Great wins for Bolton, West Brom, Aston Villa and Everton as well as important wins for Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. For me, the ‘Hot team’ this week is West Brom. In fact, the award should really be for ‘Hot manager’ as Roy Hodgson has worked a minor miracle to organise the side and remain unbeaten since he took over. On Saturday at Sunderland they showed ability and character in abundance. How nice it must be for Roy to see players playing actually playing for him.
West Ham, Sunderland, Blackpool and Wolves all looked like relegation candidates whilst Fulham, Newcastle and Wigan didn’t disgrace themselves, but failed to pick up a point. In truth it is hard to select a ‘Not Hot’ team from the first four mentioned, but I’m afraid it has to be West Ham. I thought they had turned a corner and might escape to safety, but if Saturday is anything to go by I fear I was wrong.
It has not been a great season for Wigan but their keeper Ali Al Habsi can hold his head high. He has been consistently good and again at Chelsea on Saturday he came close to earning his side an unlikely point. It was only a foul on him that lead to the goal that cost his side.
Fulham’s Mark Schwartzer has been a top keeper for many years. In recent weeks he has started to look as though his age might be creeping up on him. His decision making seems to have taken a turn for the worse and his defenders are never quite sure when he will come running out of his area or stay on his line. He made a couple of those poor decisions at Old Trafford on Saturday and I wonder if it is time for young reserve keeper Stockdale to step up to the mark.
A season or two ago Richard Dunne was one of the best defenders in the Premier League. This season he has looked way below his best and hasn’t even always kept his place in the team. Yesterday, he hardly put a foot wrong and looked like the class act he was before.
It is not his fault that Blackpool have found themselves playing at a level that means they are out of their depth, but poor old Stephen Crainey must be hoping for the season to end. He is a worker and he gives everything, but he simply doesn’t have the necessary quality to play in the top tier. Unfortunately for Blackpool, he is not the only one by a long way.
Everton skipper Phil Neville is not the most gifted player in the Premier League but he never gives less than 100% and is one of those players who you feel would literally die for the cause. He drives his side on and is a true leader. He scored a great goal at Wolves on Saturday and that was no less than he deserved for another all action performance.
To coin a phrase, ‘best midfielder in England, my arse!’ Joey Barton was rubbish for Newcastle at Villa. If his talent was as big as his gob he’d be a hell of a player. Having said that, there was a man on the opposition who was much, much worse. Can anyone explain how Jean Makoun is a Premier League player?
What a gem Dean Sturridge is turning out to be. He has always looked highly promising but failed to get much of a chance at Chelsea. He has taken the opportunity on loan at Bolton with both hands and looks to be one of England’s best strikers. Last season Jack Wilshire proved himself on loan at Bolton and look where he is now. The same thing could easily happen to Sturridge.
He had another thirty-one minutes to get off the mark against the league’s bottom club with a rapidly tiring defence. Fernando Torres couldn’t manage it and it is clear that the players, management and fans are beginning to lose faith in their £50 million man. Some people say that when he gets one goal he will go on to get many more for the Blues. I’m not so sure. He hasn’t looked right for a long time now and I’m not convinced he will ever again be the player he once was.
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