Premier League winners and losers

Sherif Zaki 23/12/2014
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One of the week's winners: Cesc Fabregas was outstanding for Chelsea, scoring a goal and assisting John Terry's first.

With Chelsea and Manchester City continuing to set the pace at the top of the Premier League, we look at the biggest winners and losers from the latest round of action. From Cesc Fabregas' brilliance against Stoke, to QPR's first Premier League hat-trick in over 20 years, we have it all.

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Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester United

Winners
Radamel Falcao: He is finally playing and not only did he create nice runs behind defenders, but also took some good positions – with one of them leading to the goal he scored.

Christian Benteke: You should only feel happy for the Belgian player. After suffering a bad injury last season and missing the World Cup, the lethal striker showed what he is all about by scoring a fabulous goal.

After toying with Evans like a baby, he curled a beauty with his left foot – even David de Gea – the best keeper in the world at the moment – couldn’t help but watch the ball roll in his net.

Losers
Louis van Gaal: He wasted a chance to make it seven wins in a row by starting Michael Carrick at centre back; a move unneeded especially with both Evans and Jones fit for the first time this season! Once Carrick moved back to midfield in the second half, United showed more momentum and scored an equaliser.

Gabby Agbonlahor: Being the most senior player and most adored by the Villa faithful, Agbonlahor allowed his emotions to get the best of him and was red carded for a stupid tackle on Ashley Young, which could have ultimately ended in an injury for the Villa player himself.

Manchester City 3-0 Crystal Palace

Winners
David Silva: Performing in the absence of the club’s goal scorer and best player, Sergio Aguero, and scoring two goals after a poor start for the Spaniard this season. Credit goes to Manuel Pellegrini, who has been able to motivate his men, and win the game before Chelsea’s visit to Stoke to add pressure on the Blues.

Losers
The linesman: Disallowing a legitimate goal for Palace will not be forgotten by Palace fans, and of course, Jose Mourinho. City still would have gone on to win the game, but an early strike for Palace would have allowed Warnock’s men to gain a foothold in the contest.

QPR 3-2 West Brom

Winners
Charles Austin:
Who would have thought? QPR’s first hat-trick in over 20 years in the Premier League. He worked hard for the team and has the attitude to keep going. Well done to Charlie!

Losers
The referee: Allowing an imaginary penalty for QPR at the end of the first half not only led them to close down the deficit, but the timing of the penalty meant that QPR would finish the half with some relief and go back in the second half with a psychological advantage, eager and hungry to score. The referee will probably officiate in the Championship next week.

Southampton 3-0 Everton

Winners
Roland Koeman: After five successive defeats (four in the Premier League and getting knocked out of the Capital Cup), Koeman managed to reinstall some confidence in his team who have been the surprise package this season.

Losers
Roberto Martinez: Once again Everton repeated the same mistakes. No tactical awareness, a team that is clearly jeopardized by the Europa League and one that has lost all those creative moves that made them a force last season. Southampton have been very poor lately and it was a chance for The Toffees to capitalise on that, a feat they couldn't reach.

Newcastle 0-1 Sunderland

Winners
Gus Poyet: With all the hype last week building up to the Tyne-Wear Derby, Gus Poyet remained calm and didn’t approach the game with arrogance – even if he had the right to, given his record in derby games.

With a record of seven games unbeaten before the derby, and recent draws against Liverpool and West Ham in which Sunderland should have won, Poyet had all the right credentials going in to this game and it worked.

 As he said in his post-match interview, “wherever I go now in Sunderland, I know I am going to be welcome with open arms,” and “the manager that succeeds me will have a tough task to repeat that feat (four successive derby wins),” – true that!

Adam Johnson: Definitely a player with talent and one that divides opinions, the way Adam made that terrific run from Sunderland’s half to the Magpies’ box was pure class.

Three goals now at Newcastle in the last three visits (which Sunderland won) and this goal coming in stoppage time, couldn’t get any sweeter – especially when you know that he was going to get subbed just five minutes before the goal. Irony of fate indeed!

Costel Pantilimon: While most newspapers will have a picture of Johnson and Poyet celebrating the goal, the real hero of the game was Costel Pantilimon. Goalkeepers are usually denied the praise, that’s the way it has always been. Costel denied Moussa Sissoko and saved a wonderful shot from Ayoze Perez that will definitely be a contender for ‘Save of the Season’.

Losers
Alan Pardew:
He talked a lot before the game as to how his team were prepared to play, how Colback is eager to score against Sunderland and how Taylor must keep his cool, etc. But he didn’t walk the talk. The Newcastle team looked like the poor team we saw all of last season.

Hull 0 -1 Swansea

Winners
Garry Monk: Another solid display by the young manager. Missing seven first team players, most notably Gylfi Sigurdsson (through injury) and Wilfried Bony, who was rested as the manager prepares for life without the Ivorian for January's African Cup of Nations.

The winning goal came courtesy of Ki Sung-yueng, another stalwart who will leave in January for the Asian Cup. It will be interesting to see how Monk will cope without his key marksmen, but Swansea fans have full trust in their manager, and they have the right to do so.

Losers
Steve Bruce: Again failing to secure a point at home against a team who was missing some of their best players. Hull had no excuses and Steve Bruce could be the first to see the sack midway through the season.

Tottenham 2-1 Burnley

Winners
Eric Lamela: Finally scoring his first league goal, and what a goal that was. Best player on the pitch.

Harry Kane: It’s funny how he couldn’t get a game at the beginning of the season, and now he’s scored 14 goals. One wonders how many goals he will have at the end of the season. New fan favourite.

