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The world witnessed another fascinating weekend of football in England. While Wayne Rooney became West Ham’s party pooper, Kevin Nolan continued his mindless celebration that would put an end to most parties. Phillips and Giggs showed why old is still gold, and Didier Drogba joined in. On Tyneside, Alan Pardew called football a ‘religion’ in Newcastle and the Geordie gods responded by giving Sunderland a hammering at the Eastlands.
Liverpool and Arsenal are among the awards, as we reward the best and the worst of an eventful weekend in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Best Goal of the weekend
Wayne Rooney’s (Man Utd) first goal of the three was a sublime free-kick. He curled it around the wall and gave compatriot Robert Green in the West Ham goal absolutely no chance of getting anywhere near the ball. It was one of the most perfect free-kicks one could witness; quite exquisite in its execution.
Gray’s redemption moment of the weekend
Do you remember him? The football pundit turned infamous sexist, turned football pundit again. Even his famous words “Oh you beauty!” now sounds like he is taking an opportunity to pass a remark on one of his colleagues. However, a few months ago, Andy Gray claimed Barcelona would struggle against the likes of Stoke City at the Britannia. Of course, we’ll never find out but judging by the run around that Stoke gave Chelsea this weekend, he might just be right, you know.
Terry and co. were quite literally embarrassed by some of Stoke’s attacking. Jones and Walters made short work of the defense, at times. Only poor finishing and Chelsea’s best defender – the woodwork – let Chelsea off the hook with a draw.
Best match of the weekend
Everton 2-2 Aston Villa was an entertaining match that involved high quality goals, decent comebacks, controversial drama and was a match high on emotions since it saw the return of ex-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier visit Goodison Park.
Leon Osman gave Everton a first-half lead when he evaded several Villa defenders to shoot past Friedel from inside the box. An inspired Villa came roaring back in the second half and a Darren Bent double saw them overturn the one-goal deficit into a 2-1 lead. Just before the second goal, Jermaine Beckford should have entered the score-sheet when his shot crashed off the underside of the bar and landed behind the goal-line. The score remained the same, but the “goal-line technology” debate gained further momentum. A Leighton Baines penalty leveled matters seven minutes before time to break Villa hearts. It was a harsh decision for Villa as Everton’s Jagielka conned the referee into pointing to the spot.
Player of the weekend
We are still wondering who or what angered Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) into action at the hour mark at Upton Park. Much to West Ham’s dismay, Wayne Rooney suddenly decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck and change the motion of the tide.
A superb free-kick was his first, a sensational first touch around the West Ham defense followed by a sublime finish was his second and a nonchalant penalty completed his hattrick. This meant that in a space of a few second half minutes, West Ham’s 2-0 lead was turned into an incredible 2-4 defeat at the hands of Fergie’s comeback kings.
Crashing standards of the weekend
This was keenly fought by Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd) and David Luiz (Chelsea), who decided to pay joint-tribute to the legend of Titus Bramble this weekend. Perhaps, this is being too harsh on Titus. Nobody knows how Vidic managed to stay on the pitch for the entire game after rugby-tackling Demba Ba when he was the last man, fouling Carlton Cole in the box when two step-overs made a fool out of the United defender and finally, hacking Ba from behind in the second half. It was a day to forget for the sloppy Serbian, being outdone by West Ham’s strike pairing.
David Luiz, however, pips this award. The cult figure’s atrocious defending at Stoke City should be captured in black and white print to rival Charlie Chaplin’s movies. He was caught napping by Walters in Stoke’s opener and was time and again made to look like a rookie by Kenwyne Jones. The Premier League isn’t all that easy, son!
Best Quote of the weekend
After completing his hattrick against West Ham, Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) decided to address the world on television by saying ” %$#^$%%$ “. Of course, it has landed him in trouble with the FA. Like manager, like player.
‘Same old, Same old’ of the weekend
A shopkeeper in London once agreed to sell a customer all his products for a price equal to the hair left on Arsene Wenger’s head. A while ago, he was making a hefty profit. Today, that shopkeeper is out of business. Arsenal‘s traditional wasting of chances, choking at the depth and unidimensional display meant we saw no goals at the Emirates this weekend against a Blackburn side that had lost nine in their last ten away matches.
The professor just doesn’t seem to have the answers..
Liverpool were back to their frustrating best this weekend. After a solid display at Sunderland in the previous match, the Reds were beaten by West Brom 2-1 after over-relying on Andy Carroll’s knock downs and riding their luck through the game.
Miss of the weekend
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) failed to finish off a Walcott cross when he was free in front of goal, but one could argue the cross came too fast. Dirk Kuyt missed the frame of goal when he was three yards out, but one could argue the ball came at an awkward height. Ricardo Fuller (Stoke City) missed a glorious chance to beat Chelsea when he headed wide from a couple of yards out, but one could argue it was the substitute’s first touch.
However, it is hard to find arguments for Steven Fletcher’s (Wolves) miss when he was given the freedom of St. James’ Park four yards from goal and received the ball at a comfortable height. Somehow, Fletcher managed to hit the post when it was harder to miss than score. He could have reduced Wolves’s deficit to 3-2 and the match result could have been different.
Most improved player of the weekend
Manuel Almunia (Arsenal) almost let Blackburn score when a harmless shot went through his fingers. However, he got enough contact on the ball to inadvertently deflect it just wide of the goal. That is some heavy improvement. He is a keeper, I tell you!
Clinical performance of the weekend
Mancini’s Manchester City destroyed a hapless Sunderland 5-0 at the Eastlands. Better yet, Balotelli completed a game without a booking! An Adam Johnson strike and a Carlos Tevez penalty gave the home side a two-goal lead at the interval and further goals from Silva, Vieira and Toure made it a miserable trip for the Black Cats. City were rewarded with third spot in the League after Chelsea had slipped up the previous day.
Best Clearance of the weekend
Denying what would have gone down as one of the best goals of the season, Nicky Shorey came to West Brom’s rescue when he scrambled back to clear a Luis Suarez lob off the goal-line in the last few seconds of their match against Liverpool. It would have been a special goal but for the West Brom man’s heroics. With the clock ticking down, Suarez chested the ball down and from a tight angle, decided to lob Scott Carson. It left the keeper for dead and rooted to the spot.
Veterans of the weekend
Kevin Phillips (Birmingham) and Ryan Giggs (Manchester United) share this award. While the former was up to his old tricks of scoring from inside the box, the latter excelled extraordinarily in his new role as United’s left back. In the age of Arsene’s love for young boys and the world’s focus on youth academies, these two have shown that experience still counts.
And finally, a look at the table..
United extend their lead to seven points over Arsenal, who do have a game in hand over the leaders. Man City climb above Chelsea into third spot. Tottenham have developed a 5-point distance on either side of the table, which means Liverpool are likely to be out of Europe next season.
West Brom and Birmingham were the only two victorious teams in the bottom eight, so they were the real movers. West Ham, Wolves and Wigan make up the relegation zone. Blackpool’s thumping at Fulham means they hover just above the relegation zone and just below three teams – Birmingham, Blackburn, Aston Villa – who are incredibly tied at 34 points each.
The fun part of the season is just beginning, folks!
The Golden Boot Watch
- Dimitar Berbatov – Manchester United – 20 goals
- Carlos Tevez – Manchester City – 19 goals (+1)
- Darren Bent – Aston Villa – 13 goals (+1)
- Kevin Nolan – Newcastle – 12 goals (+1)
- Andrew Carroll – Liverpool – 11 goals
Team of the weekend: