Good wins for Bolton, Manchester City and Blackpool. Good and crucial wins for Wolves and Aston Villa. All of those are well worth a mention.
The team that stands out for me this week, however, is Newcastle United. That’s the team I’m talking about. Not the owner, not the backroom team or the club itself, but the eleven men out on the pitch. They put in a fine performance to beat Liverpool 3-1 and I am absolutely certain that each and every one of them would want to dedicate that win to Chris Hughton.
Not Hot team
Liverpool, Blackburn, Stoke, Birmingham and West Brom all failed to pick up a point but they were all considerably better than West Ham. They are now three points adrift at the foot of the table and it is really difficult to see where they might pick up three points from. They were poor at the back against Manchester City and totally dominated in midfield. Up front they lacked penetration.
Unless things change very quickly West Ham could find themselves doomed to the drop at a very early stage.
I’m going to give this award to one half of Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes. The Hot keeper award goes to the half of Gomes that made an excellent save from a shot by Drogba and then made a spectacularly good reflex save from an inadvertant back header by Palacios.
This ‘Hot’ half then made a fine penalty save from an admittedly poor penalty by Drogba that earned his side a point. A well deserved award.
Not Hot keeper
This award goes to the other half of Tottenham’s Heurelho Gomes. The Not Hot keeper award goes to the half that made a terrible mistake to allow Drogba’s equaliser through his hands and into the net when if he had simply stood still the ball would have hit him.
It also goes to the half that made a rash and silly decision to challenge for a ball he was never going to get and gave away a needless and potentially penalty.
Here’s an unsung hero. Blackpool defender Ian Evatt. The twenty-nine year old defender is absolutely playing out of his skin. Last ditch challenges and goal line clearances are becoming commonplace for him as Blackpool continue to surprise and amaze.
His side were under the cosh at Stoke but he played a massive part in somehow helping them to keep a clean sheet and pick up a smash and grab three points.
Not Hot defender
You could select any one of the West Ham back four but I am going to go for James Tomkins. Yaya Toure walked past him as though he wasn’t there. I’m sure he is a good young defender but playing in such a poor losing side is going to do him no good whatsoever.
It’s going to hurt me to say this but this week’s Hot midfielder is Newcastle’s Joey Barton. I can’t stand the bloke and I think he is genuinely lucky to still have a career in football after some of the things he has done. Despite all that there is no doubt he can play.
He was a constant thorn in Liverpool’s side on Saturday and produced a performance of the highest class. If only he could lose the umpleasantness from his game he would be a top, top player.
Not Hot midfielder
At the risk of repeating myself, can anyone tell me what the purpose of Jon Obi Mikel is? For forty-five minutes yesterday he gathered the ball and passed it five yards sideways. Very tidy and keeping possession, yes, but is it of any value?
Obviously yesterday Carlo Ancelotti didn’t think so as he took him off at half-time. Guess what, Chelsea were much better in the second half. There is a message there somewhere!
He has received plenty of plaudits this season for his actions on the pitch but Andy Carroll deserves every one of them. He ran the Liverpool defence ragged on Saturday and his exquisite strike for Newcastle’s third goal was no more than he deserved.
Not Hot striker
Having been told by so many people how good Johan Elmander has been for Bolton recently I made a point of watching him in their game against Blackburn yesterday.
Samba and Nelson had him in their pockets for the entire game. He was really, really poor. I’m assuming I caught him on an off day.
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