Man U needed two late goals to put away a tough West Brom side 3-0. A goal by the Red Devils Phil Jones in the 34th minute gave Man U the one nil lead. It was nip and tuck between Man U and the Baggies until a header by the Rooney Man 65th minute and a left footed gem by Danny Welbeck 82nd minute sealed the three nil win.
Paul Wilson The UK Guardian-“The good news for Manchester United is that not every game has to be an occasion for soul-searching, recrimination and open letters of apology from manager to shareholders. The only bad news is that not every game can be against West Bromwich Albion either.
The Baggies have yet to record a win under Pepe Mel’s management and on this evidence it is not hard to see why. They are utterly short of confidence, lightweight in most areas of the pitch and toothless in front of goal. Whether they can avoid relegation playing like this must be a concern to the Albion board, not to mention the supporters who have forked out £25 a head (curry and a pint included) for an evening with Mel as far into the future as March 26, but United hardly needed to be at their best to take all three points.
Which is just as well, because they were not to begin with, even if by the end there were encouraging signs that Juan Mata is beginning to bed in with his new teammates and that Danny Welbeck has not lost any of his sharpness by being kept on the bench. Robin van Persie’s free kick set up the first goal, allowing Phil Jones to exploit some casual Albion marking to use the pace on the ball in guiding it past Ben Foster with his head. That was after half an hour, and the goal seemed such a straightforward one it was hard to work out why United had not managed more. Rafael had seen Foster push a header against the bar a few minutes earlier, and the home goalkeeper was distinctly lucky to get away with a misjudgment of a high ball from Mata that involved him handling when he might have been fractionally outside his area, but Albion in the first half had just as much reason to rue missed chances.
Claudio Yakob could have equalised but headed over from close range, Victor Anichebe shot narrowly wide then Zoltàn Gera made a complete hash of connecting with a Morgan Amalfitano free-kick that picked him out in front of goal. The pattern continued in the second half with Gera wasting a good opportunity with a tame shot straight at David de Gea and Mata, of all people, turning up on his own line to block from Chris Brunt, before United wrapped up the points with another cheaply conceded goal. Wayne Rooney and Mata were both involved in the buildup before Rafael swung over a cross from the right to find Rooney completely unmarked at the far post and able to score with a simple header.
Welbeck was playing up front for United by that stage, Van Persie having been withdrawn for his own good after somehow managing to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Steven Reid. Already in the book for a clumsy challenge on Amalfitano, his lunge at Reid’s ankles looked even uglier, yet Jonathan Moss let it go with just the award of a free-kick. Van Persie did not look best pleased to see his number go up, but left the field without any outward display of dissent. United arguably played better without him, scoring almost immediately and adding the best of the lot eight minutes from time when Rooney rounded off a passing move by sliding a precise ball forward for Welbeck to reach ahead of Jonas Olsson and supply a neat finish to beat Foster. When Nemanja Vidic came on for the last minutes it was almost a surprise to realise that United had not missed him. That is not to say the hard-working Anichebe did not let Jones and Chris Smalling know he was around, just that West Brom are not the sort of side to monster opposing defences. How they managed to win at Old Trafford earlier in the season will be a mystery to anyone who has only seen them since Christmas.
Someone like Mel, in fact.
Cardiff City pulled a rabbit outta their hat with a resounding 3-1 win over whale dung Fulham 3-1. The win leaped frogged the Bluebirds into 17th place 25 points. The Bluebirds are one-step outta the voce zone. West Brom sits 16th place 25 points. Cardiff City has a minus 28 while Baggies are a minus eleven.
The England international had scored just twice in his last 29 starts, but two close-range finishes within 22 minutes set the struggling Bluebirds on course for their first three points since February 1.
His tap-in on the stroke of half-time was cancelled out by Lewis Holtby’s first Fulham goal, but the Cottagers then switched off at a corner allowing Caulker to gleefully head home his fourth of the season.
An unfortunate own goal from Sascha Riether sealed the victory with 19 minutes left to leave the visitors four points adrift of safety.
