Aston Villa 2-0 Cardiff
A spectacular free-kick from Leandro Bacuna saw Aston Villa end their goal drought against a tough Cardiff City outfit. Villa had gone seven-and-a-half hours without finding the net before the Dutch winger’s effort. Villa also kept their first home clean sheet for 16 games as Cardiff were brought back down to earth following their derby win over Swansea. It wasn’t all plain sailing at Villa Park though – there was a growing sense of disquiet in the stands as the clock ticked away on Villa’s wait for a goal. David Marshall, the Cardiff goalkeeper, produced 3 outstanding saves from Karim El Ahmadi, Yacouba Sylla and Christian Benteke in a frantic opening. The boos at half-time are becoming a regular occurrence at Villa Park but Bacuna lifted the game – and the crowd – out of the doldrums. Libor Kozak made the points safe late on when he scored Villa’s second with a close-range header after Matthew Lowton had set him up. While FPL managers will be no doubt be keeping an eye on Benteke to see if he can regain his early season form, it was budget midfielder Bacuna who grabbed the headlines.
Bonus points: Leandro Bacuna (3), Libor Kozak (2), Ron Vlaar(1)
Chelsea 2-2 West Brom
Yet more penalty controversy in the Premier League as a hotly disputed injury time spot kick from Eden Hazard rescued a point for Chelsea in this engrossing encounter at the Bridge. Hazard’s strike maintained Jose Mourinho’s unblemished 65-game PL home record in the most dramatic manner but concerns are justified regarding this ageing Chelsea side. The team looked in uninspiring form against West Brom’s well-organised defence. Both Chelsea goals had been gifted to them though, first when Samuel Eto’o took advantage of Liam Ridgewell’s indecision, to snaffle a poacher’s finish. The second, right at the death, was a result of referee Andre Marriner’s belief that Ramires had been fouled under the slightest of contact from Steven Reid. West Brom manager Steve Clarke was understandably furious and perhaps he has a right to be considering the Baggies fought back superbly through Shane Long and Stephane Sessegnon to take the lead.
Bonus points: Eden Hazard (3), Samuel Eto’o (2), Shane Long (1), Stephane Sessengnon (1)
Crystal Palace 0-0 Everton
Managerless Crystal Palace fought out a scoreless draw with the Toffees but will be left ruing a host of missed opportunities. Everton were surprisingly careless and unimaginative in the game particularly going forward. The game had been delayed by 15 minutes because of local transport chaos, and it was a good deal longer than that before the visitors turned up. Romelu Lukaku was largely subdued by Danny Gabbidon and Damien Delaney. Palace should have led though but Marouane Chamakh headed over from six yards (no surprises there then!), Jerome Thomas found himself clean through, but put his chip just wide. Roberto Martinez introduced Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu in an effort to force the pace but despite Phil Jagielka hitting the bar late on, Everton still appeared to lack options.
Bonus points: Phil Jagielka (3), Seamus Coleman (2), Leighton Baines (2), Dean Moxey (2)
Liverpool 4-0 Fulham
Those fantasy managers that handed the captain’s armband to Luis Suarez will no doubt have enjoyed this one sided encounter as a rampant Liverpool produced another ruthless display at Anfield to leave Fulham and manager Martin Jol in the mire. Suarez provided the spark for Liverpool as he scored his 7th and 8th goals of the season, while a Fernando Amorebieta own goal and a thumping header from Martin Skrtel completed the misery for Fulham. The Reds completely dominated this game, Steven Gerrard produced a master-class in the centre of the park and the impressive Philippe Coutinho could count himself unfortunate not to score on his return to the starting line-up. It was a poor performance from Fulham, who’s only shot on target came after 21 minutes when Dimitar Berbatov’s effort was easily dealt with by Simon Mignolet.
Bonus Points: Luis Suarez (3), Steven Gerrard (2), Martin Skrtel (1)
Southampton 4-1 Hull City
The surprise package of the season, the south coast Saints outfit continue to defy the odds and produce hugely entertaining and attacking football. Hull manager Steve Bruce was magnanimous in the 4-1 defeat of the Tigers, describing the Saints as “the best side outside the traditional top four by a distance”. England Manager Roy Hodgson was among the St Mary’s crowd and he witnessed the goal of the day scored by Adam Lallana with an individual effort of the highest quality. He celebrated his England call-up with a wonderful solo run 30 yards from goal and a top drawer finish. Morgan Schneiderlin headed in the 1st before striker Rickie Lambert scored a penalty before Lallana added the third. Yannick Sagbo pulled one back for Hull before Steven Davis fired in to make it 4-1. This win has moved the Saints up to 3rd in the table and they are well worth that lofty position. Could European Football be coming to St Mary’s?
Bonus Points: Rickie Lambert (3), Adam Lallana (2), Yannick Sagbo (1)
Norwich 3-1 West Ham
The final game of Saturday saw a much needed win for Norwich that lifted them out of the relegation zone and relieved some of the pressure on manager Chris Hughton. The Hammers now find themselves below Norwich in the table, having contrived to lose a game that had been there’s for the taking. The Hammers started brightly but all they had to show for these first -half endeavours was Ravel Morrison’s 32nd-minute tap-in. Yet in the second half the Hammers managed to throw it all away. Goalkeeper Jussi Jasskelainen started the trend by needlessly fouling Gary Hooper to concede a penalty that the forward converted himself for his first Premier League goal. Then defender James Collins conceded a free-kick that Robert Snodgrass brilliantly curled over the wall and past Jaaskelainen and the match was finished as a contest when Leroy Fer netted a third in stoppage-time.
Bonus Points: Robert Snodgrass (3), Gary Hooper(3), Ravel Morrisson (1)