More This Week in English Football – Midweek Roundup & Weekend Preview

Christian Benteke's header gave Villa a much needed win on Tuesday night
Christian Benteke’s header gave Villa a much needed win on Tuesday night

In Tuesday’s battle of the bottom four, Aston Villa were the only side to emerge with a victory, beating fellow strugglers Reading 1-0, thanks to a goal from transfer deadline day signing, Christian Benteke.  That win moved Paul Lambert’s Villa side out of the relegation zone, at the same time consigning Reading to second bottom, four points from safety.  The other fixture that night featured Harry Redknapp’s first official game in charge of Queens Park Rangers and he saw his new club earn a goalless draw away at Sunderland; though with a tally of just five points from their opening fourteen fixtures, QPR will need their new manager to find a way to start winning matches, something they have been unable to do so far this campaign.

The Premiership’s other new boss, Rafael Benitez, watched his Chelsea team play out their second consecutive 0-0 draw at home, this time against Fulham.  While supporters at Stamford Bridge held off from booing the Spaniard prior to the game – unlike they had on Sunday – by the final whistle fans made their disapproval known over the lack of adventure Chelsea had once again shown.  Across London, former Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas oversaw Tottenham’s second successive home victory, this time against Liverpool.  Spurs started the game strongly and were two up within sixteen minutes, after Gareth Bale played provider for Aaron Lennon for the opener, before getting on the score-sheet himself with a deflected free-kick.  Liverpool dominated the remainder of the contest, though the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was from Tottenham’s own players – first Kyle Walker’s clearance off the line from a Luis Suarez shot, narrowly missed William Gallas right in front of the Spurs net; then the Frenchman did get in the way of Michael Dawson’s attempted kick out and the home side were lucky that the ball span away for a corner.  In the second half, the own goal did come, with Lennon and Bale linking up once again, but this time in the wrong end as the ball went in off the Welshman’s head to give Liverpool hopes of a comeback.  However, Spurs held on to win 2-1 and moved into fifth place, a mere three points behind Chelsea in third.

At the top of the table, both Manchester United and Manchester City won their midweek fixtures, beating West Ham, 1-0, and Wigan, 2-0 respectively; while Everton recovered from conceding in first minute against Arsenal to gain a point, thanks to a left-footed strike from Marouane Fellaini, the Belgian’s 7th league goal of the season.  Newcastle led Stoke 1-0 heading into the final ten minutes, but goals from Jon Walters and Cameron Jerome consigned Alan Pardew’s men to their fourth consecutive loss – a slide that leaves them just two points above the relegation zone.  The other matches saw Southampton and Norwich draw 1-1 at St. Mary’s, while West Brom’s excellent start suffered a setback, as they fell 3-1 away at Swansea.

This weekend, Rafa Benitez will not have to listen to as many irate Chelsea fans, as he takes his troops across London to face West Ham, though hopefully he will not be hearing their supporters spewing the same hatred they chanted last Sunday at White Hart Lane; there is another London derby – and reunions aplenty – at Craven Cottage, as Martin Jol, Dimitar Berbatov, Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele all facing their old clubs as Fulham host Tottenham;  Swansea travel to Arsenal; Manchester City entertain Everton; and Manchester United have an away fixture against Reading.  QPR will seek their first win of the season at Loftus Road in their contest with Aston Villa; Liverpool face Southampton; West Brom play Stoke; Newcastle will try to end their run of defeats when they take on Wigan on Monday night; and Norwich and Sunderland meet at Carrow Road in Sunday’s game.

Predictions

Midweek games, 6-4; Season, 62-75

West Ham vs Chelsea – Away win

Arsenal vs Swansea – Home win

Fulham vs Tottenham – Draw

Liverpool vs Southampton – Home win

Manchester City vs Everton – Home win

QPR vs Aston Villa – Draw

West Brom vs Stoke – Home win

Reading vs Manchester United – Away win

Norwich vs Sunderland – Home win

Newcastle vs Wigan – Draw

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