Sunday, August 21, 2011
Team of the Week
Swansea's net lived a charmed life during the first Premier League game to be staged outside England and when illustrious visitors Wigan weren't rattling the woodwork, they couldn't get past Michel Vorm. The Dutch goalkeeper made several regulation stops before his big moment arrived 17 minutes from time; Vorm flew to his right and flung out a forearm to save Ben Watson's penalty and ensure the Swans claimed a point on their top flight debut.
Jose Enrique likes playing at the Emirates. Having won there last season with Newcastle, the Spaniard has now tasted victory in only his second game with new club Liverpool too. Initially he struggled with the pace of the English game but he is now fully up to speed, marauding forward, providing a supply line to Andy Carroll (again) and keeping Theo Walcott especially quiet.
Ryan Taylor is only getting a game at Newcastle because of Enrique's move to Liverpool but now he's entered the hallowed ranks of the 'derby hero' after his winner against Sunderland. Playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, alongside the excellent Fabricio Coloccini, Taylor kept his flank quiet and drilled a free kick into the top corner to ensure bragging rights went to Tyneside.
Completing our trio of defenders is Jose Bosingwa, a player more in the Enrique mould than the Taylor. The Portuguese full-back missed large chunks of last season through injury but looks back to his best at the start of this campaign. Chelsea had him to thank for their winner, as he burst down the right, past two opponents and delivered a perfect backpost cross that Florent Malouda couldn't help but slot home.
Another week, another pivotal role for Matt Jarvis in a Wolves victory. After starring last week at Blackburn the winger maintained his impressive form in the 2-0 victory over Fulham. All the damage was done in the opening half as his low cross was converted by Kevin Doyle, before Jarvis grabbed his first of the season, turning home a rebound after Roger Johnson's header cannoned back off the upright.
Two midfielders at opposite ends of the age spectrum make up our engine room, in the form of QPR's Shaun Derry and Everton's Ross Barkley. They may be separated by 16 years but they were united in the quality of their performances. Derry oozed authority in the middle of the park, disrupting whatever fluency Everton strived for, and using his wise head to aid distribution.
Barkley, on his debut, was the home side's best player, driving his more experienced colleagues on. Always making himself available for the ball and playing on the left, right and in the centre throughout the game, he was unlucky not to find the net. After the game his manager David Moyes said: "I've told the players I am disappointed with all of them, but not Ross."
Most of the focus before Manchester City's game at Bolton was on the club's two Argentinean strikers, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, but they were both outshone by Edin Dzeko and David Silva.
On this evidence Silva could keep his place in our TOTW for some time to come. Just about everything City did went through the Spaniard, who looked dangerous every time he got on the ball. His goal owed much to a Jussi Jaaskelainen error but he could easily have had a hat-trick, such was his imperious form.
Dzeko was also near-flawless in his performance, leading the line, holding the ball up and displaying a raft of tricks and flicks as City looked threatening with almost every attack at the Reebok. He provided two gilt-edged chances for Aguero with superb crosses but after watching both chances squirm wide, thought he'd take matters into his own hands by nudging Zat Knight off a high ball, and finishing past Jaaskelainen with an acrobatic volley.
Alex McLeish must have implored Aston Villa to come out of the traps fast against Blackburn in order to keep a notoriously vociferous crowd off his ex-Birmingham back. Thankfully for Big 'Eck, Gabriel Agbonlahor was only too happy to oblige. Turning inside Michel Salgado, the striker curled a sumptuous drive into the top corner, before laying on the second, for Emile Heskey of all people.
A pedestrian afternoon at the Emirates was enlivened by the arrival of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan probed Arsenal's tired legs after coming off the bench with only 20 minutes to go and instantly added a cutting edge up front. He created both goals, and though the first went down as an Aaron Ramsey own goal, there was no doubt about the second as he fired home the killer blow.
Neil Warnock probably felt a lot chirpier about life in the Premier League at 5pm this Saturday as opposed to a week ago. After a home drubbing from Bolton on the opening day, Warnock presided over an away win at one of the Premier League's hardest hunting grounds after a midweek takeover that promises him more funds in the transfer market. And those three points were prised from Everton by QPR's second string after half his squad had been struck down with a virus. A good afternoon's work.