit enough to play at this level if it’s the last thing he does.
  2. He will not, and never has been, effected by the pace of the game. The argument that he “doesn’t have the legs” is a nonsense that has been continually levelled at him by the same people he has proved wrong for the last 5 years
  3. He will fill a vital whole in our squad. Despite the common claim that there is no room for him, with injuries to Huddlestone et al, and the sporadic form of Aaron Lennon, David can provide vital, experienced back-up to compliment our pacy, youthful side. Wing-play is our Plan A, but we have been playing with Plans B & C all season (namely through the middle with Modric and Van Der Vaart and Long Ball up to Crouch), so his arrival does not require a knee-jerk transformation in style of play as critics suggest.
  4. The media circus isn’t a bad thing. Despite the persistent and failed attempts of some elements of the media to portray him as a narcissistic mercenary, he has consistently proved he is anything but. He has not flown off the rails as so many great talents do, and keeps it together as a man totally committed to football above all else, except his family. No doubt the media circus will come, but it will serve only to increase the status of the club and I trust Becks to set the right example to the likes of Bale in how to deal with it.
  5. And finally, it will allow me to fulfil my fantasy of having “Beckham” on the back of my Tottenham shirt…

By Bobby Dean he also blogs at http://yid-dem.tumblr.com

December 13, 2010

>Breaking news: Sam Alardyce leave Blackburn Rovers

>Sam Allardyce has left Blackburn Rovers with immediate effect.

The decision follows a poor run of form which included a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester United, and this weekend’s 2-1 defeat to local rivals (and Allardyce’s former employer,) Bolton Wanderers.

Anyone got Chris Hughton’s number?

December 13, 2010

>Will Tevez leave City?

>Manchester City fans tuned into Match Of The Day on Saturday night safe in the knowledge that their strong performance over West Ham had put them joint top of the Premier League – an impressive achievement at this point of the season for Roberto Mancini.  However, what should have been enjoyable viewing for the City followers soon turned into disturbing scenes.  There in front of them was Gabby Logan presenting the first glimpse of the news that Carlos Tevez had possibly handed in a transfer request as she held up copies of the forthcoming Sunday newspapers.

The Sunday morning came and sure enough, sprawled across several of the weekly tabloids was the news that captain Tevez had handed in a transfer request to leave the blue side of Manchester.  No concrete reasons had been given, however several have been brandished around.  Tevez and Mancini’s relationship is beyond repair, Tevez is too homesick and misses his daughters and Tevez is fed up of the constant rifts at City seem to be the common themes amongst the press.  However, until Tevez speaks out and confirms the actual reason he wants to leave, then such speculation will only continue.

Manchester City themselves then released a statement on their official website that contained the following opening paragraph:

“It is with disappointment that we confirm to our supporters that Carlos Tevez has submitted a written transfer request. The Club can also confirm that the request has been rejected.  The Club remains disappointed by this situation and particularly with the actions of Carlos’ representative.”

Reading in between these lines, it seems Kia Joorabchian, the man who engineered Tevez’s controversial move from the red side of Manchester, may not be an innocent party in this situation, which leads to questions surrounding the sincerity of claims surrounding Tevez being homesick. The City statement then went on to suggest that the same Kia Joorabchian had tried to renegotiate the Argentinian’s contract by an extra year – a strange move for a player who is said to be so homesick he is considering quitting football altogether.  However, because City have a policy of not negotiating contracts midway through the season, these advances were put on hold.

The most feasible reason for Tevez to leave City would be that he does not get on with Mancini.  However, we must not forget Tevez is paid millions a year and part of his job is to operate with a degree of professionalism towards his senior and his colleagues.  Tevez should respect the Mancini’s position as manager.  The Italian is clearly set in his ways and has a ruthless streak that has seen Bellamy shown the door, Shay Given dropped, and as Adebayor frozen out.  Tevez will not be bigger than the club, and as Mancini’s methods appear to be bearing fruition, Tevez has the opportunity to become a City legend and steer the club to glory that they have long been starved of.

Tevez is the club captain, the team can be built around him, his goals have proved vital so far and the relationship he has with the fans is like no other.  The striker has propelled City to where they are now, and unlike Robinho, the original marquee signing,) he has the strength, skill and determination to carry City. To throw that all away now would surely be a big mistake for a player who prides himself on the challenging targets he sets.

By Oliver Holmes

December 13, 2010

>Chelsea continue winless streak as City go joint top

>Yet again, the Premier League action did not disappoint this weekend as both the top and bottom of the table were shaken up and things just got that little bit closer.  With three of the top four playing each other there was the chance for the gap amongst the top teams to be extended or shorted, while at the bottom, Wigan, Wolves and West Ham were all scrapping away for the points.

