English Premier League Roundup, Dec. 18

BY foxsports • December 18, 2010

As snowstorms wiped out most English Premier League matches on Saturday, West Ham drew at Blackburn to remain frozen to the bottom of the standings and Sunderland's push for Europe heated up with a victory over Bolton.

Avram Grant's West Ham remains stranded three points from safety having played a game fewer than its relegation rivals.

And Steve Kean is hoping to be handed the Blackburn job permanently following Sam Allardyce's firing this week.

At the top of the table, Sunderland leapfrogged Bolton into sixth place after Danny Welbeck header's clinched a 1-0 win.

They were the only two matches on Saturday to go ahead after a blast of heavy snow hit England.

Arsenal's home match against Stoke and Liverpool's meeting with Fulham were among the four matches to be called off on Saturday. All three Sunday fixtures, including Chelsea's showcase meeting with Manchester United, have also been postponed.

Grant may have been hoping for a weekend off after days of speculation that his job is under threat. And the Hammers looked set for a third straight loss when Blackburn went in front in the 51st minute.

From a corner, the ball was cleared to Brett Emerton wide on the right and the Australian whipped in a cross that caused havoc in the West Ham penalty area.

Slack defending allowed the ball drop to Benjani Mwaruwari three meters (yards) from goal, but the striker missed his attempt to kick it.

But Nelsen was waiting and despite a first strike being saved by Ruud Boffin - the 23-year Belgian goalkeeper making his debut - the Blackburn captain then managed to force the ball inside the right post off his thigh.

Grant responded by bringing on Carlton Cole and Stanislas for Pablo Barrera and Jonathan Spector - a decision that paid off in the 78th.

Scott Parker drove into the box and Blackburn defender Gael Givet could only divert the ball into the path of Stanislas, who curled into the far right corner.

In a blow for Blackburn, Phil Jones is facing knee surgery after limping off in the second half. Kean said the 18-year-old defender could be out for up to five months.

Welbeck, who is on loan from Manchester United, produced his fifth goal of the season in the 32nd after goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen parried Darren Bent's shot.

The 20-year-old Welbeck also clipped the outside of the post in the second half with a side-footed shot.

Sunderland is now level on 27 points with fifth-place Tottenham, which has played a game less. But Bruce is hoping he might be able to persuade United manager Alex Ferguson to allow Welbeck to join Sunderland on a permanent basis.

"Fergie has got a birthday coming up shortly and he might get generous in his old age. I somehow doubt it," Bruce said. "He's a fantastic talent, isn't he? You can see that and he has benefited from playing regularly.

"The good thing about him is he has got an infectious enthusiasm about him. He wants to play and train and he has been terrific. Manchester United have got a very good player on their hands."

Bolton dropped to seventh place on 26 points after Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon produced a series of saves to secure the victory.

The first came after nine minutes when Kevin Davies' shot was blocked by Gordon's foot, while Zat Knight's strike from point-blank range was turned over on the stroke of half time.

On Monday night, Manchester City hosts Everton.


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