14 January, 2008

Gameweek 22 – ‘I Am Champion’

Woot woot, happy Monday everyone and the Premier League table continues to evolve into one of the most interesting for some time with Manchester United once again sitting pretty at the top after a simply breath-taking showing late Saturday afternoon against the hapless Newcastle. By now I’m sure everyone’s seen or heard about it so I won’t waste your time waxing lyrical, but suffice to say they look better equipped than even 1999 to mount a serious Treble challenge at the moment. Arsenal’s slip up against Birmingham meanwhile lets the moderately entertaining Chelsea back into the frame after they played Spurs off the park at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool needed Fernando Torres to save them yet again after they were dismal at the Roverside, allowing Everton and Aston Villa to mount more pressure on them for the final European qualification spot.

Down at the other end of the table, good wins for Wigan and Sunderland improved their chances of staying afloat, while Derby, Bolton and Fulham look in real danger due to squads that simply are not good enough to compete week in, week out at this level…

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

Keeper – Tim Howard (clean sheet and a couple of vital saves late on)

Defence – Stephen Warnock (gave Bolton nothing all game), Joleon Lescott (superb for not the first time this year), Juliano Belletti (another wondergoal from the Brazilian), Rio Ferdinand (pick of the Ferdinands this week as both were on the scoresheet)

Midfield – Christiano Ronaldo (what more is there to say?), Kieran Richardson (was the difference again for Roy Keane’s men), Ashley Young (cracking wingplay and more set-piece perfection)

Up Top – Carlos Tevez (sublime interplay with Rooney and brace for the season), John Carew (excellent display from the big chap), Dean Ashton (starting to look nearly back to his best, despite the hair)

Weekly Awards:

Goal of the Week – Juliano Belletti unleashes his second samb-astic (samba-tastic?) long range missle of the year -

Nutmeg of the Week – Wayne Rooney on part-time footballer, full-time joke, Jose Enrique at Old Trafford.

Save of the Week – Double save off the line by defender Steven Taylor to show yet again that he seems to be the only one at Newcastle with any idea what’s going on.

Skill of the Week – Shaun Wright-Phillips’ backheel to tee up Anelka for his first shot at goal in a Chelsea shirt, remarkably kept out by Spurs keeper Cerny.

Gaffe of the Week – Shay Given expertly plants his clearance straight into Capaca’s nuts to gift Tevez his first.

Miss of the Week – The normally lethal Eduardo glances his header straight into Taylor’s arms from 4 yards out in a frustrating afternoon at the Emarites.

Coolest Potential Rap Duo (should their careers go down the pan any time soon) of the Week – Little and large Villa gangstas John Carew and Gabriel Agbonlahor could definitely find a niche, with Big John obviously rhyming in his native Norweigan for extra confusion. I can also see Ashley Young guesting with some beatbox shit in the background too, if he can keep stay off the webcam that is…

Speculative Effort of the Week – Kieran Richardson smells his hat-trick and only the bar denies him a 25 yard wondergoal to complete it.

Nearest Lampard came to Contributing…er, of the Week – It’s too hard to say whether Frank’s injured or playing or even dead these days so let’s just say that if he was on, he was great, if not, Chelsea desperately missed his influence.

ASBO of the Week – The sharp-nosed engine room that is Lee Carsley did his best to wreck “most beautiful man in Croatia” Corluka’s leg in a nasty studs up challenge at Goodison.

Supersub of the Week – Big performance by out-of-favour Jason Roberts to win Blackburn the game, caused many problems and sealed victory with a great solo goal.

Sniper-on-the-roof of the Week – Ronaldo took a bullet to the shoulder as he went over Steven’s Taylor’s completely motionless planted leg early in the first half at Old Trafford.

Controversy of the Week – Michael Owen was clearly onside as he slotted the ball past van der Sar in the dying minutes of the goalless first half. Would that have changed the game, or would it have just ended 6 – 1?

Shit Celebration of the Week – SWP celebrates another decent performance with what can only described as a monkey-rave dance. Time to stop playing so much Donkey Kong Country Shauny…

Superhero Audition of the Week – Birmingham skipper Damien Johnson wears a mask to protect his fractured cheekbone. Not the mask though, that would’ve been way cooler.

Slapstick Comedy of the Week – Jeremie Aliadière takes out the linesman in an unforeseen sign of life from the weasel-faced wannabe. Sorry that’s harsh, he looks more like a rat actually.

Rugby Tactic of the Week – The bizarrely tattooed Kevin-Prince Boateng brilliantly brings down Joe Cole with a try-saving tackle on the halfway line. Quite why is not apparent though.

Quote of the Week – “Its important to play the right football, good football” Pearls of wisdom from Carlos Quiroz there, a few other teams could take notice of that mentality….

Hero of the Week – With a frankly staggering 22 goals this season already, of which three formed one of the best hat-tricks in Premier League history on Saturday, Christiano Ronaldo is this week’s hero. In 63 professional matches (for club and country), he has notched up a virtually unprecedented 38 goals. Now if only he stopped cheating…

Banner of the Week – Is he really the answer though?

Zero of the Week – With Liverpool losing further ground on the top 3, after another slice of Torres brilliance saved their blushes on Saturday, and Jurgen Klinsmann waiting in the wings to take over, it has to be Rafa Benitez. I really think that funny little beard might be cursed.

Personal Highlight of the Week – Manchester United’s second half performance was simply a pleasure to watch. I cannot over-estimate how much the scoreline actually flattered Newcastle, as for the first time in Premier League history, they looked comfortably to be heading towards double figures.