Team of the Week

April 12, 2009
By Daniel Harris
(Archive)

Where a few months ago no one would have been surprised to see him running around a big top in a pair of panataloons with tears painted on his cheeks, curiously-faced Heurelho Gomes now looks like a goalkeeper. On Saturday he was confident and assured in keeping one of only two Premier League clean sheets, so he's an obvious pick in nets, especially considering Pepe Reina barely had a save to make.

With so many goals around, this week's top team is fielding a back three. On the right of them is Sunderland's captain-for-the-day Phil Bardsley. Solid defensively and lively going forward, he was certainly a whole let better than the man he couldn't displace at Manchester United, Gary Neville - not saying much these days, but still.

On the other side is Daniel Agger. Despite being usurped by Martin Skrtel not only as the first choice partner for Jamie Carragher but in the body-art department as well, he still remains a very good player. Solid, although largely unoccupied at the back against Blackburn, he cemented his place in the line-up by scoring Liverpool's third goal with a thumping drive from twenty five yards.

In the centre of the three is Middlesbrough's middle-aged 22-year-old, David Wheater, the star man in their hugely important victory over Hull.

On the right of midfield is Theo Walcott, whose return to fitness has had a significant influence on Arsenals improved form. He still looks as much athlete as footballer, but he was excellent at Wigan and is improving rapidly.

Just in front of him, anchoring the midfield, is Javier Mascherano. Made to look even better when he doesn't play by Lucas, his regular replacement, the Argentine was particularly excellent in denying Blackburn possession and getting forward himself to good effect.

Mascherano is partnered by West Brom captain Jonathan Greening, whose son has been taking stick at school from classmates branding his father a "loser". Well, at Fratton Park, Greening wasn't, inspiring his team with an equalising goal and then winning the free kick with which they went ahead.

Hugging the left touchline is twinkletoed winger Wayne Rooney. Man of the match by a mile in United's win at the Stadium of Light, when he's on his game it doesn't matter how incorrectly he's deployed. Inventive and purposeful in attack, industrious in protecting the hapless O'Shea in defence, imagine what he could do if he was played in the middle of the pitch.

He might have stupid tattoos and look like Britney Spears, but Fernando Torres is the best player Liverpool have had since Kenny Dalglish. This weekend he proved it again, scoring one otherworldy goal and one striker's goal to make the game against Blackburn very easy indeed.

Smashing John Terry up and down the pitch is always enjoyable to watch, and Kevin Davies did that on Saturday and then some, also saving plenty for Ricardo Carvalho. This was the catalyst to a brave Bolton comeback that although ultimately unsuccessful, gave a relaxing Chelsea side a nasty shock.

The third striker is young Newcastle centre forward Andy Carroll. Putting his name into Google, the prompt brings up a choice of hair, braids, haircut, cornrows and dreadlocks to accompany it, illustrating just how obscene his now ex-barnet was. If getting rid of such a horrendously hilarious abomination was a good start and thumping nauseating w(h)inger Charles N'Zogbia also a step in the right direction, in scoring an equaliser for Newcastle, he may just have salvaged his club's season, so he fills the final spot in this week's outfit.

Gareth Southgate, who must have begun to wonder if someone had changed his first name to "Beleaguered" without telling him, manages the team. Another defeat might have left his Boro side with too much to do to avoid relegation, but three points against Hull and suddenly they're in with a decent chance.