Just Man City being Man City
Recapping Round 14 of the Premier League
Man City won (by a lot). Manchester United won (by a little). Chelsea won! For the first time in forever, basically. (OK, OK, they won two weeks ago. But c'mon, that was against Wolves.) We look at where we went right and where we went wrong from last week's Round 14 preview.
It's worth noting, by the way, that some of the more touching moments of the weekend came from the many tributes Premier League clubs held for Gary Speed -- perhaps the most moving when Tottenham striker (and Wales native) Gareth Bale took off his boot, reading RIP Gary Speed, and raised it to the crowd.
On to the results.
Chelsea 3, Newcastle 0
Well, well, Mr. Villas Boas. All of a sudden, Chelsea remembered that it used to know how to play football, and it did so using some of the old guard -- Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard (well, kind of). Drogba's headed goal put Chelsea ahead, and Kalou and Daniel Sturridge both scored in the dying minutes to solidify a convincing Blues win. Newcastle, meanwhile, looked rough.
We were right: Sports Direct Arena does look silly.
We were wrong: About everything else. Chelsea looked clinical, and Newcastle stopped winning.
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Blackburn 4, Swansea 2
Steve Kean proved that forfeiting a silver trophy isn't all bad if you can score four goals against a former championship side a few days later. Kean's side earned its first win since September, moving out of the bottom spot (and into the third-to-last spot) in the process. Who'd have guessed that Blackburn-Swansea would be one of the two highest-scoring games this week?
We were right: Blackburn won.
We were wrong: About nothing. Take that!
Man City 5, Norwich 1
Oh, my gosh, Sergio Aguero scored? What a surprise. And Samir Nasri, too. And Adam Johnson, geez. Oh, wait, Yaya Toure, too? And Mario Balotelli. Look at that. You guys, this game was not interesting. Everyone who has ever played for Man City scored (except for Tevez ... ba-dum ching), and Norwich looked as intimidated as we knew it would, despite its best efforts not to.
We were right: Norwich didn't have a prayer. Man City are far and away the best team in the league thus far.
We were wrong: Batelli didn't get bored on the bench. Instead, he came on in the second half and scored. With his shoulder.
QPR 1, West Brom 1
Happy birthday, Neil Warnock. You don't have any good keepers, and your team went up a goal in this match only to give up two points and settle for a draw in the closing minutes. QPR has won only one game in five since beating Chelsea in October, and it's sitting in a very crowded midtable pack (right next to West Brom, as a matter of fact).
We were right: About a draw.
We were wrong: About Elvis Putnins getting his first Prem start. Instead, Warnock played third-string Radek Cerny, who gave up only the one goal.
Tottenham 3, Bolton 0
So, this Gareth Bale is pretty good. Especially when his team's opponent is down to 10 men and isn't really very good to begin with. In Bolton's defense, referee Stuart Attwell's decision to send off Tim Cahill for a challenge just inside Bolton's half was laughable. But it opened the door for Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe (on a Bale assist) to increase Spurs' lead and seal an easy win.
We were right: Tottenham won.
We were wrong: We used to think Bale was overrated. Gareth, if you're reading, many apologies.
Arsenal 4, Wigan 0
In news that won't surprise anyone, Robin Van Persie scored. Again. But in a convincing win against Wigan, he shared the wealth. Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho and Mikel Arteta all put goals past a hapless Wigan squad, which now remains firmly entrenched in last place (and with a minus-16 goal differential).
We were right: Told you that Arsenal was totally focusing on league play. That's why they can score four goals on Wigan, guys.
We were wrong: About thinking that no one but Van Persie would ever score another goal for Arsenal.
Manchester United 1, Aston Villa 0
Phil Jones, eh? On a night when most expected the headlines to center on Ashley Young's return to Villa, defender Jones -- who started out in midfield -- instead scored the first goal of his career in the 20th minute of the match. United was by far the superior team, maintaining control for much of the match, though it didn't make for the most entertaining matchup.
We were right: That United would be "stuck" with Javier Hernandez. Unfortunately for Devils fans, he was carted off in the 12th minute with an ankle injury.
We were wrong: When we thought it would be an exciting match. Sigh. Forgot United only plays terrible 1-0 wins anymore. (Seriously. Five games, four 1-0 wins.)
Stoke 1, Everton 0
This game was
not good. Everton was terrible. Stoke was less terrible enough to score, but also pretty terrible. But the win pushed the Potters all the way up to eighth in the table (despite its minus-9 goal differential). So, together with its Europa League comeback on Thursday, a good week for Stoke.
We were right: That the game was no barn burner. Heavy rain and two midtable teams does not a classic match make.
We were wrong: About just about everything. Everton lost, Stoke won.
Wolverhampton 2, Sunderland 1
Poor Martin O'Neill. He went from, "Hooray, I have a new job," to "Oh, dear, this job might not work out so well for me, might it?" mode within about 48 hours. O'Neill was in the director's box to watch his future team's disappointing loss to Wolves in which they scored first. And missed a penalty that would have put them up 2-1. Then gave up the winning goal in the 81st minute. Oh, dear, indeed, Mr. O'Neill.
We were right: O'Neill himself. He was confirmed as the new boss approximately .3218 seconds after last week's preview was published.
We were wrong: Well, since we didn't actually make a prediction for this result, we can't really be wrong, right?
Fulham 1, Liverpool 0
Liverpool had about 1,287,924 chances in this game. It scored none of them. And then Jay Spearing, in his first ever Prem start and replacing injured Lucas, went in studs-high in the 71st minute and was rewarded with a red card. In the 85th minute, Fulham took one good chance and did score on it. Clint Dempsey's goal off Pepe Reina's miscue proved the difference and put a potentially large dent in Liverpool's top-four chances.
We were right: That Reds fans missed Lucas more than ever. Most of Fulham's (few) chances came between the midfield and defenders.
We were wrong: That Liverpool's 11-game unbeaten streak wouldn't end at 15th-place Fulham.