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  16-Dec-2018 05:02 GMT  

Five Spices From Chairman Damon

Log on to this page after each round of games for the lowdown on how each team fared. He’s harsh, but fair and you won’t find anything quite like it elsewhere. Enjoy our Chairman’s pithy post match analysis of the overpaid heroes and goats that make up the “Happy Band” of the EPL. If you're in the prawn sandwich and skim latte club, or part of the "Dippy Darling" brigade this column is not for you!!

Who's hot? Who's not? Who's left their bottle at home? Watch this space carefully as the season unwinds.

Who was hot before?  Visit Damon's 2008/09 season archives to find out!

Previous Analysis:

Round Thirty-Five.... Round Thirty-Four.... Round Thirty-Three.... Round Thirty-Two.... Round Thirty-One.... Round Thirty

Manchester United moved within an ace of their nineteenth league title after seeing of nearest challengers Chelsea at Old Trafford. Any game plan the Blues had was blown out of the water within the first minute when Park Ji-Sung's through ball caught David Luiz on his heels and Javier Hernandez scampered through to score. The visitors were slow to react and found themselves further behind just after the twenty-minute mark, with Branislav Ivanovic losing Nemanja Vidic and allowing his Serbian tema-mate to head Ryan Giggs' cross past Petr Cech. Chelsea finally got into some kind of rythmn and Edwin van der Sar had to be alert to keep out Salomon Kalou's header and deny the Londoners an instant reply. The hosts could have had a penalty seven minutes into the second half, when Antonio Valencia's cross cannoned off the sliding Frank Lampard's arm but the defending champions made the most of their let-off within two minutes, with Lampard instinctively poking home Ivanovic's nod-down on the volley. Alex then pulled off a marvellous block to prevent Wayne Rooney restoring United's two-goal cushion and it was the Mancunians who continued to look the more dangerous as time ran out for Carlo Ancelotti's men. United need a maximum of a point from their two remaining games to take the title.

At the bottom, Wolves took a big stride forward in their bid for safety with a good home win in the local derby with West Brom. Steven Fletcher got his side underway in this must-win game when turning home Adlene Geudioura's chest down from Stephen Hunt's free-kick. Just thirteen minutes later and the three combined again for Wanderers' second; Fletcher this time returning Hunt's corner to Geudioura to turn home. It was three just two minutes into the second half, when Abdoulaye Meite misjudged Kevn Foley's through ball and Fletcher shot across Scott Carson for his second goal of the game. The Baggies finally kicked into gear and Peter Odemwingie reduced the arrears in the fifty-fifth minute, converting from the spot after Geudioura had fouled Jerome Thomas. Despite pushing hard for the last half-hour, they were unable to break through for a second time and Wolverhampton come out of the weekend out of the relegation zone.

Their rivals' win spelled bad news for Blackpool, who drop into the relagtion zone despite a good draw at White Hart Lane. Tottenham have been in a poor run of form in recent weeks but started fairly brightly, only to spurn their chances when they came. The Seasiders created chances of their own, as well, and Huerelho Gomes pulled off a good save to prevent Charlie Adam giving them the lead. The home side started the second period extremely brightly but were again unable to make their chances count and Gomes had to be alert once more at the other end to deny DJ Campbell. The much-maligned keeper did even better in the seventy-fourth minute, getting across his goal well to keep out Adams' penalty - given after a moronic handball by Michael Dawson from teh Scot's corner. However, it never takes the Brazilian long to shift from the sublime to the ridiculous and within a minute he was clattering into Gary Taylor-Fletcher to give away a second spot-kick. Adams took the reprieve, rifling his effort into the top corner. A much-needed win was denied the Tangerines late on, when Jermain Defoe received the ball thirty yards from goal before zipping a low shot into the bottom corner. A draw wasn't enough for either side but the game ended all square.

Liverpool took advantage of Spurs' slip to move into fifth on the back of hammering Fulham at Craven Cottage. It was all over very quickly for the Cottagers. The on-fire Maxi Rodriguez turned in the loose ball after Mark Schwarzer had prevented Carlos Salcido scoring an own goal after just thirty seconds. Within six minutes, Rodriguez had volleyed a second from Glen Johnson's cross and it was three shortly after quarter of an hour when Schwarzer spilled a spculative Dirk Kuyt effort at his near post. The home side regrouped at half-time, started the second period much improved and reduced the arrears through Moussa Dembele's slick strike on fifty-seven minutes. Their hopes of a comeback were dashed with twenty minutes left, however, when Rodriguez completed his second hat-trick in three games with a rasping drive from outside the area. Luis Suarez was then able to race onto substitute Jonjo Shelvey's through ball and round Schwarzer for a fifth before Steve Sidwell hammered a glorious consolation to cap an enjoyable match.

