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    Weekend round up - Saturday 14th December

    Weekend Round up.
    Weekend player round up from Sophie Beresford.

    Premier League
    Aaron Ramsey was part of the Arsenal side who did well to score three goals at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium, but that doesn't count for very much when the home side score six. Man City have won all eight of their home matches this season and league leaders Arsenal are now just two points clear at the top of the table. Ramsey had a part to play in Arsenal's equaliser, which brought the score to 1-1, and got the assist for the second goal, but the only possible consolation for the Gunners is that they did better than Tottenham did against Man City.
    Craig Bellamy must have failed his late fitness test for Cardiff City as he didn't appear in the squad for their home match against West Brom. Declan John was also left out following Andrew Taylor's return from a calf injury. So the only 'Welshman' to feature in Cardiff's excellent and very welcome 1-0 win is the eligible but passionately English Ben Turner, who helped Cardiff to their first victory since beating Swansea on 3rd November. Peter Whittingham scored the goal with a superb header. Cardiff's win meant that Boaz Myhill found himself on the losing side for West Brom for the fourth consecutive match - but he continues to be praised for his good performances in goal.
    Danny Gabbidon has 100% shot accuracy this season for Palace. True, he's only made two shots, but opportunities are few when you're a centre back. Sadly, Gabbidon doesn't seem to have had the chance to take a shot in this match, but the Independent praised his solid peformance. Palace lost 2-1 to Chelsea, but there are positives to be taken from a match where they were only beaten 2-1 away by the 2012 European champions, a team who have never lost a Premier League match at home under Mourinho. Lewis Price and Jonathan Williams were  unused substitutes for Palace.
    James Collins has been unwell this week and was a slight doubt for their home match against Sunderland. But he was sufficiently recovered to help West Ham draw 0-0 at home to Sunderland. This takes West Ham to joint-first in the table...the table for clean sheets, that is. In terms of the real table, they're not doing nearly as well. Jack Collison hadn't left the West Ham bench since being hauled off the pitch early in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, but he made a substitute appearance early in the second half. He even had a chance to score, but his feet seemed to be in the wrong place.
    On Sunday, Ryan Giggs returned to Manchester United's starting line-up and played 70 minutes of their 3-0 away victory over Aston Villa. This is the first Premier League season in which Giggs hasn't scored, but he has five months left, so let's not panic quite yet.
    When Swansea's Ashley Williams sent the ball hopefully in the direction of Norwich's penalty area, he probably wasn't really expecting to set up a goal. But the home side took the lead when the ball confused Sebastien Bassong and fell perfectly for Nathan Dyer. Williams was also in action at the other end of the pitch: he managed to head off the line,  but Gary Hooper caught the ball on the volley and scored his fourth in six games  (I don't know what made FA Wales think he might be Welsh, but I wish they'd been right). Ben Davies played 90 minutes and Neil Taylor watched from Swansea's bench as away team Norwich drew 1-1 against a Swansea side who were playing their third game in six days. 
    Joe Allen kept his place in Liverpool's starting line-up as Liverpool got an emphatic 5-0 win at White Hart Lane. Liverpool are now just two points behind leaders Arsenal, but Tottenham are five points below fourth placed and probably miss Gareth Bale more with every passing minute.
    La Liga
    Gareth Bale was substituted by Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti for only the second time since he joined them for an amount of money that has been mentioned so many times in the media, I'm sure you don't need me to remind you. Real Madrid are nine points clear of fourth-placed Athletic Club, but five points behind leaders Barcelona.
    Sam Vokes came close to scoring for Burnley following a poor Leicester City back pass, but Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel was channelling his dad again and produced a brilliant save. This meant Burnley had to settle for a 1-1 away draw against their promotion rivals. Andy King scored Leicester's consolation goal in their 3-1 defeat at Brighton this week so I'm not sure what he was doing on the bench. Not even Gareth Bale can score from there. Brian Stock was back on Burnley's bench following two consecutive starts. 
    Lewin Nyatanga was on Barnsley's bench for the second time this season, having finally 'fully recovered' from knee and hamstring problems. He's yet to make his Barnsley debut, but he did play the full 90 minutes in a practice game last Tuesday. This was only Barnsley's third meeting with Yeovil and it ended 1-apiece. Home team Barnsley remain bottom, two points below Yeovil, but they have four points from their last three games.
