04 March, 2008

Gameweek 28 – ‘Unstuck in Time’

Happy slightly-belated Tuesday then loyal readership, but much like a high-powered CEO who wishes to escape his constant decision-making and responsibility by paying an Amazonian dominatrix to order him about and spank him for two hours every week, we needed a break.

So there’s definitely a race on for the Premier League crown this year, and make no mistake about the fact that it’s very much a two horse race, with Manchester United and Arsenal vying for first place more explosively than a Mexican in a gang-bang. The Gunners got lucky this week late on at the Emirates to earn the single point which currently separates the two sides, while a second-string Manchester United team sauntered past woeful Fulham, very much conserving energy with tonight’s clash with Lyon in mind. Chelsea gave a decent performance for once in a hooligan-friendly derby with West Ham, but surely a 7 point deficit from the top spot is too great a margin to make up with so few games left? The two great Merseyside rivals continue to scrap it out interestingly meanwhile for fourth spot, however once again a fair few points removed from the few teams above them. Impressive wins for both will keep confidence high throughout the hectic program of remaining Premier League and European ties, but I know which club will be the more pleased with their current position.

The remainder of the top-half are all precariously close to one another, but with just 7 points separating 18th and 11th, the relegation dogfight really is heating up now for another potential last-day showdown. Assuming that Derby and Fulham are basically dead in the water, it is Newcastle who honestly look likeliest to fill out the relegation quota this season with an appalling spell of form under so-called messiah Kevin Keegan…

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

Keeper – Edwin van der Sar (rock solid when called into action, world class save from a Danny Murphy drive)

Defence – William Gallas (couple of absolutely goal-saving tackles), Ricardo Carvalho (superlative performance to run the backline), Fabio Aurelio (marauding and expansive showing from the under-rated Brazilian)

Midfield – Owen Hargreaves (quality as ever), Steven Pienaar (seriously dangerous), Sebastian Larsson (big all round performance), Kevin Nolan (tried his best when few others bothered), Ryan Babel (why can’t he do this against good teams?)

Up Top – Mikael Forsell (hat-trick hero), Yakubu Aiyegbeni (reminds us once again why only Henry has scored more Premier League goals in the last 4 years), Gabrial Agbonlahor (consistently outstanding this season)

Weekly Awards:

Goal of the Week – Matt Derbyshire for expertly finishing off a lovely Bentley pass.

Nutmeg of the Week – Little-seen token Asian Park Ji-Sung shows some class, albeit on the classless Paul Konchesky, to set-up United’s third at Craven Cottage.

Save of the Week – Pepe Reina displayed superhuman elasticity to claw out a Kevin Davies header with what is undoubtedly one of the saves of the season.

Skill of the Week – Some delightful play from George Boateng and Tuncay Sanli saw them both flick back-heels to one another through the static Reading defence.

Nearest Lampard came to Contributing…er, of the Week – Huge game for Frank this week as he got to have a wrestle with one of his favourite guys Luis Boa Morte. The Chelsea engine-room forgot where he was and pushed the snarling Portuguese bruiser over, letting the role-play continue a bit too far in some people’s opinions. Not far enough in ours.

Gaffe of the Week – The normally reliable Jussi Jaaskelainen had an absolute mare for Liverpool’s first on Sunday, deflecting a tame Gerrard shot (that was going wide) back into the net.

Miss of the Week – An afternoon for Benjani to forget on Saturday as he wasted two great chances to give the blue half of Manchester a victory against struggling Wigan. The pick of these was unforgivably blasting a sweet Vassell cross wide early after the restart.

Near Miss of the Week – Alan Stubbs could not have been closer from scoring an own goal as Derby’s calamity tour of the country continued.

Speculative Effort of the Week – Sean Maloney unleashes a long-range screamer at the Emirates, forcing a great save from Almunia to just deflect it onto the post.

ASBO of the Week – Carlton Cole vents some frustration at Upton Park by elbowing Paula Ferrera straight in the chops.

Nickname of the Week – Mikael “Sweaty Raver” Forsell; he looks he wouldn’t be out of place buzzing off about 8 pills in Fabric at a True Playaz night.

Spared Blushes of the Week – David James atones for a horrific kicking mis-hap by standing tall and pulling a great defensive header out to block the cross from Osman.

Empty Threat of the Week – Was it just me or was Fat Lampard repeatedly mouthing “You’re dead” at Boa Morte after being sent off?

Fashion Statement of the Week – Steven Pienaar was risking ridicule by rocking his braids in the amateur-porn favourite style, pigtails. We doesn’t make too attractive a woman though; Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos however, now there’s a cutie-pie…

Flirt of the Week – Habib Beye and Morten Gamst Pedersen aren’t even trying to hide their obvious attraction anymore, cuddling, kissing, and even showing a scary insight into their niche auto-erotic asphyxiation obsession.

Leg-breaker of the Week – While normally pretty relaxed, Claude Makelele hit West Ham’s Fauvert with a tackle that was far worse than Martin Taylor’s last week but thanks to eagle-eyed refereeing, he’s received no punishment.

‘You Need Glasses!!!’ Moment of the WeekSunderland were robbed a late winner when Michael Chopra was given offside after coolly finishing at the Stadium of Light.

Lie of the Week – Roy Hodgson was either watching a different game or has been on the wacky-baccy: “We gave Manchester United a good game here today.”

Hero of the Week –Nikolas Bendtner got Arsenal out of jail once again, this time with the last kick of the game in the 94th minute. Arsene Wenger apparently doesn’t care that Bendtner and Adebayor hate each other, but here at STT we say let’s have them fight it out sailor-style: stripped to the waist with one weapon of their choice in a pub car-park covered in broken glass.

Zero of the Week – Kevin Keegan and Mike Ashley, as they’re both to blame for Newcastle’s dismal league form of late. Ashley has supposedly already held crisis talks after just 7 games, with Keegan assuring him on bended knee that things are going to get better. With a weekend trip to Anfield on the cards, and just three points outside of the drop-zone, they couldn’t exactly get much worse.

Personal Highlight of the Week – Someone finally telling the truth about Theo Woolcott not even nearly fulfilling his vastly-inflated potential. Peep here what William Gallas has to say in the forthcoming issue of GQ this month:

“I think Theo Walcott can be the new Wayne Rooney but he has to change his style of play. He must work hard in training because everyone knows where he will run with the ball. He goes on his right foot — so he must work to come on the inside on his left foot. He must be less predictable and more focused. He can also take too long on the ball.”