RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City earned a big win over Arsenal, while Brad Guzan's Aston Villa scored four unanswered goal to pick up a victory.
Stoke City 1 - 0 FC Arsenal
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City recorded another win over one of the Premier League's top teams when Arsenal came to town on Saturday.
The American defender started and went the distance at right back for Stoke.
Not much of note happened in the first half, as both teams wasted chances. Things didn't change much in the second half, with even Cameron getting in on the action. After Arsenal failed to clear a corner, Cameron picked up the ball and let a 10-yard shot fly, but his attempt went well wide of the goal.
Just when the match seemed headed for a scoreless draw, the Gunners handed the Potters a goal in the 76th minute, as Jonathan Walters tried to flick the over Laurent Koscienly, who committed a handball foul in the box. Walters stepped and converted the penalty.
Although Arsenal pressed forward to find an equalizer in the final 15 minutes, Stoke held on for the three points, which moved the Potters into 12th place and six points above the relegation zone. Stoke travels to Norwich next Saturday for its next match.
FC Fulham 1 - 3 FC Chelsea
Clint Dempsey returned to Fulham's starting lineup for his last match in a Fulham uniform, but it wasn't enough, as Chelsea's Andre Schürrle scored a hat-trick to lead the Blues to victory.
Dempsey played the full 90 minutes for the Cottagers.
The American had an opportunity early to give Fulham the lead in the third minute, but his headed attempt from a Pajtim Kasami cross went wide, even though Dempsey was just seven yards away from the goal. That turned out to be the best chance for either team in the first half.
In the second half, Chelsea played like it was the team that was leading the Premier, and Schürrle went off, scoring three goals in a 17-minute span. The first came in the 52nd minute when Eden Hazard looped a long pass from deep in the Chelsea half that put Schürrle alone on net, and the German slotted it home.
Then, in the 65th minute, Hazard passed a through ball to Schürrle, who scored from seven yards out, and the German winger completed the hat-trick in the 68th minute, once again put alone on net from a through ball - this time by Fernando Torres.
Fulham did get a consolation goal in the 74th minute off a corner. Darren Bent managed to get at the end of it near the far post and centered it to John Heitinga, who stretched out his left leg and taped the ball in from three yards out.
The loss keeps Fulham in the basement of the Premier League, four points away from safety. The Cottagers return to action next Saturday in a relegation showdown with Cardiff City.
FC Everton 1 - 0 West Ham United
Tim Howard and Everton scored a late goal in order to earn three points at home versus West Ham on Saturday.
Howard went the full 90 minutes in net and was rarely called upon in the match, with West Ham mustering just one shot on net - an Andy Carroll effort in the 55th minute.
Everton enjoyed a majority of the possession throughout, especially in the early going, but the Toffees couldn't find a past West Ham goalkeeper Adrián, even striking the post on a Steven Pienaar shot in the opening minute of the second half in one of their best chances of the match.
Finally, in the 81st minute, Romelu Lukaku broke the scoreless tie in favor Everton. Leighton Baines centered the ball from the left side of the 18-yard box, and the Belgian forward beat three West Ham defenders to ball and side-footed it home.
With the win, Everton moved into sixth place, five points behind Tottenham in fifth. The Toffees' next match is at Arsenal in a FA Cup quarterfinal-round matchup next Saturday.
Aston Villa 4 - 1 Norwich City
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa scored four unanswered goals in the first half and cruised to just their fifth home win of the season against Norwich City on Sunday.
The American goalkeeper minded his usual spot between the sticks for the Villans.
Norwich City couldn't have started off the match any better, taking the lead in the third minute. The Canaries' Wes Hoolahan receoved Gary Hooper's cross at the penalty spot and put it to Guzan's right.
That was the highpoint for Norwich, however, as Aston Villa scored four unanswered goals in a 15-minute span in response. Christian Benteke scored the first one in the 25th minute, taking a Ron Vlaar pass in the middle of the box off his chest and while facing away from the net, launching the ball into the left side of the net.
Two minutes later, Benteke struck again, this time with a header. The Belgian forward beat his marker to an Ashley Westwood corner headed home inside the six-yard box.
Villa hit the Canaries on the counter attack in the 37th minute to double its lead. Fullback Leandro Bacuna received the ball on the right wing, took a dribble inside before curling a shot inside the left post.
To finish off the eventful first half, the Villans put the match out of reach in the 41st minute. Fabian Delp had the ball on the left wing and sent in a cross. Norwich captain Sebastien Bassong ended up on the end of it, but he put the ball in his own net for an own goal.
It seemed as though all the offensive fireworks were spent in the first half, and Aston villa saw out an uneventful second half. With the win, the Villans moved into 11th place, and they will have a two-week break, playing Chelsea next on March 15.
Bolton Wanderers 4 - 0 Blackburn Rovers
Tim Ream and Bolton won their second-consecutive match by thrashing Blackburn in their derby match on Saturday.
Ream started and went the distance for Wanderers, who moved nine points clear of the relegation zone with the win.
Halfway through the first half, midfielder Mohammed Kamara opened the scoring for Bolton, heading Neil Dann's cross inside the left post in the 23rd minute.
The Trotters added another one right before halftime, as Dann's shot was blocked and landed at the feet of Joe Mason. Mason placed his shot inside the left post for the goal.
Right out of halftime, Bolton put the match to bed. Jay Spearing launched a 22-yard shot in the 47th minute that ricocheted off the bottom half of the crossbar and crossed the line.
The Trotters' Andre Moritz added insult to injury in the 90th minute, driving a low shot fly from 23 yards out that Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson managed to get his hands on but couldn't stop on its way into the back of the net.
