22 January, 2008

Gameweek 23 – ‘Hanging out the Back’

Happy Tuesday then everyone and an update a day later than usual. This is of course due to a desire to take in last night’s game at Anfield and has nothing to do with the excesses of the weekend.

Anyway, pretty underwhelming set of games all round this week to be honest, with very little to get excited about. Chelsea and Manchester United never really got started, and their opponents (Birmingham and Reading respectively) will count themselves very unlucky to get nothing of the games. Liverpool too were disappointing last night, despite some bright spells in the first half, needing part-time giraffe, full-time substitute Peter Crouch to bail them out of trouble at the death at Anfield.

Arsenal meanwhile delivered perhaps the performance of the weekend, playing with fluidity and intent throughout, while Pompey’s Benjani was the clear star of the week, bagging an excellent quickfire hat-trick at Fratton Park against the doomed Derby. Also in the race for a European finish, Everton were victorious at the JJB to move into 4th spot in the Prem, leap-frogging Manchester City who shared the points with West Ham in a game that was as flat as an ICF calling card. Boro played as well as I can remember, but with appalling finishing, were pegged back by a late Derbyshire equalizer at Ewood Park to infuriate Garth Southgate.

Finally, Kevin Keegan’s homecoming against Bolton was drab and lacked incident, but with his much publicized ‘shopping list’ now doing the rounds, we might see a return to thrilling Newcastle of old within the next couple of weeks.

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

Keeper – Radek Cerny (second clean sheet in a row, topped off with a match-winning double save late on)

Defence – Gael Clichy (dynamic attacking play), Joleon Lescott (commanding as ever), Alex (the big bossman…well not the big bossman from WWF days-gone-by but you know what I mean), Luke Young (another exciting showing from the young full-back)

Midfield – Tomas Rosicky (slick interplay), Jermaine Jenas (lovely passing and movement), Michael Ballack (continuing to show the old Leverkeusen and Bayern form), Steven Harper (caused all sorts of problems for the United defence)

Up Top – Emmanuel Adebayor (great in the air and precise on the floor), Benjani (cracking second hat-trick of the season)

Weekly Awards:

Goal of the Week – Despite a couple of (close-range) bicycle kicks, nothing really grabbed the imagination this week so hats off to Wayne Rooney for a deft finish with the outside of his foot.

Meg of the Week – Olivier Kapo on first Malouda and then Carvalho in a mazy run to set up Larsson, who somehow blasted over from about 3 yards out.

Save of the Week – US heavyweight Marcus Hahnemann claws out a vicious Owen Hargreaves freekick.

Skill of the Week – Adebayor busts a lovely Maradona spin around Simon Davies to pass out wide to Hleb.

Miss of the Week – The aforementioned Larsson effort was bad, but nothing compared to Boro’s Tuncay, who sort of fell over the ball in front of an open goal, 5 yards out.

Speculative Effort of the Week – Following an appalling van der Sar clearance, Dave Kitson very nearly managed to lob the keeper from over 40 yards out, with Ferdinand’s header off the line the only thing saving the Dutchman’s blushes.

Nearest Lampard came to Contributing…er, of the Week – Commanding display from Frank, once again pulling the strings in the midfield to mastermind a Chelsea win away at Birmingham.

Gaffe of the Week – Once again Tit-Ass Bumble takes the biscuit with a simply incredible show of incompetence. I seem to say it week after week, but how the hell is still playing professional football, let alone in the Premier League??

Unexpected Acrobatics of the Week – Jointly shared between Marlon Harewood and Carlton Cole…who would’ve thought either of them had a bicycle kick their locker??

Gesture of the Week – Alex Ferguson’s “GET THA’ UP YER!!!” was apparently an expression of “relief”…

Rabbit’s Foot of the Week – Petr Cech blasts a clearance straight at Cameron Jerome on the edge of the box, only for the instinctive return header to sail harmlessly into the post and out for a goal kick.

Broken Jinx of the Week – Portsmouth finally score at home for the first time in over 9 hours of league play. Still nothing for Dave Nugent though.

ASBO of the Week – Michael Carrick hauls down Dave Kitson with a judo throw in the box at the Madjeski, but nothing’s given.

Bad Pun of the Week – Blame Lineker for this one, after Boro’s poor finishing costs them at Blackburn : “Ali-‘ad-a-mare”

Hero of the Week – Robbie Keane for bagging his 100th goal for Spurs this weekend after he came off the bench to put the game beyond fellow Irishman Roy Keane’s men.

Zero of the Week – The entire backroom staff at Liverpool for the constant squabbling and uncertainty, blamed this week by Stevie G as the cause of their indifferent recent form.

Personal Highlight of the Week – Outside of the Premier League, this weekend saw a cracking Madrid derby, full of hot young talent on both sides, but it was the old guard of Raul and van Nistelrooy who bagged the two deciding goals for a seriously impressive Real side.