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January 11, 2010

And then there were two – Premier League fixture chaos likely!

With so many games called off in the Premier League and Cup competitions recently, the top clubs in England must be dreading the amount of games they might have to squeeze in between now and the end of the season. A situation, of course, that could have serious consequences for the fitness and freshness of many players heading off to South Africa for the summer World Cup.

However, in a weekend dominated by the news of the attack on the Togo team bus in Angola, there were just two fixtures surviving thanks to the horrendous spell of wintry weather smothering the country.

Both matches, though, were of real significance. Manchester United would have taken top spot had they won at Birmingham although, in fact, that rarely looked likely. Birmingham, unbeaten now in 12 games and unchanged for the past 9 league matches, are well organised, hard working and possess great energy levels and, after taking the lead through Cameron Jerome might have gone further in front. The equaliser was tinged with controversy as initially Scott Dann’s own goal looked as if it might have been disallowed because of an offside decision against Wayne Rooney. Referee Mark Clattenburg decided that the goal was legitimate – a decision both managers agreed was correct after the game. Darren Fletcher received a late red card after receiving two yellows for fouls.

The game between Arsenal and Everton, played during a continuous snow storm at the Emirates, served up some great entertainment and finished in a 2 – 2 draw. Everton, with USA’s Donovan Landon making his debut, played exciting pressing football and made life very difficult for an in-form Arsenal side. It was no surprise when Osman headed the visitors ahead from a Landon corner and it took a huge deflection from a Denilson shot to equalise. Despite Arsenal dominating second half possession, the Toffees regained the lead when a fine counter attacking move released Steven Pienaar who clipped the ball over the advancing Almunia. Although Arsenal’s second, from Tomas Rosicky, came courtesy of another deflected effort, a draw was probably the right result to a terrific contest.

The table then looks even tighter after these two games. Chelsea have 45 points from 20 games, Manchester United 44 from 21, Arsenal 42 from 20, Spurs 37 from 20 and Manchester City 35 from 19. Liverpool and Birmingham then share 33 points from 20 and 21 games respectively.

La Liga

In Spain, Real Madrid produced one of their most fluent performances of the season at the snowy Bernabéu. In-form Mallorca were beaten 2 – 0, with Higuaín scoring one and providing the assist for Granero for the second.

Any chance of an upset in Tenerife against leaders Barcelona lasted until just after the half hour mark when the irrepressible Lionel Messi scored the first of his hat trick. Further goals from Puyol and a Luna own goal made the scoreline very harsh on the ’chichereros’.
Doomed Xerez also put up a good fight against third placed Valencia, with Carlos Calvo providing one of the highlights of their season when he equalised Mata’s first half effort. However, Goals from Silva and Marchena eased Valencia to victory.

Deportivo kept up their steady improvement and now sit in the fourth Champions League spot, beating Osasuna by a single Juan Rodríguez goal at the start of the second half. Long-time admirers of Spanish football will be delighted to see that Juan Carlos Valeron is still making cameo appearances for the La Coruña team.

Elsewhere, Espanyol beat Zaragoza 2 – 1, Sporting defeated Getafe by a solitary goal and the Málaga and Athletic match finished 1 – 1.

Saturday’s games had seen Sevilla lose at home yet again – 2 – 1 to Racing Santander. The supremely talented 18 year old Canales scored two super goals but goalkeeper Coltorti rivalled him for man of the match with some great saves late in the game after Romaric had pulled one back for the Andalucian side.

Atlético Madrid, who had been mauled by the press since their cup drubbing at Recreativo Huelva in midweek, bounced back in the best possible manner by themselves trouncing Valladolid 4 – 0. Jurado, Fórlan, Agüero and the increasingly influential José Antonio Reyes scored for the Mattressmakers.

The game between Villarreal and Almería finished all square – Nilmar’s header being cancelled out by a Corona penalty.

After 17 games, then, Barcelona lead the way with 43 points, Real Madrid have 41, Valencia 35, Deportivo 31, Sevilla and Mallorca 30.

Posted by admin @ 12:25 pm
Category: Premier League,Spanish League


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