With Manchester United against Arsenal not taking place until tonight, the game of the weekend was undoubtedly at White Hart Lane, where Tottenham welcomed Chelsea.  Tottenham, who have excelled in Europe, now have a chance to build up their form in the league, while Chelsea would do anything for a win following their recent relegation form. Tottenham took the initiative in the game as they looked to test Chelsea’s resolve.  Essien had an early effort, but Chelsea looked nervous and found themselves behind as Roman Pavlyuchenko’s superb first touch and then finish deservedly put Spurs ahead.  Chelsea tried to find a way back into the game before half time as Kalou tried to find a way through. John Terry even joined the attacks when he could!

Drogba was then introduced off the bench as a replacement for Mikel, and the Ivorian was to have a real impact on the game.  The frontman took advantage of some slack defending by Dawson to steel through and power a shot at Gomes.  The save looked routine as the effort was straight at the ‘keeper, but the ball had momentum and ended up in the back of the net.  Chelsea blew a sigh of relief as they had fought their way back into the game.  However, they must have thought Christmas had come early as Gomes brought down Ramires in injury time, with a penalty kick the end result.  The usually deadly Drogba struck the penalty but Gomes made up for his previous errors with a fine save.  The game finished one each with Chelsea continuing their winless run that now stretches over a month.  Although a point is never a bad result at White Hart Lane for the visiting team, Chelsea will surely rue throwing away the chance to rejuvenate their season.

Prior to the game down in London, a fantastic Lancashire Derby had taken place.  Sam Allardyce returned to The Reebok, and things looked to be going his way as Mark Davies was sent off for an elbow on Blackburn’s Phil Jones. In what was a fairly dull contest before Davies saw red, the game sprung into life as Martin Petrov produced dangerous chances that Bolton could not take advantage off.  Zat Knight was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch following a tackle on Roberts but it was Bolton who took the lead.  Muamba, who had come on as a substitute for Chung-Yong Lee to sure things up following the dismissal, scored as he skipped past Neilson to fire home.  Blackburn looked shocked but soon attacked the Bolton goal and found themselves thanks to Diouf scoring a looping effort.  The game looked set to finish a draw but Bolton, who are so impressive this season, snatched all three points as Holden struck from twenty yards to make it a very unhappy return for Allardyce.

The other derby of the day saw relegation contenders Wolves take on Birmingham.  Wolves were impressive right from the off and were only prevented from taking the lead thanks to the fine form of Ben Foster.  However, Foster was soon beaten thanks to a clinical finish from Stephen Hunt.  That goal proved crucial as Birmingham struggled to muster efforts on goal.  Kevin Phillips went close late on with a header from six yards but Wolves clung on for a valuable victory.

The victory by Wolves put three points between themselves and West Ham who had lost on the Saturday thanks to an impressive display by Manchester City.  Yaya Toure’s superb left footed goal from the edge of the box fired City into the lead.  Toure then went on a fine run and struck the post only for the ball to rebound off Robert Green in goal and end up in the back of his net for the second.  This came after the controversial Balotelli had been substituted following his constant petulance that Mancini will do well to stamp out.  The substitution seemed to  have caused a set back to City, who all of a sudden looked disjointed.  However, once City got the second it was game over and Johnson, Balotelli’s replacement, rounded Green to slot home a third.  Tompkins pulled a consolation goal back for West Ham but the signs look ominous for The Hammers.

Meanwhile, at Villa Park, Gerrard Houllier continued his mission of winning over the Aston Villa fans with a two one victory over neighbours West Brom. Prior to the game there had been talk of unrest amongst Villa fans and Directors who were not impressed with Houllier’s reaction to the defeat against Liverpool.  However, Downing eased the tensions as his effort put Villa ahead and Heskey doubled the lead with ten minutes left.  Villa looked to be cruising for victory before Paul Scharner pulled a goal back to set up a tense finish. Villa hung on to claim all three points, a result that Houillier needs to build upon.

Blackpool continued their journey in the Premier League with a one nil win at Stoke.  Stoke, a notoriously difficult place to go, were undone by a DJ Campbell goal just after half time.  Stoke had no answer to the goal in a win that moves The Seasiders up to tenth with sixteen games gone.

