Jermain Defoe puts Tottenham ahead
With only three weeks to go until the final Saturday of competition the key races in the Premier League are heating up. Two key derbys, one in Manchester and the other in London, threw the races for first and fourth place back into uncertainty as Burnley and Hull City seem unwilling to stay in the league for next season. The Manchester United, Manchester City match-up was already covered but read on for a recap of the rest of the action in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur 2, Chelsea 1
When Tottenham fell to lowly Portsmouth in the FA Cup semi-finals last Sunday the season looked all but over for Harry Redknap’s side. Spurs faced Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in their next three matches and were already behind Manchester City in the race for fourth. But Spurs easily dispatched Arsenal in midweek and were able to dominate a Chelsea side who’s inconsistency has been an issue all season.
John Terry was unable to get away with a handball in the penalty area in the 15th minute. Jermaine Defoe sent Peter Cech the wrong way to give Tottenham the early lead. Chelsea were unable to mount sustained offensive pressure or mantain posession and the Blues defense broke again in the 44th minute as Garreth Bale embarrassed Paulo Ferreira to rifle a shot to the lower-lefthand corner.
Didier Drogba pulled a groin muscle as he stood in the center circle waiting to kick off the second half. The injury came seconds after Carlos Ancelloti had used his final two substitutions. The Ivorian striker had to stay on despite playing in obvious pain. John Terry was sent off in the 67th minute for his second yellow card in three minutes and there was no feasible way back into the match for Chelsea. Even Frank Lampard’s 18th goal of the season in the second minute of added time served as nothing more than a consolation.
Tottenham have pulled off their second massive upset in as many games and will look to make it three for three next week at Old Trafford. Chelsea need to find their defensive form and some consistency up top if they are to hold off Manchester United.
Birmingham 0, Hull City 0
This match-up featured a Birmingham club with nothing to play for and a Hull City side with everything at stake. The Tigers, sitting four points from safety and fresh off a 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of Burnley, desperately needed a result in order to preserve any hope of Premier League play next season. A 0-0 draw is not the worst outcome for Ian Dowie’s men but victories need to start coming soon. Chances for either side were few and far between with Jimmy Bullard’s shot directly at Joe Hart the best of the bunch.
Dowie said it was a “display to be proud of” given Birmingham’s stellar home record this season but with games running out and a final-day fixture against Liverpool looming one has to wonder if the clock has run out on Hull City.
Sunderland 2, Burnley 1
Sunderland officially secured safety from relegation with a comfortable victory over a Burnley side who are anything but safe. Fraizer Campbell kicked off the scoring for Sunderland following a brilliant cross from Alan Hutton. Campbell then played provider with a headed cross to Darren Bent for his 24th goal of the season. Steve Thompson brought a goal back in the 82nd minute but Burnley was unable to equalize thus bringing their away record to 1-1-16 for the season. The news doesn’t get better for Brian Laws’ men as their remaining fixtures are Liverpool, away to Birmingham and Tottenham.
Stoke City 1, Bolton Wanderers 2
Bolton edged closer to safety with a surprising victory over Stoke City. Stoke took the early lead with a Dave Kitson goal in the 13th minute but it was Matthew Taylor who played savior for Bolton with a cracking free-kick in the 85th minute before scoring the late winner two minutes from time. Stoke nearly equalized in the dying minutes but Stoke Captain Abdoulaye Faye sent his close range shot over the bar to hand Bolton a vital three points. The Wanderers now sit in 14th place and seven points clear of danger.
Fulham 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Fulham seem to be focused soley on the Europa League at this point and could only manage a scoreless draw against Wolves at Craven Cottage. Bobby Zamora’s second-half shot came off the post in one of the only full-fleged chances of the afternoon. Wolves sit six points clear of Hull City and three points clear of West Ham United. Mick McCarthy’s side has a relativley easy run of remaining fixtures with Blackburn, Portsmouth and Sunderland left on their docket. Fulham’s Europa League tie against Hamburg looks very much in doubt because of the European airspace lock down.
Blackburn Rovers 2, Everton 3
Tim Cahill continued his glorious return to form with a late winner against Blackburn. The victory keeps The Toffees’ slim Europa League hopes alive as they sit only a point behind Aston Villa and two behind Liverpool. Mikel Arteta opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the fourth minute but the contest came alive when Steven Nzonzi equalized with a 30-yard shot past Tim Howard. Substitute Ayegbeni Yakubu put Everton back in front following Leighton Baines long throw. Blackburn edged even thanks to Jason Roberts’ strike. But it was Cahill’s goal in the 90th minute that secured a valuable three points for Everton.