Premier League Team of the Week

August 24, 2008
By Joe Duggan
(Archive)

He rarely lets Newcastle United down and once more Shay Given stepped in to save the day for the Toon. Kevin Nolan lined up a penalty which would have given his Bolton side the lead but Given had other ideas and threw himself low to his left to parry Nolan's well struck effort before improvising an important clearance as he lay on the floor.

Nyron Nosworthy had the sort of commanding game at the back against Spurs that might stay the hand of free-spending Roy Keane who is keen to further bolster his expanding Sunderland squad. Nosworthy was the pick of the Black Cats' defence and an expensively assembled home side, albeit minus Keane and Berbatov, were contained well by Nosworthy and co.

Brede Hangeland was the unlikely match-winner for Fulham as the unfancied west London side secured a rare victory over Arsene Wenger's north London aristocrats. Hangeland drifted from the back to get in amongst the Arsenal defence; when Jimmy Bullard hit a low corner across and the giant Norwegian got his reward when he stretched furthest to deflect the ball past Manuel Almunia.

Sam Ricketts was an important component of a Hull backline which helped secure an away point at Blackburn to add to last week's three taken off Fulham. Ricketts was not afraid to get forward down the flank but manager Phil Brown will be more happy with the way his defence have coped so far with the Premier League's strikers.

Lee Cattermole gave away the fourth minute free-kick from which Deco delivered swift punishment but the recent acquisition from Middlesbrough dusted himself down and, faced with a daunting Chelsea midfield comprising Lampard, Deco, Essien and Ballack, the youngster figured prominently in a fine Wigan performance.

Steven Gerrard returned from his midweek exile in an unfamiliar role on England's left wing and was central to Liverpool's late win against a stubborn and resilient Boro side. Gerrard's roaming led him, as always, towards the opposition goal and twice he went close to scoring, one an exceptional free-kick in injury-time which stand-in Boro keeper Ross Turnbull did well to keep out. Gerrard wasn't finished yet though, and the sight of him powering-home a long range winner was as welcome to the anxious home fans as it was familiar.

Jimmy Bullard's craft and crisp passing against Arsenal were straight out of the Arsene Wenger school of midfield play. Alongside Danny Murphy, he nullified the threat of a Gunners midfield that already looks like it will struggle to cope with the summer's departures. The Fulham man delivered the low corner from which Brede Hangeland's lengthy limb earned the Cottagers a deserved three points.

The inspirational Elano provided manager Mark Hughes with some welcome good news with a couple of goals in Manchester City's emphatic win over West Ham. Both goals were the result of fine interplay between the trio of Stephen Ireland, Vedran Corluka and Elano down the right, with the Brazilian the beneficiary of both moves.

Leon Osman collected Mikael Arteta's delightful pass and, under pressure from Baggies' new boy Gianni Zuiverloon, made himself a few inches of space which he exploited ruthlessly with a whipped drive across Scott Carson to open the scoring for Everton at the Hawthorns. Osman gave a dynamic all round performance and manager Davie Moyes can at least console himself with having his sort of quality already at the club.

Ricardo Fuller's 80th minute strike for Stoke City sparked a flurry of late goals that ended with The Potters clinching their first ever Premier League win. It was a fine effort too. A burst of pace his friend Usain Bolt would have been proud of followed by a belting drive past Brad Friedel helped dispel the notion that this Stoke team are purely reliant on physical strength.

Mido will be pushing for a starting spot in Gareth Southgate's next Middlesbrough team with a second successive goal after coming off the bench. He will have savoured the sweetness of scoring against old club Spurs the previous Saturday, but the skill and precision of his 25 yard opening goal at Anfield were far more impressive.

Stoke City's inaugural victory at the exalted tier of the Premier League was achieved with the sort of never-say-die attitude that manager Tony Pulis knows is vital to his team's chances of survival. His side twice had to cope with demoralising Villa equalisers but they battled on and Pulis's decision to send on Mamady Sidibe paid off handsomely at the death. Pulis has stressed the importance of the Potters winning their home games. So far so good.

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