    Adam Henley kept his place in Blackburn Rovers' starting line-up despite Todd Kane's return from suspension. Blackburn were visited by Millwall, who were hoping for a third consecutive win against Blackburn, but it was the home side who took the points in a 3-2 victory. Steve Morison, who kept his place in Millwall's starting line-up, set up Millwall's first goal before scoring the second in the 89th minute. Jermaine Easter was hoping for a start after scoring three goals in his last five appearances, but had to be content with a 71st-minute substitute appearance.
    Shaun MacDonald was an unused substitute for Bournemouth, who were unable to build on their excellent win over promotion contenders Reading. Bournemouth lost 2-0 at home to Birmingham and have now won only one of their last nine league matches. Birmingham, meanwhile, increase their unbeaten run to six.
    Simon Church was dropped to the bench for Charlton's away match against Derby, but although he was part of a double substitution in the 65th minute, he was unable to add to the five goals he has scored for Charlton this term. Charlton hadn't beaten Derby since 2002, and with Derby on such fine form, it was little surprise that Derby claimed a 2-0 win, their sixth victory in succession. Rhoys Wiggins was the unlucky player who deflected the ball out of Charlton keeper Ben Alnwick's reach for the first goal.  Former Wales under-23 international Ben Davies returned to Derby's bench after a two-match absence. 
    David Cotterill was an unused substitute for Doncaster as they tried and failed to get a third consecutive win: Leeds took the points in a 3-0 away victory. The difference in quality between the sides was not as great as the scoreline suggests, and Doncaster had a goal controversially ruled out for 'offside' when the game was still 1-0.
    Joel Lynch saw red for Huddersfield Town after receiving a second yellow card in the final minute of stoppage time. His first had come just eight minutes before, suggesting a frustrating match for home team Huddersfield. They failed to score at home for only the third time this season, despite good attempts from various players including a long-range effort from Lynch. Chris Gunter played in defence for Reading; Hal Robson-Kanu was an unused substitute.
    Andrew Crofts avoided picking up a fifth yellow card as Brighton won 1-0 at Middlesbrough, who lost at home for only the second time this season. Brighton are now just two points outside the play-offs, but Middlesbrough are three points above the relegation zone.
    League One
    Shrewsbury Town claim they weren't out for revenge against Walsall, who knocked them out of the FA Cup. It's probably just as well they weren't - Shrewsbury didn't win. Joe Jacobson, Paul Parry and Darren Jones all started for Shrewsbury in a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Walsall. Walsall hadn't won in the league for almost a month, and they probably shouldn't have won this one: Tom Eaves' shot or Shrewsbury should really have been on target. Tom Bradshaw was an 89th-minute substitute for Shrewsbury.
    Lloyd James gave Leyton Orient hope with his curling 45th-minute goal, and they managed to hang onto their lead through almost all the second half. Sadly, Orient aren't the only team who can score in the dying minutes, and Bradford's Nakhi Wells did just that in the 90th minute. The match finished 1-1, but Wolves' defeat means Orient stay at the top of the league.
    Wes Burns was a late substitute for Bristol City in their home match against Rotherham. This was only his second appearance for the senior team this season, and the first to take place earlier than the 90th minute, but Burns got a good twelve minutes this time. He couldn't inspire the team to a win or even a draw, but new manager Steve Cotterill was pleased with his performance in the 2-1 defeat. Mark Bradley (groin) was rated as 50/50 before the match, but was passed fit to start alongside Craig Morgan. The Rotherham squad has been plagued with illness this week, but it was Bristol City who were looking a bit sick at the end.
    Tom Lawrence introduced himself to league football with not one but two goals for loan side Carlisle United, who beat visitors Tranmere 4-1. Tranmere keeper Owain Fn Williams probably felt quite glad he and Lawrence play for the same national side when he was beaten by Lawrence's 25-yard opener in the first minute. Lawrence got his second and Tranmere's third in the 67th minute, beating four defenders before firing into the bottom corner, but substitution denied him the chance to go for a hat-trick. Tranmere were probably quite glad about that. Also in Tranmere's starting line-up were Jason Koumas - the "best player on the park" according to manager Ronnie Moore - and Ash Taylor, who returned from a three-match suspension.
    Who said Notts County were in trouble? They certainly didn't look that way when they thrashed Colchester United 4-0 away. The second goal came from loanee Morgan Fox from close range, two minutes before half-time, but he and fellow loanee Kieron Freeman also seem to have done their job defensively. On this showing the team in trouble is not so much Notts County as the unlucky team who'll be facing them next.
    Aaron Phillips was an unused substitute for Coventry in their 2-2 home draw with Crewe Alexandra. Coventry looked strong and probably should have taken all three points, but although they would be in the top six were it not for the points deduction, the error-prone side have only won one of their last five.
