Adam’s Premier League Column: United’s title party put on hold

It’s been another fruitful weekend of Premier League football for us all to enjoy. It still remains to be seen who will be relegated come the end of the season; however I do feel that Reading are all but gone. I can’t see where they will get points from, as they still have to play Liverpool, Man City and West Ham.

The tie at home to QPR could well change everything on 28 April but it may be a case of too little too late.

Here are my top three games of the week:

 

Manchester United 1 Manchester City 2

With the champions-elect storming to the title, this match was for bragging rights. United wanted no repeat of the 6-1 demolition job that they faced when the Citizens last visited United at The Theatre of Dreams.

The game started off very openly despite chances being few and far between. City were knocking the ball about nicely and Silva was showing his exquisite touches whilst Carlos Tevez was causing Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand all kinds of problems.

In the second half both teams clunked into another gear, and it was the visitors who took the lead. Ryan Giggs’s attempted back-heel on the right-wing was picked-off by Gareth Barry. Barry’s pass found Samir Nasri who set up Milner’s low drive, which took a slight deflection of youngster Phil Jones to wrong-foot De Gea in the United goal.

Eight minutes later, the home side were given a free-kick from an acute angle after Yaya Touré fouled Rafael. Robin van Persie stepped up and delivered a telling ball into the six-yard box, which Phil Jones’ headed in-off Vincent Kompany to level the scoring.

It was substitute Sergio Agϋero who had the final say, as he rose off the bench to net a truly wonderful goal. He ran at the United defence with pace – in which he brushed aside four players – before unleashing a near-post effort which went high into the roof of the net.

City stood well to some heavy pressure from United, but they simply didn’t have an answer. Meanwhile, City will take plenty of confidence from this victory as they enter their F.A. Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday.

The earliest that Manchester United can now win the league is against Villa on Monday 22 April at Old Trafford, providing that Manchester City do not slip-up against Wigan Athletic.

 

Stoke 1 Aston Villa 3

Stoke are drawing closer and closer to the relegation zone and, during the early stages of the season, very few would have predicted that the Potters would be where they are now. Around November time, they had one of the best defensive records in the league, but have since fallen away.

Without Begovic in goal, I reckon they’d be second from bottom. Whilst that may appear harsh, I believe it to be true. And I’m struggling to put my finger on the lone factor. The trouble is; I don’t think there is one.

Firstly, their forwards simply haven’t performed. Michael Owen has been ineffective due to his long-term injury. At the time of writing, Peter Crouch has only scored 5 league goals, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome 3. Even their top-scorer, Jon Walters, has only netted on 6 occasions.

And all this puts added pressure on the defence to perform. One of their biggest problems is their away form. They’ve won one, drew six and lost nine, whilst shipping in 21 goals (which is rather good) but only scoring nine goals, level with West Ham.

Onto the match, and it was won that neither team could afford to lose. Villa got off to the best start with Agbonlahor stabbing home on his attempt from close-range on nine minutes, after his initial hit was blocked. From then on, it was a cagey encounter and, with what was at stake, not surprising.

Villa had to be at their defensive best, although with ten minutes of normal time remaining, Michael Kightly slammed in to level. There only looked to be one winner as the home side were continuously pressing and looking the most likely to score.

However, Villa went ahead in unlikely fashion. Villa’s right-back Matthew Lowton cushioned a clearance beautifully on his chest, before dispatching an unbelievable volley into the top corner.
Stoke were bewildered and got caught again.

This time, the ball was lost in the middle which Benteke picked up. He drove at Begovic’s goal and had plenty of time to pick his spot before picking the bottom corner, to hand the visitors a deserved three points.

 

Norwich 2 Swansea City 2

This was a cracker! Swansea got off to a flier when Miguel Michu fired the visitors in front in customary fashion after 35 minutes. The lead didn’t last long though as Robert Snodgrass headed into the net after an inch-perfect cross by Elliott Bennett set-up the Scot.

After the interval, the home-side took the incentive and Michael Turner expertly slid in to stab home past Vorm in the Swansea goal.
Luke Moore, who was given a rare start, spoiled the party at Carrow Road by netting from close-range on 75 minutes.

Both sides won’t be drawn into the relegation scrap that’s taking place, I’m confident of that! Swansea will be the more disappointed, although it’s a great point for Norwich against Michael Laudrup’s well-drilled side.

 

My Team of the Week

 

Written by Adam May

Follow Adam on Twitter @Amay132

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