What the fans say...
Arsenal 1-1 Aston VillaDavid Young: It was a quite dreadful performance by Arsenal against Aston Villa on Saturday. A team can usually stand one or two players having an off-day, but when that number is nine or ten, then life becomes a lot harder. In midfield, Fabregas and Hleb could barely string two passes together and Diaby had one of his worst games in an Arsenal shirt. Though holding plenty of possession, only a few chances were created and Villa's keeper barely had a save to make all afternoon. Nicklas Bendtner's last-gasp equalisation of Philppe Senderos' daft own goal spared everyone's blushes and just about kept Arsenal on top of the table, but many more displays like this could make the title an unattainable target. After four games without a win, things need to turn around quickly.
Jerrad Peters: Firstly, shame on the Aston Villa supporters who mocked Eduardo's horrific injury. They disgraced themselves and were despicable representatives of the club. However, the immature behavior of a few louts in the stands should not detract from what was a superb performance on the pitch. Even with early injuries to Nigel Reo-Coker and Curtis Davies (the latter has undergone surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles), Villa fully deserved at least a point. And, getting more delusional by the week, Arsene Wenger's belief that his side had shown 'character' in fighting from behind was ridiculous. His is a side which is another poor result removed from freefall.
Fulham 0-3 Manchester UnitedTom Wille: Fulham's chances of surviving relegation went from bad to worse this weekend. Not only did the Cottagers get outclassed and outplayed but their closest competitors to the drop zone, Wigan, Reading and Birmingham City all won. With ten matches remaining the Cottagers are six points behind Bolton for 17th place. The future is now for this club. If they do not start winning matches in the very near future it will be lights out on their Premier League status. It is time for this team to dig deep and find an extra gear for the final ten matches of the season. Fulham fans can live with the team getting relegated if they go down kicking, screaming and clawing as best they can. Right now that is not the case. The team is lifeless and scared and that is unacceptable. On to Ewood Park in what most would say is a must win match against Blackburn.
Charlie Olsen: Everybody expected this to be an easy three points for Manchester United and that is what it proved to be. Fulham old boy Edwin Van Der Sar made a great save early on but after that there was only one team in it as Hargreaves scored his first goal for the club and Park even found the back of the net. With Fulham threating to find a foothold in the game Ronaldo and Rooney came on from the bench and that was that - even before Simon Davies fired in an own goal.
West Ham United 0-4 ChelseaBilly Blagg: It's always confusing when a defence that has conceded less goals than anyone out of the top four suddenly goes AWOL and collapses like a pack of cards as the Hammers' rearguard did in their home pasting by Chelsea. But that's what happens when you are a team like West Ham, happily ensconsed in mid-table, and you play a team like Chelsea who are at the top of their game and gearing up for the run-in.
David Esposto Despite Frank Lampard's controversial red card, the Blues made amends for their Carling Cup loss with an emphatic 4-0 demolition of the Hammers at Upton Park. Three goals in five minutes proved too much for woeful West Ham, who simply could not contain classic run-and-gun attack by the Blues. The goals came quick and fast, as it took just 17 minutes for Frank Lampard to give the Blues the lead. Lamps' lead to a barrage of attack from Chelsea who then went on to belt three goals in five minutes and consequently put an end to any hopes of a revival from the Hammers. It was also a great day for Ashley Cole who finally opened his account in a Blues kit scoring the final goal in the 64 minute. Overall, it was a classic display of Chelsea style and skill, this performance should definitely give them some much needed confidence.
Bolton Wanderers 1-3 LiverpoolMatt Kilsby: What a horrible weekend: the Wanderers meekly surrender to the worst Liverpool team in years and our closest rivals win. Most worrying is that I have not got a clue where the goals are going to come from. The club's ludicrous decision to sell Anelka, without finding a half-adequate replacement, is coming back to bite us on the behind. Megson's teams have a pitiful 36.9% win record, which means we're getting the performances and results that one would expect of a third rate manager.
Kevin Brodie: Liverpool started shaky, as they typically do at the Reebok, but Rafael's streak of never winning at this horrible place ended with a 3-1 victory. Playing Bolton is never a fun; they make it hard for teams to play because they delay every dead ball situation. After Diouf hit the post from a set piece Liverpool finally got a bit of luck that they have needed with a fluke own goal after a terrible goalkeeper error. Once this goal went in Liverpool looked for the second goal with Gerrard and Ryan Babel involved at the heart of every good move. Babel had two excellent chances to increase Liverpool's lead in the first half but saved his breakthough until the second half Once that goal went in Liverpool dominated the rest of the way. Of course we still looked shaky at the back anytime a ball was whipped in from the wings. It was our best away performance of 2008 and all of this when our leading marksmen probably had his worst game of the season. Two in a row but the fight for fourth continues.
Everton 3-1 PortsmouthTony Burns: Once again, the chasing pack all had good results and the pressure was very much on Everton against a Pompey side boasting one of the best away records in the league. But once again, Everton proved too good and had the extra quality to get the goals when it counted and take all three points. Yakubu again gets the plaudits for a superb all round performance and another two goals. But Andy Johnson can take a huge slice of the credit for turning this game in Everton's favour with 20 minutes to go. It's a huge advantage to be able to bring a player of his quality off the bench, and he ran Portsmouth absolutely ragged as Everton ran out 3-1 winners.
