The weekend's top performers

Team of the Week

February 6, 2011
By Chris Murphy
(Archive)

Let's be honest, this was not a good weekend to be a goalkeeper; with 43 goals flying in, only three custodians were able to boast a clean sheet. We've plumped for Manchester City's Joe Hart, who made two important saves from Chris Brunt and Jonas Olsson with the score at 0-0. Given the evidence, you may be of the opinion that we're clutching at straws. And you'd be right.

Joey Barton was spot on for Newcastle against Arsenal
GettyImagesJoey Barton was spot on for Newcastle against Arsenal

He'll have to arm wrestle Kevin Doyle to settle the claim on Wolves' second goal against Manchester United, but there's no doubt the first was George Elokobi's alone. After he failed to shackle Nani for the game's opening goal he at least levelled when he nodded home Matt Jarvis' left wing cross. Then he again made a nuisance of himself for the second. His defensive performance in the second half was solid too, like those of colleagues Richard Stearman and Christophe Berra.

Jamie Carragher's return was a big boost for Liverpool as they prepared to do battle with Chelsea and their new record signingFernando Torres. Relishing the test of playing against his former team-mate, Carragher hardly put a foot wrong all game, and snuffed out Torres' best chance, blocking his shot after Drogba's through ball.

With two goals and an assist to his name, Robert Huth has forced his way into our line-up, much like he forces himself in to the face of opposition goalkeepers whenever Stoke launch a long ball or throw into the box. He got all up in Craig Gordon's grill to lay on Stoke's first for John Carew, then after he'd been mugged by Asamoah Gyan for Sunderland's second, he responded by poaching two from close range as the Potters snatched an unlikely win.

Like him or loathe him, there's no denying Joey Barton was the catalyst for Newcastle's unlikely comeback against Arsenal. His tackle on Abou Diaby provoked a furious reaction that saw the Gunners midfielder dismissed and the Toon handed a lifeline. Not only did he slot two penalties, he was the driving force down Newcastle's right, and even won and delivered the free-kick that led to Chiek Tiote's brilliant equaliser.

One of the goals of the weekend came from the boot of Wigan's Ireland starlet James McCarthy. He'd already brought the Latics back on level terms against Blackburn with a first-half tap in before he collected Charles N'Zogbia's short pass, flicked it up with his right and switched it to his left with another touch before blasting a half-volley into the bottom corner.

One goal always looked like deciding an edgy affair at Stamford Bridge and that it was Raul Meireles who supplied it should come as no surprise. The Portuguese now has four goals in his last five games after he clipped home a controlled volley once Steven Gerrard's cross had caused hesitation in Chelsea's penalty area. Playing off Dirk Kuyt, his intelligent running and positional play caused the home side problems all afternoon.

He's been playing the role of forgotten man at Tottenham this season and was the subject of an £8 million bid from Werder Bremen in the transfer window, but Niko Kranjcar proved he still possesses the quality to change a Premier League game when he came on as a substitute against Bolton. With the game locked at one apiece, the Croatian danced in from the wing, cut onto his left and unleashed a fierce shot into the top corner. Some way to remind the boss you can still cut it.

Louis Saha: Crashed his Ferrari on Monday
GettyImagesLouis Saha: Crashed his Ferrari on Monday

Once again, ours is a goal-laden front three, with nine between them. Kicking us off is Louis Saha, who netted his first Premier League hat-trick against Blackpool, before adding a late fourth for good measure. He was unstoppable at Goodison; the ultimate Premier League poacher. All his goals came within ten yards of goal and the Tangerines had no answer.

Next is another hat-trick hero as Carlos Tevez put West Brom to the sword - a beating that inexplicably cost Roberto Di Matteo his job. Yes, two were coolly dispatched from the spot, but the other was a joy to behold as he swapped passes with David Silva and breezed past Jonas Olsson before slotting beyond Boaz Myhill.

Last up is Robin van Persie, who ran riot in Arsenal's first-half demolition job on Newcastle. He finished off two crosses from the right clinically, one with his right boot and one with his head, as the Gunners were handed the freedom of St James' Park. And even after his side had been pegged back at 4-4, he very nearly won the game with a dipping strike. Just one problem, he was offside.

There are a plethora of candidates for gaffer of the week: Alan Pardew for the half-time team talk to end all team talks or Kenny Dalglish for his stifling of a Torres-led Chelsea, but we've gone for Mick McCarthy. Wolves, bottom of the table going into the game, beat the league leaders and with some ease. Trailing after three minutes they were ahead after 40, thanks to two crosses into the box and as United piled on the pressure, Wolves stood firm at the back. A big win that could prove the turning point in their season.