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  16-Dec-2018 05:01 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-Two.... Round Thirty-One.... Round Thirty.... Round Twenty-Nine.... Round Twenty-Eight

Things have been going Jimmy Krankie for the Tangerines in recent weeks and they got worse on Saturday when Wigan took all three points away from Bloomfield Road. They didn't help themselves when Craig Cathcart endured a nightmare few seconds just three minutes in; rolling a free-kick to the opposition then slipping when trying to recover his ground and Hugo Rodallega scampered through to score. If that was careless (and it was, oh, how it was), then gifting the visitors a second goal on the stroke of half-time was borderline criminally-negligent. Mohamed Diame was able to nick in ahead of Charlie Adam, put under pressure by a poor throw-in, and prod the ball forward for Charles N'Zogbia. The talented winger took the ball on, jinked past a couple of defenders and wrong-footed Matt Gilks to stick the ball in the net. Blackpool struggled to make inroads after the break and were further behind on sixty-seven minutes when Diame's speculative shot caught a wicked deflection off Neil Eardley, giving Gilks absolutely no chance. DJ Campbell notched a consolation with seven minutes to go, turning in Matt Phillips's low cross, but despite pushing hard, the home side were unable to find anything else and end the weekend in the bottom three for the first time this season.

Aston Villa propelled themselves not just out of danger but into the top half of the table, after a late goal bagged all the points at Upton Park. The Hammers enjoyed a perfect start, when Robbie Keane was allowed to turn and thrash a shot into the top corner after Ashley Young was slow coming out following a corner. The home side continued to look lively and Carlton Cole should probably have had a penalty when he was barged off the ball by a labouring Richard Dunne. The Clarets eventually settled and Darren bent was unlucky to see what seemed a pefectly good goal ruled out for a perceived push on Lars Jacobsen. The striker couldn't be denied for long, however, and glanced Luke Young's cross beyond Robert Green ten minutes before the break. The goal fired up the away side, who then laid seige to the United goal for most of the second half. West Ham defended stoutly and looked set for a point until Gabriel Agbonlahor rose highest to head home Ashley Young's cross from point-blank range with only seconds remaining. It could prove a very expensive goal indeed for Avram Grant's Eastenders.

Another side looking over their shoulders are Blackburn, just two points outside the danger zone after going down at Goodison. The Toffees dominated the first-half possession without looking much of a threat, whilst the visitors showed very little other than occasional glimpses from debutant Ruben Rochina. Everton picked up the pace for the second half and reaped their reward ten minutes after the restart, with the ever-impressive Leon Osman positively twunting a low shot into Paul Robinson's bottom corner. Leighton Baines was able to make the game safe from the spot with a quarter of an hour left after Phil Jones lunged in on Seamus Coleman, leaving referee Rob Friend with little option but to give the penalty. David Moyes's side remain the form team in the division and are now just two points behind their city neighbours.

Sinking like a stone are Sunderland, who lost a crucial game at Birmingham to leave them still looking for that single win that should see them safe. Beset by injuries, it was a young side who took the field at St. James's but one that nonetheless had done more than enough to get to the interval on even terms until they self-destructed five minutes before half-time. Sebastien Larsson went charging after a Cameron Jerome flick-on, despite looking third favourite to reach it behind Phil Bardsley and Simon Mignolet. His effort was rewarded when the two Black Cats seemed to leave the ball to each other, allowing the winger to dink the ball into an empty net. The Wearsiders looked to respond strongly after the break but were hit on the counter twenty minutes in when Craig Gardner was given enough time to blooter a right-footed effort into the bottom corner from twenty-five yards. Game over and Steve Bruce's side will be getting nervous.

At the top, Arsenal passed up the chance to put some pressure on leaders Manchester United, despite taking the lead against Liverpool eight minutes into injury time. All of the drama in this match happened after most games have already finished, with the home side unable to turn their possessional advantage into anything dangerous and the away side looking content to contain them, fielding a patched-up backline as they were. With a goalless draw on the cards and eight minutes injury time already played, the Gunners looked have been gifted an important win when the otherwise tidy Jay Spearing caught Cesc Fabregas's standing leg in the box. Robin van Persie, in a brief appearance onside, converted from the spot, cool as a hired gun and that should have been it. Should have but wasn't. With the clock ticking down, Alex Song tripped Jonjo Shelvey on the edge of the Arsenal box and, though Luis Suarez smacked the free-kick straight into the wall, Lucas Leiva got ahead of Emmanuel Eboue on the way to the rebound and, decelerating, allowed the Arsenal man to run straight into the back of him. Dirk Kuyt rammed home the penalty to send the travelling fans wild and put a serious dent in the North Londoners' title aspirations.

In fact, it could be Arsenal's second-place spot that is under threat, after Chelsea booked a comfortable win at the Hawthorns. The away side's positive start was briefly halted on seventeen minutes when Jerome Thomas sent Peter Odemwingie clear to provide a delightful finish beyond Petr Cech. The Baggies lead only lasted five minutes, as they contrived to gift Chelsea a way back into the game. Scott Carson failed to cut out a Florent Malouda cross-shot and Nicky Shorey, rather than launching the ball out for a corner, turned it back into the area where a grateful Didier Drogba buried it in the net. Drogba was involved in Chelsea's second just four minutes later, turning into space before firing off a low effort Carson could only parry out to the lurking Salomon Kalou, who produced a tidy finish. Any hopes the home side had of getting back into the game were dashed on teh stroke of half-time, when Frank Lampard collected Malouda's lay-off before scoring inside Carson's near post. The defending champions could have extended their lead in a second half in which they continued to create chances but they had done enough and now have the Gunners in their sights, even if Manchester United look to be out of reach.

Full results

Arsenal 1 - Liverpool 1

Birmingham City 2 - Sunderland 0

Blackpool 1 - Wigan Athletic 3

Everton 2 - Blackburn Rovers 0

Fulham P - Bolton Wanderers P

Manchester City P - Tottenham Hotspur P

Newcastle United P - Manchester United P

Stoke City P - Wolverhampton Wanderers P

West Bromwich Albion 1 - Chelsea 3

West Ham United 1 - Aston Villa 2

 

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