Bolton next faces Leeds United next Saturday in Championship action.
Ipswich Town 1 - 0 Birmingham City
Jonathan Spector, Will Packwood and Birmingham City's slow start to 2014 continued with a loss at Ipswich Town on Saturday.
Both Spector and Packwood played the full 90 minutes in the losing effort, with Spector recording a yellow card.
Birmingham had the better chances early and held Ipswich to practically nothing in the first half hour, yet it was the Tractor Boys who took the lead in the 38th minute. Following a clearance, Frank Nouble sent in a cross at the far post that met Daryl Murphy, who had a wide-open look on net.
In the second half, chances for both teams were few and far between, and the match ended in a win for the home team.
With the loss, the Blues dropped into 17th place, nine points above the relegation zone, and they return to action next Saturday when they host Queens Park Rangers.
Nottingham Forest 1 - 4 Wigan Athletic
Eric Lichaj's return from an injury was cut short as Nottingham Forest allowed three goals in the final 25 minutes to lose to Wigan on Saturday.
Lichaj started in defense for the Reds but left right before halftime with what appeared to be an upper leg injury. When the American defender left, Forrest trailed Wigan by one thanks to a lucky shot that fell to Martyn Waghorn, who scored with a shot in the box.
In the second half, the Reds found an equalizer in the form of Jamie Paterson's 54th minute goal. Paterson blasted a shot from 12 yards out that deflected off a Wigan defender into the roof of the net.
The Latics responded, however, by scoring three unanswered goals to finish off the match. The first came in the 66th minute when Waghorn volleyed a failed clearance, and Emmerson Boyce managed to redirect the shot with his head at the edge of the six-yard box.
Wigan added another five minutes later, this time when a Latic teammate blocked James McClean's shot from distance. The ball bounced to an unmarked James McArthur, who let a shot fly from the edge of the 18-yard box to give his team a two-goal advantage.
Right before injury time, Jordi Gomez scored a wonder goal from 30 yards out that swerved into the top left corner of the net.
Despite the loss, Nottingham Forest still holds onto fifth place in the Championship, and the Reds return to action next Saturday against Barnsley.
FC Reading 1 -1 Yeovil Town
In a bizarre match that saw one team go to eight men, Duane Holmes and Yeovil Town managed to hold Danny Williams and Reading to a tie on Saturday.
The on-loan Holmes went 73 minutes for the Glovers, while Williams played the full 90 for the Royals.
Reading almost took the lead seven minutes into the match, but Yeovil's Shane Duffy intercepted a cross headed for Adam Le Fondre, who could have had an easy tap in.
After making a big defensive stop, Duffy put his team ahead against the run of play 13 minutes later, taking advantage of a mistake by Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. McCarthy misjudged Luke Ayling's long free kick, coming nowhere near the ball, and Duffy headed it into an empty net.
The Glovers took that lead into halftime, but Reading flew out the gates in the second half, earning six corners in the first 10 minutes. The pressure got to Yeovil Town, as they proceeded to have three players receive red cards in the final 25 minutes.
It all started in the 66th minute, when Bryon Webster saw a straight red card for a foul in the box against Royston Drenthe. Yeovil Town goalkeeper Marek Stech blocked Le Fondre's penalty attempt to hold the slim lead.
In the 69th minute, the Royals got their equalizer on an own goal. Le Fondre picked up a failed clearance on the left and fired a cross-shot that Stech couldn't control. Yeovil's Tom Lawrence attempted to clear the rebound, but the ball bounce off Stech and went across the line.
The Glovers went down to nine men in the 71st minute when Joe Rails took out Garath McCleary, and during a one-minute span, Kieffer Moore recorded two yellow cards and left the match in the 88th minute. Despite all the pressure and the seven minutes of stoppage time, the Glovers held on for the tie.
The tie moved Yeovil Town out of the bottom spot in the Championship standings, two points out of safety, and they host Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday.
The result didn't help Reading, as the Royals dropped out of a promotion-playoff spot and now sit one point behind Wigan, which has a match in hand. Reading will travel to Brighton next Saturday.
Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 0 FC Middlesbrough
Oguchi Onyewu and Sheffield Wednesday needed a late goal to beat 10-man Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Onyewu, who making his return to the U.S. men's national team this week, started and went the distance for the Owls.
Middlesbrough seemed to take the lead in the 12th minute, as the ball looked close to have crossed the line when a Jacob Butterfield shot clanged off the left and then right posts before Chris Kirkland corralled in the ball. The linesman ruled the ball didn't cross the line, however. Boro had another chance later in the half, but Kei Kamara fired a one-timer straight at Kirkland for the save.
In the second half, Wednesday had a couple of chances, including a Sam Hutchinson strike from distance that Middlesboro goalkeeper Tomas Mejias needed to push over the crossbar.
The best chance came in the 87th minute, when Leon Best got the ball after a melee in the box and let a shot fly. Boro's Dean Whitehead was the only man between best and the net, and Whitehead used his hand to block the shot off the goal-line, giving the Owls a penalty. Atdhe Nuhiu stepped up and converted it.
The goal gave Sheffield Wednesday the win, which puts the Owls in 15th place. They return to action next Saturday at Yeovil Town.
Jozy Altidore didn't dress in Sunderland's 3-1 loss to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday.
Brad Friedel was on the bench for Tottenham in their 1-0 win over Cardiff.
Brek Shea played the final 35 minutes for Barnsley, which Huddersfield Town routed in the Championship on Saturday, 5-0.
Zak Whitbread was an unused substitute in Derby County's 2-0 loss to Burnley on Saturday.