Across the capital, things are looking increasingly bleak for West Ham after they were held to a draw by Blackburn. The Hammers briefly flickered early on, only to go behind on twelve minutes when Jason Roberts converted Brett Emerton's fantastic low cross from the right. The goal took the wind out of the Eastenders' sails and it took until the second half before any serious response was forthcoming, With Rovers' Christopher Samba in dominant form at the back, United struggled to break through until Thomas Hitzlsperger cracked in a low drive from Carlton Cole's lay-off with twelve minutes to go. Robbie Keane then had a glorious chance to win the game but succeeded in only connecting with fresh air as Frederic Piquionne's cross flashed across the area. With West Ham still stuck to the bottom of the table, it could prove a very costly miss.

Aston Villa surely banished their own lingering fears of the drop when coming from behind to take a home point against Wigan. The Latics were out of the blocks quickly and were ahead on ten minutes, with Charles N'Zogbia finishing clinically past Brad Friedel after being put in by Victor Moses. The home side were back on terms just seven minutes later, as Ashley Young played a short corner to Stylian Petrov before banging the ball into the bottom corner. Emile Heskey then suffered a Rab C. Nesbitt episode for which he was lucky not to be shown red by Mike Jones, before the referee correctly waved away Villa penalty appeals after Young had gone to ground in the area. Both sides enjoyed chances as the game wore on but the scorerboard operators weren't troubled again and the home side will be much happier with the point than the visitors.

Stoke warmed up for Saturday's cup final by mathematically ending Arsenal's lingering chances of the title. The Londoners enjoyed a lot of possession in the opening half-hour but it was the home side who took the lead when Johan Djourou's slip allowed Kenwyne Jones to run Jermaine Pennant's free-kick into the net. Pennant then put his side two up five minutes before the break, firing in an effort from distance that looped up off Djourou's foot to beat a leaden-footed Wojciech Szczesny. Jonathon Walters then went close to making it three when his curling effort came off the crossbar. The all-too familiar petulant streak started to surface as a frustrated Arsenal continued to see their possession come to nothing but they did manage to pull a goal back with nine minutes left, though Robin van Persie's scudding effort. The Gunners' celebrations were cut short within a minute, with Walters reacting quickest to poke the ball home after Djourou - still riding his nightmare - could only half-clear Andy Wilkinson's low effort.

Wembley opponents Man City, meanwhile, were forced to wait to confirm Champions' League qualification after going down to Everton at Goodison. Things were looking good for the Sky Blues when a bright start was capped by Yaya Toure's thumping finish on the half-hour. The Toffees started to gain some momentum as the second half progressed and suddenly, after having looked comfortable,City were on the back foot. On sixty-five minutes, old-boy Sylvain Distin's header from Mikel Arteta's free-kick proved too good for Joe Hart and the game had swung the home side's way. Seven minutes later they were agead, with Leon Osman leaping prodigiously to power a brave header past Hart from Phil Neville's cross. The visitors couldn't reply and so now need to take a point from Spurs in midweek.

Both Sunderland and Newcastle picked up the wins that keeps the North-East rivals in the Premier League for another season and neck-and-neck in the table. A goal at the end of each half gave the Black Cats a win at Bolton: Boudewijn Zenden rounding Jussi Jaaskelainen at the end of the first period and, after Ivan Klasnic looked to have salvagd a late point, Sulley Muntari storming through to roll in an effort Zat Knight could only turn into his own net right at the death. The Magpies had a more comfortable time of things at St. James's against ten-man Birmingham, where Ben Foster prevented the home side completely runnning away with the match. Liam Ridgewell saw red ten minutes before the break for a handball on the line and Shola Ameobi swept in the spot-kick. Steven Taylor then headed in a second a couple of minutes before the interval and it looked all over, only for Lee Bowyer to reduce the deficit when following up a Cameron Jerome effort blocked by Fabrizio Coloccini. A second goal proved beyond the Blues, however, and they are left looking over their shoulders at the closing pack.

Full results

Aston Villa 1 - Wigan Athletic 1

Bolton Wanderers 1 - Sunderland 2

Everton 2 - Manchester City 1

Fulham 2 - Liverpool 5

Manchester United 2 - Chelsea 1

Newcastle United 2 - Birmingham City 1

Stoke City 3 - Arsenal 1

Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Blackpool 1

West Ham United 1 - Blackburn Rovers 1

Wolverhampton Wanderers 3 - West Bromwich Albion 1

 

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