Prem Picks: Two sides to Suarez, City collapse

TEAMtalk's reporters assess the Premier League action which saw Luis Suarez cost Chelsea a win, a Manchester City collapse and a Stoke success.

Last Updated: 21/04/13 at 21:52 Post Comment

Chelsea: Complaining to referee

Chelsea: Complaining to referee

Liverpool 2 Chelsea 2

Jack Woodfield

Some had questioned the inclusion of Luis Suarez in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award and his antics for Liverpool against Chelsea will have given critics and backers further evidence of his positive and negative attributes.

His remarkable decision in the second half to bite Branislav Ivanovic should have seen him sent off, but with the incident not spotted by officials, Suarez remained on the pitch and went on to secure a point for the Reds.

In the first half he was immense, befuddling Chelsea defenders with his intelligent runs before setting up Liverpool's second-half equaliser which was finished by substitute Daniel Sturridge.

However, a potential FA ban could see him ruled out for Liverpool for the rest of the season, and Chelsea will no doubt be fuming at the last-minute goal that arguably should not have stood.

Sadly, this was a wonderful game of football that will be remembered solely for the Suarez bite, and while Liverpool's last-gasp goal gives them momentum for the run-in, this was a costly goal for Chelsea in the battle for fourth.

Tottenham 3 Manchester City 1

Lewis Rutledge

The pressure was on Tottenham to defeat Manchester City at White Hart Lane and they rose to the challenge in fine style as a three-goal salvo in the second half from Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale overturned Samir Nasri's opener.

It was a magnificent response from Spurs which keeps them very much in contention for a top-four finish, and perhaps could be a pivotal moment for Andre Villas-Boas in convincing the fans of his tactical nous.

He may still have his doubters but Villas-Boas was proactive in bringing on Tom Huddlestone and Lewis Holtby and changing Tottenham's shape to get more out of the likes of Bale and Mousa Dembele.

Huge cheers also erupted when Defoe came on for Emmanuel Adebayor and the England striker must surely be locked in now as Spurs' first-choice striker for the remainder of the season, after a result which should give them enough confidence to qualify for the Champions League.

For City, manager Roberto Mancini must surely be wondering how his side collapsed so badly in the closing stages after being in such control in the first half, and he will hope it is never allowed to happen again in a match of greater significance.

City have been performing well over the past few weeks in the absence of pressure and will be determined to get back to winning ways ahead of the FA Cup final against Wigan at the end of the season.

The players will be competing for places and Edin Dzeko, for one, did himself no favours with a disappointing display up front.

Fulham 0 Arsenal 1

Graeme Bailey

The most refreshing thing about this game was the post-match reaction from Arsene Wenger and Martin Jol, who both summed up the game perfectly.

Wenger admitted his side were fortunate to win, and played with a 'handbrake' on, and you can't really argue.

And yes, Arsenal were lucky, they did not play well and even against 10 men, they struggled at times - but nobody will remember how they played. All that matters is three points.

They will play better and lose but Wenger will just hope that is not before they have secured a top-four slot, which is surely within their grasp.

Fulham can take huge credit, they battled supremely with 10 men and Jol will know he can take much from the match, but with mid-table looming the summer probably could not come soon enough for the West Londoners.

Norwich 2 Reading 1

Rebecca Stephenson

On the surface this was a game between a side who should stay up and one that almost certainly won't. And even if you were unaware of which set of players were in which circumstances at the start, it wouldn't have taken you long to figure it out.

Whilst Norwich flew out of the blocks, buoyed by a crowd intent on roaring their side to victory, Reading, for the most part, radiated an aura of a group resigned to their fate.

Not that there was a huge chasm of ability between the two. Norwich will have to find a reliable supply of goals from somewhere next season, and they will be hoping the capture of Ricky van Wolfswinkel will help them avoid similar relegation anxiety next season.

Reading meanwhile can afford to be upbeat about the future under Nigel Adkins, albeit one almost certainly in the second tier.

Adkins has undoubtedly won over his new troops with his desire to play passing attractive football. But having admitted that they struggled to deal with Norwich's physicality in this game, maybe they'll have to stock up in the summer to ensure they can cope with the rough and tumble they are sure to encounter in the Championship.

