Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Elmander, Windass and others take centre stage as the big four falter

It was great to see some of the unsung heroes of the Premier League getting some of the glory yesterday. I’ll look at who’s hot and who’s not tomorrow morning, but it is right and proper to give some time today to some of the players who deserve some praise yet are rarely in the spotlight.

Much maligned

Bolton Wanderers had a great win at Middlesbrough. They took an early 2-0 lead but ‘Boro’ pulled a goal back and Bolton were rocking. Step forward record signing and much maligned Swedish international striker Johan Elmander. A great touch and an emphatic finish. That’s why they paid all that money for him. He will have had a good night’s sleep last night having eased some of the pressure that had been building up on him.

The twenty-seven year old striker hadn’t scored since the opening day of the season and his £8.2 million fee was beginning to weigh pretty heavily around his neck. He is not a prolific goalscorer, but the Bolton fans were wondering if he was ever going to score again. Hopefully this excellent goal can kick start his Premier League career and we will all regularly see why Gary Megson spent all that money on him.

Some style

Stoke played West Brom in the battle of the promoted teams and the game was predictably tight and to be honest, pretty awful. Then, with six minutes left up stepped Stoke striker Mamady Sidibe to head home in some style to deliver the three points.

The twenty-eight year old Mali striker has only scored twenty times for Stoke in well over one hundred appearances and his goalscoring record at Swansea and Gillingham before arriving at the Brittania was not much better. With one leap and one powerful and accurate header, he may have got the three points that will, in the end, keep Stoke in the top league.

Praise

Fulham produced a dogged display at Anfield to come away with a 0-0 draw against Liverpool. The back four and goalkeeper Mark Schwartzer will justifiably get much of the praise for achieving this result. Strikers Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora both worked very hard and have picked up many glowing reports already this season.

The two people who rarely get the praise they deserve at Fulham are the midfield engine of Jimmy Bullard and Danny Murphy. They work as hard as anyone, they create as much as anyone and they are a joy to watch, giving 110% in every game. Aged twenty-nine and thirty-one respectively, Bullard and Murphy are at the latter stages of their careers and deserve all the praise that is coming their way at this time. Bullard for England!

Best in the business

Newcastle have had a torrid season so far and their 0-0 draw at Chelsea was arguably the most surprising result of the day. The heroes for the Magpies were Shay Given the keeper, who is regularly regarded as one of the best in the business, and the entire back four, who are not.

It is worth just mentioning Habib Beye, Fabricio Coloccini, Sebastien Bassong and Jose Enrique. As a unit, they and others who have donned the famous black and white shirts in a defensive role this season have been universally criticised for not being very good. Yesterday they were absolutely excellent and got the point that their collective performance deserved.

Sublime

Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0. Arsene Wenger said that the scoreline flattered their opponents but it didn’t. In fact, it could have been more than three. The exquisite finish by the wonderful Robinho will be the main talking point of the game. Rightly so. It was sublime.

Some people will talk about the explosive, direct and dangerous running of Shaun Wright-Phillips who terrorised the Gunners back line.

Glamorous

I prefer to look again at the contribution of ‘journeyman’ midfielder Stephen Ireland who scored the opening goal and quietly ran the show for City again amongst his more glamorous team-mates. He went through a sticky patch in his career after he told a tissue of lies to be excused from a Republic of Ireland game and was caught out and exposed as a pretty unpleasant liar by the newspapers. Now, he is building his reputation as a player and at just twenty-two years old, he can put the past behind him and go on to have a wonderful career.

Hull City continue to amaze. They picked up an excellent point yesterday at Portsmouth. Coming from behind twice, their second equaliser, in the last minute of the game, came about through an own goal by Pompey defender Noe Pamarot. He was under enormous pressure from Hull’s big substitutre who was their hero yesterday.

Legendary

The substitute? None other than the legendary Dean Windass. The thirty-nine year old striker has been a real handful to defences playing against him for any of his eight clubs in his seventeen year career. He hasn’t had much chance this season and it was great to see him have a moment of glory.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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