Alex Perras, Soccernet Reader: I was very surprised to see Everton play in such a negative manner at Goodison Park and they were nearly made to pay when Pompey equalised at half-time. Portsmouth were the team who looked most likely to go on to win but in the end I was disappointed with the scoreline as it flattered Everton, who only got the later goals when the put Andy Johnson up top. As Pompey looked to push forward and win the game the twin strikers did the business for the Toffees.
Manchester City 0-0 Wigan AthleticWallace Poulter: The problem with writing a prediction is that it is based on the presumption of certain events occurring. So for example on Friday when I wrote that a Michael Johnson's return would signify a 2-0 victory against Wigan it was with the presumption that Hamann and Johnson would link up and that Garrido or Castillo would start in the place of the suspended Petrov. In a move that seriously, and I mean really seriously, brings into question Sven's tactical prowess we were greeted with the site of Gelson Fernandes in Hamann's role and of all people Darius Vassell starting once again. Mass boredom ensued.
Liam O'Connor Wigan went to Eastlands desperate for a win which would take them above Newcastle United and Boro into 12th place, although many 'experts' claimed Wigan would be better trying to keep a decent goal difference and only lose by a few goals! Wigan defied these critics and produced a fantastic defensive display ending in a 0-0 draw, although you could claim that Benjani should have scored on two or three seperate occasions. Man City were there for the taking and Wigan missed a really good chance not once but twice through Wilson Palacious, had we have opted to bring Bent off the bench instead of Sibierski, we may have nicked this game!
Birmingham City 4-1 Tottenham HotspurDan Hobbs: Well, Blues gave Tottenham a convincing pasting, aided by Tottenham's complete absence of any desire to win the game. I fancied we could win this one before kick off, as I had suspected they would still be recovering from an almighty celebration, but did not foresee such a comprehensive victory. In truth, although Blues played well for the first ten minutes and could have been further ahead, the rest of the first half was dire and Spurs could have levelled if they'd tried just a little harder. After Super Seb's free-kick, however, it was all one way and Spurs were utterly humiliated. So, that's eight points from four games against the north London clubs; if we played them every week we'd win the league!
Colin McCullough: What a difference a week makes. Or perhaps more accurately, what a difference without King and Woodgate in defence. Despite having the most attempts on goal in this end to end game, Spurs converted only one and managed to concede four in the process. With that defeat, Spurs have now been beaten both home and away by a Birmingham side that has spent much of the season in or around the relegation zone. The optimistic view following this poor performance is that Juande Ramos has his attentions fixed firmly on the UEFA Cup and is content to settle for mid-table as long as Spurs are still competing in Europe.
Middlesbrough 0-1 ReadingDaniel Gray: Comfortably one of the worst games I have ever seen. Just shocking. To make Reading look almost middle-of-the-road is some feat. One of those Saturdays where you look at the person sat next to you and vow: 'I'm never going again'. Right now I really hope I'm not.
Paula Marcus: Whilst the game will never be remembered as a classic, it was one of those times when the result was all that mattered as Reading finally recorded a first win of 2008. We left it a little late to gain a vital win, with Harper surging forward in injury time to convert a Hunt cross. There were four changes made to the side that lost last week against Villa and seemed to do the trick, as at last our defence finally managed to keep a clean sheet. It may not signal an end to the problems, but a more positive performance certainly has everyone believing we can climb up the table.
Newcastle United 0-1 Blackburn RoversCorrespondent Wanted: First the positives. This was the first game under Kevin Keegan that I can honestly say that we should have won. The service to the strikers was much better but Michael Owen should have scored at least one goal from the three excellent chances he had. Newcastle are all about attacking football but with the seconds ticking away, and in the current situation, we should have shut up shop, taken a point and not allowed Matt Derbyshire to score totally unopposed as we were caught up the pitch. Instead of taking a point and providing a base to build on we are now three points off relegation after yet another defeat.
Alan Griffiths: After all the hype of the Messiah returning to take the Toon Army to the Promised Land, there was only one Boys Own hero on Saturday. Matt Derbyshire, after becoming a father of twins, he silenced the Geordies with a break away goal right at the death. One minute the ball is in the Rovers penalty area, and then a clearance by Pedersen to Bentley, Bentley to Derbyshire and the ball is resting at the back of the Newcastle net. Rovers have a renewed confidence in being able to soak up pressure and to hit the opposition on the break, yet the Messiah hadn't done his homework allowing his troops to throw everything bar the kitchen sink into the game, forgetting that if you don't protect your keeper, you're going to get punished. Rovers man of the match, Brad Friedel, came to the rescue, when the defence slipped up.
Derby County 0-0 SunderlandRupert Hungin, Soccernet Reader: As Paul Jewell said a dull home draw and a clean sheet against a team that has not won away all season is not something you would usually get worked up about, but such are the difficulties that the Rams' face at the moment that it is something of a triumph. Derby's points total is now into double figures and we only need six more points to avoid Sunderland's unwanted record of the lowest points total in the history of the Premiership. Six more dull 0-0 draws will do it!
Neil Heelam, Soccernet Reader: Sunderland should have won this game. Michael Chopra had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside and the Black Cats also hit the woodwork. An away draw in the Premier League is not to be sniffed at but given the calibre of the opposition and with those missed chances in mind it is disappointing not to bag our first away win of the season. Having said that, if we keep picking up the odd point on the road and keep our home form going we will still be in the top flight next season.
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