Best of the Weekend
Sky Sports casts an eye over the weekend's Premier League action and picks out the highlights
By Ryan Parrish - @ryanparrish1919
Last Updated: 05/05/14 6:59pm
Game of the Weekend
Merseyside rivalries were temporarily put on hold, from the red side at least, as Liverpool crossed everything in the hope that Everton would do them a huge favour against title rivals Manchester City. Ross Barkley's 11th-minute stunner saw him become the most popular man in the city for the time-being, only for Sergio Aguero to beat Tim Howard at his near post after 22 minutes to equalise. Edin Dzeko netted either side of half-time to put City in control, but Romelu Lukaku's stooping header ensured a nervy finale at Goodison Park. Joe Hart was in inspired form for the visitors, claiming the Man of the Match award, as he denied Steven Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu with smart stops to further his side's chances of a second Premier League trophy.
Player of the Weekend
Of the Arsenal players that started the game against West Bromwich Albion, only goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (43) had fewer touches than Olivier Giroud's 44. But the Frenchman's clinical 14th-minute header was the only one which truly counted at Emirates Stadium. Giroud got across Craig Dawson to head the winner from Santi Cazorla's corner and manager Arsene Wenger was full of praise, as he told Sky Sports: "He has improved compared to last season and that is what you want. I think there is a lot more to come in his finishing. There is room for improvement in his runs in the box and he can still, and he wants to, score more goals next season."
Goal of the Weekend
Everton boss Roberto Martinez described it as an "absolutely phenomenal" strike as Ross Barkley opened the scoring in their 3-2 defeat by Manchester City. Under the close watch of Roy Hodgson, who will name his squad for Brazil a week on Monday (12th May), Barkley demonstrated his World Cup credentials once again. Leighton Baines will almost certainly be joining his Everton team-mate in Brazil and the full-back's pass started the move, picking out Steven Naismith to tee up the 20-year-old midfielder. Instinctively, he curled an unstoppable first-time effort beyond the out-stretched arm of Joe Hart and into the top corner, giving the hosts an early lead and momentarily swinging the favour back to their Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the title race.
Result of the Weekend
"It is difficult to explain - incredible, unique, special," Gus Poyet told Sky Sports after guiding Sunderland to a shock 1-0 win over Manchester United. The victory at Old Trafford, their first in a league game since 1968 and the latest in a string of impressive away results, gave Sunderland a cushion over the bottom three and could well be enough to secure their Premier League status. Sebastian Larsson was the goal hero for Poyet's side, ghosting into the area to meet an intelligent cross from Connor Wickham before slotting it beyond David de Gea with a smart finish. It brought an abrupt end to Ryan Giggs' honeymoon period as interim boss and he reflected on a frustrating afternoon: "I'm just disappointed, more than angry. We just didn't show that quality that we showed last week, especially in the final third."
Save of the Weekend
After being dropped for almost two months of Premier League football prior to Christmas, Joe Hart has rediscovered the form worthy of a title-winning goalkeeper. A performance that often lacked intensity saw City edge to the win at Everton and the 27-year-old's heroics played a key part in claiming the vital three points. With the scoreline at 2-1, Ross Barkley surged forward before finding Steven Naismith who managed to shrug off the challenge of Pablo Zabaleta to bear down on goal, only for the strong left hand of the onrushing Hart to deny him an equaliser. "That save might have just won them the league," said Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness on Saturday Night Football. With home games against Aston Villa and West Ham United now standing between City and the trophy, former Liverpool captain Souness may just be on the money.
Controversial moment of the Weekend
Martin Olsson's penalty appeal v Chelsea
The game between Chelsea and Norwich City was littered with penalty appeals, but it is perhaps the visitors who will feel the most aggrieved after a first-half challenge on Martin Olsson. "I think if that's at the other end, and the Chelsea crowd respond, the ref might have given it," said Glenn Hoddle during the half-time analysis on Sky Sports after a combination of Ashley Cole and John Terry brought the winger down inside the area. The view of referee Neil Swarbrick may have been obstructed, though, and he waved away the Norwich appeals in what could prove to be a pivotal moment in their fight against the drop.
Bizarre goal of the Weekend
It was hardly a goal to cement his World Cup place, but Rickie Lambert will be more than happy to take his league tally to 12 for the season. "It wasn't the best, was it?" he asked after his injury-time winner at Swansea City ensured Southampton would finish the season on their highest ever Premier League points total. The 32-year-old appeared to know little about it, too, as Ashley Williams ballooned a freak clearance up into the air and Lambert braced himself for a collision with the post. Michel Vorm was equally as confused as he raced back towards goal, giving Lambert a slight nudge in the back which ultimately allowed the striker to bundle it home from close-range and snatch all three points for Mauricio Pochettino's side.
Relief of the Weekend
Labelled as a "cup final" by manager Paul Lambert, Aston Villa got the result they had been craving for weeks to secure their Premier League status. Prior to the visit of Hull City, Villa had failed to find a win in any of their last six outings - losing five of those - as they drifted perilously closer towards the bottom three. A first-minute opener from Ashley Westwood settled any lingering nerves inside Villa Park, but Jordan Bowery's own goal threatened for it to be an all-too-familiar afternoon for the hosts. However, those fears were soon allayed when Andreas Weimann, scoring for the first time since January, headed a quick-fire double just before half-time to take the game beyond Hull's reach.
Moment of the Weekend
Despite easing to a 3-0 win over Cardiff City, the football at St James' Park seemed to be secondary as the home fans voiced their disapproval with the running of the club. Many walked out of the ground in a pre-arranged protest, with the 69th minute chosen for the exodus in reference to their 1969 Fairs Cup win - the last time the club lifted a trophy. Owner Mike Ashley was not the only one to face the Newcastle fans' anger as chants of "Pardew out" were audible for large parts of the game, while his presence in the technical area was greeted with resounding boos which forced him to reside in the dug-out. Attempting to repair some of the damage, Pardew told Sky Sports: "Obviously it is difficult. Our fans are frustrated, but I still think they are the best fans in the world."