I am really am spoilt for choice this week. Birmingham, Villa, Everton, Chelsea and Wigan had good wins in the league and Manchester City, and particularly Stoke, had magnificent wins in the FA Cup. Despite that, I am going to ignore all of that and fly in the face of tradition to give this award to a team that only drew. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Liverpool at Arsenal. They lost their centre forward and their centre back and were already without their midfield talisman. They ended the game with four teenagers on the pitch and showed as much spirit, determination and fight as I have seen from any team this season.
There may have been questions about the added time allowed to see Liverpool get the penalty that earned them a draw, but it was absolutely no more than they deserved. Arsene Wenger has made himself look slightly foolish by saying he didn’t think it was a penalty, but we’ll be generous and put that down to frustration.
Sadly spoilt for choice for this award as well. Sunderland, Blackpool, West Brom and West Ham were pretty woeful in the league and Bolton had a day in the FA Cup that they will want to forget very quickly. Manchester United were poor after the first half an hour, but can hardly be called the ‘Not Hot’ team.
I’m afraid that I’m going to go with my article of yesterday and give this to Blackburn. They were terrible and managed just three attempts at goal. To make things worse, it seems their deluded manager thinks they played well.
This has to go to Birmingham’s Ben Foster. Quite simply, on his day, the best keeper in the Premier League. He isn’t consistent enough but Saturday was a good day.
At the other end to Ben Foster was Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet. As good asx Foster was, I’m afraid Mignolet was equally bad. A horror show for the first goal and a weak effort for the second. Those two goals could be seriously damaging for his side.
He has had a great season and on Saturday Vincent Kompany was absolutely immense in the heart of the Manchester City defence. He was commanding and skillful and organised. A top performance by a top player.
With seconds left in a game you are leading 1-0 through a late goal, an opposition player is running away from goal in your penalty area and you are touch tight, meaning that the player can’t turn. You are holding all the aces and in total control of the situation. Do you, a) Keep the player running away from your goal and jockey him accordingly, or b) make a ridiculous challenge and give away a penalty. We all know which option was chosen by Emmanuel Eboue.
I could not have been more impressed by the performance of teenage Jay Spearing in the Liverpool midfield. When you talk about players ‘putting in a shift’ that performance was the very epitomy of that phrase. OK, he gave away a penalty, but his performance still deserves some recognition.
Like almost everyone else who has anything to do with football, I have the utmost respect for Paul Scholes. He is still a magician on the ball and is one of the finest players to have graced the Premier League. Unfortunately, he has always had a nasty tackle in him and I can’t begin to imagine what he thought he was doing on Saturday. It was unpleasant and unnecessary. Great player, but why, oh why, does he have to do things like that?
Wigan’s Rodallega, Chelsea’s Drogba and Aston Villa’s Gabby Agbonlahor can all be pleased with their weekend’s work. This award is going to go to a player I have never given it to before however. John Walters is a bit of an unsung hero for Stoke and two goals in a 5-0 win in an FA Cup semi-final must make him an appropriate winner.
He might be the top scorer in the Premier League but his two misses inside a minute on Saturday cost Manchester United dear. Dimitar Berbatov didn’t do a lot wrong with the first effort which was well saved by Joe Hart, but how on earth did he miss the second one?
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