Arsenal and Liverpool were good and most weeks they would be in with a shout of picking up this award. However, the winners, although it pains me to say it again, are Manchester United. Top of the league and unbeaten as we head towards the end of January is a great record. They have achieved that without playing well apparently. Well that changed on Saturday because they were exceptional. If anything, the 5-0 score-line was flattering to Birmingham!
Not Hot team
Wigan, Stoke and Wolves won’t look back on Saturday with any great pride or happiness, but there was one team worse than all of them.
You can usually rely on Birmingham to show resilience, organisation and a true fighting spirit. Against an admittedly good Manchester United they showed absolutely nothing of the sort. As the saying goes, they were lucky to get nil!
Villa keeper Brad Friedel is nearly forty. He has a remarkable record in the he has played over two hundred and fifty consecutive games. He hasn’t missed a first team league game since 2004! That is a record that will surely never be beaten. The man himself also looked as though he would never be beaten on Saturday when he helped Villa to an unlikely 1-0 win over Manchester City.
Friedel didn’t do anything too spectacular but City had fourteen attempts on target and failed to score. That speaks for itself.
Not Hot keeper
When a team are looking for a Champions League qualification place at worst and to challenge for the title at best, the little mistakes are what cost them dear. Carlo Cudicini, standing in for injured Tottenham keeper Gomes, should have saved the goal scored by Coloccini for Newcastle. It wasn’t a horrendous error but it was an error none the less. Who knows how crucial those two dropped points might be at the end of the season?
He really hasn’t been at his best since he left Manchester City for Aston Villa and earlier in the season he even lost his place in the team, but Richard Dunne showed his old team just what he is made of in Villa’s win over City. He was an absolute colossus at the heart of Villa’s defence as they repelled wave after wave of City attacks towards the end of the game.
Not Hot defender
He may be a promising prospect by Ryan Shawcross had a day to forget in Stoke’s defeat at Fulham. He missed a decent chance with his head at one end and then got beaten too easily in the build up to Fulham’s opener. The second goal saw him get turned and then give away the penalty and get sent off. All in all, not a good game for the young man.
Some team-mates might not regard their captain as a leader and others may be quick to say that Arsenal don’t miss him when he isn’t there because Samir Nasri comes alive and is a better player. Some people think that Arsenal should cash in on their seemingly perennially want away midfielder and let him go to Spain.
Anyone who watched Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal against Wigan on Saturday would have seen a master class of the art of midfield play. He was special.
Not Hot midfielder
What has happened to Gareth Barry? Has he suddenly become a very pedestrian and average footballer or was he always that way and somehow managed to convince people he is of international quality. He was poor again on Saturday and lasted less than an hour before Mancini had seen enough and taken him off.
Darren Bent scores the winner on his debut. Robin van Persie hit’s a hat-trick. Fernando Torres returns to goal-scoring form with a brace at Wolves. Which of these players is the hot striker? None of them. To score a third hat-trick and take his season’s tally to eighteen, Dimitar Berbatov has surely now won over the most fervent of his detractors. He has finally arrived as a Manchester United player.
Not Hot striker
At one stage Tottenham looked as though they had an embarrassment of riches with their strikers. Increasingly, it is beginning to look like just an embarrassment! Peter Crouch can’t buy a goal and Harry obviously still doesn’t trust Pavlyuchenko.
The one man he could always rely on for goals was Jermain Defoe. Unfortunately they have dried up for the England front man and he looks incapable of finding the net. He was poor on Saturday and desperately needs a goal to get his season going again.
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Berbatov is a BEAST.
And so is Brad Friedel.