Sunday, December 17, 2006
Red revival gathers pace as Gunners held by Pompey
Liverpool's recent revival gathered pace on Saturday as Rafael Benitez's side overcame Charlton to climb to third in the Premiership table. A 3-0 lunchtime win at the Valley ensured Liverpool were able to leapfrog Arsenal and Portsmouth, who held the Gunners to a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
Pompey had looked set to mark Sol Campbell's return to north London with a famous victory when Matt Taylor produced yet another stunning goal two minutes after the restart to add to a first-half strike from former Tottenham defender Noe Paramot.
But the game was turned on its head in the space of two minutes around the hour following the introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor.
The Togolese striker scored Arsenal's first goal and it was his break down the right that led to Gilberto Silva's equaliser.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was banished to the stand at half-time in the match for protesting to referee Steve Bennett over the free-kick that led to Portsmouth's opener.
"I complained for the free-kick because I didn't feel it was a free-kick but I didn't use any bad language," Wenger explained afterwards. "It didn't disturb me too much and I don't expect to be banned. Do you want me sent to jail?"
Liverpool had earlier claimed a third straight league win for the first time this season with an impressive performance at struggling Charlton.
The visitors, who have now put together a run of six consecutive clean sheets, were always in command and generated a string of chances in the wake of Xabi Alonso's early penalty.
But it was not until the final eight minutes of the match that Charlton were killed off.
Craig Bellamy claimed the 50th Premiership goal of his career with a well-taken volleyed goal before Steven Gerrard wrapped up a win that delighted Benitez.
"We made a lot of chances and we could have scored maybe two or three more goals," the Liverpool manager said. "In some games now we have the balance between defending properly and creating chances."
Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was the hero of Bolton's 1-0 win at Aston Villa. The Finn produced three super second-half saves to ensure his side snatched an unlikely win courtesy of Gary Speed's penalty with quarter of an hour left.
Obafemi Martins claimed a double for the second successive weekend to fire an improving Newcastle side to a 2-1 win over bottom side Watford.
The Nigerian striker gave the Magpies a 49th-minute lead and then hammered in Damien Duff's cutback to claim the winner with five minutes left after Hameur Bouazza had equalised for Watford.
Wins for Blackburn and Sheffield United piled the pressure on to West Ham, who will remain in the relegation zone even if they can beat Premiership leaders Manchester United at Upton Park on Sunday.
Sheffield United are now seven points clear of the drop zone after Rob Hulse claimed his fifth goal of the season to fire them to a 1-0 win at Wigan.
Neil Warnock's side have taken ten points from their last four matches.
Blackburn are six points clear of West Ham thanks to a 2-1 win at high-flying Premiership newcomers Reading, former Arsenal winger David Bentley firing the winner six minutes from the end.
James Harper had given Reading a first-half lead but Blackburn got back on level terms midway through the second period when South African striker Benni McCarthy, who had had three earlier efforts ruled off for offside, finally produced a goal that was allowed to stand.
Second-placed Chelsea are also in action on Sunday with Jose Mourinho's side travelling to Everton.