Happy Monday everyone, and as ever it’s good to be back in the office. Without the distractions of any other sports, I’m pleased to say that football is well and truly back on menu around the country. This weekend saw the much-hyped dramatic meeting between Arsenal and Liverpool, where spoils were perhaps fairly shared, while elsewhere Manchester United and Chelsea scored bucketfuls at home against ambitious opposition. Elsewhere, Portsmouth missed their chance to go fourth, in a game I unfortunately jinxed by announcing at kick off that there was “literally no way” we wouldn’t see a goal. Sorry guys. Finally, Tottenham continued their fall incredible from grace, with just the hapless Derby and the unlucky Bolton below them in the table.
Premier League Team of the Week (based on OPTA stats, Fantasypremierleague.com ratings and my own expert eye):
Keeper – Rob Green (penalty save, plus several other world class stops from Benjani and Kranjcar to keep West Ham in the game)
Defence – Ricardo Carvalho (immovable), Sylvain Distin (great positional play and several timely tackles), Kolo Toure (rock solid at the back and caused problems with his traditional marauding bursts forward), Phil Jakielka (ran the defence with consummate ease)
Midfield – Niko Kranjcar (dangerous wingplay and great shooting, deserved a goal), Cesc Fabregas (the new Deco?), Daniël de Ridder (great debut for Birmginham after so many injury problems)
Up Top – Didier Drogba (power, pace etc etc), Wayne Rooney (scarily good interplay with Tevez), Olivier Kapo (two goals and all round great performance from the big guy)
Goal of the Week – Nani’s wonderstrike against Middlesborough, although the first Tevez goal from the same match deserves a mention as well for the beautiful build-up.
Meg of the Week – Adebayor for an admirable brace of megs on first Hyypia and then Carragher early on Anfield.
Save of the Week – Antti Niemi for batting away a Grant Leadbitter piledriver late on at the Stadium of Light.
Skill of the Week – Rooney’s delightful backheel to set up Argentina’s most attractive son, Carlos Tevez, for his first at Old Trafford.
Attempt of the Week – Martin Petrov for cracking a freekick just wide of Petr Cech’s goal while the scoreline was still respectable on Saturday.
Miss of the Week – Nobby Solano really shouldn’t look forward to showing his face at training today after clanging two headers from literally 3 yards out. Any other week and Leroy Lita’s similarly awful open goal fluffs would’ve pipped him though.
Sniper-in-the-Crowd of the Week – As Didi Hamann approached Drogba inside the Man City box, the huge Ivorian dropped to the ground with the grace of a high school shooting victim.
Open Barn Door of the Week – Joe Harte …did all six of Chelsea’s goals actually go through his legs?
Gaffe of the Week – Stuart Downing expertly finds Wayne Rooney on the edge of his own box to gift Man United their second.
Nearest Lampard came to Contributing…er, of the Week – Ok ok, he actually seemed to turn up this weekend and even I have to take my hat off to his outside of the boot pass to release Drogba for Chelsea’s second.
ASBO of the Week – Everyone favourite wannabe-pub bouncer Lee Cattermole jumps in with extreme prejudice two-footed on little Nani, presumably jealous of his haircut.
Flirt of the Week – Craig Bellamy and Herman Hreidesson during the first half at Fratton Park; seriously guys, get a room.
Broken Jinx of the Week – Rob Green saves his first ever penalty in professional football. Aces!
Quote of the Week – Tony Adams tells it like it is : “Well Benjani walked forward to take the penalty, so that was the most disappointing thing for us.”
Hero of the Week – Avram Grant for finally getting the Chelsea squad to show what they can do. Was a considerably more entertaining performance than anything I can remember from the last three years, a pretty ominous sight for Arsenal and Men United.
Zero of the Week – Daniel Levy for firing the funniest ever manager in the Premier League, and then still watching his side get turned over at home.
Personal Highlight of the Week – The fact that Leeds vs. Millwall, in League 2, garnered an attendance of 30,319 which was the fourth highest on Saturday in all the English leagues. As much as I hate both teams, it shows that real football lives on outside the top flight!