the weekend's top performers

Team of the Week

January 24, 2010
By Chris Murphy
(Archive)

Davids Gold and Sullivan arrived at Upton Park with a huge fanfare, largely of their own making, but they were thankful to Rob Green for preventing their first afternoon at home descending into a devastating defeat. He had already saved well from Martin Olsson when Jason Roberts tiptoed round James Tomkins with just 15 minutes left. He had the goal at his mercy and just Green in the way. West Ham's 'keeper guessed right, went to his right and ensured the David's held onto their point.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos: Finding his feet at Anfield
GettyImagesSotirios Kyrgiakos: Finding his feet at Anfield

• Jolly: Pompey misery deepens
• Harris: Rooney a leading man

Liverpool edged Bolton out at Anfield but it could have been a different story if it hadn't been for Sotirios Kyrgiakos, and a dodgy deflection. As Chung-yong Lee strode through their rearguard unaided, he rounded Pepe Reina and was poised to give the Trotters an early lead. Cue Kyrgiakos and his pony-tail, as they darted into frame, stuck out a left boot and stopped a certain goal. Quite apart from that brilliant intervention, he dealt with Bolton's aerial bombardment particularly well, just like he did at Stoke.

However much we at Soccernet find John Terry's rumoured antics distasteful it would be churlish to leave him out of our TOTW. After all, we are only human too, and have occasionally let our gaze linger a second too long at that cherub who works on the fourth floor. On the pitch Terry's commitment cannot be questioned, and with Chelsea's game at Burnley heading for a draw he rose highest to bullet a header into the corner and record three points.

After watching 90 minutes of near misses from his striking colleagues, Liam Ridgewell had clearly had enough. The centre half had put in a solid shift against the uncomfortable Tottenham forward pairing of Crouch and Defoe, before he sauntered up field in the game's dying embers. Good job he did too, because he was the right man in the right place as Cameron Jerome's header came back across goal and allowed Ridgewell the simplest of tasks to rescue a point.

When Everton manage to string a run of form together it's a fair bet that Tim Cahill will be among the goals. After his opener in the Toffees' midweek win over Sunderland, the Aussie settled an altogether tighter affair at the DW, by peeling off his marker and achieving considerable hang time in the area before powering Leighton Baines' corner into the net.

Paul Scholes patrolled United's midfield during their demolition of Arsenal with all the grace of old. It was vintage Scholes, an afternoon where he seemed to find space effortlessly, all the while with the ball glued to his right boot. After a tactical reshuffle pushed him further forward after 20 minutes he grabbed control of the game and linked play like a master. He still can't tackle though, as one wild hack on Andrei Arshavin testified.

During our MatchDay Live on Saturday one astute reader asked who the better player was between Fulham's Danny Murphy and Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov. Around 85% of the replies favoured the Fulham midfielder who went on to have a bit of a stinker. Petrov, on the other hand, had a superb game, as if inspired by the flak he was taking. He supplied the cross for Gabriel Agbonlahor's first goal and was chief tormentor as Villa threw their opponents off their passing game. Martin O'Neill has hailed his recent displays as "remarkable".

'Who is this imposter and what has he done with the real Nani?' was a question aired a good few times during this past week. After a solid display against Hull last weekend, and another fine shift in midweek against Manchester City, the Portuguese winger saved his best for the Emirates. After bamboozling two defenders on the right flank and forcing Manuel Almunia into an error for Manchester United's first at Arsenal he then swept downfield before sliding an inch-perfect pass to Wayne Rooney as he doubled their advantage. A few more performances like this and the more pertinent question might be: Cristiano who?

Gabriel Agbonlahor should star over the run-in
GettyImagesGabriel Agbonlahor should star over the run-in

Our number nine shirt is Gabby Agbonlahor's after the striker's clinical brace against Fulham sealed Villa's first Premier League win, and first goals, for five games. He bullied Manchester United-bound Chris Smalling out of the way to meet Stiliyan Petrov's cross and notch his first, before turning his fire towards Fulham's other centre half, Brede Hangeland. Agbonlahor turned him inside out in the area before planting a precise shot into the far corner with his weaker foot.

He didn't get himself on the scoresheet against Wolves, but Jozy Altidore laid on both of their goals with an all-American display at the KC. The striker, who returned from compassionate leave due to having relatives in devastated Haiti, bullied Christophe Berra off a long ball before teeing Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink up for the first, then drew a careless foul from Ronald Zubar in the penalty area which allowed Stephen Hunt to slot from the spot.

And of course, no Team of the Week in 2010 would be complete without Wayne Rooney. He terrified Arsenal at the Emirates and played the lone role up front superbly. Holding up the ball and linking play seamlessly, Rooney capped another sparkling performance with a superb goal. He launched yet another United counter attack by feeding Nani, then sprinted 100 yards to get the return ball and fire it into the bottom corner. He could, and should, have had more in a peerless display.

Arsenal seemed to be getting the better of Manchester United until Sir Alex Ferguson tinkered ever so slightly with his midfield. By pushing Paul Scholes further forward, and asking Michael Carrick to drop into the hole, Fergie changed the course of the game. Not long after, Nani had opened the scoring before a sweeping counter attack brought their second. Ji-Sung Park added the gloss as the Scot registered another thumping of his old foe at the Emirates. I bet that post-match glass of Rioja tasted better than ever.