It’s safe to say Stoke against West Ham on Saturday (Watch live online, 11 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Live Extra) won’t be one for the purists.
The Potters are tremendous at home, and have already beaten Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium, as Mark Hughes’ side look to keep pushing up the table with just one defeat in their last six games.
West Ham have also been in good form, with defeat in their last game against Everton their first in six and that loss ended a run of four-straight wins. The Hammers have turned their season around, and both teams will be looking to cement their status as mid-table certainties, instead of getting sucked into the almighty relegation battle below them.
On Saturday there were only five Premier League games due to FA Cup action… but that certainly didn’t mean there was a shortage of action.
Cardiff prevailed in a ding-dong relegation battle vs. Fulham, Manchester United’s offense finally clicked and hammered West Brom, Chelsea went seven points clear at the top with a huge win over Tottenham and plenty more action occurred in the other PL games.
Below you get a neatly wrapped package including recaps, analysis and video highlights as this roundup provides you with everything you missed from Saturday’s PL action in Week 29.
Massive. Massive. Massive win for Cardiff City against fellow struggles Fulham. The Bluebirds scored early through Steve Caulker but Lewis Holtby equalized for Fulham to make it 1-1 with 30 minutes to go. Cardiff responded superbly to conceding, as Caulker quickly bagged his and Cardiff’s second, then a scrappy goal that Fraizer Campbell claimed made it 3-1 late on. Cardiff are now only in the relegation zone on goal difference, while Fulham are five points adrift from safety at the bottom but Felix Magath thinks they can still stay up…
For almost an hour Spurs were the better team at Stamford Bridge… then the game turned on its head in three crazy second half minutes. First Samuel Eto’o put the Blues 1-0 up following Jan Vertonghen’s slip up, then Eto’o (who was only starting due to Torres being injured in the warm-up) won a penalty and Kaboul was sent off for taking him down. Eden Hazard scored the PK and two late goals from Demba Ba gave Chelsea the 4-0 win, which was slightly harsh on Spurs. The Blues are now seven points clear at the top of the standings and unbeaten in 14 games.
Saints stopped the rot after losing three games in a row across all competitions. Jay Rodriguez’s bizarre first half strike, which saw him score while sitting down after winning a tackle with Palace’s ‘keeper, was enough to snatch all three points as Saints out-battled Palace. The Eagles remain in the thick of the relegation battle after this result, while Saints are steady in ninth and looking to break into the top six.
The Canaries let this one slip as a strike from Bradley Johnson was cancelled out by a penalty kick by Johnathan Walters in the second half. Norwich are now just four points above the drop zone with the teams below them having games in hand. As for Stoke, they aren’t out of trouble yet, but a late red card for goalscorer Walter tested their resolved and the Potters held on for a decent point.
After the game David Moyes declared himself delighted with United’s marauding offensive performance away at the Hawthorns. Phil Jones headed United into an early lead and the Red Devils withstood strong pressure from the home team before Wayne Rooney made it 2-0 in the second half. Late on Rooney set up substitute Danny Welbeck to make it 3-0 as United returned to winning ways with a bang. They are now in sixth place, just nine points away from Manchester City in fourth but they have two games in hand of United. Regardless, United’s front four of Mata, Rooney, RVP and Januzaj are starting to click and Marouane Fellaini looked superb in midfield.
Stoke City pulled off a huge shock at the Britannia, as they beat high-flying Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday thank to Oussama Assaidi’s late winner.
The winger, on-loan from Liverpool, smashed home a beauty in stoppage time to seal a magnificent win for the Potters and send them comfortably into mid-table. In a topsy-turvy affair, Chelsea went ahead through Andre Schurrle but Peter Crouch leveled just before the break. After half time Stephen Ireland put Stoke back ahead, but that man Schurrle bagged his and Chelsea’s second to make it 2-2.
It looked as though the game would end in a draw but Assaidi’s stunning strike was enough to hand Stoke just their second win in 12 PL games. Stoke rise to 12th with the win, while Chelsea missed out on the perfect opportunity to close the gap on Arsenal to just one point as they drop to third.
A bright start from Chelsea saw German international Schurrle burst into the box in the 9th minute but his pull back to Ramires saw the Brazilian forced to hit it first time and he smashed it over the bar.
Moments late Schurrle himself put Chelsea ahead as he cut in from the left, jinxed to his left and right before smashing an effort across goal and into the far corner to put the visitors 1-0 up. Stoke had the stuffing knocked out of them with that goal but they kept lobbing the ball forward and put Chelsea under pressure.
In the 24th minute Juan Mata released Eden Hazard on the left who sent a terrific cross into the danger area that Fernando Torres couldn’t quite connect with as Chelsea pushed for a second goal. Stoke battled hard for a way back in the game as Johnathan Walters and Crouch battled hard up front to feed off the scraps.
The remainder of the first half played out evenly and just before the break Stoke got the goal that craved. Marko Arnautovic set up Crouch to score and lift the roof off the Britannia, as the teams went in level 1-1 at the break.
After the break the home side were buoyed by their equalizer and were soon 2-1 up as substitute Ireland curled a beauty into the far corner to send the Britannia into delirium. However that lead did not last for long as Chelsea instantly equalized to make it 2-2, as German international Schurrle smashed home from the edge of the box.
It was a pulsating end-to-end the game, as both teams looked to go ahead and Schurrle thought he’d grabbed his and Chelsea’s third goal when he smashed an effort past Asmir Begovic in Stoke’s goal but his effort rattled the crossbar.
In the 66th minute Ireland went close to putting Stoke 3-2 up but he blasted his effort miles over the bar when he was found in the box. A huge battle ensued in the closing stages as both teams pushed hard to go ahead, but the closest Chelsea came to taking all three points arrived when Frank Lampard hit a low free-kick under the wall but Begovic saved easily.
