Alan Curbishley reviews defeats for West Ham, Sunderland and Cardiff
Alan Curbishley credits valiant Cardiff but says defeats for West Ham and Sunderland could be costly.
Last Updated: 02/01/14 10:05am
Following the Sky Live contest, which the visitors edged 3-2 to temporarily take first place in the top flight, pundit Dean Saunders urged the South Wales outfit to reinforce their ranks in the January transfer window - or risk relegation to the Championship.
Fulham's first-team technical director Alan Curbishley then dropped into the Match Choice studio to help Sarah Jane-Mee analyse the efforts of the other relegation-threatened outfits and assess some of the big talking points from the afternoon's action.
Read on to find out what he had to say...
Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff
It was a great effort from Cardiff, who were well organised by David Kerslake. It was a deserved three points for Arsenal but Cardiff put on a really good show. To be done so late on was a big disappointment but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks like he's going to take the job and he will have been pleased with what he saw.
It's a good opportunity for him. He's known the Premier League as a player but not as a manager, which may be a problem for him and they've got a massive game coming up - which could be his first game - against West Ham, who find themselves in the bottom three.
Arsenal created a lot of chances and were on top for large spells of this game. Cardiff finally succumbed to all that pressure when Nicklas Bendtner broke the deadlock and Theo Walcott's goal was the icing on the cake for Arsenal.
Walcott has been in the goals recently and with the injury situation now at Arsenal, with Olivier Giroud and Bendtner out, he may find himself playing as a centre-forward.
Liverpool 2-0 Hull
Brendan Rodgers came out saying Liverpool have had two tough games and a really tough programme over the Christmas period and Hull, as I found out last week when they scored six against Fulham, are a decent Premier League side at the moment and make it very difficult for you. Rodgers was expecting a tough game and he got it but that man Luis Suarez was just magnificent again and he was the difference.
We've seen some great free-kicks this year from Leighton Baines, Yaya Toure and now that from Suarez; there was no chance of the keeper saving it, it was just brilliant. But it's not just the goals with him - every time Suarez picks the ball up you expect something to happen. He's exciting, he scores goals, he makes goals. He has his little bit of controversy every now and then but I think he's calmed down after the problems he had last season.
Stoke 1-1 Everton
Although they scored their equaliser very late on, this was a deserved point for Everton. Roberto Martinez has done fantastically well in the transfer market in the summer - but will he go again in this window? Apparently the talk is he can bring some players in and has money available. They are in a great position at the moment and credit to him and his squad.
They needed an injury-time penalty to get the point at Stoke, though - and it was a reckless challenge from Jermaine Pennant to give it away. He's obviously trying to stop Leon Osman getting the shot or cross in but he launches into it, misses the ball completely and brings him down. And once Leighton Baines gets the penalty you expect it to go in. That was two points dropped for Stoke.
Fulham 2-1 West Ham
We'd talked for the last couple of days about set-plays and West Ham, who have been very good from set-plays this season, so we were disappointed to concede a really soft one. It was a long kick from Jussi Jaaskelainen, it bounced around in our box and we didn't deal with it. But then we went and scored from a set-play ourselves. It was a great corner from Damien Duff and Steve Sidwell headed it down to give Jaaskelainen no chance. We were back in the game then but in fairness we were playing really well and didn't deserve to be one down. It was nice to get that goal just before half-time.
Kevin Nolan was then sent off before the break and it was ridiculous from him; he got blocked off by Fernando Amorebieta and he just swipes out at him. There was no reason for it and when Mark Clattenburg gives him the red card he realises what he's done. We then got on top against ten men and Dimitar Berbatov put away the winner. We got a bit nervy towards the end but we survived it and got the three points.
West Ham's injury situation, though, is well documented; they were missing their centre-backs and Andy Carroll up top as well, so they're really struggling in terms of the depth of their squad and we took advantage of it. It was a massive game for us because West Ham were second from bottom and we were third from bottom and we knew if we won we could jump out of the bottom three.
Crystal Palace 1-1 Norwich
Bradley Johnson put Norwich ahead and then Marouane Chamakh was very, very lucky to stay on the pitch for Crystal Palace. Wes Hoolahan went in with the tackle and Chamakh was a bit disappointed with it. Hoolahan squared up to him and Chamakh pushes him over. The directive is if you raise your hands to an opponent it's a red card. Chamakh got a yellow card, so the referee has seen it, but he was very lucky.
Palace were then level a few minutes later but the penalty incident was another moment of madness; there's a clear push from Leroy Fer on Mile Jedinak. Jason Puncheon took the penalty to get Palace back in the game but they are now back into bottom three with that draw.
West Brom 1-0 Newcastle
Since Steve Clarke left the club the caretakers in charge have picked up some decent results with a draw away to Spurs and a draw at West Ham. But this was a big win for West Brom - their first in nine games - against a Newcastle side that's been playing really well.
They were helped by Mathieu Debuchy's sending off on 62 minutes - and Newcastle can have no complaints about that decision. He leaves the ground, lunges and does all the things you can't do; he gives the referee no other option but to send him off. I can't quite see why he was complaining and Alan Pardew, after he's seen those pictures, can't think of the referee giving any decision other than a red card.
The winner came from the penalty spot after Tim Krul brought down Matej Vydra. It was a definite penalty and Saido Berahino took it cooly for a young player. It was a big three points for West Brom because they've been drifting down the bottom, and that was one of the reasons why Steve Clarke left the club. They've picked up over the Christmas period, though, and perhaps, because of the results they've been getting, feel as though they have a bit more time to find the man they want.
Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa
Sunderland were playing an Aston Villa side who are lacking confidence at home and they gave away a really soft goal. The two centre-backs were split and it went into Lee Cattermole, who miss-controlled it and suddenly Gabby Agbonlahor was away, took it around the keeper and finished it off.
We see this a lot in the Premier League at the moment, with the two centre-backs splitting and a midfield player dropping off to receive the ball. But the mistake cost Sunderland - it was the only goal of the game and earned Villa a vital three points but means that's another result that's gone against Sunderland and keeps them bottom.