ANDREW VORCE - Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Jermaine Jones and Marcus Hahnemann's teams were able to avoid the drop while Tim Howards shut out for Everton cost Carlo Ancelloti his job at Chelsea as the English Premier League season wraps up.
Aston Villa 1 - 0 Liverpool
Michael Bradley came in as an 86th minute sub as Brad Friedel ended the season on a high note, winning their last game at home against Liverpool.
Friedel became Villa's first ever 40+ year old player as he made his 400th Premier League appearance against his former team. It was Villa who were the most settled early on as they capatilized from possession after a bit of clever work from Darren Bent.
After plenty side to side passes, Bent decided to come back onto the heart of midfield to call for the ball. Spinning around the Liverpool midfielders the striker picked out Marc Albrighton. Wasting no time the winger sent in a dangerous cross that found Stewart Downing unmarked on the back post. Downing made no mistake from eight yard out, smashing his shot off the bottom of the bar and in just 33 minutes in.
A moment of controversy spurred into action in the second half when Richard Dunne looked to have stopped a Raul Meireles shot. Friedel's hands were right behind the defender's, and the referee did not deem it a penalty. Gabriel Agbonlahor had a chance to seal the deal but could not get a foot on the end of Bent's teasing cross with an open net in front of him.
Villa had Kyle Walker and Nigel Reo-Coker both booked while Joe Cole and Meireles went into the book for Liverpool. Villa end the season in a respectable ninth place, but well off of Europa League qualifying Tottenham, 14 points above.
Everton 1 - 0 Chelsea
Tim Howard's shut out was the nail in the coffin for Carlo Ancelloti's tenure at the helm of Chelsea as the coach was fired.
The season ended with no trophies for Chelsea who were unable to fire past 10 man Everton. Seamus Coleman picked up his second yellow card of the evening in the 53rd minute, resulting in an immediate dismissal from Goodison Park.
Everton showed resilience however as Jermaine Beckford went on an amazing individual run from his own box to secure the win for Everton. Weaving in between every Chelsea player from his half straight to the Chelsea goal, Beckford kept his cool as Petr Cech rushed out by confidently chipping over the keeper.
Coleman was joined in the book by John Heitinga and Leighton Banes while Chelsea had Alex and Fernando Torres booked. The result saw Everton finish seventh place, an amazing finish after a torrid start to the season.
Fulham 2 - 2 Arsenal
Clint Dempsey helped set up Fulham's first goal of the evening as 10 man Fulham drew at home to Arsenal.
Fulham went into the game knowing that if they were able to not receive a red card they would have qualified for Europa League due to the FIFA Fair Play award having been the only Premier League team having not been shown a red card all season. That was thrown out of the window in the 74th minute as substitute Zoltan Gera was shown a straight red having been on the field for only three minutes.
Dempsey was the architect of the Fulham opener just 26 minutes in after he played Bobby Zamora in behind the defense with a great through ball. Zamora did the rest, picking out Steven Sidwell who slotted past Wojciech Szczesny with the inside of his foot.
Arsenal were back on level terms just three minutes later however after silky link up play saw Robin van Persie released straight into the 18 yard box. Abou Diaby playd Marouane Chamakh up with the front man laying the ball back kindly for the midfielder. Diaby then launched a pass to van Persie before being tackled and the Dutchman did the rest, slotting past Mark Schwarzer with ease.
Saves on either side of half time kept the teams level with Danny Murphy coming inches away from scoring if not for the diving slide tackle from Thomas Vermaelen on the line, while Samir Nasri was denied a beautiful goal off of his free kick after Schwarzer palmed the ball from the top left corner for a sure goal.
Zamora eventually got on the score sheet himself after finishing inside the six yard box in the 57th minute. Jonathan Greening was able to send in a dangerous cross from the touch line on the edge of the penalty area, and Zamora gave Szczesny no chance with a power header from close range.
After going a man down Arsenal were able to find a second break through as Theo Walcott scored a very typical goal. The winger used his pace to get past the Fulham defense and as soon as he got to the edge of the area he let loose, his shot bouncing off of the far post and into the net with one minute left to play.
Greening and Sidwell were booked for Fulham while van Persie picked up the only yellow card for Arsenal. Fulham finish five points behind Everton in eighth place, and will be awaiting the decision of the FIFA Fair Play award.
Wolverhampton 2 - 3 Blackburn
Jermaine Jones was and Blackburn were able to outgun Wolverhampton Wanderers as Marcus Hahnemann remained on the bench.
David Hoillett was given the time to pick out the streaking Michel Salgado on the edge of the 18 and the defenders shot was turned in to the net by Jason Roberts in the 22nd minute. The goal was completely unintentional by Roberts, but his final touch did divert the ball around Wayne Hennessey who remained flat footed.
It went from good to better in the 38th minute as "route one" paid dividends for Blackburn. A long free kick straight into the heart of the defense met a strong defensive header, but Brett Emerton was lurking on the edge of the box. Fortunately the ball fell kindly for Emerton who smashed home a perfectly timed volley.
Blackburn made it three before the end of the first half with an individual effort from Hoilett. After good work all half, the midfielder was finally rewarded with a goal just before the half time whistle. Dancing past two Wolves defenders Hoilett was able to rocket a shot from 18 yards out past Hennessey.
Wolves got back in to the game in the 73rd minute with a well executed free kick. Stephen Hunt laid the ball directly square to the looping Jamie O'Hara who was at the back end of the box. O'Hara wasted no time dispatching a curling left footed effort that went straight past Paul Robinson.
Wolves thought they might have pushed on to tie the game after scoring their second in the 87th minute. This time "route one" was given a bit more character as Stephen Hunt settled the long ball before lofting a curler around Robinson for the final goal of the game.
Rovers saw Christopher Samba yellow carded, while Jody Craddock, Karl Henry and Hunt were all booked for Wolves. Both teams were able to avoid the drop with Wolves finishing just one point above the relegation zone while Blackburn finished 15th.
Stuart Holden's Bolton fell on the final day 2-0 at home to Manchester City.
Jonathan Spector was dropped from the roster as West Ham played their final game in the Premier League as West Ham fell 3-0 at home to Sunderland.