Elsewhere there were goalless draws between Everton and Wigan and Fulham and Sunderland. Fulham now lie precariously above the relegation zone on goal difference, with Wigan just behind them.  Birmingham and Everton find themselves closer to the drop zone than they would have expected at this point in time while Bolton continue their brilliant climb up the league.

by Oliver Holmes

December 6, 2010

>Newcastle sack Hughton in response to mid-table mediocrity and stability

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Newcastle United have disgracefully sacked manager Chirs Hughton, the man who led them back to the Premiership at the first attempt.

Chris Hughton has led his rag bag  team of ex-cons, future-cons, and Sol Campbell to some big wins this season, and they are sitting comfortably in mid-table coming up to Christmas, when most people thought they would be  under severe risk of relegation. Clearly these was undesirable for the Toon board, who much prefer inflicting high drama and suffering on their ever deranged fans.

The question is, and has been for a while, who on Earth would want to take that job now? One must assume Alan Curbishley is in the frame, but managing that club is hardly an enticing prospect for anybody serious.

December 6, 2010

>Arsenal gun down Fulham to finish weekend on top

>It turned out to be yet another weekend of brilliant Premier League action that continued the unpredictable foundation the current campaign has been built upon. There were plenty of goals, controversial refereeing decisions, as well as a postponement as Blackpool’s clash against Manchester United fell foul of the freezing temperatures.

A Samir Nasri double made sure Arsenal overcame a spirited Fulham side at The Emirates.  The Frenchman has been in sensational form this season, taking the limelight away from other fans’ favourites such as Fabregas and Van Persie.  The midfielder produced some amazing footwork and tidy finishing to grab a brace in what was not an easy game for Arsenal.  The deadlock was broken on fourteen minutes as Nasri smashed home, only for Kamara to break the Arsenal offside trap and provide a tidy finish to equalise.  It looked as though it could have been another frustrating afternoon for The Gunners as they continued to press without scoring.  That was until Nasri weaved his magic in between the Fulham defenders and slotted home a second in similar vein to his goal against Tottenham only a few weeks ago.  The win put Arsenal top for the time being while Chelsea took on Everton at home.

Chelsea, who have struggled of late to produce their amazing early season form, took the lead thanks to a Didier Drogba penalty.  The Ivorian smashed home from the spot after Anelka was brought down by Howard, having latched on to a poor backpass from Phil Neville. The decision was controversial as Anelka appeared to twist his run into Howard when he could have arguably rounded the keeper, who stayed on the pitch. Chelsea looked set to be on their way to three points, but they have definitely lost some of their free flowing cutting edge, and paid the price for not putting the game beyond Everton.  Everton carved the frail Chelsea defence open thanks to a creative run from left back Baines.  The homesick England left-back put in a brilliant cross that was nodded back by Cahill to Beckford who couldn’t miss.  The Everton striker wheeled away in jubilation to bring a point home for The Toffees.

The attention then turned to fourth placed Manchester City against European hopefuls Bolton. City have struggled to score goals at home all season, and have the joint lowest home scoring record in the league alongside Birmingham and Wigan. However, it took only four minutes for Tevez to notch in his tenth league goal of the campaign after good work from Yaya Toure.  City could have bagged plenty as they tore Bolton apart. Balotelli hit the post when he should have scored, while the impressive Silva struck the bar with a powerful effort.  To their credit Bolton never gave up, and were always in the game as long as City continued their poor finishing.  Davies struck a ferocious volley over the bar, while Joe Hart dropped a seemingly routine catch into the goal mouth, and had to be rescued by the solid Kompany.  Kolarov was harshly sent off for two fouls on Lee as Bolton tried to press for an equaliser, but City held out for the three points, although Tevez was not impressed at being substituted in the final minute.

At the bottom end of the table, three teams beginning with W fill the relegation zone.  Wigan twice fought their way back from behind to get a draw at home to Stoke while Wolves were comprehensively beaten 3-0 away to Blackburn, who showed no signs of their thrashing last weekend against Manchester United.  West Ham also lost this weekend thanks to a neat goal from Jordan Henderson, as Sunderland claimed all three points against the relegation strugglers.

West Brom climbed up the table with an impressive win against Newcastle.  The Baggies now sit eighth thanks to a 3-1 win as they battered the team that strode so easily to the Championship league title last season.

Finally, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was disappointed to drop points away to Birmingham.  Spurs took the lead through Bassong and were cruising, only for Craig Gardner’s second half header to snatch victory away from them.  The weekend’s action has now tightened up the top of the table with only three points between Arsenal on top and Manchester City in Fourth.  Manchester United now have a game in hand, while at the bottom Fulham, Wigan, West Ham and Wolves are all looking ominously at the drop zone.

By Oliver Holmes

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