American Exports: Lichaj, Friedel struggle in Villa loss
The fast-and-furious Christmas schedule continued in England, and several of Uncle Sam's nephews were busy.
Eric Lichaj started his second straight game, but it didn't go as well as the first one, in which he effectively shut down Tottenham's Gareth Bale and nearly scored a stoppage-time equalizer. Just a few minutes in against Manchester City, the 22-year-old right back was whistled for pulling down Mario Balotelli in the area. There was nothing Brad Friedel could do on Balotelli's resulting spotkick.
Lichaj was then beaten to a rebound in the 26th minute, and Balotelli's sitter gave the home side a three-goal lead on their way to a 4-0 win. For good measure, Lichaj picked up a yellow card in the 70th minute when he dragged down Adam Johnson at midfield, and in the 87th minute was denied by City goalkeeper Joe Hart on a close-range volley after drifting in behind the defense.
[inline_node:315801]Fulham picked up their first away win of the season at Stoke City after racing out to an early two-goal lead and then cruising to the three points. Unlike on Boxing Day, Clint Dempsey put in a full shift for the Cottagers, who picked up their first league win in nine matches and moved out of the relegation zone. He picked up a late yellow card.
Tim Howard and Everton nudged their way up to 12th place—level on points with 11th-placed Liverpool—thanks to a comeback 1-1 share at West Ham United. The netminder had little to do after being beaten by an early Tony Hibbert own goal, while the Hammers' Jonathan Spector worked 57 solid relief minutes at left back.