Losers
Jan Vertonghen: Even though he ended on a winning side; he struggled with his pace. Last week he failed to contain Wilfried Bony and this week Danny Ings gave him a torrid time. He’s very slow and the Spurs coach must try to solve that problem.

West Ham 2-0 Leicester City

Winners
Andy Carroll:
Scoring his first goal with his feet in 19 months is certainly something, but it’s not only that. Carroll’s strength and ability to cause defenders problems this season is a major asset to this West Ham team.

Losers
The entire Leicester team: Who would have thought that the team who scored five against Manchester United in September are currently lying at the bottom of the table? They've only scored six goals since then, losing 10 and drawing two of their games.

Sunderland proved last season that being down at Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean you will get relegated, but even the biggest optimists in football can tell that the Foxes will be one of the three teams going down in May.

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Winners
Lucas Leiva and Philippe Coutinho: Both Brazilians have showed how well they can combine together. Coutinho doing the magic, and Lucas doing all the dirty work behind him. Leiva’s performance shouldn’t go unnoticed. The way he intercepted Arsenal attacks throughout the game and his no-nonsense passing was brilliant. Could have scored too.

Martin Skrtel: The reason I am writing this is because he scored the equaliser in the 97th minute! However, Skrtel was poor. He was at fault to let Debuchy score the first, then he and Kolo Toure failed to mark Giroud, who put Arsenal ahead. He will be remembered for his goal though, which sealed Liverpool a valuable point.

Losers
Fabio Borini: A player Rodgers favoured over Ricky Lambert and Mario Balotelli, Borini had a chance to be part of something special and impress the Kop. He did come up with something special though, lasting for 17 minutes on the pitch – definitely a game he will never forget.

Stoke City 0-2 Chelsea

Winners
Cesc Fabregas: What more can we say? Terrific performance by the Blues General. Assisting John Terry’s goal in the first two minutes to make it 12 assists in 16 Premier League starts this season. He also went on to score the second goal ahead of Diego Costa that ensured Chelsea’s win, earning him another man-of-the-match accolade.

Losers
Diego Costa: Missed two great opportunities to score, one on the half-hour mark and the second in the last 10 minutes. Didn’t look half the lethal finisher we saw at the beginning of the season and got replaced by Didier Drogba near the end to spare him another yellow card.

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Fabregas inspires as Chelsea move three clear at EPL summit

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John Terry opened the scoring for Chelsea and Cesc Fabregas added another.

Chelsea will spend Christmas three points clear at the top of the Premier League after they regained the cushion with a 2-0 win at Stoke.

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Cesc Fabregas proved a key influence once again for the Blues, providing the corner from which John Terry converted a second-minute header and then notching a goal himself in the 78th minute, teed up by another impressive performer in Eden Hazard.

Chelsea had memorably faltered here last season, being beaten 3-2 by Mark Hughes' team, whose previous home game earlier this month saw them defeat Arsenal by the same score.

But they had no such problems on this occasion, securing the victory they needed to put breathing space once more between them and second-placed Manchester City.

They raced into the early lead when Fabregas – registering yet another assist for the campaign – swung in a corner and Terry got the better of Geoff Cameron to head in his first Premier League goal since December 2013.

Stoke made a firm response, although initially in a physical sense as Costa was sandwiched by Steven Nzonzi and Ryan Shawcross – a collision that left the Blues striker requiring treatment.

Then, while tensions appeared to be simmering between Costa and Shawcross, Phil Bardsley made a reckless-looking tackle on Hazard.

Mourinho's reaction, as he bolted out of his technical area, suggested he felt Bardsley should have been sent off, but referee Neil Swarbrick only produced a yellow card.

The Potters subsequently began to apply some pressure on the Chelsea goal, with the fit-again Thibaut Courtois doing well to tip a deflected Nzonzi shot around the post and Jonathan Walters seeing an effort blocked by Gary Cahill.

But Chelsea then sprung a counter-attack which broke down when the ball came off Swarbrick, prompting further ire from Mourinho.

And the visitors might have added a second goal just after the half-hour mark as Nemanja Matic made a fine tackle to rob Cameron of possession, the Blues broke away and the ball was fed to Costa, who was through one on one with Asmir Begovic but sent his shot narrowly wide.

Mourinho's men finished the first half looking comfortable, and that continued after the break, although they were unable to make the net bulge again.

Fabregas had penalty claims dismissed after going down in the box and Willian sent the ball into Begovic's hands.

Erik Pieters was booked following a minor flare-up with Costa, Hazard set up Fabregas, whose flick was caught by Begovic, and Willian saw a free-kick deflect wide.

In the 63rd minute Stoke striker Peter Crouch was forced off with an injury, with Mame Biram Diouf coming on, before Cameron was replaced by Charlie Adam, and the latter went close to equalising with a drilled shot wide.

But it was not long after that that Chelsea looked to have made the game safe as the ball came to Fabregas in the box from Hazard and the Spaniard took one touch before seemingly scuffing a shot that deceived Begovic to roll in.

Begovic came out moments later to deny Costa from making it 3-0, before another Stoke substitute Oussama Assaidi – scorer of the winner in this fixture last season – had a shot saved by Courtois.

Further efforts from Adam and Bojan Krkic were also unsuccessful, while Walters picked up a booking for a foul on Hazard, who had to come off.

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andrewbinner 22/12/2014
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Reaction from Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers after the Merseysiders' centre-back Martin Škrtel scores a 97th-minute equaliser to snatch a 2-2 Premier League draw.


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