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Sunday, November 11, 2012
Team of the Week

Tom Sweetman

Ok, he may have let three goals in on Saturday and, if you are being uber-critical, he may have been able to get a stronger hand to Olivier Giroud's first goal. However, Mark Schwarzer deserves a place in this team after holding his nerve for the last kick of the game to tip Mikel Arteta's penalty around the post. Not only did it mean Fulham won a deserved point at the Emirates, but it also ensured that Arsenal did not escape with a lucky win, as it was a dubious handball for the penalty. It also keeps the two clubs neck-and-neck in the table. In many ways Matthew Lowton represents the new Aston Villa: young and recruited from the lower leagues. Now the Villa fans may not be particularly excited by the new side on show, but they had plenty of reasons to be encouraged by Saturday's spirited display against Manchester United. Lowton was one of the many players for the home side to put in a fine performance. So effective was he in 'doing a job' on Ashley Young in the first half, that the former Villa man was, rather embarrassingly, taken off at half-time. Who needs the old Villa? Reading may be struggling this season - in the relegation zone and still looking for their first win - but at least they have Kaspars Gorkss. The centre-back scored an important goal to earn his side a point in the 'must win' game against Queens Park Rangers last week and, this weekend, he played a major role in helping to secure the club's first clean sheet of the season against Norwich. A solid display from the Latvian was capped off by his fine tackle to deny Grant Holt a dangerous goal-scoring opportunity. Say what you like about John Terry, but the man is a warrior. In the four games that Chelsea were recently without their skipper they leaked a whopping ten goals. On his return to domestic action against Liverpool on Sunday he made an instant impact, scoring a powerful header to give his side a deserved lead and his presence also meant the Blues looked pretty secure at the back, with Liverpool creating little to worry Roberto Di Matteo. However after he was forced off with what looks like serious knee injury, Chelsea's defence fell to pieces a little and they were close to walking off the pitch empty handed. They will hope he is not out for long. Leighton Baines may just be becoming the most consistent player in the Premier League. Week in, week out, you know exactly what you are getting from the left back: rock-solid defensively and a real threat going forward. Add to this, his menace from set pieces and penalties, and you are looking at one very complete player. His performance against Sunderland was no different; indeed he is starting to symbolise the ruthless Everton side that is setting this season alight: Consistent. From one Everton player to another, Marouane Fellaini takes consistency to a whole new level; you only have to see the way the big-haired man can control a ball on his chest to realise the talent that he possesses. This weekend he carried Everton over the line against Sunderland as they produced their stirring late comeback. With one superb finish and one outstanding assist, pundits are running out of superlatives to describe him. How this Paul Scholes continues to produce performances of such a high standard at the age of 37 beggars belief. The man is like a fine wine. Nobody on the pitch at Villa Park on Saturday could match the veteran for his range of passing and you would have been forgiven for losing count of the number of times he sprayed a cross-field ball to Antonio Valencia in space down the right. His pass over the top to Javier Hernandez for the Mexican's first goal was inch-perfect and there were plenty more to follow. Just how much Manchester City have missed David Silva while he has been out injured recently was magnified in the win against Tottenham. The champions have missed that creative spark, which has been evident in some of the lacklustre performances they have been producing of late. On Sunday, the Spanish playmaker was at the centre of everything they did and Spurs had to be on their toes at all times, with Silva playing one clever ball after another behind their back line. His defence-splitting pass for Edin Dzeko's winner was the pass of the weekend. Ultimately, Arsenal's 3-3 draw with Fulham was a major disappointment. As the Gunners plough on with their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, they can take at least one positive out of Saturday: the emergence of Olivier Giroud as a proper striker. Despite a very slow start to his career in north London, he has now hit four in his last four. The Frenchman led the line superbly against Fulham, with some expert link-up play, showing there is more to him than just goals. He could easily have had a hat-trick. Talking of hat-tricks at the Emirates on Saturday, Dimitar Berbatov came close to winning his personal battle with Giroud to see who would get to take the match ball home. Berba scored two and created one, putting in the sort of performance for Fulham that has left many wondering why more clubs did not try to snap up the Bulgarian over the summer. Indeed, Arsene Wenger was asked after the game why Arsenal did not come in for him, leaving the Frenchman, for once, pretty speechless. Sir Alex Ferguson summed it up after the Villa game on Saturday: How can he leave the 'Little Pea' out of his starting line-up next week, following this stunning display? In what is starting to seem a little like Groundhog Day, Javier Hernandez rescued United once again. Ok, he may not have actually scored a hat-trick, despite taking the match ball home, but one thing is for sure, Ferguson has found his new Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In the dugout this weekend is David Moyes. He has admitted his side have been playing some great football this season but that it is about grinding out the results on a consistent basis. It now seems like Everton have cracked that code after battling back to claim an important victory over Sunderland, in Moyes' 400th Premier League game. What makes them look like such a better proposition than last season is that now they seem to have goals in them all over the pitch. If they can keep their current high standards up, they could be on for a top-four finish.

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