Middlesbrough 2-2 Manchester UnitedDaniel Gray: A really, really enjoyable game, and one we could easily have won against a jittery and ever-odious Manchester United. Messrs Rooney, Ronaldo and Ferdinand were around the referee like angry boy-racers protesting to a traffic warden. No matter: our football talked for us, and Afonso Alves finally gave up on his Brian Deane impersonation with two superlative finishes. Good times are just around the corner.
Charlie Olsen Before the game many people were predicting an easy win, but unfortunately I can now smugly claim that I was not one of them. Oh to be wrong once in a while! Boro have an excellent record against the top four teams and really took the game to us after a dodgy opening ten minutes. In the end I was happy to escape with a draw given that Vidic was missed more than I though possible and Rio hobbled off injured. Fergie starting to talk about goal difference coming into play in the title race in his post-match interview was a bit worrying.
Arsenal 1-1 LiverpoolDavid Young: Another disappointing draw at Ashburton Grove means that Arsenal are now clinging on by their fingertips to any chance of winning the title. The Gunners looked second best in the first half and Liverpool deservedly took the lead just before the break. Nicklas Bendtner headed an equaliser early in the second period and Wenger's men had plenty of time to try to snatch a winner. Sadly though, after the goal, their game didn't really shift into a higher gear and, with Liverpool deploying their ultra-defensive formation, the remainder of the half was a stalemate. Next week's trip to Old Trafford will decide whether Arsenal will still be in there at the shake-up in May. United slipped up on Sunday and win for the Gunners will see them right back in the hunt - but a defeat will almost certainly end their challenge.
Kevin Brodie: Liverpool made eight changes to the team that played at the same ground just three days prior. Had Liverpool lost the media frenzy in England would have been going crazy over Rafa's rotation policy but as we turned in a very good performance and got a draw from the game not a mention of the word rotation. The word this weekend was 'changes' to the team. Liverpool were very good in the first half and played some very nice football, better then we played in midweek. Crouch was excellent in leading the line, with the Reds bringing in the five midfielders into play. Liverpool gave a debut to a 20 year old french lad that reminded me of John Barnes at the end of his career. Plessi is surely one to watch in the not to distant future. Arsenal got back into the game and our marking from a set piece let us down again. Both teams had good chances to win it in the end so a draw as a fair result. Part III at Anfield on Tuesday night. My man of the match; Peter Crouch. He was excellent up front, scored a very good goal and worked hard.
Everton 1-0 DerbySteven Corry, Soccernet reader: Everton clung onto their dream of Champions League football next season courtesy of Leon Osman's solitary strike but this was a dire performance by David Moyes' men. Everton clawed their way to a slender 1-0 win over relegated Derby and this type of poor performance is becoming the norm as we limp towards the end of the season.
Roderick Coustan: Fernandes pass, and our former loanee Leon Osman is through after 55 minutes for 1-0 from a dozen yards. Cold rain follows, almost sleet, a reminder of the fickle nature of April. Osmand's allowed through again, but Roy of the Rams saves us again, as the ball's out for their seventh corner, and soon after, eighth. Moore's header and Roy's there. Villa's clean through from Kenny Miller, puts a toe-poke in one-on-one, Howard sticks a leg out, and it's saved. Lovely work by Kenny, but no finish - Emanuel could have gone around Tim Howard.
Aston Villa 4-0 Bolton WanderersJerrad Peters: Aston Villa are one step closer to cementing a top-half finish after drubbing Bolton Wanderers at Villa Park on Saturday. And while a European berth remains a long-shot, manager Martin O'Neill will be relieved that the trio of Ashley Young, Gareth Barry, and Gabriel Agbonlahor ended a collective dry spell and, in so doing, boosted Villa to their first win since February. Young was particularly menacing. In making Gareth Barry's opener in the 9th-minute and creating two goals within a four-minute span in the second-half, the 22-year-old certainly did his England chances no harm. Agbonlahor, for his part, put a 13-match goalscoring drought to the sword in the 56th-minute. You have to pity Bolton. In all honest, however, they've done nothing this season to deserve another campaign in the top-flight.
Matthew Kilsby: Although Paul McCartney, then of The Beatles, had former US President Lyndon Johnson at the forefront of his mind when he wrote Fool on the Hill, I'm sure that if Macca were to update the song for the 21st Century, Gary Megson would make the perfect subject. Elton John changed his lyrics for the 1997 version of Candle in the Wind so surely Macca would not be averse to changing his song to Fool on the Touchline? I believe that the song would be more suited to Megson as at least Lyndon Johnson did some good, such as instigating the War on Poverty in the 1960s. To my knowledge, the only wars that Megson has ever been interested in are those on good football and Premiership survival. As for Saturday's match, the less said the better: we were abysmal (for about the 6th game running) and we gifted Villa three of their four goals. I suppose that there is still a chance of us staying up but goals are not our forte, which could provide somewhat of a stumbling block between now and the end of the season.
Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Tottenham HotspurAlan Griffiths: Bearing in mind that Rovers are reportedly chasing a European spot, the first half display would have suggested that the players had already packed their bags for their European holidays. A bit more clinical finishing from Spurs in the first half would have seen the game over. As usual a much better second half from Rovers, but the trend to pass the ball square and back is becoming tiresome as is the inconsistent refereeing. Hughes really needs to go out and find a creative midfielder and an attacker with speed this summer.
Colin McCullough: Perhaps not quite the 'big reaction' that Gus Poyet called for following last Saturday's debacle against Newcastle, but this was at least a reasonable performance. In fact, the early stages of the game promised considerably more than that, as the Spurs midfield - and most notably the returning Jermaine Jenas - played Blackburn off the park. Once again, however, Spurs relinquished their lead, with Berbatov's opener being cancelled out by Pedersen. As in the Newcastle game, Spurs then went off the boil but fortunately not enough to allow Blackburn to claim all three points. In the end, a draw was a fair result.
Fulham 1-3 SunderlandTom Wille: It looks to be lights out on the Premier League for Fulham after Saturday's disappointing 3-1 loss to Sunderland at Craven Cottage. Despite controlling most of the first half possession it was Sunderland that scored the opener in the final minute of the half through Danny Collins to give the Black Cats a 1-0 lead. Sunderland doubled their tally in the 54th minute on Michael Chopra's goal. Fulham pulled one back with David Healy's astonishing 30-yard shot into the top left corner but as was the case last week, the Cottagers conceded within two minutes of their own score to give Sunderland the momentum and all three points. With just five matches remaining it looks to be almost impossible for Fulham to dig themselves out of this hole. The attack can't seem to score and defence can't seem to stop the opponents from scoring either. That is not a good combination for a club that is in dire need of wins to close out the season. Mathematically Fulham are still alive, but the Cottagers are fading fast. Next weekend's trip to Reading is all or nothing for Fulham.
Neil Heelam, Soccernet Reader: Three wins a row now for Roy Keane and Sunderland can almost start looking towards next season in the Premier League after this convincing victory against a dire Fulham team who look doomed to the drop. Goals from Danny Collins, Michael Chopra and Kenwyne Jones takes us to 36 points with five games remaining.
Manchester City 0-2 ChelseaWallace Poulter: Another game, another loss as the season, for City, meanders to a whimpering end. I was curious to see fellow City fans searching for the occasional positive spin after the latest defeat, this time 0-2 at home to Chelsea, but this was tempered by the news that Nedum Onuoha is gone for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The talented right full back, who has the potential to be England's long term solution in that position, will hopefully be raring to go from the start of next season.
David Jenkins, Soccernet reader: You can say what you want about Avram Grant but the fact that we are now only three points behind Manchester United at the top of the table, after this routine win, speaks for itself. Many wrote Chelsea out of the title race but as we are still have to host the leaders we virtually have our destiny in our own hands.
Newcastle United 3-0 ReadingCorrespondent Wanted: What a difference a win makes. Since finally scrathing out that 2-0 win against Fulham we are a different team and playing with confidence. this win over reading was achieved at a canter and all of a sudden we are looking at a top half finish this season. who would have thought that during THE SLUMP? Playing Michael Owen 'in the hole' has proved a master-stroke by Keegan and it is now four goals in four games for the England striker.
Paula Marcus: As with most clubs there is a good time and a bad time to play them, and this was certainly not a great time to be playing a Newcastle side that have finally hit form. Before the game I thought this had the potential to be an exciting game, with two sides that had recently rediscovered form. Instead it turned out to be a completely one sided second half, with a confident Newcastle side finding it easy as we just made it as easy for them as possible. The one plus is the return to fitness of Glen Little. we seem completely out of ideas in front of goal, and Saturday's game against Fulham has become even more important.
Wigan Athletic 2-0 Birmingham CityLiam O'Connor Wigan went into the match knowing a win coupled with a Bolton defeat would see them so much closer to Premier League safety, and with Aston Villa chipping in with a 4-0 win, Wigan produced a fantastic performance, which didn't get the credit it deserved in the press. Antonio Valencia ripped Birmingham apart down the right wing and his good work brought about the first goal when he pulled back for Ryan Taylor to divert the ball into the bottom corner with his shin. Then after a poor pass Damien Johnson jumped in with two feet on Kevin Kilbane and the referee gave a deserved red card, and at this point it was really game over. Zarate had a chance of his own making, but it was all that Birmingham offered. Then in the second half a pull back from Scharner saw Heskey have a shot saved before Taylor scrambled his second over the line, and the game was won!
Alex Perras, Soccernet Reader: Martin Taylor returned to the Birmingham line-up for the first time since his horror tackle on Eduardo but that is all the positives we can take from this game. Thank goodness Bolton lost so we maintain our four point gap above the relegation zone. Birmingham played well in patches but our saving grace this season might be the fact that those clubs below can't even do that.
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