Premier League Column: Week 16 - Villa ace Benteke stuns Anfield
This wasn’t the most memorable Premier League weekend to date, although there were three matches that really caught my eye.
Liverpool 1 Aston Villa 3
Brendan Rogers’ reign as Liverpool boss took another step backwards as Paul Lambert’s Villa took to Anfield. Lamert’s men didn’t enjoy the best opening to the 2012/13 season, although their form of late has increased slightly. That has been thanks to two players; Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke who have scored five and eight goals respectfully this season in all competitions.
Weimann has really stepped up to the plate this season, and I have been wholly impressed with the Austrian forward. He has the knack at the moment of being in the right place at the right time, coming up with three crucial goals for his team so far in the league. His all round play is improving from game to game and is a joy to watch.
Weimann and Benteke are like chalk and cheese. Weimann has neat footwork, low centre of gravity and is 1.88 metres. Benteke is a strong, powerful 1.91 meter powerhouse who is becoming even more reliable upfront.
It was Christian Benteke’s powerful display against Liverpool that helped them gain an all-important three points which lifts them further away from the relegation zone.
Benteke’s first goal of the afternoon came after just twenty nine minutes. The Belgium forward found himself some space 22 yards from goal before unleashing a thunderous strike which beat ‘keeper Pepe Reina at his near post. It was a sign of more things to come for the Villa.
Andreas Weimann doubled their lead eight minutes later. A slick back-heel from Benteke found its way into the path of the on-running Weimann who slammed the ball under Reina to shock the Kop.
Liverpool were on top prior to the two goals, but just couldn’t find their rhythm, however they found themselves 3-0 down five minutes after the interval. Christian Benteke showed some great footwork to make Agger look like a stranger to football before he calmly slotted past the goalkeeper to ensure that Villa headed back home with three points in the bag.
Two minutes from time, veteran Steven Gerrard reduced the deficit, although it was a mere consolation goal.
All in all, a great win for Villa. The three points were well deserved.
Manchester City were simply brilliant, especially in the first half. Their slick build-up play made for an enjoyable watch, and the score could have been much more in favour of the Sky Blues. The Citizens made a great start when Yaya Touré picked up a brilliantly weighted ball from Nasri, who set up Sergio Ag?ero who tapped-in from close range in the 10th minute.
Tevez and Nasri both had chances during the first half to double their lead, but ‘keeper Tim Krul was at hand to deny Man City. City’s second goal came four minutes prior to half-time.
Javi Garcia’s initial header took a slight deflection off the head of Santon who couldn’t prevent the header from crossing the line. Newcastle started the second half brightly, and were rewarded for their efforts. A Fabricio Coloccini cross found the head of Senegalese striker Demba Ba who turned it in to give the Toons a glimmer of hope.
From then on the game was much more even, but I feel City had plenty of opportunities to wrap the game up earlier. They did however score a third after Pablo Zabaleta’s cut back found the feet of Yaya Touré who slipped the ball past Krul to ensure they had three points in the bag with just over ten minutes spare.
A strong performance from City and despite Vincent Komany missing from the line-up as a result of an injury, their defence stood firm and in particular, Kolo Touré impressed me. He’s had a limited number of games this season as either Kompany, Nastasic or Lescott usually get the nod. However his tackling, heading and all round play was rather impressive.
Newcastle need to rediscover their form quickly if they want to finish in the top half of the table, if they don’t, then it may be a struggle, especially as they will no doubt lose some key players to the Africa Cup of Nations in the New Year.
Queens Park Rangers 2 Fulham 1
Harry Redknapp picked up his first win as QPR boss after taking over from Mark Hughes at Loftus Road. Redknapp seems to have injected Rangers with a bit of life after this impressive display against their London rivals, Fulham.
It was a pretty even contest in the first half, with both teams playing some good football. The second half was completely different and Adel Taarabt put in a fantastic sole performance. On 52 minutes, the Moroccan midfielder found some space before unleashing a shot which took a wicked deflection off Fulham defender Brede Hangeland to wrong foot Mark Schwarzer, and he couldn’t prevent the ball from crossing the line.
QPR really pushed on from there, and on 68 minutes, Taarabt doubled their lead with a wonder goal. He picked the ball up from inside his own half before dribbling past countless Fulham players, albeit with a couple of ricochets. Adel then showed a wonderful piece of skill as he did a roll-over and then poked home a fierce shot with the outside of his right boot from the edge of the box.
QPR had to hold on towards the end though, as two minutes from time Petric’s shot from distance looped over the head of Robert Green to give the Cottagers a life-line.
Green then showed late heroics as he was forced to make a superb save in the last minute to seal QPR’s first win of the 2012/13 campaign.
Team of the Week
Results in full