A few candidates this week. Bolton showed great character to bounce back from their Wembley humiliation and end Arsenal’s title hopes. Chelsea weren’t great against West Ham but they kept going and got the three points they needed in the end. Sunderland overcame the loss of half their team and all their forwards to record a crucial win in some style and Manchester United ground out another three points with yet another late goal. They all deserve a mention but the winner has to be Liverpool.
It is hard to put into words the transformation that Kenny Dalglish has inspired at Liverpool. No Agger, no Johnson, no Gerrard, no Carroll and three teenagers in the starting eleven and they demolished Birmingham. Even Joe Cole scored!
Arsenal come very close to picking this up because if ever a team have absolutely thrown away the chance of winning the Premier League, they have done so this season. It was theirs for the taking and they didn’t have the maturity, knowledge or ‘bottle’ to take it. Once again they had 60% of the possession but didn’t win the game.
West Ham, Wigan and Everton all lost but put in a pretty decent effort. I’m afraid that leaves Birmingham who were without doubt this week’s ‘Not Hot’ team. They are probably just about safe, but if they play like this, they will be relying on other teams rather than themselves.
I can only assume that Sir Alex Ferguson is using every bit of his skill and experience as a manager to try to persuade Edwin van der Sar to play for another season. You can’t win a title with a poor keeper (take note Arsene Wenger!) and a great keeper can win it for you. If Rodwell’s deflected shot had put Everton 1-0 up, the title race would probably still be wide open. As it was, van der Sar made yet another exceptional save and the title looks relatively safe.
There were no terrible performances, but I’m going for Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey. Three points would have seen Wolves out of the drop zone and they looked like getting them until Fulham’s Andy Johson fired at goal. It wasn’t a horrible mistake but the ball beat the diving Hennessey and didn’t go anywhere near the corner of the goal. I can’t help feeling he should have saved it and the fact that he didn’t could be incredibly costly for his team.
He is only seventeen years old yet John Flannagan looks as though he is a seasoned Premier League veteran. The Liverpool defender has played three games and his side have only conceded once with him on the pitch. Few young players can have made a more assured start to their careers.
Whilst Arsenal weave their pretty patterns and fail to provide the killer touch they need their back four to be solid. Johan Djourou gave away a penalty, made a couple of mistakes and failed to dominate. (A short note to Arsene Wenger – you can’t win the Premier League without a dominating centre back.)
Earlier this season Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson earned an England call-up. After that he suffered a loss of form and even some of the Sunderland fans had started to turn against him. On Saturday, with no strikers left on the pitch, all looked lost for Sunderland until the twenty year old took the game by the scruff of the neck and led them to an improbable victory with two goals along the way.
I know this a controvesial choice and I know he is a world class player, but I’m giving this to Cesc Fabregas. How many times does he find himself in fantastic positions and look for a clever little pass rather than going for goal?
West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie and Bolton’s Daniel Sturridge deserve a mention but the award has to go top United’s Javier Hernandez. He cost a bargain £6 million, has scored nineteen goals and has the best chance conversion rate of any striker in the Premier League.
West Ham put on Robbie Keane for the last half hour at Chelsea as they tried desperately to find an equaliser. The Irish striker must have wished they hadn’t bothered. He still has the ability to get into good positions, but his finishing was unfortunately woeful on the day.
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