31 December, 2007

Gameweek 20 – ‘2008 Mindstate’

Happy almost-New-Year then party people, and what is almost certainly maybe our last post of 2007, our birth year if you will. It’s all change at the top again, with West Ham securing a shock victory over Manchester United to leave the door open for their rivals to close the gap. Chelsea and Arsenal dutifully obliged, and the Gunners are back to the top of the tree after destroying an in-form Everton side at Goodison Park. Fourth and fifth placed Liverpool and Manchester City shared a point on Sunday, in a cagey match that was ruled by a selection of the best defenders in the country.

Elsewhere, for the second time this year, Reading scored 4 away from home and still managed to lose, this time against the resurgent Spurs, spearheaded by an untouchable Berbatov. Blackburn and Aston Villa maintained their excellent recent form, each picking up another 3 points, while Pompey continued to look out of the sorts, going down 1 – 0 at home to Middlesbrough. Bolton, Derby, Newcastle and Wigan all lost once more, making this upcoming January transfer window vitally important for their respective plays for survival.

Finally then, many thanks to all our regular readers for helping to spread the word, and a special mention to all the other football blog owners who have helped us get off the ground. Do them a favour and check out their links down the left-hand side of the page when you’re finished here. Until 2008…keep sniffing…

Premier League Team of the Week (based on OPTA stats, Fantasypremierleague.com ratings and my own expert eye):

Keeper – Shay Given (heroics between the posts, only to be robbed by a terrible offside decision for Chelsea’s winner)

Defence – Jaime Carragher (as good as ever from the ex-England man), Richard Dunne (Berbatov aside, performance of the weekend no doubt), Matthew Upson (snuffed out everything defensively and bagged the winner against the current Champions)

Midfield – David Bentley (instrumental in Blackburn’s win once again), Kieran Richardson (great return to form for the ex-Man United man), Michael Essien (dominating as ever), Mark Noble (ran the game and didn’t give the Man United midfield a chance)

Up Top – Dimitar Berbatov (virtuoso effort from the class Bulgarian, but was this 4 goal masterclass just to put himself in the shop window?), Dave Kitson (another great showing from the Reading man, this time against his childhood team), Eduardo de Silva (scarily efficient finishing from the under-rated Croatian/Brazilian)

Weekly Awards:

Goal of the Week – Plenty of contenders as ever, but Berbatov’s hat-trick goal was truly sublime, turning on a sixpence to volley low into the corner of Hahemann’s net.

Nutmeg of the Week – Joseph Yobo on his own goalkeeper Tim Howard was a perfect example for all to see.

Save of the Week – Antti Nieme produced a point-preserving double save late on at Birmingham, first to deny a McSheffrey free-kick and then a Franck Quedrue volley.

Skill of the Week – Yakubu shows what he’s made off, flicking the ball expertly one side of Toure and then outpacing the Ivory Coast defender the other side. Shame he chose to dive rather than have a crack at goal though.

Gaffe of the Week – The aforementioned Yobo/Howard incident.

Miss of the Week – Just to show he’s not perfect, Fernando Torres scuppered two gilt-edged chances to take the points home to Liverpool early in the second half yesterday.

Speculative Effort of the Week – Fabio Aurelio had a couple of lovely sighters, cranking up that Brazilian ultra-swerve to the max, but young Joe Harte was a match.

Nearest Lampard came to Contributing…er, of the Week – Inspirational in Chelsea’s late winner against the struggling Newcastle; delivered the cross, tapped the ball in, and blind-folded the linesman, all in one ninja-esque backflip.

Sniper-on-the-roof of the Week – I really thought Cesc Fabregas was above this kind of play-acting, but his theatrics to get Mikel Arteta sent off were truly appalling. A brush to the upper chest from Arteta’s arm turned into a bullet through the jaw for the young Spaniard.

ASBO of the Week – The normally relaxed Nikolas Bendtner got in on the spreading Premier League violence by clattering Andy Johnson just below the knee before the English forward had even been within 10 metres of the ball.

Karate Kid Homage of the Week – Bruiser Aaron Mokoena resurrects Daniel-son’s famous scissors kick, but not on a potentially Nazi bully who smokes and has a dodgy high-top, but Matt Oakley.

Brotherly Love of the Week – For the third time in a row, it was Anton who came out on top in the battle of the Ferdinands. Aren’t they just a modern day Polynices and Eteocles kids?

Controversy of the Week – Professional waste-of-space Salomon Kalou for pinching Chelsea’s winner from a good 5 yards offside. I don’t wanna sound cynical but I’m guessing the linesman is gonna have a very affluent start to 2008 thanks to Roman Abramovich.

Dodgy Trend of the Week – Clearly the spread of Gallas-esque shit mohawks, with Micah Richards among others now seen sporting them. Unless you’re black and built like a Predator tank, I don’t advise you follow suit…

Return of the Week – Hats off to self-proclaimed “big dog” Kieran Richardson for marking his return to the first team with a goal and an all round excellent performance at the Stadium of Light. Made doubly sweet by the fact that his whore of a cousin Charley Uchea seems to have finally found a corner to go quietly die in.

Jinx of the Week – Portsmouth have now gone over 9 hours at Fratton Park since they last scored. Admittedly that time they scored 7, so maybe they shot their load for the whole year in that one game? I recommend some mild feng-shui, followed by an elaborate exorcism.

Quote of the Week – “I must be the only teetotal player in the Premier League!” exclaimed Man City import Roland ‘Rolandinho’ Bianchi. Well Joey Barton is currently in jail, so make that two of you Roland…

Hero of the Week – Juande Ramos and Gus Poyet for turning things around at Spurs, and finally getting some decent performances out of the team.

Zero of the Week – Given that this is probably the only chance to put him here this year, Christiano Ronaldo gets the STT seal of disapproval this week for missing a penalty and then disappearing off the pitch at Upton Park. Ferguson understandably unleashed his famous hairdryer treatment following the game so let’s hope he managed to spray all that brylcream out of Ronaldo’s hair. The rapist look is so 2005.

Personal Highlight of the Week – Gary McSheffrey aping Gazza and presenting a yellow card to referee Mark Clattenberg after he had dropped it at St Andrews. Kudos as well to the oft-maligned Clattenberg for having a sense of humour and not booking the Birmingham man for the gag.