QPR 0 Stoke 2

Pete Hall

Well, that seems to be that for QPR this season, who now must start to prepare for trips to Derby and Ipswich next season.

If one game could epitomise Rangers' disappointing campaign, it was this sub-standard performance against a determined Stoke side.

Aside from Loic Remy and the odd moment from Adel Taarabt, the lack of genuine quality amongst an expensively assembled side was clear for all to see.

Wayward shooting, woeful crossing, and some shocking decision-making cost the home side dear once again, leaving Harry Redknapp with decisions to make in the summer.

Stoke on the other hand were vastly improved, mainly thanks to the pace and grit of Cameron Jerome, who caused problems all day.

Goals have been a huge problem for the Potters, but they seemed to attack with much more purpose, and with a better final ball could have had more goals.

They still were sloppy in midfield, with Charlie Adam wasting several opportunities, but three points against Norwich next week should see them safe.

Sunderland 1 Everton 0

Daniel Storey

Everton looked lethargic and fatigued as Sunderland, clearly inspired by their new manager in his first home game in charge, strengthened their bid for survival.

In truth it was a game of few clear cut chances, although Seb Larsson three times came close with free kicks. It was shortly after the third that Leighton Baines inexplicably gave the ball away near his own area, and Sessegnon profited.

The main talking point of the game was the yellow card given to Simon Mignolet during the second half. After a back pass was hugely over hit, the Belgian pedaled back to his goal and caught the ball. Without him doing so it would surely have been 1-1, so why is this not a deliberate professional foul, and therefore a red card?

And so to the Di Canio effect. It is interesting to see Sunderland's players pressing all over the pitch just three weeks after the Italian stated that he wanted the fitness to improve at the Stadium of Light. Clearly that is not something that can be significantly altered in such a short time, but what is clear is that for his potential faults, Di Canio has inspired a group of players and a home crowd. Suddenly all looks rather rosy on Wearside.

Swansea 0 Southampton 0

Pete Fraser

The lack of a final ball was the story of this forgettable match, which had the feeling of an end-of-season affair. It was also the tale of two clubs with differing momentum - Southampton unbeaten in six and Swansea City without a win in five.

For Swansea boss Michael Laudrup, it will be a concern. They have won the Capital One Cup but their Premier League slump is threatening to undermine the campaign. Partly, that is due to Michu's drop in form. After a fine season, the striker looks in need of a restful summer break.

Likewise, Southampton will be slightly worried by Rickie Lambert. He looked far from fit and boss Mauricio Pochettino admitted after the game the striker had not trained properly over the past two weeks.

That a Southampton side still not guaranteed to be safe from relegation could still finish in the top half of the table demonstrates the incredibly tight nature of the lower section of the Premier League.

West Brom 1 Newcastle 1

Tom McDermott

Although not safe yet, Newcastle showed enough in the first half to suggest that they certainly won't be going down this season.

Yohan Cabaye was the ring leader early on as West Brom struggled to contain him.

It was only going to be a matter of time before one of the Frenchman's passes proved decisive, and when Papiss Cisse collected his ball in the area he found the time to cross for Yoan Gouffran, who converted expertly past Ben Foster with a header.

For Steve Clarke it was another game to tick off the list in an impressive season at the club. The home side opted for a more direct approach in the second-half and it proved successful as Romelu Lukaku and Chris Brunt started to cause problems.

Billy Jones's equaliser, set up by Lukaku, was a fitting reward for Clarke's side as it displayed yet again his team's character and looks certain to cement their place in the top half of the table this season.

West Ham 2 Wigan 0

Chris Burton

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has spent much of the season bemoaning a lack of cutting edge in the final third, but it was his opposite number Roberto Martinez who was left cursing his luck on Saturday.

The Latics dominated possession at Upton Park but were unable to create a number of clear-cut opportunities - and those they did create, they spurned.

Wigan are now facing up a hectic end of season schedule which will see them endeavour to pull off another miraculous escape act, while also looking to land major silverware in the form of the FA Cup.

No-one at the DW Stadium will admit as much, but you have to wonder whether they could do without the distraction of a day out at Wembley.

For West Ham, they are through the 40-point barrier, into the top-half of the table and can start planning for another season of top-flight football in 2013/14 - with it shaping up to be an intriguing summer on the transfer front in the East End.

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