EPL 2008-09 Season: Gunners Stumble As Devils Go On Rampage
Posted November 16, 2008on:
Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross (left) tries to block United’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot in their Premier Leaguel match at Old Trafford yesterday. – AFPpic
LONDON: Arsenal’s title challenge suffered a hammer blow yesterday as a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa left them nine points adrift of leaders Liverpool.
A week after they had reasserted their own title credentials by beating Manchester United, Arsene Wenger’s side suffered their first two-goal defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
An own goal by Gael Clichy and a Gabriel Agbonlahor strike revived Villa’s hopes of Champions League football next season and it could have been worse for the Gunners if Manuel Almunia had not saved Ashley Young’s first-half penalty.
Liverpool kept the pressure on fellow pacesetters Chelsea, who faced West Brom late yesterday, by racking up their tenth win in 13 league outings, a comfortable 2-0 defeat of Bolton.
Champions United leapfrogged Arsenal into third place and eradicated memories of last weekend’s defeat by knocking five goals past Stoke at Old Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo book-ended the win with free-kicks right at the start and right at the end of a one-sided contest.
Michael Carrick claimed United’s second just before half-time, Dimitar Berbatov ended the contest four minutes after the break and, with United strolling, youngster Danny Welbeck came off the bench to score a memorable first goal for the club from well outside the box.
Liverpool’s win came courtesy of headers in either half from Dirk Kuyt and captain Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool’s first-half dominance saw Kuyt hit the bar before he got on the end of Fabio Aurelio’s cross to give his side a 28th-minute lead with a looping header.
Bolton, who are just two points above the relegation zone, mounted a strong fightback after the break but Gary Megson’s side were killed off after Fernando Torres came off the bench.
The Spanish striker, on the comeback trail following a hamstring tear, found space on the right and picked out Gerrard with a delightful, outside-of-the-boot cross that the England midfielder glanced into the net.
Tottenham’s unbeaten run under Harry Redknapp came to an end when they went down to a 2-1 defeat at Fulham that sends Spurs back down into the relegation zone.
Fulham were gifted their opener by another blunder from Tottenham’s Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who allowed a Simon Davies cross to slip through his grasp in the 32nd minute.
Andy Johnson doubled the lead with 20 minutes left and Frazier Campbell’s first Premier League goal came too late for Spurs to salvage a point.
Titus Bramble rescued a point for ten-man Wigan with a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at his former club Newcastle.
Wigan had gone ahead thanks to a spectacular 3rd-minute strike by Ryan Taylor. But after having Emmerson Boyce sent off midway through the second half they had looked set to leave St James’ Park with nothing after late strikes by Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins had given Newcastle the lead.
Sunderland came from behind to take revenge for their League Cup defeat by Blackburn in midweek.
Blackburn deserved to lead at the interval courtesy of Christopher Samba’s stoppage time header from a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner.
But Kenwyne Jones equalised four minutes after the break and strike partner Djibril Cisse sealed a 2-1 win for Roy Keane’s side with a 71st-minute strike.
The day’s other match, between West Ham and Portsmouth, finished in a goalless stalemate. — AFP
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