January 4th, 2011
Holiday Results: Official Hangover Crib Sheet
Unlike the French, German, Spanish and Italian leagues, who are civilised enough to stop playing over the festive period, the EPL has been going strong in our absence. While we consider this rude, we are prepared to forgive on the grounds that if the games hadn’t been played, we would not have been able to enjoy the full benefit of Asamoah Gyan’s goal celebration (above) and here, after he scored in Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on the 1st January. (Getty Images/Zimbio)
This win was especially handy for Steve Bruce’s side who were coming off the back of two 2-0 defeats to Manchester United and Blackpool. They are now in sixth place in the table, but if clubs received extra points for exotic dance on the pitch, they would definitely be top.
Currently just above them in fifth are Chelsea. Yes, that Chelsea. A miserable first half of the season for the Blues was topped off with a 3-1 defeat to title rivals Arsenal on the 27th December, and while a 1-0 win over Bolton on the 29th gave fans room for optimism, it was merely damage limitation. A last minute equaliser from Kickette Sizzle Query candidate Ciaran Clark saw Ancelotti’s men held to a 3-3 draw by struggling Aston Villa. Chelsea now have one win from eight EPL games. Whoops. (Getty Images/Zimbio)
Rumours of a David Beckham related transfer aside, Spurs have had a fab time during the holidays, three wins from three games putting them comfortably in the fourth Champions League spot with a point over Chelsea to spare. Aston Villa were the first to capitulate, losing 2-1 at home to Harry’s boys despite Jermaine Defoe’s red card midway through the first half. Rafa Van Der Vaart scored both.
They were also a man down in their 2-0 win over Newcastle United; Younes Kaboul enjoying an early bath for an alleged head butt offence, but everyone managed to stay on the pitch for the 1-0 win over Fulham, Gareth Bale (left) scoring the only goal. (Getty Images/Zimbio)
The 3-1 win over champions Chelsea should have set the tone for Arsenal’s festive campaign, but the Gunners stuttered with a 2-2 draw at Wigan, practically giving two points away by conceding a penalty and then scoring an own goal. A 3-0 away win over Birmingham restored the faith though, goals from Van Persie and Nasri putting them ahead before an unfortunate rebound off Birmingham’s Roger Johnson confirmed Cescy and co’s third position.
No such stuttering occurred at Manchester City, where three wins from three meant second place on goal difference and momentary relief for Roberto Mancini. Two from Tevez and a goal from Gareth Barry gave Mancini’s side a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United, while Mario Balotelli stopped complaining for long enough to score a hat trick in the 4-0 win over hapless Aston Villa. Adam Johnson scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Blackpool, meaning they are level with rivals United on forty one points, having played two games more.
So, Manchester United find themselves at the top of the EPL at the beginning of 2011, despite the occasional unconvincing performance and their manager’s attention wandering slightly. Things looked promising enough on 26th December, when Dimitar Berbatov scored two in a decent 2-0 win over Sunderland. Berbatov scored another in the game against Birmingham on the 28th, but a late (and controversial) Lee Bowyer equaliser saw two dropped points for United.
Fergie’s men looked no more convincing in their 2-1 win over West Brom; a late Javier Hernandez header (above, left) sealing the win after Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in fourteen years (feels like, anyway). Woot! (Getty Images/Zimbio)
Fortunately for our typing finger and your work day, the Spanish boys have only played once over the break. Wins for Real Madrid (3-2 over Getafe) and Barcelona (2-1 over Levante) see Guardiola’s men atop the table by two points, although arguably the most shocking news was that Messi did not score (mainly because he was on the bench). Arch rival, nemesis and notorious pig botherer Cristiano Ronaldo did though, and is now ahead in their personal goal battle. Does anyone actually care about this, by the way? (Getty Images/Zimbio)
Still within hollering distance (just) are Villareal, whose 2-0 win over Almeria brought them to within a nervy eight points of Real Madrid, while Valencia’s 2-1 over Espanyol takes them to thirty one. A mere fifteen points of Barcelona’s pace. Nail-biting, isn’t it?
How did the holiday treat you, people? Let us know. If you’re still awake.