Chelsea and Manchester United suffer shock losses at home, Arsenal edge past QPR
Manchester United 2 – 3 Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers defied recent form, and the history books, with a surprising 3-2 victory over Manchester United. Rovers hadn’t beaten United in their last ten meetings, whilst last season the Red Devils triumphed 7-1 over the Lancashire side.
Ferguson’s 70th birthday celebrations were put on hold after Yakubu had given the visitors the lead with a penalty on 16 minutes. The Nigerian doubled Blackburn’s lead when he made the most of some poor United defending, however striker Dimitar Berbatov helped the home side get back into the game, but it was Steve Kean who celebrated New Years Day in style, with young starlet, Grant Hanley, heading in the winner 10 minutes from time.
Kean’s side are now off the bottom, with 14 points, whilst United may find themselves three points adrift of rivals Manchester City, who play Sunderland on Sunday.
Arsenal 1 – 0 Queens Park Rangers
Arsenal ended 2011 in the top four with a single goal victory over city rivals Queens Park Rangers. Robin Van Persie netted the only goal of the game; the 300th goal Arsenal have scored in Premier League London derby games.
Van Persie converted his 35th goal of 2011, one shy of the record held by Alan Shearer for the total number of goals in a calendar year. He arguably should have broken the record on his first half alone, with the Dutchman missing four chances, with Aaron Ramsey also having an effort cleared off the line.
Theo Walcott should have done better when played through, however it was the Arsenal skipper once again to rescue the wasteful Gunners. On the hour mark, Andrey Arshavin’s through ball was taken first time by Robin Van Persie, who got the goal the home side merited, and craved.
Arsenal continued to press for a second goal, with Gervinho guilty of missing a sitter, however it remained just the one goal, but the three points, for the North London side.
Arsenal now sit in a UEFA Champions League spot, however drop one place to 17th, two points above the bottom three.
Chelsea 1 – 3 Aston Villa
Two late goals from Stiliyan Petrov and Darren Bent gave Aston Villa all three points in an enthralling match at Stamford Bridge. Villa hadn’t won in their last nine visits to Chelsea in the Premier League, however despite finding themselves behind to a Didier Drogba penalty, the Midlands side rallied and came away with three points from the Capital.
Drogba netted the spot kick after he was fouled by Richard Dunne on 23 minutes, however the visitors found themselves level just five minutes later when Steven Ireland tapped home on the second attempt.
Despite Fernando Torres crashing a shot against the crossbar, two efforts inside the final ten minutes gave Alex McLeish’s side victory.
Villa skipper, Petrov, played in by Kieran Clarke tucked in his fourth of the season on 83 minutes, and just three minutes later, Darren Bent couldn’t miss after Ireland teed the England International up, after Frank Lampard’s sloppy pass.
The result means Chelsea fall out of the top four, however the Villains climb into the top half of the table.
Swansea City 1 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Scott Sinclair’s late goal meant Tottenham failed to close the gap on the top two as the points were shared at the Liberty Stadium. Rafael Van Der Vaart had given the visitors the lead, just before half time, and Sinclair’s equaliser meant the South Wales side went home the happier.
It now means that Swansea have won just once in the last nine games, but they still remain five points above the relegation zone. Tottenham opened the scoring despite being on the back foot in the early stages of the game, with Rafael Van Der Vaart acrobatically diverting the ball goalwards a minute before the break. Despite Spurs trying to push for a second, Brad Friedel’s mistake six minutes from time meant Sinclair smashed home a deserved leveller.
Saturday also saw Bolton and Wolves clash which ended in an entertaining 1-1 draw, whilst Fulham travelled to Carrow Road, where Simeon Jackson’s late goal meant Norwich drew with the Londoners in a 1-1 affair. Stoke drew in a high scoring draw with Wigan with both sides scoring inside the final 10 minutes, whilst Friday evening saw Liverpool stretch their unbeaten home record to ten games with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle. Club captain Steven Gerrard’s 30 minute appearance off the bench helped inspire the Reds to victory, with Gerrard himself netting the third, and clinching, goal.