BPL Recap: Liverpool Outlast Swansea In Goal Frenzy, Late Goal Spoils Howard’s Fantastic Display, Arsenal Stroll Past Sunderland, More

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BY MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Is there any team scoring more goals than Liverpool right now?

Lately, there has been no scoressheet the Reds haven’t been active on, beating Swansea 4-3. An encouraging sign of their goal-scoring run is that it hasn’t been reliant on one player. In fact, the one striker you’d think would be benefiting the most from this run hasn’t; Luis Suarez was held once again from scoring.

Suarez’s striker partner very well may be the most in-form in England. Daniel Sturridge secured a brace, now scoring in eight straight league matches. Raheem Sterling played a marvelous through ball on Sturridge’s first. The English striker did very well to get a touch around Swansea’s keeper Michael Vorm and finish the effort on an empty net. Sturridge’s second goal, the third of the game for Liverpool, was another lovely display. Suarez picked him out with tons of space in the box and Sturridge was able to head it home.

Jordan Henderson initially doubled the lead for the home side with a fine goal on his 100th start for the club. Sturridge drove at the Swansea defense and picked out Henderson who was wide open at the top of the box. He took a touch, picked his spot and then put his right-footed shot into the far corner, leaving Vorm standing still.

Former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey cut the lead in half with a spectacular effort of his own. Nathan Dyer cut in from the right hand side and played a ball across the top of the box to Shelvey. Hitting his shot first time, he gave Simon Mignolet no chance for a save as the ball sailed to the far corner.

Wilfried Bony then leveled the match. Martin Skrtel was ruled for a foul on Shelvey. On the ensuing free kick, Jonathan De Guzman found Bony, whose header caromed off of Skrtel’s shoulder into the back of the net.

Sturridge’s second goal of the match put the Reds ahead for the second time in the match, only for the lead to be given back shortly after the halftime break. Skrtel pulled Bony down in the box and the Ivorian striker leveled the match for the second time for the Swans.

Henderson’s second of the match pushed Liverpool ahead for the victory in the 74th minute. Steven Gerrard picked out Suarez with a wonderful 40-yard pass. The Uruguayan chested the ball down and his effort was blocked into the path of Henderson. Vorm saved the initial shot, but couldn’t hold onto the ball as Henderson scored with his follow up attempt.

Although Liverpool continued to score goals almost at will, they have some cause for concern about conceding, especially allowing three at home. Against Swansea, Skrtel was the main culprit in defensive lapses, but in recent memory, Kolo Toure has also had gaffes at the back. For the moment, the “score more than concede” approach is working, but for for long will that lead to success?

Nevertheless, The Reds can enjoy the victory and their continued push to get back into the Top Four.

1. Howard’s Almost Perfect Display– It very well looked like Everton were going to leave Stamford Bridge with a point. However, the league leaders were able to snatch it right at the death through John Terry, spoiling an almost flawless display from Tim Howard.

Howard made seven saves on the day; his most impressive coming on a double save, first stopping Eden Hazard’s drive from outside the 18-yard box and then saving Branislav Ivanovic’s headed effort.

Everton also threatened Chelsea, looking a good bet for the share of the points. Leon Osman tested Petr Cech from distance on two occasions; one in the first half and then in the second.

However, Chelsea was able to secure a win to keep them in the Premier League lead. Ivanovic glanced down Frank Lampard’s free kick while sliding Terry was able to distract Howard, who bobbled the ball into his own net, giving the Blues all three points.

The loss ends up being harsh on Everton, who looked a deserved point-getter here. It pushes them further back in their chase for the Top Four as they are now 11 points behind Liverpool for the fourth spot in the Barclays Premier League table.

2. Walk In The Park For Arsenal– After a tough match in the Champions League; Arsenal breezed to a 4-1 victory over Sunderland to remain one point back of table-topping Chelsea. For Arsenal, it also helped that the Black Cats never really turned up to play.

The Gunners kicked off the scoring in the fifth minute with a goal by Olivier Giroud. After being replaced by Yaya Sanogo in the starting squad in the Champions League, the French striker needed a strong start and got it. The ball was worked around the Sunderland box with Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky combining. Wilshere then drove into the Black Cats box and picked out Giroud, who beat former Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone.

Giroud then doubled the lead in the 31st minute. Sunderland defender Santiago Vergini attempted a back pass to Mannone, but hit it without enough pace to reach the Italian keeper. Giroud was able to pick off the pass and placed his shot under Mannone for his second of the match.

More lovely play from the Gunners resulted in a third goal just before halftime. Rosicky played a one-two with Giroud in the box and Rosicky then clipped the ball over the on-rushing Mannone. Arsenal scored their fourth of the match before the hour mark. Santi Cazorla sent in a corner and Laurent Koscielny rose unmarked to head home.

The perfect day for Arsenal was spoiled by substitute Emanuel Giaccherini, who scored a consolation goal in the 81st minute.

Jozy Altidore continued his run without a goal, but he can’t be faulted much in this one. He was only able to get a few touches in the first half before being pulled at the halftime break for Sunderland’s eventual scorer.

3. Hammering Their Opponents– With a victory over Southampton, West Ham have now won four games in a row, all by two goals. However, this time it wasn’t a fourth consecutive 2-0 victory.

The visiting side took the lead early on through Maya Yoshida. The Saints defender’s headed goal in the 8th minute ended the Hammers bid for a fifth consecutive clean sheet.

