Manchester United’s 7 games winning streak came to an end on derby day, whilst the owner of the 3rd ticket to the Championship remaining an enigma, with only 3 points separating 18th place Wigan and 15th place Stoke.
The Manchester derby on Monday night was a crucial encounter, albeit the 15 points gap between Manchester City and Manchester United. City’s midfield domination proved itself when James Milner’s pile driver went past De Gea, but United’s response was immediate, as Kompany put the ball into his own net 7 minutes later. Mancini’s usage of his bench was sublime as he shifted into a 4-4-2,when Aguero came on for Nasri, which saw Aguero netting his 3rd goal against United, to decrease the gap to 12 points. An Everton side, deprived yet again from Fellaini and Pienaar, had to go to White Hart Lane to face a Bale-less Tottenham Spurs. Adebayor’s 3 months goal drought came to an end when he gave Spurs an early lead, but a Jagielka header brought the Toffees back into the game. Kevin Mirallas’ 3rd goal in his last 4 matches put Everton ahead, however, a late equalizer from Gylfi Sigurdsson clinched a point that could be proven vital in the Champions League race.
QPR‘s hopes were nearly demolished after losing the West-London derby last week, but a win over Wigan would have revived some hope. A world class finish from Loïc Remy was the light at the end of the tunnel for the Hoops, but their failure to keep a clean sheet in the last 6 matches continued, as a Shaun Maloney’s free kick went past Cesar in the dying seconds. Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa traveled to the Britannia, to face Stoke City who recorded only 5 points since the new year. Gabriel Agbonlahor’s recent run of a goal per match continued with a simple finish to open the score, while Stoke equalized through Michael Kightly just before Matthew Lowton’s belter which is undoubtedly the goal of the season. Christian Benteke’s goal tally reached the number 15 with a 3rd goal to secure Villa the win.
Paolo Di Canio’s first away day as Sunderland‘s manager had to be a trip down south to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. Cezar Azpilicueta’s scrappy own goal wasn’t enough for the Black cats, as Chelsea grabbed two goals to pin Sunderland in 17th place. West Brom hosted an inform Arsenal at the Hawthorns, where the Gunners have never failed to score. A Tomas Rosicky double gave Arsenal their 3rd consecutive win, despite conceding from a James Morrison penalty. Swansea traveled to Carrow Road to face a Norwich side, who were in search of their 7th home win. Michu’s 17th of the season took Swansea in front, but 2 goals from Michael Turner and Robert Snodgrass weren’t enough for the Canaries, as Luke Moore’s goal held them to a 2-2 draw.
Newcastle‘s home form continued when they hosted Martin Jol’s Fulham at St.James’ Park, a Papiss Cisse injury time winner secured a 4th consecutive home win and a 2 place leap in the table. Nigel Adkins welcomed his previous employers, as bottom of the league Reading hosted Southampton at the Madejski. The Saints’ jumped to the number 11 in the league’s standing as they grabbed a win through Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana. West Ham‘s trip to Anfield ended Liverpool‘s scoring streak, as they were held to a goal-less draw, to record the Hammers’ 9th clean sheet.
Player to watch:
With 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 matches, Jay Rodriguez proved to be a major player in Pochettino’s recent run. The Saints striker is our player to watch when Southampton entertain Sam Allardyce’s West Ham at St.Mary’s.
It was the match between Inter Milan and Atalanta that definitely stole the show this week, as Inter were hoping for a payback for their 3-2 loss back in November. Inter led at half time thanks to Rocchi who scored his 1st goal with the Nerazzurri. Atalanta leveled things with the start of the 2nd half but Ricky Alvarez responded just 61 seconds later and bagged another just 3 minutes later. But Inter just let the 3-1 advantage slip away when Germin Denis scored a hat-trick in 12 minutes to seal the win for the visitors. Cristian Raimondi received a red card in the final minutes after punching Ezequiel Schelotto, with Rannochia missing a sitter with the final whistle as well to dismiss any chance for Inter to claim a draw.
Roma and Lazio had to settle for a draw in the Rome Derby, after not having a single draw in any of their previous 11 Serie A meetings. Hernanes opened the score sheet with an amazing screamer, finding the net in 3 of the last 4 derbies against Roma in Serie A but couldn’t double his name when he missed a penalty just after the break. It was the turning point of the match, as Roma themselves earned a penalty 8 minutes later which Totti managed to convert. All the eyes were looking to see which player will be dismissed as the last 9 derbies have seen 14 red cards and it was Lazio’s Giuseppe Biava who earned 2 yellow cards in 6 minutes with 20 minutes in the clock. Lazio and Roma remain in the 5th and 7th positions respectively.
Udinese secured a 3-1 win and ended a four match winless run against Chievo thanks to Antonio Di Natale, who returned to scoring form, scoring a brace and his 170th Serie A goal. Udinese stay in the 9th position while Chievo remain in the 16th position. AC Milan remain unbeaten in Serie A in 2013 after obtaining a draw against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Firenze. Montolivo scored his 1st goal versus his former team and assisted another, while Fiorentina scored from the penalty spot twice after a controversial decision from Paolo Tagliavento, who also dismissed Fiorentina’s Nenad Tomic after 40 minutes. Milan and Fiorentina stay in the 3rd and 4th place respectively.
Bologna seemed to be heading for an easy win when they hosted Torino, however Rolando Bianchi surprised the hosts with an equalizer in the stoppage time to spoil the party and earn a draw for the visitors, ending the match in 2-2. Juventus left it late when they hosted the struggling Pescara. Marco Vucinic scored a brace in the last 20 minutes, once from the penalty spot after Giuseppe Rizzo was red carded. Juventus grab all 3 points and extend their lead at the top by 12 points with 7 games to go while Pescara remain hopeless at the bottom of the table with only 21 points.
