Chelsea, Liverpool, Man U rue missed opportunities

November 23rd, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

ChelseaLondon, Nov 23 (DPA) Chelsea, Liverpool and champions Manchester United were all left to rue missed opportunities after they were each held to goalless draws in their English Premier League games.Chelsea, top on goal difference, could not find a way past Newcastle United Saturday while second-placed Liverpool were frustrated by a stubborn Fulham side at Anfield and United drew 0-0 at Aston Villa.

Chelsea and Liverpool remain tied on points at the top, eight points clear of United, who have a game in hand. Villa climbed into fourth above Arsenal, who were humbled 3-0 at Manchester City.

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari looked frustrated on the sidelines at Stamford Bridge as his side failed to break through a stout Newcastle defence.

Frank Lampard forced a superb save from Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given, while Branislav Ivanovic went close with a header.

Joe Cole had a goal disallowed for offside and in the end Chelsea had to settle for a point, the third time they have failed to win at home in their past four games.

“We played 70 per cent of the game in the opponents’ half and we tried 10 times to score a goal,” Scolari said. “They didn’t try to make anything against us. Who won today? Newcastle, because they came here to draw with us.”

Liverpool failed to take advantage of their rivals’ slip-up as they drew 0-0 with a gutsy Fulham side.

With captain Steven Gerrard out through injury, Rafael Benitez chose to start with Lucas Leiva in midfield, leaving Xabi Alonso on the bench, and the home side’s midfield lacked its usual fluency.

Fernando Torres, back in the starting line-up after injury, had a couple of early chances, while Dirk Kuyt also went close twice and Lucas had a shot deflected wide late on.

Alonso came off the bench with just over half an hour to go, but though Liverpool improved, they could not find a way through.

“Clearly it is an opportunity lost - but it’s also an opportunity lost for Chelsea,” Benitez said.

“It was a bad day. We weren’t playing well, we didn’t have enough energy and we did not pass well. But we had three good opportunities even though we played badly.”

United then made it an unlikely trio of goalless draws when they could not get the better of Martin O’Neill’s Villa side in the evening match.

Both sides played plenty of attractive football, but failed to create that many clear-cut chances, meaning that the top five sides all failed to score.

If Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, were frustrated, though, Arsenal suffered a bad end to a terrible week as they were humbled 3-0 at Manchester City.

The week had begun with defeat by Aston Villa and got worse when captain William Gallas was stripped of the captaincy for criticising his team-mates in public.

Gallas was dropped while Cesc Fabregas was suspended and Stephen Ireland put City ahead on the stroke of half-time, before Robinho scored a superb second with a delightful finish on 56 minutes.

Arsenal battled hard in the second half but Daniel Sturridge scored a third for City late on to lift Mark Hughes’s side up into mid-table.

“It’s a flattering result for Manchester City,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who refused to discuss the Gallas issue.

“The attitude was right because we fought very hard. We lacked a bit of maturity to dominate the game. We have no big issues - just the fact we didn’t win the game. We have a good attitude, a good spirit. We’ll turn it around.”

Hull City battled back to force a 2-2 draw at Portsmouth, while Bolton Wanderers moved into mid-table thanks to a 3-1 at Middlesbrough, with big-money signing Johan Elmander scoring the
third.

And Stoke City gained a vital three points with a 1-0 win over bottom side West Bromwich Albion, with Mamady Sidibe scoring the winner five minutes from time.

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