Sunday, November 4, 2012
Team of the Week
Since dislodging Adam Federici from the Reading side, Alex McCarthy has displayed exactly why he deserves the No. 1 jersey, and during an intense basement battle at Loftus Road the 22-year-old excelled. In an all-round display of quality, McCarthy made two saves of the utmost importance, brilliantly turning Esteban Granero's free-kick onto the bar before blocking an Adel Taraabt effort late on when he looked as if he was about to snatch QPR's first win of the season.
• Review: QPR, Liverpool draw
• Premier League gallery
With David Luiz and John Terry absent, it fell to Branislav Ivanovic to play centre-back against Swansea, and in deepest Wales the Serbian made a strong case to stay there permanently. The 28-year-old's reading of the game got Chelsea out of danger more than once against Michael Laudrup's fluid outfit, his physical prowess and instinctive reading of the game shining through.
In their tenth Premier League game of the season, Manchester City failed to find the net for the first time, thanks to a stout rear-guard action from West Ham. Most impressive for Sam Allardyce's unit was Winston Reid, New Zealand's finest export since lamb. With Dzeko, Balotelli, Aguero and Tevez all featuring, the 24-year-old was exemplary alongside James Collins.
Here's one for you, Kaspars Gorkss' goal for Reading was only the second time a Latvian had scored in the Premier League, a statistic that no doubt horrified former Southampton striker Marian Pahars. The centre-back was solid as the Royals hung on for a point against QPR, and put them in front with an acrobatic volley in the first half.
Tottenham had no answer to Wigan's wizadry at White Hart Lane, the impish Shaun Maloney at the heart of pretty much everything Roberto Martinez's side created. The Scot should have grabbed a goal for himself in the first half, after drifting through Tottenham's back line, and laid on several chances for the excellent Arouna Kone. And it was Maloney's corner that provoked Brad Friedel into an uncharacteristic flap, allowing Ben Watson to volley home a deserved Wigan winner.
Swansea have Pablo Hernandez to thank for their point against Chelsea. Irrespective of his fine finish from the edge of the box that salvaged a 1-1 draw with just two minutes left, the Spaniard was at the heart of Swansea's attacking threat. Probing with intelligent passing and movement, Hernandez laid on chances for a host of white shirts, but after seeing their efforts fail to find the net, thought he'd take that particular task on himself.
It hasn't taken Kevin Mirallas long to announce himself in the Premier League and add to the legion of Belgians making an impression in England. The former Olympiakos striker has slotted perfectly into Everton's attacking formation, linking well with the likes of Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic and Marouane Fellaini. In an utterly dominant Everton display at Craven Cottage, Mirallas was a constant menace, setting up the Toffees' first and causing panic whenever he got the ball.
Aston Villa aren't particularly good this season, but you can't accuse them of lacking guts. At Sunderland they ground out a huge victory, based fundamentally on defensive solidity, but the attacking spark they need was provided thanks to Gabriel Agbonlahor. The former England forward was lively throughout, providing good support to Christian Benteke, none more so than when he slammed home from close range after the Belgian had nodded into his path.
Fulham had no answer to the sheer brute force of Marouane Fellaini. He was at his beastly best, mocking defenders with all the relish of a high school bully. He scored twice, slotting home a Mirallas cross before creating and finishing the second for himself. And quite apart from that he hit the post and forced Mark Schwarzer into two smart saves, one from a volley that might well have been a goal of the season contender.
What on earth would Liverpool do without Luis Suarez? Newcastle found the Uruguayan unplayable on Sunday, prompting an all-out assault from the man he tormented all afternoon, Fabricio Coloccini. He was involved in countless attacks, drifting past players with ease, testing Tim Krul and laying on chances galore for his seemingly impotent team-mates. But when his big chance came, he swallowed it whole with three glorious touches to kill a long ball dead, ghost past the keeper and slot into an empty net.
It took all of three minutes for Robin van Persie to remind Arsenal why his absence is a hammer blow to their lofty ambitions. The Manchester United striker finished calmly after Thomas Vermaelen's mistake to give his new side a perfect start at Old Trafford. He and Wayne Rooney are starting to form a potent partnership and the Dutchman could have added two or three more goals to his tally. Few have scared Arsenal's back four more this season.
There is only one clear candidate for manager of the week, and it is a man who was getting quite used to the accolade at the back end of last season - Roberto Martinez. Wigan were wonderful against Tottenham on Saturday, playing with a style and pizzazz way above their perceived lowly status. AVB's side had no answer to their slick brand of passing football and in truth, were lucky only to keep the score at 1-0.