With Manchesters United and City both winning and keeping up the 12-point gap at the top, the really interesting battle in the Premier League at the moment is the one at the bottom. Aston Villa, Reading and Queens Park Rangers remain in the bottom three but Wigan Athletic in particular are in danger of dropping back in next weekend.
Here’s the recap of the latest Premier League action. If you want to see matches first-hand rather than reading this weekly recap, you’ll be needing tickets to all matches.
Two assists and a goal for Wayne Rooney
Norwich City are earning a reputation for conceding hat-tricks and having injured goalkeepers, and despite an early clobbering for Mark Bunn it was the former that proved problematic for the Canaries on Saturday afternoon. Shinji Kagawa was the key man for United with a quite superb hat-trick and two of his goals were laid on by England’s Wayne Rooney.
Kagawa’s two Rooney-assisted goals arrived late and the former Everton man’s goal arrived even later. It might even have been the best of the four, with Rooney picking the ball up 35 yards from goal from Danny Welbeck’s pass, skipping past Bradley Johnson and firing across goal into the top corner.
Rooney, Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick played 90 minutes for United at Old Trafford. Welbeck came on for the final 25 minutes and Tom Cleverley replaced Anderson with quarter of an hour left on the clock.
Stewart Downing makes the perfect start
The English players continue to do the business in Liverpool’s better games, ably joined in their thrashing of Wigan Athletic by Philippe Coutinho and, inevitably, Luis Suarez. Coutinho’s clipped cross in the opening minutes and Stewart Downing brilliantly peeled away from his marker to head home Liverpool’s first of four.
Suarez went on to score another hat-trick and the game was over by half time. Glen Johnson set up the Uruguayan striker’s third goal with a tremendous run and simple pass. Downing, Johnson and Stephen Gerrard all played the full match for the Reds. Jordan Henderson played the final 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute for Coutinho.
Scott Parker and Aaron Lennon combine for Spurs
Gaining access to this game was as difficult as finding UEFA Champions League final tickets on the morning of the game, and Tottenham Hotspur had to work hard to manage their 2-0 lead over Arsenal in their London derby game on Sunday and did so with some degree of nous. They were in front – slightly out of the blue, it must be said – thanks to two nigh identical first half goals.
Gareth Bale sprung the Gunners’ defensive line to finish neatly and make it 1-0, and just two minutes later Scott Parker found Aaron Lennon in the same position with the same result. Parker played the full game for Spurs and Lennon played deep into the seven minutes of injury time.
Theo Walcott delivered the cross for Per Mertesacker’s goal for Arsenal as part of his 90-minute appearance, which was matched by Jack Wilshere. Carl Jenkinson played an hour. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was an unused substitute.
Phil Jagielka played just four minutes of Everton’s 3-1 win over Reading, exiting through an injury caused by a challenge from Adam LeFondre. Leon Osman was later substituted and replaced by Victor Anichebe, while Leighton Baines played the whole game.
Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard played 90 minutes in Chelsea’ 1-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion, for whom Ben Foster – on the brink of an England recall – also played; he was arguably caught out by the cross that created Demba Ba’s goal. Gary Cahill, John Terry and Ryan Bertrand were unused substitutes for the home side.
Harry Redknapp returned to Southampton on Saturday and one-time England international Jay Bothroyd scored the winner for Queens Park Rangers. Nathaniel Clyne and Rickie Lambert played the entirety of the match for the Saints but Adam Lallana could only make it to the 43rd minute. Former England players Jermaine Jenas and Robert Green came on as second half replacements for the Rs.
Manchester City’s 1-0 victory at Villa Park came by way of a Ciaran Clark error punished initially by Edin Dzeko and then by Carlos Tevez. James Milner played 90 minutes against his own team accompanied by England goalkeeper Joe Hart. Jack Rodwell got a start but went off injured after just 25 minutes, and Gareth Barry came on as a late substitute.
Ryan Shawcross played 90 minutes for Stoke City in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham United. Former England striker Peter Crouch did the same, but Joe Cole was one of two early injuries to strike the Hammers. The other, Matt Taylor, was thumped in the face by Crouch’s flying boot.
Finally, Adam Johnson played Sunderland’s 2-2 draw at home to Fulham. English midfielder Craig Gardner first conceded and then scored penalties in the first half.
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