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Saturday summary

The Soccer Saturday panel look back on an eventful afternoon in the Premier League with four Villa edging QPR, Southampton stunning Liverpool and Arsenal silencing Swansea...

Last Updated: 17/03/13 at 10:45 Post Comment

Charlie Nicholas watched a frantic game at Villa Park as Villa snatched a 3-2 win over fellow strugglers QPR

First fifteen minutes or so you're thinking they've not played badly but they didn't have any width. They passed it okay but then Yacouba Sylla gave it away in midfield and Jermain Jenas was on it like a flash.

The rest of the period before Gaby Agbonlahor got the equaliser, there's no doubt in my mind that QPR could have been out of sight - two or three up. Brad Guzan made two exceptional saves.

At half-time, Harry Redknapp transformed it, brought on Junior Hoilett and it changed the focus of the team. What a game of football. They nearly made it 3-3 and at the end of the game there were five genuine Rangers forwards on the pitch.

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Paul Merson reflects on a disastrous afternoon for Liverpool at St Mary's, where Southampton cruised 3-1

They smothered Liverpool. The first 30 minutes, Liverpool were just hanging in there. Every time they got the ball, they gave it away. You have to give Southampton credit but not one Liverpool player had a good game today. That's down to hard work from Southampton.

It was a good first goal - diagonal ball headed down and Morgan Schneiderlin ran onto it from deep. What a good finish it was with the outside of his foot. They were all over them. Rickie Lambert then hit a free-kick of Daniel Sturridge's backside.

Southampton could have easily sulked after conceding before half time, but Mauricio Pochettino took off Gaston Ramirez and put on Steven Davis and Liverpool never looked like scoring then.

I thought Luke Shaw was absolutely outstanding. If one of the big teams don't come after him for next season, I'll be majorly shocked. His crossing is as good I've seen. He attacks down that flank. Sometimes you get there against an international like Glen Johnson and not have the confidence to take him on, but Shaw gave him a torrid afternoon. The winner summed up a bad day for Liverpool - the defending was shocking.

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Matt Le Tissier was on-hand as Arsenal claimed a morale-boosting 2-0 win at Swansea

Arsenal were pretty solid. It wasn't spectacular. There was decent football player by both sides but Arsenal had the edge when it came to sticking the ball in the back of the net. I don't recall Lukasz Fabianski having to make a save today. Nine shots on goal, not one on target.

Michel Vorm had a few to make and Arsenal put away a couple of chances. I think Nacho Monreal was a bit lucky with his goal - you could see him laughing about it at the end. He scuffed it into the ground and it bobbled into the corner.

They finished it off in the end. Aaron Ramsey sent Gervinho through one-on-one with the simplest of passes. Swansea had obviously thrown a lot of men forward and it cost them. Having said that, it was Santi Cazorla who was head and shoulders above the other Arsenal players.

Michu had a chance in the first half after a lovely pirouette, but he dragged his shot wide. They did have their chances at times but nothing really to trouble Fabianski.

This was a big result for Arsenal because obviously Swansea's home form had been decent. Chelsea and Spurs will not have wanted to see that today.

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There were no goals at Stoke in Phil's game, as West Brom claimed a point

It certainly was not one of the great games and both managers would admit that. There were very few clear cut chances. The centre-backs were dominant in the air.

Probably, Romelu Lukaku had the best chance when he headed down but straight at Asmir Begovic. He then seemed to completely miss a cross from Liam Ridgwell. The skill factor on show was very low.

Having said that, Kenwyne Jones showed great skill to bring down a ball late in the game and he then went to volley it but he couldn't get enough power on the strike.

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Readers' Comments

C

lassic management. Build them up and then knock them back. Raise expectations and then dampen them. Create a dynamic where by you demand the most from your team, but where the team are given room to manoeuvre unexpected or unwanted results. Classy work by Van Gaal, he really reminds me a lot of me. A smart cookie, make no doubt.

hump3.
Van Gaal: 'I struggle for first three months'

H

e will be the England left back for ten years or more, and then you will have to thank MUFC for that. *smiles*

london saint
Shaw: Criticism spot on

P

urely because of that little diva moment he had last night, I don't want him coming to my club. DESTROYED ? Grow up and give something back to the club that helped put you up there on the world stage.

bale doubt
Saints' Schneiderlin stalemate

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