While Cardiff recalled Craig Noone, Jordan Mutch and Kenwyne Jones to their starting line-up, it was Felix Magath’s attacking selections that raised eyebrows.
The German partnered record signing Kostas Mitroglou, with only 30 minutes of football under his belt since arriving from Olympiacos, with untried teenager Cauley Woodrow, whose last competitive game came on loan at Southend in January.
Both sets of supporters were encouraged by West Brom’s thumping home defeat by Manchester United at lunchtime but they had little to cheer about in the opening exchanges.
It was 10 minutes before the first sniff of goal, Ashkan Dejagah firing his effort into the side netting from a tight angle after a quick free-kick.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, never on the losing side against Fulham as a player, sent his Cardiff side out in a 4-3-3 formation with Fraizer Campbell on the left flank, and the former Manchester United forward showed clever feet before bending a shot towards the far corner that Maarten Stekelenburg pushed away.
Craig Noone was proving a constant menace to John-Arne Riise and the winger was next to threaten with a mazy run which ended with a low left-footed drive that flew just wide of the post.
Both sides were struggling to string passing moves together and when Cardiff did manage to carve out a chance through a deep cross from Jordan Mutch, Kenwyne Jones could only nod his delivery at Stekelenburg.
The Dutchman denied Jones again with a smart stop in the 44th minute when the target-man peeled off to the back post to thump Mutch’s low delivery towards goal.
The Bluebirds’ 445 minute wait for a Premier League goal came to an end on the stroke of half-time when Noone’s low delivery from the left deflected kindly into the path of Caulker, who became their second top goalscorer of a forgettable campaign in front of goal.
Having netted just their third first-half goal in their last 17, the home side started the second half on the front foot with Mutch firing wide.
David Marshall had been a virtual spectator in the first half but he had to be alert to push Holtby’s half-volley away from danger.
After a mediocre first half this game had sprung into life, with Jones missing a gilt-edged chance to open up a two-goal cushion when he headed wide when well placed.
Fulham had begun to edge their way back into the match and they were level in the 59th minute when the recalled Holtby was left unmarked in almost the exact spot where Caulker netted after Johnny Heitinga flicked Giorgios Karagounis’ corner into his path.
But it was Fulham’s failure to defend set-pieces which would see Caulker head Cardiff back in front just eight minutes later.
Noone swung in a left-footed corner and Campbell and Caulker were given the freedom of the box, with the latter rising unchallenged to nod the ball under Stekelenburg.
And the relief inside the Cardiff City Stadium was tangible when the victory was sealed in the 71st minute. Mutch met Noone’s dangerous cross with a header which Stekelenburg pushed into the path of Riether, and the defender could only look on as the ball trickled over the line.
Fulham did briefly threaten to set up a grandstand finish, Marshall tipping Mitroglou’s effort over the bar before Steve Sidwell’s smart header was ruled out for offside.
Southampton defeated Crystal Palace 1-0. The Saints are in ninth place 42 points. The Eagles are in 16th place 27 points.
Tom Prentki The Telegraph-“ Tony Pulis’ mission impossible suffered a setback after a Jay Rodriguez goal consigned Crystal Palace to a defeat which leaves them just two points off the relegation zone.
Mauricio Pochettino believes that Palace have become more “aggressive” since changing manager and it is true that the Pulis approach is more earthenware than crystal.
That said, there was little polish from either side in an uneventful first half. With the searing pace of Luke Shaw, Southampton were always a threat on the break and the 18 year-old combined well with Adam Lallana to provide Rodriguez with a sight of goal, only for Damien Delaney to execute an excellent recovering tackle to block his shot.
Like Rickie Lambert, the other player making up Saints’ England contingent this week, Rodriguez did not feature against Denmark but he opened the scoring at Selhurst Park thanks to a little help from former teammate Jason Puncheon whose weak header let in the former-Burnley striker.