However, West Ham turned around the game, gaining the lead in a three-minute span. Kevin Nolan’s lifted pass found Matt Jarvis, who scored his first Premier League goal this season to put the clubs on level terms in the 20th minute. Carlton Cole put the Hammers ahead for good, finishing off a rebound after his first attempt hit the post at the 23rd minute of play. Kevin Nolan finished off the Saints with the Hammers’ third goal in the 71st minute. Nolan’s acrobatic finish in his 100th appearance for the club gave West Ham an emphatic victory.

The East London club are now looking like good bets to fight off relegation as they remain 10th in the table, seven points out of the relegation zone.

4. Tigers Out Of The Cage– Hull City visited Cardiff City Stadium and mauled the home side, posting a 4-0 victory. Despite Cardiff’s strong start, they were unable to match Hull as they continue to inch towards relegation favorites.

Tom Huddlestone’s strike from distance put Hull into the lead and they never looked back. Nikica Jelavic’s brace with a goal in each half pushed the lead to three for the Tigers. Jelavic first finished from about the penalty spot with one touch from Shane Long’s pass in the 38th minute and then headed home a Liam Rosenior cross in the 57th. Jake Livermore added the fourth ten minutes later when Ahmed Elhomady drove down the right wing and passed to Livermore, who finished the move off with one touch at the top of the box.

Hull move into 11th place in the table, while Cardiff sit in the 19th position. Nothing has gone right for Ole Gunnar Solskajer since his appointment, taking only four points from an available 18.

5. Yaya Toure Lifts City Over Stoke– The visiting Potters under one time City manager Mark Hughes set out to frustrate City and that plan almost worked to perfection. However, City eventually found their breakthrough in the 70th minute with a Yaya Toure goal.

Stoke had the better of the play in the first half, but were eventually punished for not being able to get a goal from their good early play. City turned their play around, but Stoke looked like they may be able to keep the home side from scoring. Aleksandar Kolarov’s cross picked out Toure who headed home for the only goal of the match. City should have doubled their lead, but Edin Dzeko was unable to make a connection on an open net and the ball was finally cleared by Stoke.

City keep pace with Chelsea, but still remain three points of the top of the league. Stoke move closer to the relegation zone, now in 15th position and three points out of the drop zone.

6. United Still Hopeful– The only way for Manchester United to find a way into the Top Four is to win. They got just what they needed in a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Robin van Persie gave the visiting Red Devils the lead from the penalty spot in the 67th minute. Marouane Chamakh’s foul on Patrice Evra opened the door for United to go ahead. Van Persie coolly finished the penalty kick, giving him four goals in his last five games.

Wayne Rooney, who just signed a $300k a week contract extension, doubled United’s lead only minutes later. Evra picked out Rooney who was left open in the Palace box. Rooney thrashed the ball home, stamping the game in United’s favor.

With the win, United remain 11 points adrift of Liverpool for the fourth spot. The chance of overcoming that gap looks increasingly difficult with the form of the Reds. However, the only way to have any chance is for United to win and they did just that in beating Palace.

7. Singing Canaries– Tottenham has been one of the best Premier League sides away from home this season, but they were unable to continue that form, losing to Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road.

The match really picked up in the second half and Robert Snodgrass gave the Canaries the lead. Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who hasn’t scored a goal for Norwich since opening day, played a big role in Snodgrass’ goal. He won the ball off of Spurs’ midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and picked out Bradley Johnson on the wing. Johnson then picked out Snodgrass’ diagonal run for the only goal of the game.

Spurs looked like they could equalize, but Norwich keeper John Ruddy made a couple of crucial saves to keep his club ahead. Spurs attacking verve eventually fizzled. Playing a midweek Europa League game took its effect and Norwich was able to hold onto their one goal advantage.

The win keeps manager Chris Hughton in charge of the club and the Canaries climb to 14th in the table, now with a four-point cushion from the drop zone. As much joy as there was for Norwich, there will be sorrow for Spurs. The London club now falls six points behind Liverpool in their hunt for the last Champions League place.

8. Finally Feeling At Home– Newcastle finally shook off their home struggles against Aston Villa. They had lost their previous four matches until winning 1-0 over the Villains.

The game looked set for a draw as both teams failed to do much offensively. Loic Remy had a fantastic opportunity late on, hitting the post from close range in the 90th minute. However, he redeemed himself scoring a stoppage time goal that ended Newcastle’s poor run at home. The French striker’s volley beat keeper Brad Guzan to snatch all three points at the death. It was Remy’s 12th goal of the season.

9. Fulham Sill In The Cellar– With a victory, Fulham could have climbed out from the bottom spot in the Premier League. The Cottagers looked like they would get a win in Felix Magath’s first game in charge, but were unable to hang on against West Brom.

The visitors took the lead in the 28th minute. Askan Dejagh’s shot from the top of the box beat West Brom keeper Ben Foster. Fulham, who outplayed the Baggies throughout the first half, were unable to increase their lead.

The Baggies played much better in the second half and looked to be set for a home loss with Fulham keeper Martin Stekelenburg making several key saves. However, in a cruel twist of fate, it was the Dutch keeper’s mistake that allowed West Brom to draw level in the 86th minute. Stekelenburg was unable to hold onto Matej Vydra’s strike as the ball rolled behind him. Despite his attempts to keep it out, the ball crossed the line.

A draw doesn’t help either clubs much with Fulham remaining in the bottom spot and West Brom only a point out of the relegation zone in 17th place.