Napoli keep second place in hand with an easy win against Genoa at the San Paolo. Goals from Pandev and Dzemaili were enough to seal the win for the home side, with Edinson Cavani missing his 8th penalty out of 21 taken for Napoli in Serie A, and Genoa remain winless in their last 6 games. Palermo claimed a very important win when they visited Sampdoria, obtaining their first away win in 371 days back in April 2012. Palermo have scored 3+ goals in an away game for the first time this season thanks to Fabrizio Miccoli who has been directly involved in 4 of Palermo’s last 5 goals (1 scored, 3 assisted).
It was a goalless draw at both Angelo Massimino when Catania hosted Cagliari, and at Artemio Franchi when Parma visited Siena. Catania failed to take a step to play in Europe next season and stay in the 8th place while Cagliari remain in the 11th place, losing only 1 game in their last 12. Siena who draw for the 3rd week in a row, are out of the relegation zone for the time being with 27 points along with Palermo and Genoa in the 18th and 19th positions.
Player To Watch:
German Denis (Atalanta): The Argentinean forward is Atalanta’s top scorer with 15 goals this season, five of which came versus Inter Milan in both matches and has 4 assists. Denis has a major role in securing a place for Atalanta in Serie A next season.
Real Sociedad hosted Malaga with both teams hoping to get out of the match with the fourth place. Real Sociedad took the advantage that their opponents suffered a Champions League hangover against Borussia Dortmond in the middle of the week by scoring 3 goals before the half hour mark through Carlos Vela, De La Bella & Griezmann. However, Malaga, who started the match with 8 changes to the team that faced Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Champions League very much in mind, scored a goal before the end of the 1st half through Morales. Inigo Martinez scored the 4th goal for the hosts at the start of the 2nd half, killing any hopes for Malaga and maintaining the amazing performance of his team which led them to lose only 1 match in the last 20 games. Nine-man Atletico Madrid went out with a 0-0 stalemate against Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez earning their 2nd draw in a row.
Deportivo‘s incredible resurgence in recent weeks continued this week when they came out 3-2 winners over relegation fighters, Real Zaragoza. The home side had already beaten fellow strugglers Celta Vigo and Mallorca in recent weeks, and then the trend looked set to continue when Bruno Gama scored in the 11th minute. The vistors turned the table with 2 goals through Helder Postiga and Francisco Montanes, however the hosts managed to equalise five minutes later, thanks to Carlos Marchena. A horrible afternoon for Abraham was in store, who turned the ball into his own net to make it 3-2, before getting himself sent off, leaving Zaragoza with an uphill task to get back into the match. Deportivo have now moved off the bottom of the table for the first time since the beginning of December. The other team in the relegation zone, Celta Vigo, remain joint-bottom of the La Liga after going down 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano at the Balaidos. The Madrid side made their intentions known early and succeeded in getting out of the match with the 3 points, thanks to Piti & Andrija Delibasic.
Top of La Liga, Barcelona, hosted Mallorca this week after returning from their trip to Paris playing their Quarter Final Champions League match against PSG. The Catalan giants were irrepressible with both Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez putting in first-rate performances. The pair combined magnificently to end the first half with two goals and two assists each, before the former Arsenal man completed his hat-trick soon after the restart. In the end there was no additional goals leaving Barcelona with their 13-point advantage at the top of the Liga while Mallorca fall to the foot of the table. The neighbouring Catalonian team, Espanol, further distanced themselves from the relegation zone with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Osasuna at El Sadar, thanks to Hector Moreno & Wakaso.
After a slow start to the game, Levante stunned the Real Madrid fans as Michel scored on the break to put his side ahead. The goal appeared to spark a Real Madrid side into action and a spectacular goal from Gonzalo Higuain was quickly succeeded by a Kaka penalty, with Cristiano Ronaldo slamming in a third before setting up Mesut Ozil for his first of two late goals. Real Madrid remain in their 2nd place while Levante’s challenge for a top-four spot looks to have all but vanished. Real Valladolid’s decent start was undone five minutes before the break when Mikel Balenziaga unluckily turned the ball into his own net following a corner kick, giving Valencia the opening goal. However, Oscar Gonzalez scored the equaliser 20 minutes from the end. The match looked destined to remain 1-1, but two minutes from time Jonas popped up at the front post to glance into the far corner, sending the Mestalla faithful into raptures.
Real Betis was the third team to score five goals in a match this week after the 2 giants, this time against Granada at the Los Carmenes. Inigo Lopez, Pabon, Angel Lopez, and a brace from Ruben Castro gave Betis their 5 goals, while Carlos Aranda scored the hosts’ only goal. At the end, the Andalusian team found themselves within four points of the Champions League places while Granada should worry about their place in the Liga next season. Alvaro Negredo scored a brace while Gurpegui scored a single goal giving Sevilla a 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao.
Player to watch:
Sevilla’s striker Alvaro Negredo deserves to be our player to watch for this week. The first Spanish player on the top scorers table for this season scored a brace this week giving his team a hope in getting out of the season with a place in one of the European competitions.
Champions League football returns again this week, as Juventus‘ search for a semi final place since 2003 continues when they host recently crowned German champions Bayern Munich on Wednesday evening. Vidal and Lichtsteiner will miss out due to suspension, Jupp Heynecks’ squad is free of injuries excluding Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber. Barcelona will welcome PSG at the Camp Nou, with Messi’s participation being a doubt as he is going to be assessed before tomorrow’s game.