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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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Premier League mop-up: Farewell Woy, we hardly knew ye

Liverpool lose 3-1 at Blackburn, City and Arsenal play the best 0-0 draw you’ll ever see, and Newcastle thrash West Ham.

"I wish I'd put that fiver on Newcastle to win 5-0."
Image: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

THERE MIGHT BE more than one managerial job becoming vacant in the next couple of days, after three of the Premier League’s under-fire managers saw their sides crash to defeat tonight.

Roy Hodgson, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti all saw their sides drop points tonight, in a jam-packed night that will have seen bookmakers make a killing.

Arsenal 0, Man City 0: Quite possibly the most enthralling 0-0 draw one might ever hope to see. Arsenal opened with frightening pace, pounding the City goalmouth over and over again, but unable to walk the ball into the goal in their customary manner. In the second half Robin van Persie tried a shot from 25 yards out, provoking a phenomenal save from Joe Hart in the City goal. Bacary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta were sent off late on, when things got a bit rowdy – largely Arsenal frustration at City’s retort to anti-football in the second half.

Aston Villa 0, Sunderland 1: Another game where the two sides finished 10 apiece. Villa fall into the relegation zone after Phil Bardsley struck a late winner to seal a tense encounter, after Emile Heskey’s earlier straight red for raising his hands to Jordan Henderson’s face. Bolo Zenden was also sent off.

Blackburn 3, Liverpool 1: Biff! Pow! Thwock! And other things that you expect teams to get when they’re battered. Liverpool were 2-0 at the break (Olsson and Benjani) and when Benjani Mwaruwari scored his second of the night, tapping in after a David Hoilett run on 57, it looked over. Stevie Gerrard scored on 83 and a late penalty looked like it might have set up a grandstand finish, but Gerrard blasted over the crossbar to cap a woeful night for the Reds.

Bolton 1, Wigan 1: The most notable thing about this clash at the Reebok was an eight-minute hold up after away keeper Chris Kirkland came out worst in a challenge with Johan Elmander. He can expect some time on the sidelines, after ambulances swarmed around. Rodrigo Morena put the home side in front on 54, with Ronnie Stam equalising for Wigan on 80.

Everton 2, Tottenham 1: Louis Saha opened the scoring on 3, shooting a low shot firmly past Heurelho Gomes, only for in-form Rafael van der Vaart to tap in an equalising header on 11. Spurs’ 11-match unbeaten run came to an end, however, when Ireland’s Seamus Coleman headed into an empty net after Gomes parried a Saha strike.

Newcastle 5, West Ham 0: Insert more Batman-style visual ‘Biff!’ effects here. Leon Best scored a fantastic hat-trick as the home side put five past the woeful Hammers, while Kevin Nolan and Peter Lovenkrands also got on the scoresheet. West Ham never seemed to muster much of a chance, despite having their share of possession.

Wolves 1, Chelsea 0: Is Mick McCarthy in the business of getting Big Four managers sacked? Shortly after beating Newcastle, Wolves went 1-0 inside five minutes after Jose Bosingwa deflect an inswinging corner past Petr Cech. The visitors had the better of the game but a nerveless Wolves – inspired by keeper Wayne Hennessy – held the frustrated Blues at bay to escape the drop zone.

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Goal of the night: Liverpool weren’t up to much until the clock hit 80, but the first of Benjani Mwaruwari’s two was exceptional. Holding off Sotirios Kyrgiakos, the Zimbabwean chests the ball into the ground, pivots, and batters his volley over the hands of Pepe Reina.

Save of the night: Petr Cech came up with a great one early on against Wolves, but we’ll conveniently overlook it given how Wolves scored from the resulting corner. Instead, the nod goes to Joe Hart, who single-handedly kept City in the game as Arsenal went more positively about scoring. His save on 60 from Robin van Persie’s fierce 25-yarder, at full stretch to tip it over the bar, was mesmerising. England’s number 1.

Winners of the night: Unquestionably, Manchester United. After dropping points at St Andrews last week, it looked like the two games in hand may not count for very much. Now, they mightn’t need to: City and Arsenal took points from each other; Chelsea and Tottenham both lost, and even Liverpool – just out of spite – were torn apart. Two games in hand, two points clear at the top, still unbeaten, and looking strong.

Tweet of the night: Una Mullally, who – like Arsenal – had everything right but the finish:

Arsenal are very good at tantric football

Self-depreciating humour of the night: After Blackburn went 3-0 up against Liverpool, Rovers fans chanted: “Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning.” Only a few lines into the chant, the Liverpool fans joined in.

Long shot of the night: Before the game, you could have gotten 175/1 on Newcastle beating West Ham 5-0, thanks to Paddy Power. Astonishingly, Newcastle were the only team who started the night as odds-on to actually win their game. Perhaps Ivan Yates could have hung in there a few days longer…

Stranger things have happened: Today, all the news was about how Giovanni Trapattoni had – and then hadn’t had – a stroke. We might suggest that tomorrow, when he hears that Leon Best scored three against West Ham, there be an ambulance on standby.

Disagree with anything we’ve got in here? Let us know in the comments.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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