What the fans say...
Manchester United 1-2 Manchester CityIve Beeckmans: Instead of inspiring, the ceremony seemed to paralyse us. I missed passion in a lot of players and inspiration was non-existant. In all honesty, City probably deserved their victory. They came to Old Trafford with a packed midfield to stop us playing, man-marked Paul Scholes and tried to counter attack using the speed of left winger Martin Petrov and strength of Benjani. We couldn't find an answer to that and they performed their tactical scheme to perfection, simple as that. Part of being one of the best teams in the country is having to break down defences week in, week out. When we finally found a way through, not coincidentally when Hamann was already subbed off, it was too late.
Wallace Poulter: An impeccable display by City fans followed by a curiously dispassionate United performance. Throw in Benjani successfully shouldering the attacking responsibilities and the City of Manchester went to sleep content for the first time in 34 years. To a certain extent though I think we have the Chief Rag to thank for the victory with a bizarre selection decision. Three wingers and two attacking midfielders in the starting eleven was a strange choice with no holding midfielder to protect the back four and duly a counter attack put City one up. From there United were always going to have to chase. But I'm not complaining.
Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn RoversDavid Young: Despite starting the first half like world-beaters there were also periods in Arsenal's performance where they looked anything but title-contenders, particularly just before the interval. But an early goal from Philippe Senderos and an injury-time strike from Emmanuel Adebayor were enough to see off Blackburn who had plenty of good spells of their own without creating too many real chances. That aside, the second half display was a lot stronger and to be five points clear with only 12 games remaining would have been beyond the dreams of most Gooners at the start of the season. The title is still far from won but this result does now heap plenty of pressure on United and Chelsea after they dropped further points on Sunday.
Alan Griffiths: When Rovers conceded the first goal as early as the third minute, I feared an avalanche of goals from the Gunners. However, I was more than satisfied with the remainder of the game as the Rovers depleted by injuries and suspensions, silenced and kept the Arsenal supporters on the edges of their seats until injury time. Although Rovers never really threatened in front of goal, whilst they continued throughout the game to chase down and maintained possession there was always a faint chance of an equaliser.
Aston Villa 4-1 Newcastle UnitedJerrad Peters: For the better part of 45 minutes, it looked as though the second Kevin Keegan regime was destined to produce its initial win. Michael Owen's opener was rather fortuitous; but Newcastle fully deserved the lead at the break. Villa, on the other hand, seemed lost in the attacking third without Gabriel Agbonlahor buzzing about. Then John Carew took over. Granted, he was helped by the presence of Marlon Harewood - who had replaced Martin Petrov at the interval. Olof Mellberg, too, was replaced by Craig Gardner. Mellberg, despite having been a faithful servant to the club, seems to have lost his head since signing for Juventus. The man was absolute rubbish on the day. And, speaking of rubbish, Newcastle are now just six points above the drop. So much for champagne football.
Correspondent Wanted: Two 3-0 defeats to Arsenal I can take but losing 4-1 to Aston Villa is difficult to swallow - especially when they only played for one half of football. On the plus side Michael Owen scored again and... well that's about it. Our defence is woeful; we can't defend against pace and Carew's hat-trick proved we can't defend against power either. Hopefully Keegan will come down from whatever planet he is on, stop trying to sign Thierry Henry and sort out the rabble he is stuck with.
Derby County 0-3 Tottenham HotspurRoderick Coustan: We held them through the first half but, it was nervous, and it looked as if the deluge was coming. Our best spell came after 20 minutes when Kenny Miller had a shot saved and Barnsey was put through beautifully by Pearson, only to put it wide with the goalie beaten.... Giles, you're having a laugh. Finally we crumbled like a pack of cards. Robbie Keane had a tap-in and the Spurs strikers began to gather like lions on a zebra kill as we went down, Younes Kaboul getting the second and Dimitar Berbatov netted with a last-minute penalty. Not yet dooooooomed as we have 12 games left, and have a free weekend as we concentrate on [not] beating the record held by Sunderland for lowest points in 2005-06 with 15 points and a goal difference of -43.
Colin McCullough: A straightforward victory against the bottom side, although not quite as easy as the scoreline suggests. There was little to choose between the teams in a poor and goalless first half, with Derby having the only clear-cut chance. Juande Ramos changed the game with the introduction of O'Hara and Berbatov for the ineffectual Boateng and the anonymous Bent. Goals from Keane, Kaboul and Berbatov followed, giving Spurs their second away win of the season.
Middlesbrough 1-0 FulhamDaniel Gray: A comfortable win for the Boro, and seven games unbeaten now. Afonso Alves finally made his debut after a transfer saga that went on for about seven years. He certainly has the pace to add so much to the side, and any comparisons with the running style of Brian Deane are just plain unfair. A win in the FA Cup on Sunday and this has the look of becoming an interesting season.
