Highlights from last week and a look ahead to sport on Aus TV nextweek.
By William Thompson
The festive season didn’t disappoint, with a bumper packed Premiership schedule which had Liverpool rediscovering their backbone, Arsenal stepping up a gear and Mancini’s Manchester City recording back to back wins. It’s still tight at the top with Just 10 points separating Chelsea in top spot to Villa in 6th. The pick of the 3rd Round FA Cup action was at Old Trafford with Leeds United, now of League One, winning 1-0 against bitter rivals Manchester United. This result proved not only to be the biggest upset of the weekend but one of the biggest 3rd Round shocks in recent years. In the cricket England thumped South Africa in the second test, winning by an innings, and taking a 1-0 lead in the series after drawing the first test in Centurion.
Pick of the Festive Action
The pick of the Boxing Day action saw Birmingham hold league leaders Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at St Andrews. At the foot of the table West Ham beat fellow strugglers Portsmouth 2-0 at Upton Park. Arsenal thumped Villa 3-0 at the Emirates with Fabregas fulfilling his super-sub roll, coming on midway through the second half and netting two goals. Diaby sealed the win in injury time with a well taken 3rd goal. Hull put up an impressive fight against Manchester United at the KC Stadium and, after going 1-0 down just before the break, leveled via the penalty spot early on in the second half. Manchester United responded well and left the KC 3-1 winners.
The second round of fixtures saw Chelsea get back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Fulham at the Bridge. Tottenham beat West Ham 2-0 at the Lane whilst Fernando Torres left it very late to sink Villa 1-0, scoring in the 93rd minute to end with Liverpool taking all 3 points at Villa Park (view video highlights here). Birmingham kept up their impressive form with a 1-0 win away at Stoke whilst Hull fought back from two goals down to come away with a point at Bolton. Arsenal cruised past Portsmouth at Fratton Park, winning 4-1, with the final game seeing Manchester United rout Wigan 5-0 at old Trafford.
The Premier League at the close of 2009 has Chelsea top on 45 points, 2 points clear of Manchester United in second. Arsenal’s recent good form sees them put some daylight between them and Spurs, who sit in 4th. Arsenal also have a game in hand which could see them leapfrog Manchester United into second spot, should they defeat Bolton at the Emirates this week. Villa’s poor Christmas performance sees them drop to 6th place whilst Manchester City move up to 5th spot, level with Villa on 35 points. Liverpool made up some ground with 2 wins over the festive period and remain in 7th place, 4 points off Spurs. Birmingham are in 8th place with 32 points. At the bottom, Portsmouth, Hull and Bolton all occupy the relegation spots, although, like the top end of the table, it’s tight with 3 points separating Hull in 18th place to Stoke in 12th.
In other news Gary Megson was relieved of his duties as Bolton Wanderers manager after two and a half years in charge with Bolton eyeing up Burnley’s Owen Coyle as a potential replacement.
The FA Cup 3rd Round took place over the weekend with the big shock of the round seeing League One Leeds United knocking out Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford. Leeds took the lead on 19 minutes with Beckford scoring the winner. Leeds played extremely well and could have doubled their lead, if not for the wood work intervening after a well struck free kick in the second half. Leeds dug in and left Old Trafford with their first victory since 1981. View video highlights here.
Other 3rd round results saw Arsenal come from a goal behind to beat West Ham 2-1 at Upton Park, holders Chelsea spanked Watford 5-0, Aston Villa beat Premier League rivals Blackburn 3-1, Manchester City beat Middlesbrough 1-0 up at the Riverside, Reading held Liverpool in a 1-1 draw at the Majestic Stadium (view video highlights here), Tottenham brushed aside Peterborough 4-0, Wigan defeated Hull 4-1 at the JJB and Birmingham played out a 0-0 draw with midland rivals Nottingham Forest.
The 4th round of the FA Cup was also drawn over the weekend with the pick fixtures seeing Tottenham taking on giant killers Leeds United at White Hart Lane, Brighton travel up to Villa Park, and Preston host cup holders Chelsea.
In the cricket, England spanked South Africa in the second test in Durban, wrapping up victory on day 5 winning by an innings and 98 runs. Graeme Swann was the star of the show taking 5 wickets for 54 runs. England lead the series 1-0 with two tests to play, with the 3rd test currently taking place in Cape Town.
The Carling Cup semi final first legs take place this week with Aston Villa travelling to Ewood Park to take on Blackburn, whilst Manchester United face Manchester City at Eastlands. In the Premier League Stoke play Fulham whilst Arsenal take on Bolton at the Emirates – a win for Arsenal would take them into second spot, one point behind leaders Chelsea. The pick of the weekend action sees Manchester United take on in form Birmingham City at St Andrews, Chelsea travel to Hull, Arsenal host Everton, and Tottenham travel up to Anfield to to take on Liverpool.
PomSport on Australian TV this week
Thursday January 7
Arsenal v Bolton (6.40am – 9am) Fox Sports 1
Manchester City v Manchester United (6.40am – 9am) Fox Sports 2
Saturday January 9
Hull v Chelsea (11am – 1.55am) Fox Sports 1
Sunday January 10
Arsenal v Everton (1.55am – 4.30am) Fox Sports 1
Birmingham City v Manchester United (4.30am – 6.30am) Fox Sports 1
Monday January 11
West Ham v Wolves (12.25am – 2.30am) Fox Sports 1
Liverpool v Tottenham (2.55am – 5am) Fox Sports 1
Football EPL Highlights (6pm – 7pm) Fox Sports 1
Tuesday January 12
Manchester City v Blackburn (6.55am – 9am) Fox Sports 1
POMSPORT Classic Goal of the Week
This weeks POMSPORT classic goal comes courtesy of Mr Paul Gascoigne, who back in Euro 96 scored a cracking goal against Scotland in the group stages. Gazza’s infamous dentist chair goal celebration followed, which is also up there amongst the best all time goal celebrations!