Four was the magic number this Saturday in the English Premier League. Aston Villa, Manchester United and those Wanderers from Wolverhampton all hit the net four times in the process of recording important wins. So, without any four-ther ado (the last ‘four’ pun, I promise) here is a rundown of the Saturday action.
Manchester United’s clash at Wigan was always likely to be one-sided, and so it proved. United seemed to forget that their away form isn’t very good and only fell one short of the five goal haul that they managed at Wigan last year. Sir Alex’s decision to leave Dimitar Berbatov on the bench and instead start Javier Hernandez proved to be a master stroke as the ‘little pea’ showed good composure to score the first two goals. Wayne Rooney and Fabio da Silva put the icing on the cake, but would things have been different if Rooney’s stray elbow had been punished accordingly? We’ll never know of course, but Wigan certainly have right to feel aggrieved. Bigger challenges lay ahead for the Red Devils, but their Premier League freight train has got back up to speed quickly after their breakdown at Molineux, and it’s Molineux where we go next.
Wolves’ record Premier League crowd sat down to enjoy the day’s big relegation clash, but those fans weren’t sat down for long. It only took Matt Jarvis a matter of seconds to breach the Blackpool’s defence and give Wolves an early lead. As the half approached the match was looking finely poised, until DJ Campbell (the ‘DJ’ stands for Dudley Junior by the way) went and ruined it. There seemed little provocation to warrant Campbell’s stroppy push in the face of Richard Stearman, but something inside the DJ boiled over and as he left the pitch Blackpool’s hopes of a comeback went with him. In the modern game where over-reaction and injury feigning are common-place, to not see Stearman go down clutching his face and act out a traumatic near-death experience after the encounter was a refreshing example of manliness from a Premier League footballer. The rest of the league take note!
Wolves utterly outclassed the 10 man, Charlie Adam-less Blackpool and were well worth their four goal winning margin – the last of which was a classy finish from two-goal Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Wolves fans would be forgiven for forgetting what a comfortable victory felt like. This was only their second league win by more than one goal since August 2009.
Aston Villa and Everton reminded the world that they’re actually both good sides and that, for the most part, their performances this season haven’t done them justice. Ashley Young and Jermaine Beckford made a welcome return to the scorecard were both pivotal to their side’s successes. Everton compounded more misery on sorry Sunderland and gave Steve Bruce a lot to think about following his midweek contract extension. And Aston Villa, who’ve been much improved since the arrival of Darren Bent, finally got everything to click, bossed their game against Blackburn and became the second midlands side to net four times this afternoon. Villa now find themselves above Rovers, and Everton have moved into the top half of the league for the first time this season.
Bolton‘s Daniel Sturridge’s red-hot scoring form continued as he found the net at St James’ Park to cancel out Kevin Nolan’s opener for Newcastle United. Nolan’s resurgence this season was always over-shadowed by Andy Carroll, but Nolan’s goal today brought him up to double figures and level with Didier Drogba for the season.
To end this jovial run-down on a more sombre note, I was deeply saddened to hear of the untimely passing of former Wolves and Spurs defender Dean Richards. Having seen him play live on numerous occasions I could really appreciate the size and skill of the man and his debut goal for Spurs against Manchester United is a particularly fond memory of mine. His career was cut short and so was his life, rest in peace Dean.