Due to the F.A. Cup semi-finals, last weekend’s Premier League action was restricted to just six fixtures. Everton, Liverpool , Tottenham and Chelsea were all on cup duty, forcing their league games to be re-scheduled for a later date. Due to the shortened fixture list, this edition of Meanwhile will be much shorter than usual but, rest assured, you won’t miss any of the action as the Barclays Premier League enters its final month of the season.
Manchester United consolidated top spot by seeing off a poor but youthful Aston Villa side at Old Trafford on Sunday. It was fomer Villa man, Ashley Young, who allowed the home side to open the scoring when, for the second time in a week, the United winger hit the ground in the penalty area in a cynical act of simulation. Referee Mark Halsey was on the spot as Ciaran Clarke did his best to avoid the England man, however, Young hung a leg out, felt the contact and the rest was pure theatre, literally. As last week, the referee was easier conned than a blind granny; how he gave the award is beyond me.
Rooney tucked home the penalty and, coming as it did in the seventh minute, the writing was on the wall for Villa from very early on. Welbeck (43), Rooney again (73) and Nani (90), on as a substitute, made it 4-0 to United as they ran out easy winners in the end, but the spotlight will fall firmly on Young and his antics, at least for the next while. The pacey star and his club may live to regret the reputation that he’s cultivating for himself in the public consciousness.
Manchester City kept up the pressure on their neighbours at the top of the league by thrashing, Paul Lambert’s, Norwich 1-6 at Carrow Road on Saturday. City’s prodigal son, Carlos Tevez, scored a hat-trick adding to his goal in mid-week to keep Roberto Mancini’s team snapping at the heels of Ferguson’s side, should the latter slip up. City raced to a two goal first half lead through Tevez (18) and, fellow Argentine, Sergio Aguero (27).
In the second half the Canaries got one back early on, Surman (51), but this was to prove scant consolation for the home fans as City would go on to maul their hosts. Tevez made it 1-3 (73), with Aguero adding his second two minutes later, before the former outcast completed his hat-trick, ten minutes from time. Adam Johnson put the cherry on top of a fabulous performance from the away side by making it 1-6 (90).
Swansea City ramped up the pressure on Blackburn Rovers by condemning to their fifth league defeat on the bounce. The Swans, themselves coming off the back of four straight league defeats, were good value for their win as they successfully stopped the rot which had seen them slide down the table in recent weeks.
Gylfi Sigurdsson scored his first goal at the Liberty for Swansea City to give them the lead after 37 minutes; a stunning left-foot curler. Nathan Dyer doubled their advantage, two minutes before half-time, following a mistake by Blackburn defender, Scott Dann. It was Dann again who was involved in Swansea’s third, in the wrong place at the wrong time, the defender could do nothing when Sigurdsson’s effort cannoned the post and came back off him into the net (67). 3-0 Swansea, Rovers remain three points from safety.
With Bolton not playing and Blackburn losing in Wales, Queens Park Rangers had the chance to do themselves a favour by beating West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday. It wasn’t to be for Rangers, however, as the home side, coming off a 0-4 thrashing at Eastlands, took the points through Graham Dorrans’s 22nd minute strike. Rangers had opportunities to take the points but Ben Foster was in good form to keep out Zamora on three occasions and the latter headed over when in a great position.
Wigan continued their fantastic recent run of results against the Premier League “big boys” by stunning Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday night. Having dispatched Liverpool and Manchester United and having been robbed at Stamford Bridge, the Latics arrived in the capital in confident mood, and it showed. Following a bright start from the host, Wigan took the lead, against the run of play, in the seventh minute; Franco di Santo with excellent work to go past Szczesny and tap in, following a quick break-away.
Just over 90 seconds later, unbelievably, it was 0-2. This time Jordi Gomez tapped in from close range after indecision in the Arsenal box. Arteta had been off the pitch receiving treatment when Wigan scored their goals but that mattered little to Roberto Martnez’s men, who were looking for their first ever win at the Emirates. The home side were back in the game just 13 minutes later; Vermaelen with a bullet header but after that, despite dominating the play, they were unable to fashion an equaliser. 1-2 the final score, Arsenal stay third, Wigan climb to 16th, five points clear of the drop-zone.
Finally, Sunderland and Wolves played out a goal-less draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon. Both sides had chances to take all three points, with the Black Cats having the better of the first-half and the away side doing well after the break. Although it stopped the rot for Terry Connor and Wolves, a point was ultimately worthless in their battle for survival and they look certain to go down; Sunderland are comfortable in mid-table.
Wigan Fans image by illarterate aka DanFarrimond