Football: Easter Monday Premiership roundup
Monday, April 9, 2007
With the English Premiership nearing its completion, relegation battles have reached their peak. Six matches were scheduled for Easter Monday, and with Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool all preparing for their Champions League matches, the limelight of the day shifted to the bottom half of the table. Only ten points separated the eighteenth and eleventh seeded teams before Mondays matches got underway, and several clubs were looking to reach the forty point mark on the season, usually recognized as a relegation safety zone. In other matches, European places were on the line, with Bolton Wanderers only two points off third place Arsenal, the race for the last Champion's League was close. Portsmouth were also looking to secure a spot in the UEFA Cup for next season, as they visited last place Watford, who are destined for relegation this season.
Fulham 1 - 3 Manchester City 
With both teams struggling to stay out of relegation contention, Manchester City earned themselves a valuable three points away from home. Only two points separated the teams at the beginning of the match, but Manchester City had been in better form as of late, only recently having passed Fulham in the standings. Joey Barton opened the scoring of City twenty-one minutes into the match, and DeMarcus Beasly doubled the visitors lead fifteen minutes later. After the break, City continued to pressure, and were rewarded with a third goal from Darius Vassell, guaranteeing them three points on the afternoon. Fulham's Carlos Bocanegra struck one for the Cottagers in the seventy-sixth minute, but it was too little too late as Manchester City continued their strong away form. The win puts City on forty points for the season, likely guaranteeing them to stay out of relegation. Fulham on the other hand haven't won in nine matches, and have dropped dangerously close to the bottom three, only four points ahead of Sheffield United.
Newcastle United 0 - 0 Arsenal 
With Bolton hot on their trails for the final Champions League spot, Arsenal dropped valuable points at St. James' Park Monday. In a lackluster affair, both teams showed great commitment, but neither side could muster the magic to take home three points. Newcastle, now safe from relegation, are looking to grab the last UEFA Cup spot, though they are seven points off of Tottenham currently. Arsenal have had a poor run of form as of late, loosing their last two previous games to West Ham and Liverpool.
Watford 4 - 2 Portsmouth 
Watford earned their most impressive win of the season Monday as they defeated Portsmouth comfortably. Having just beaten league leaders Manchester United on Sunday, Portsmouth are in the running for a UEFA Cup place, and the loss sets them back on their goals. Watford, though surely to be relegated, showed why they were in the Premiership as they came from behind to win. Matthew Taylor put Portsmouth in the lead on sixteen minutes, but Hameur Bouazza scored on a penalty in the eighteenth minute to draw Watford level. The Hornets then went on a scoring spree, with Gavin Mahon and Tomas Priskin scoring before Bouazza netted his second on the day. Substitue Arnold Makengo snuck one back for Pompey, but the scoreline stayed at 4-2. Watford's win gives them a morale boost before their FA Cup semi-final meeting with Manchester United, while Pompey take on Newcastle next in the league as they hope to get back to winning ways.
Bolton 1 - 1 Everton 
Having watched Arsenal tie earlier in the day, Bolton had the chance to jump into fourth spot in the league, but were held to a frustrating draw by the visiting Toffee's. Both goals came in the first half with Kevin Davies first scoring for Bolton, and eighteen year old James Vaughaun levelling the scoreline on thirty-three minutes. The goal is Vaughauns second in two games, as the young man looks to impress manager David Moyes. Unfortunately for Vaughaun, who is no stranger to injury, he had to be stretchered off in the second half of the match as he appeared to have severed an artery. The tie leaves Everton three points clear of sixth place Tottenham, who have a game in hand, and keeps them three points behind fifth place Bolton. Everton's next game is at home to relegation strugglers Charlton Athletic, while Bolton have a huge game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London.
Aston Villa 1 - 1 Wigan 
Ten man Wigan snuck a draw from Villa Park as they continued their search for relegation safety. Emile Heskey gave the Latics the lead after twenty-one minutes, but a dangerous two footed tackle by Luis Valecnia saw the Ecuadorian red carded, and Wigan reduced to ten men. The Latics held on to the draw through the halftime break, but a scrappy goal which bounced fortuitously off Gabriel Abonglahor past keeper John Filan levelled the game deservably for Aston Villa. The draw leaves Wigan only three points clear of eighteenth place Sheffield United, as the Latics take on Tottenham next in the league. Aston Villa are now only one point away from the forty point haven, and they will look to jump ahead of Middlesbrough next Saturday when the two meet at the Riverside.
Charlton Athletic 0 - 0 Reading 
Steve Coppel's Reading visited Alan Pardew's Charlton Monday, as a spirited draw was played out at The Valley. Charlton's form has improved greatly over the past few games, as they have not lost in six games, and they have crawled out of the relegation zone for the time being. Reading's impressive season leaves them nowhere near relegation, and they are in a battle for a UEFA Cup place. The draw leaves Charlton one point up on eighteenth place Sheffield, while Reading slight drop in form has knocked them down to ninth spot. Charlton visit Everton on the fifteenth, while Reading will look to get back to winning ways at home to Fulham on the fourteenth.
Current League Table 
Mondays matches leave the league table looking like this:
- Alex Dunn. "Nervous Stalemate at The Valley" — , April 9, 2007
- James Pearson. "City Slickers Sink Cottagers" — , April 9, 2007
- Alex Livie. "Stalemate on Tyneside" — , April 9, 2007
- "Watford 4 - 2 Portsmouth" — , April 9, 2007
- Andrew Scurr. "Bolton and Everton End Even" — , April 9, 2007
- Tom Adams. "Ten-Man Latics Sneak Villa Draw" — , April 9, 2007