Rodriguez still had work to do and his sliding challenge with Julian Speroni saw the ball rebound back to him to convert whilst still prone: it was a comical goal but Pulis wasn’t laughing.
Palace offered little response and, with the constant prompting of Lallana, Southampton almost went in two up as Lambert prodded against the post after more good work from the Saints captain.
Yannick Bolasie mustered the Eagles’ only meaningful effort of the first half, smashing a low drive at Artur Boruc but this was not the aggression Pulis would have been expecting,
They were more purposeful after the break and a barnstorming run from Bolasie was brought to an abrupt halt by Dejan Lovren, who home fans felt should have been sent off.
The second half was punctuated by tetchy fouls from either side and from one resulting free-kick, Lambert curled his effort narrowly over.
The introductions of Cameron Jerome and Tom Ince afforded the home fans some hope of a goal and a looping header from the former was as close as they came, though in truth Southampton were comfortable.
Norwich City and Stoke City tied one all. The Canaries are parked in 15th place 29 points. The Potters are in twelfth place 31 points.
Only six points separate seventeenth place Cardiff City and tenth place West Ham 31 points.
Chelsea was in a dogfight with Tottenham. It was tied at half when a Spurs slip, a foul in the box and a red card sent Tottenham crashing and burning at Stanford Bridge. The red card spun the match on its head. A goal by Samuel Eto’o 56th minute was the result of slip by Jan Vertonghen and foul in the box and red card given to Younes Kaboul that resulted in the gimmie PK by Eden Hazzard 59th minute. The Blues were given a two zero lead and they never looked back.
Demba Ba scored the daily double in the final moments of the match 88th and 89th minutes for the final score of 4-0.
Spurs have not won at Stamford Bridge since 1990. Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten streak at Stanford Bridge is now seventy-five matches.
Ben Rumsby The Telegraph- “Samuel Eto’o rolled back who knows how many years to put Chelsea seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and make Jose Mourinho eat humble pie for what may not be the last time this season.
Eto’o turns 33 on Monday – or maybe 36 if Mourinho is to be believed – but he looked to be still in his prime after answering an SOS moments before kick-off and duly sealing victory with his 300th career goal and an assist for Eden Hazard’s penalty.
After a first half in which Tottenham Hotspur threatened to end their 24-year wait for a win at Stamford Bridge, they fell to pieces in a fashion that casts even more doubt on Tim Sherwood’s claim on the manager’s job – gifting their opponents all four of their goals, including a late brace for substitute Demba Ba.
In the world of Mourinho, the win kept Chelsea behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference in the Premier League table.
But, at this rate, City will have to win all their remaining games to overhaul a side for whom the championship is looking more theirs to lose by the week, something Mourinho may soon be forced to acknowledge.
Tim Sherwood told The UK Guardian Spurs lacked character-”You can’t legislate for the capitulation,” said Sherwood, who was appointed on an 18-month contract in December but is already under pressure, given Louis van Gaal’s interest in taking the job after the World Cup. “You just can’t have that. It’s a lack of characters, too many of them [being]too nice to each other, and you need to show a bit more guts and not want to be someone’s mate all the time. They need to drag it out of each other. It hurts me and I won’t forget about this when we hit the motorway, but some might.
“We’ve got to win the games we still have to play, but we had to do that before today, and this is another blow to us. For me, I believed we could win here. I thought they were there for us. But it never materialised. There have been too many blips. The club talks about fourth … wake up. You won’t finish in the top four if you don’t beat top teams. You’re miles away unless you beat the top teams. I’m massively disappointed.”
Chelsea remains at the head of the class with 66 points. This is seven pointy lead of Liverpool and Arsenal and a nine-point lead over City. My Gunners and Liverpool each have a match in hand. City has three matches in hand.
Spurs are in fifth place 53 points. Man U’s win has them in sixth place. Everton is seventh with 48 but the Toffees have a match in hand.
This margin is razor close for both the top of the table and the you’re outta here zone.
This is it from Bobby Gee in The De Futebol Zone.