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M'boro v Reading

Saturday, 30 August 2014, 15:00

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014, 19:45

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Read our experts' take on Villa's rot-stopping draw, 'easy' wins for City and United, and more...

Last Updated: 02/01/13 at 10:26

Aston Villa's morale-boosting draw, comfortable victories for the Manchester clubs and defeat for Reading... The Soccer Special clan review the New Year's Day action

Tony Cottee on the grit Aston Villa showed to draw 2-2 with Swansea

"Swansea could have been out of sight in the first half because it was so one-sided; Danny Graham and goal-scorer Wayne Routledge had chances and Michu hit the post twice, so you can accuse this Villa team of a few things but they never gave up.

"They seemed better organised after the break - they defended shambolically at times in the first half - and I think the equaliser just before half time by Andreas Weimann - who caused problems all day and looks really talented - must have helped them.

"Not a lot happened in the second half, but Villa went in front from a penalty and then thought they would get a massive three points, but Graham's shot right at the end took a deflection of Fabian Delph and went in. Swansea deserved an equaliser but they will be ruing those missed chances.

"The controversial moment was when Angel Rangel tried to flick the ball past Joe Bennett and it hit Bennett on the hand. The only issue was whether it was inside or outside the box and it wasn't clear so the referee erred on the side of caution and gave a free-kick - but Swansea will be thinking it should have been a penalty."

Read our match report here

Alan McInally on what Reading can glean from their 3-1 loss at Tottenham

"Reading defended really well - apart from Tottenham's equaliser, which was scored by Michael Dawson after some poor marking - and their shape was good, while at 2-1 down, they they had three unbelievable chances through Jimmy Kebe, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Alex Pearce.

"But they didn't score and then went 3-1 down to a deflected Clint Dempsey strike. There were plenty of positives for Reading - they created chances; the centre-halves, Pearce and Adrian Maraippa, were good; and so was Ian Harte up against Aaron Lennon - but lots of disappointment, too, and it is going to be a real struggle for them.

"Tottenham had spells where they were thinking about five, six, seven goals, but they don't ever seem to make that happen. Gylfi Sigurdsson did well on the left-hand side in Gareth Bale's absence and Moussa Dembele was creative in the middle of the park, but they didn't have a lock-picker. Still, Andre Villas-Boas will be very happy."

Read our match report here

Paul Walsh on the Hernandez-RVP tandem during Man Utd's rout of Wigan

"Javier Hernandez got United up and running and he looked good with Robin van Persie, highlighted by the game's real moment of quality - the second goal - when he gathered the ball on the right-hand side, fired it into the box and van Persie scored a beautiful goal. Ryan Giggs started and everything he did he did with a touch of quality, but United didn't have to do too much to win 4-0.

"Wigan never turned up which disappointed me because after the good result against Aston Villa you thought they might have a go; there was a moment of controversy when Chris Smalling brought down Arouna Kone 30-yards out and there was a case for a sending off, but other than that there was very little for Wigan to shout about.

"But I'm sure Roberto Martinez will cite tiredness on his troops' part and the fact he hasn't got the squad to freshen things up when the games come thick and fast."

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Paul Merson on how Sergio Aguero inspired Man City to a 3-0 win over Stoke

"When I've watched Man City this season I've thought they have started slowly and come into the game in the second half, but they started very well in this match; they had shots, crosses and movement - and Sergio Aguero, who was outstanding.

"He has a low centre of gravity and reminds me of Gianfranco Zola with the way he twists and turns and Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, two very good centre-halves, couldn't live with him.

"City will just be hoping that the hamstring injury that forced him off is not too serious because they will win a lot more games with him in the team. Stoke set out to defend and didn't even really get a long throw or set piece, so City were easy winners."

Read our match report here

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Readers' Comments

E

ven if United were to sign CR7 & Messi to play upfront, the fact remains Fletcher and Cleverly are playing in midfield. That's where the problem is. Fletcher is too slow with an awful pass, while Cleverly is simply rubbish

mrunited4life
Di Maria - A Signing of Necessity, or Opportunity?

T

hese days, these days, you can't say something racist without somebody saying that you're a racist.

tk421
'Wrong' Views Not Silenced By Shouting...

D

rop Rooney (he's so disappointing, overrated and overpaid), and play Di Maria and RVP upfront, much like the set up at the Netherlands team with Roben and RVP...

eric bush3
Di Maria - A Signing of Necessity, or Opportunity?

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