    Joe Walsh began Crawley's home match against Preston as one of the back three in a 3-5-2 formation, but this became a back four after Crawley conceded two goals in the opening sixteen minutes. The change worked: Crawley came back to draw 2-2 with both their Welshmen contributing. Nicky Adams' free kick was pushed onto the post and rebounded to Walsh, who grabbed the opportunity to score his fifth of the season. Adams' corner then set up Gary Alexander's injury time equaliser.
    In Stevenage's last league match, Michael Doughty was substituted after just eleven minutes due to his manager's fears that he was going to get a second yellow card. This time, Graham Westley chose not to substitute him, and guess what happened. However, Westley feels the fault lies with the referee, who handed out five cards to Stevenage players and awarded a penalty for no reason at all as far as the manager could see (it was given for a shirt pull). Port Vale, in contrast, amassed just two yellow cards, including a first for the season in the league for Richard Duffy. Stevenage's former under-19 international Sam Wedgbury stayed out of the way on the bench where the referee couldn't see him.
    Louis Thompson started for Swindon as they lost 1-0 to Sheffield United and are now one of four teams with 30 points, four points below the play-off places.  Swindon manager Mark Cooper feels part of the problem is that the better players are giving the ball away. Hopefully by next week, the worst players will be giving the ball away instead.
    Sam Ricketts and Dave Edwards kept their places in Wolves' starting line-up as they lost 2-0 at home to Milton Keynes Dons. This was Wolves' second home defeat of the season and denied them the chance to take advantage of Leyton Orient's only getting a point. Jake Cassidy was an 88th-minute substitute; Wayne Hennessey stayed on the bench.
    League Two
    Arron Davies played 90 minutes for Exeter, who raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening 24 minutes at Accrington. The home side brought it back to 3-2, but Exeter just about managed to hold on to get their first win in eight games.
    Lee Beevers was on Mansfield's bench as the promoted side avoided a club record of seven straight defeats. They didn't actually manage to win the match, but even a goalless draw at Wimbledon gets you a point. Kaid Mohamed played 90 minutes for Wimbledon, who were themselves without a win in four.
    Daniel Nardiello scored a penalty for Bury as they got a point against Northampton in manager David Flitcroft's first match. Nardiello stepped up after Craig Jones was fouled, but just six minutes later, Bury had the ball in the other net as well. Away side Northampton could have snatched all three points after being awarded a penalty, but luckily for Bury, their penalty taker wasn't as good as Nardiello, and it finished a point apiece.
    Troy Brown was in defence for Cheltenham as visiting team Hartlepool came back from 2-0 down to take a point. Cheltenham are another team who have suffered from illness this week, but they've also been on a bit of a bad run with six defeats in the last eight matches. The former promotion contenders now six points outside the play-offs, just a point ahead of Hartlepool. Connor Roberts was on Cheltenham's bench.
    Eliot Richards started the season well with a goal in Bristol Rovers' first game, but although he has scored in Cup competitions, he is yet to net his second in the league. Substitute Ellis Harrison created a chance for Richards as they pushed for a winner, but it was home side Morecambe who snatched a late goal to take the points in a 2-1 victory and leave Bristol Rovers just a point above the relegation zone.
    Michael Flynn hadn't started a league match for Newport since October. After Saturday's performance, it seems likely he'll be starting again very soon. Flynn scored not one but two goals in Newport's 2-0 away win over Portsmouth. The victory moves Newport up to fourth place, just one point outside the automatic promotion places. David Pipe also started for Newport and was strong in defence, while player-coach Tony James was one of just five substitutes.
    Billy Bodin celebrated his return from a knee injury by setting up John Marquis to score Torquay's goal against Southend in a 1-0 home victory. Southend's Freddy Eastwood has recovered from a knee injury of his own, but his 61st minute substitute appearance wasn't soon enough for Southend to get anything from this match, though Southend stay in the top seven on goal difference. Nathan Craig was an unused substitute for Torquay.
    Christian Ribeiro started his fourth consecutive league match for Scunthorpe, but sadly, he couldn't help them to their fourth consecutive win. Wycombe equalised in the sixth minute of stoppage time, bringing the score to 1-1. However, Scunthorpe are still unbeaten in four and in the play-off places.
    Celtic got back to winning ways with a 1-0 home victory over Hibernian. Joe Ledley got the assist with a first-time cross. Adam Matthews was a 73rd-minute substitute. For Hibernian, Owain Tudur Jones was an unused substitute.
    Posted: Tuesday 17th December 2013
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