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Premier League parting shots

A look back at the main talking points from Saturday’s mid-afternoon kick-offs, as a contentious decision made all the difference at Villa Park.

Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

Aston Villa 1-2 West Brom

PHIL DOWD HAS a lot to answer for. The referee’s inexplicable sending off of young Villa defender Chris Herd handing the points to West Brom in a game that got worse the longer it went on.

Alan Hutton should have been sent off early in the first half for a disgraceful tackle on Shane Long that saw the Irishman leave the pitch, before Dowd awarded a penalty to the home side. That was fair enough as Ben Foster felled Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Darren Bent put Villa in front.

However, the referee’s next two decisions were curious at best, ludicrous at worst. Richard Dunne appeared to handle the ball outside the box but a spot-kick was awarded, before Herd was sent from the pitch for reasons unknown.

Chris Brunt may have fired the penalty wide but the Baggies’ numerical advantage proved all the difference as Jonas Olsson and Paul Scharner stole the points.

Bolton 0-2 Sunderland

Bolton’s lack of composure haunted them once again as Sunderland finally broke their opponents down with two late goals from Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner.

This was no classic and who could be surprised, given both clubs’ awful starts to the season. What the had in late tackles, scrappy play and blood and thunder, it lacked in quality.

Sunderland improved dramatically after the break, however, with youngster Connor Wickham impressing in particular.

For Owen Coyle, more misery, with his team sandwiched between Blackburn and Wigan at the bottom of the league.

Newcastle 1-0 Wigan

A fortunate win for Newcastle over Wigan. While Demba Ba had his opportunities, Roberto Martinez’ men were fantastically well organised in defence. Hugo Rodallega was back for the Latics and they looked like a threat but, once again, goals were hard to come by.

Newcastle were frustrated and frustrating in the first half. Jonas Gutierrez never had any time on the ball and Gabriel Obertan showed exactly why he played approximately four minutes for Manchester United.

That all changed with the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa at half-time, the outlet provided by the Frenchman allowing Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote to take control of the midfield.

Wigan are bottom with cause for optimism. Cynics will point to some easy games for Newcastle in their fine start to the season, but Alan Pardew’s side are just one point behind Manchester United and showing a solidity not seen at St. James Park in 10 or 15 years.

As it happened – Premier League Saturday >

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