But the killer blow for Chelsea arrived in the final minute, as Stoke won the game thanks to Assaidi’s terrific strike. Jose Mourinho was left shaking his head after the final whistle, as his team have conceded six goals in two games away from home in the last four days.
Full credit to Stoke, who never gave up and their fighting spirit shone through to bag them all three points.
LONDON — Stoke City manager Mark Hughes wasn’t happy with the officiating in his teams 1-0 loss at Fulham on Saturday, but he was more than happy with the Potters display.
Post-game, Hughes lambasted the officials for not giving Stoke two first half penalties and felt that his side didn’t deserve to lose the game.
“I think in terms of the team most likely to win the game, I thought that was us,” Hughes said. “I think we had a lot of control on the game, we tried to create opportunities for ourselves. We had some clear opportunities on set plays and good opportunities to pick the right pass but never quite did it. But in terms of the team more likely to win the game, I felt it was totally us.”
Hughes believes those two early penalty decisions, as Philippe Senderos took down Stephen Ireland and Fernando Amorebieta appeared to have hauled down Johnathan Walters in the box, were pivotal.
The latter was given for a foul outside the box, when it looked like a penalty, and Hughes wasn’t happy with Fulham winger Pajtim Kasami pushing Erik Pieters, either.
“We should have had two penalties and the boy Kasami should have been sent off in my view,” Hughes said. “Those are key moments that shape the outcome of the game. Those are the ones you want the referee and his officials to get right. Unfortunately it affected us in a negative way. Given the time of those incidents, it would have swung the game totally in our direction.”
Stoke have only scored four goals in their opening seven Premier League games this season, so Hughes mixed things up a little by playing Marco Arnautovic up top with Stephen Ireland supporting him. But the Potters only came close through set pieces, as Robert Huth twice had headers cleared off the line by Sascha Riether, and Stoke’s central defender also headed over in a purple patch of chances in the second half.
Hughes is concerned with the lack of goals, but admits it’s a problem that’s plagued Stoke even when Tony Pulis was their manager in the past.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the performance today,” Hughes said. “It was a much better level. I’ve been more than happy with what we’re trying to produce. The end product is something we need to address because we’re not getting on the end of things and not taking chances when we do create them. But that’s been the bug bear of the team for quite some time, even before I came.”
And staying with the theme of his post-match conference, Hughes thinks his side were hard done by, and that Fulham got lucky to grab all three points.
“Over the course of the 90 minutes I think we deserved to get something,” Hughes said. “They got a break, a misplaced pace from ourselves, and were able to play a ball into the box. A couple of ricochets and it lands at Darren Bent’s feet. He is the one guy you don’t want in those situations.”
The 1-0 win against Stoke at Craven Cottage on Saturday was their first since August 17 against Sunderland, and marked their first victory in six games.
But the home side looked anxious in possession throughout, however Bent’s late strike will ease some of the pressure on under-fire manager Martin Jol. Stoke battled hard, and took the game to the Cottagers after the interval but wasted several good chances.
In the end, Fulham made them pay.
With their first home success of the season, Fulham climb out of the relegation zone into 17th spot with seven points, while Stoke are in 16th.
Early on Fulham were composed as they looked to get Damien Duff in down the flanks. But as the half wore on, the home side grew more nervous as Stoke got going.
In the 9th minute there was a potential flash point right in front of the benches, as Pajtim Kasami needlessly flung his hand out at Stoke defender Erik Pieters off the ball. Contact was minimal, and Pieters overreacted, but Kasami was silly to lash out so petulantly.
In the 25th minute came a real turning point, as Johnathan Walters raced clear and Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta pulled him back right on the edge of the box. The linesman gave the foul and a free kick, as Stoke’s players protested for a penalty, but the foul looked to have taken place just inside the box. A let off for the home side.
And just moments later, Stoke came so close to taking a 1-0 lead as Sascha Riether cleared a header off the line following an out swinging corner.
Both sides battled away for most of the first half, with several careless passes adding to the building tension in Craven Cottage.
However, right on half time Bryan Ruiz was caught in the box as he tried to wriggle free. The home fans cried for a penalty, but referee Roger East turned their protests away. It looked like Marc Wilson tripped the Costa Rican attacker, as the Cottagers finished the half strongly.
At half time Kieran Richardson replaced Brede Hangeland, as Jol tried to change things around for Fulham with Amorebieta switching to center back.
Throughout the game Fulham’s players were severely lacking in confidence, as they searched for their first win in six games. Steve Sidwell worked hard in the Cottagers engine room, but was lambasted on several occasions by the home fans for giving the ball away. Although Fulham’s Macedonian winger Kasami looked a threat throughout.
Mark Hughes’ Stoke side were resilient and ground down Fulham with some late tackles and determined running, but both sides were reduced to speculative efforts.
One of which came from U.S. international Geoff Cameron, as his right-footed shot from distance was arrowing towards the top corner before being deflected wide for a corner.
From that set piece Stoke captain Robert Huth rose highest unmarked, but put his header over the bar as David Stockdale was left flapping. And soon after Oussama Assaidi’s cross found Stephen Ireland who volleyed just wide in the 68th minute.
That mini barrage of chances for Stoke breathed new life into the Potters, and in a few minutes Riether first cleared Huth’s header off the line, again, before running the length of the pitch and forcing Asmir Begovic into a fine save at his near post.
And moments later the game-winning goal arrived, as Bent was Fulham’s hero. The second half sub saw the ball ricochet to him in the box after Kasami’s shot in the 83rd minute and the striker, on-loan from Aston Villa, coolly slotted home to send Craven Cottage wild.