Premier League Team of the Week

May 11, 2008
By Chris Murphy
(Archive)

When the Premier League's final day reaches its devastating climax, you need characters around like 38-year-old bald American Kasey Keller and his 'get up and go' attitude.

EmpicsFulham's Bullard and Murphy star in Team of the Week along with their manager and one of the club's defenders.

In this case it was his 'get up and keep a clean sheet to save my team £40m' style approach that won the day. He was solid as ever - called into action mainly to repel a barrage of Nico Kranjcar's rockets. Just be thankful Fulham fans, that Roy Hodgson's first move wasn't to nick Scott Carson on loan from his loan at Villa or else it would surely have been 8-0 to Pompey.

Nemanja Vidic has a mean face, and that was before other people started kicking it recently. It's the sort of mush that tells lowly teams like Wigan that they've no chance of scoring when he's around.

And so it proved at the JJB, the Latics only having a sniff of goal right at the end of the game when the outcome was already secured. Vidic and Ferdinand have been formidable at the back this entire campaign and another solid 90 for the Serbian grabs him a slot in our TOTW.

Joleon Lescott has had a fine season, so it was fitting that he should pop up with another goal for the Toffees to secure them another crack at the UEFA Cup next year.

Despite carrying a knee knock which will require surgery in the summer and despite having to turn out at left back for a large part of the campaign due to the superlative form of Phil Jagielka, Lescott has excelled to such an extent that he was voted the Everton's Player of the Season. He capped his fine season with another goal - his tenth of the season - profiting from a Steven Taylor flick on to put his side 2-1 up.

Sturdy centre-back Brede Hangeland has also played his part in Fulham's sparkling run of form. Many of Roy Hodgson's Christmas window purchases have been widely ridiculed (Jari Litmanen anyone?) but Hangeland has proved an astute acquisition. He's started every Fulham game since February 23rd and played no small part in helping the Cottagers claim a string of vital clean sheets. Against Pompey he rose time after time to repel an increasing wave of Pompey attacks in a fraught end to the game.

How fitting that Ryan Giggs should score a vital goal to clinch Manchester United the Premier League crown on the day he equalled Sir Bobby Charlton's appearance record for the club.

A glittering career may be drawing to a close but Giggs has proved yet again this season that his class is permanent. Drifting into space on the edge of the Wigan area he collected Wanye Rooney's preice ball before spinning and placing a left footed shot into the net, and wrapping up the final chapter of an extraordinary title race.

What a remarkable season Fernando Torres has had. There were many who questioned his ability to hit the ground running upon his arrival but 33 goals in his debut season - including 24 in the Premier League - represents a formidable return.

He Torre-rised Spurs' defence all afternoon, twisting and turning past Matt Dawson before slotting past Cerny for his goal, then nearly making it a brace with a delicate chip that grazed the crossbar. Now all he has to do is avoid second-season-itus.

On a day of fairytale outcomes how apt that Fulham's inspirational midfield pairing of Jimmy Bullard and Danny Murphy combined to pot the goal that kept Fulham in the Premier League, and saved Mohammed Al Fayed the odd £40 million quid.

The pair have been exemplary in their battle to beat the drop so when Bullard floated in a predictably delicious free kick there were few surprises when Murphy rose to plant a header into the corner of the net and secure Roy Hodgson's great escape.

Before the final day of the season the Middlesbro' faithful (all 5,000 of them) had seen precisely 19 goals at the Riverside. Then all of a sudden eight arrived in one astonishing game against a hapless Manchester City side.

Afonso Alves made the most of the goal deluge, bagging his first Boro hat-trick and producing the sort of form expected of £12m Brazilian. His treble just edged him in front of Stewart Downing in our TOTW, although the latter's exquisite left foot volley for number three was very nearly worthy of selection all by itself.

Yakubu's brace at home to Newcastle signalled the first time an Everton striker has hit 20 goals in a season since Peter Beardsley nailed it back in the early 90s. Let's face it, if he could have been bothered he may well have hit 30 but the Yak attack cracked Newcastle's back line with a towering header from a free kick, then a cool penalty to seal the win that sent the Toffees back into Europe.

Yes Fergie won the Premier League but he's a bitter, miserable old man whereas Roy Hodgson is not only a magician but a throughly decent chap to boot. His Fulham side will feel like they've won the League, the Cup and the Champions League after completing their monumental escape from danger with a final day win at Portsmouth. At times during the game he looked on the verge of a breakdown but Danny Murphy's header guaranteed their safety and a run of four wins in five games. Enough to secure Roy a handsome pat on the back from Mohamed Al Fayed and maybe a cheeky little supermarket sweep in Harrods perhaps.

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