Reporters' Notebook

Sky Sports takes a look at some of the talking points from the midweek Premier League action

Last Updated: 02/01/13 10:36pm

  • Share:

Sky Bet

For individual match reports, statistics, player ratings and key moments from each game, click on the headers below.

West Brom 1 Fulham 2

Jack Woodfield

The first Premier League game of 2013 wasn't being tipped to provide a classic prior to kick-off, but for Fulham boss Martin Jol it was a valuable away win, their second of the season, that sees them lift away from the teams below them mired in the relegation battle.

Having taken the lead through Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham's control of the first half saw the Baggies met with unfair boos at the break, but they stormed out of the traps for the second half and equalised through Romelu Lukaku.

Against the run of play, Alex Kacaniklic's sublime turn and finish turned the game back into Fulham's favour and from there sterling performances from Berbatov and Brede Hangeland ensured the Cottagers left with all three points.

For West Brom, a home defeat to Fulham being met with boos shows how far the Baggies have come this season and what a remarkable job Steve Clarke is doing at the Midlands club.

Fulham continue to be unpredictable, but this was a stellar outing from the Cottagers and one that Jol will hope to build on after beginning 2013 in the perfect way.

Swansea 2 Aston Villa 2

Raz Mirza

The Swans have only won one of their last six home matches now, but they should have been out of sight against Aston Villa in the opening quarter of an hour at the Liberty Stadium as both teams gave the fans a New Year's Day treat.

The woodwork came to the visitors rescue not once, but twice as the hosts dominated and deservedly opened the scoring from a former Villa man in Wayne Routledge.

Villa struggled to handle the movement of Pablo Hernandez in midfield and trickery of Michu up front as they were ripped asunder down the middle of the park time and time again and things were looking rather bleak at times.

However, even after 16 goals in three and a bit games and with the confidence seemingly draining out of Paul Lambert's young lions as every second passed, they somehow showed a sense of spirit and togetherness to draw level before the break.

And then the boys from Brum came out fighting in the second half, taking the match to their more experienced opponents. The combination between Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann caused all sorts of problems for Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams, who was at fault for the Austrian striker's equaliser.

Benteke took his penalty calmly with six minutes remaining, but their confidence took another shattering blow deep in stoppage time as Danny Graham stole a deserved point with a fierce drive through a crowd of players.

Both clubs will be happy with the draw in the end as they look forward to their cup double-headers next week.

Villa take on Ipswich in the FA Cup while Swansea host Arsenal. Then both sides go into their respective Capital One cup semi-final first-leg ties with Villa travelling up to Bradford while the Swans take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham 3 Reading 1

Rob Parrish

Tottenham's bid to secure a return to the UEFA Champions League remains on course following their 3-1 victory over Reading, but Spurs were almost made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.

The north London club peppered Adam Federici's goal with an astonishing 34 shots over the course of 90 one-sided minutes, but only made the goalkeeper work with 11 of those efforts, with 24 attempts coming from outside the box.

Reading, who took the lead early on, had three glorious opportunities to bring the game back to 2-2 in the second half as Pavel Pogrebnyak, Jimmy Kebe and Alex Pearce were all denied shortly before Clint Dempsey's deflected effort made the game safe.

Opponents of greater quality will surely punish Spurs if they fail to press home their advantage in future matches and the battle for the top four is primed for an enthralling conclusion with Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton and West Brom all jostling for position.

Reading, meanwhile, are finding life back in the top flight hard to deal with, having won just twice in 21 matches, with eight of their last 10 games ending in defeat. Their survival hopes may depend on how successful Brian McDermott is during the January transfer window, with Sporting Lisbon skipper Daniel Carrico already acquired.

West Ham 2 Norwich 1

Matt Westby

Norwich City may blame their defeat to West Ham United on the decisions of referee Mark Clattenburg, but deep down they will know they did not deserve to take anything from the game.

They were out-battled in midfield, failed to put the likes of Mark Noble under enough pressure and struggled to deal with the hosts' threat from wide positions.

Midfielders Jonny Howson, Alex Tettey, Anthony Pilkington and, in particular, Wes Hoolahan all chose the same match to have off days - and Norwich consequently never really looked like mounting a successful comeback after their early - albeit harsh - concessions.

They improved markedly after the break, but having now lost four league games in a row, Chris Hughton must rebuild confidence following a worrying slide from seventh to 12th over Christmas.

That is exactly what West Ham boss Sam Allardyce achieved with this victory, which was notable for the positive and attacking way in which the home side approached the game.

They pushed men forward with pace and in numbers as they dominated the first half, and even when Norwich upped their game after the break, West Ham continued to attack with purpose and retained their goal threat.

If they can maintain that level of intensity and Allardyce is successful in the January transfer window, a top-10 finish looks a distinct possibility.

Wigan 0 Man Utd 4

Lewis Rutledge

There was a bit of talk ahead of the match about whether Wigan could repeat their home victory over Manchester United from last season, which proved pivotal in the title race, but Sir Alex Ferguson's men have won their other 14 Premier League meetings against the Latics and did not really have a problem in getting 2013 off to a perfect start.