Tom Wille: If Fulham have any hopes of avoiding relegation this season they are going to have to win on the road at some point. Saturday marked the 30th straight match in which they have not won. Neither team had many scoring opportunities, but Jeremie Aliadiere took full advantage of his chance in the 11th minute and scored what proved to be the one and only goal of the match from either side. The loss was disappointing for Cottagers supporters as many expected Fulham to build on the momentum of last weekend's come from behind win over Aston Villa. The last three months of the season will be a nervy time for Fulham fans everywhere. To be relegated or not to be relegated?
Everton 1-0 ReadingSteven Corry, Soccernet reader: This was a tough game and in the end the victory was 'plain ugly'. Phil Jagielka headed the winner, his first goal for the club, but a brave comeback saw Reading hit a post and they could have won a penalty when Lee Carsley looked to have handled in the box. The hard-earned three points keeps Everton firmly in fourth spot and sent Reading into the bottom three after a run of seven successive defeats.
Paula Marcus: A much improved Reading performance was not enough to stop them from dropping into the relegation zone. Despite having plenty of chances to at least salvage a point, continued failure to score when on top yet again proved costly as Jagielka scored mid way through the second half. On a plus side, a good solid debut from new signing Kebe could be vital in the coming months as Reading aim to move back up the table.
West Ham United 1-1 Birmingham CityBilly Blagg: Bet they can't wait to see this type of fare in Auckland in a few season's time! Despite Freddie Ljungberg's early opening goal - his first for the club - the Hammers were unable to build on their lead and were pulled level when James McFadden was awarded a penalty. Alan Curbishley complained about the penalty after and certainly McFadden didn't help his cause by going to ground easily but, I for one, am tired of seeing our Captain grabbing shirts every time he has been blind-sided. Any referee officiating in a West Ham match is sure to have seen Neil get away with it on countleess occasions and they are obviously looking out for it. Birmingham will se it as a useful point, the Hammers can only look at the 10th place that they now seem glued to, whatever happens each week.
Dan Hobbs: Blues secured a valuable point in east London, but it was yet another case of missing the opportunity to win the game against lacklustre opponents. Since we can't seem to beat the teams around us at the moment, our most likely source of wins is probably the mid-table teams, such as West Ham, who regard us as an easy victory and play within their capabilities. Arsenal are up next. After the draw down there, that'll be an easy home win, won't it?
Sunderland 2-0 Wigan AthleticPeter Osborne: The good fortune, in the shape of woodwork is coming our way, not before time. Our home record is keeping us up at present, despite a somewhat average performance three points is three points. With a two week break before some tricky away fixtures, lets hope our luck does not desert us. £9million for Craig Gordon.... worth every penny.
Liam O'Connor: In one of the most one sided games I have seen in a long time, Sunderland came out on top after taking both of their two chances. The framework was hit by both Killbane and Heskey with numerous other chances missed by ourselves, with wave after wave of Wigan attacks Murphy scored which should no doubt be goal of the season to put the game firmly out of Wigan's reach, and to take a massive three points further away from relagation for the Mackems, Wigan were left to rue missed chances!
Chelsea 0-0 LiverpoolCorrespondent Wanted: The Premier League is planning to go on a global tour but if any of the potential host cities were watching this match they would have closed the cheque-book and gone to watch some paint dry instead. The first five minutes promised some end to end football but after that I think it can best be described as turgid. Both teams were afraid to lose and so played with one striker and then isolated them. Rubbish game and Rubbish result as we failed to close the gap in the title race.
Kevin Brodie: Finally a Liverpool display that showed Rafa has 'not lost the dressi ng room'. Passion and committment were shown by all players, including John Arne Riise, who turned in a very solid performance. Liverpool had the best of the 90 minutes and Crouch had a few good chances to get Liverpool's noses out in front. If Steve Gerrrard would have tried to shoot a few times the game might have taken a different tone. Chelsea had a good chance through Ballack and a decent penalty appeal that was turned down but it would have been harsh on Liverpool. Hopefully this result took momentum away from Chelsea in their pursuit of the League. Pleased to see that Arsenal won and United lost.
Bolton Wanderers 0-1 PortsmouthMatt Kilsby: Trust the Wanderers to bring us back to earth with an almighty bump only a week after the first away win of new millennium (probably not that long ago, but near enough). The tragedy of the Portsmouth game was that we were outstanding throughout and played the best football I've seen us play for quite a while. Alas, the best striker in the Premiership (that one we sold a few weeks ago) wasn't on hand to bury the glut of chances we created. We've got some tough games coming up and it isn't just the unseasonably warm weather that's making me sweat.
Scott Mclachlan: Bolton fans left the Reebok on Saturday seeking a policeman to report a public robbery. Pompey took three points courtesy of an offside goal and a string of saves from David James, one of them simply stunning. Who would have thought it, Pompey win ugly. Something Bolton used to do regularly.
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