It was competitive for around half an hour but once United raised their game it was one-way traffic, and Ferguson will have been delighted with the way Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez linked up in attack and scored two goals apiece in a 4-0 success.

Even Roberto Mancini has admitted that Van Persie's move to the red half of Manchester could make the difference at the top of the table and the Dutchman was at his classy best at the DW Stadium, while Hernandez looked so sharp that Ferguson must surely be scratching his head about how he is going to get Wayne Rooney back in the team.

Equally pleasing for Ferguson will be that United have now kept two clean sheets in a row, although the fact that David de Gea was never properly tested perhaps says more about Wigan's woes.

The one player who did occasionally threaten for the Latics was Arouna Kone, and it will be a worry for Roberto Martinez that he is now about to jet off for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Martinez admitted after the final whistle that his players looked tired and he does not have the options at his disposal to rotate like a manager such as Ferguson.

Wigan would have regarded anything gained from this match as a bonus, though, and will now have to regroup quickly after results elsewhere left them back in the relegation zone.
Chelsea 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

Chris Burton

Rafa Benitez tinkered too much and paid the price as Queens Park Rangers ruined the New Year celebrations at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have been full of goals of late, but opting to leave Juan Mata and Eden Hazard on the bench proved to be the wrong call for Benitez and his misfiring Blues.

Supposedly still outsiders for the Premier League title, Chelsea looked anything but challengers for much of the evening as they struggled to break down a resilient opponent prepared to sit deep and put their bodies on the line for the good of the collective cause.

Benitez did have Plan B sat alongside him on the bench, but Hazard and Mata were unable to work their magic once introduced in the second half.

Surely starting your best players, establishing a lead in a crucial derby contest and then offering rest time is the most logical approach, rather than entering a tie expecting three points to just drop into your lap.

QPR, a side scrapping for their lives at the wrong end of the table, were never going to roll over - especially not against a local rival.

Harry Redknapp was understandably delighted with the performance of his side at the final whistle, with Adel Taarabt earning special praise.

Former Chelsea man Shaun Wright-Phillips may have got the match-winning goal, but Taarabt once again underlined his importance to QPR's survival bid - not with outlandish displays of his playmaking wizardry, but with a performance which saw him dig deep for those around him and take one special touch which put the ball on a plate for SWP to crash into the bottom corner.

Liverpool 3 Sunderland 0

Adam Bate

This was as about as emphatic as it gets as Liverpool bossed Sunderland in a convincing 3-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday night. The latest Rolling Stones single Doom and Gloom blasted out over the PA system before the game but the feeling for those home supporters leaving the ground was surely one of optimism that Brendan Rodgers' side are finally getting things together.

Even Stewart Downing was impressive, playing with a confidence seldom seen in a Reds shirt. Ditto Jordan Henderson. Steven Gerrard showcased his full range of passing while Raheem Sterling added to his growing repertoire by beautifully lobbing Simon Mignolet to open the scoring. And then there was that man Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan buzzed all over the place but then had the calm to pick out team-mates with measured one-touch passes before darting on his next run. He finished with two goals but, more than that, this was a performance that suggested he is capable of carrying this entire team to better things. With Liverpool just seven points off fourth, that could yet include a Champions League spot.

Newcastle 1 Everton 2

Reece Killworth

If there were any doubt that Everton were genuine top-four contenders before this game, there shouldn't be any more.

Back-to-back away wins in the Premier League (coming after impressive draws at Manchester City and Stoke in the two games beforehand) are theirs and they sit just two points adrift of Chelsea, albeit the Blues have a game in hand.

After the setback of conceding an early goal, Everton grew in influence and goals from Leighton Baines and Victor Anichebe gave them a hard-fought victory.

It was the perfect way to bounce back from defeat at Chelsea and the perfect way to send a message that they are firmly in the fight for the top four places.

For Newcastle, meanwhile, life (almost) after Demba Ba began well with Papiss Cisse scoring within two minutes - but he'll need plenty more goals if the Magpies are to get some upward momentum.

Shola Ameobi gave his all but didn't keep play flowing in the manner Cisse would like and there look to be few goals in the team Alan Pardew put out at St James' Park.

That's bad enough in itself but with a back four being caught square too often, Pardew will need to get busy in the transfer window to prevent this season becoming a real damp squib.

  • Share:


Most Popular


Hughton eyes return

Hughton eyes return

Chris Hughton talks to Goals on Sunday about a return to football and vacancies at Crystal Palace and Brighton.

Top 5 of 2014 | Chris Kamara moments

Top 5 of 2014 | Chris Kamara moments

Watch our pick of Kammy's most unbelievable moments of 2014 including penalty confusion at Newcastle and a new pet name for Jeff Stelling!

Top 5 for 2014: Netball

Top 5 for 2014: Netball

We count down our five favourite moments from the world of netball in 2014, do you agree?