Sunday, August 28, 2011
Team of the Week
It took 268 minutes but finally Tim Krul's net was breached as Newcastle beat Fulham 2-1 at St James'Park. Prior to Clint Dempsey's goal Krul had demonstrated exactly why the Magpies went so long without conceding by making a clutch of top class saves, most notably from Danny Murphy and Steve Sidwell headers.
In a dull derby between Aston Villa and Wolves, Australian full back Chris Herd had an outstanding game. The 22-year-old was a willing runner down the right flank, delivering balls into the box with genuine quality, and acquitted himself stoutly at the back. He very nearly won it for the home side too, with a bullet header that Wayne Hennessey did well to tip over the bar.
Jonathan Woodgate is enjoying a new lease of life at Stoke, playing his fourth game of the season at West Brom and excelling alongside Ryan Shawcross once again. He has brought some organisational discipline to a well drilled defensive unit and was faultless against the Baggies, looking as agile as he has for years, as he helped Stoke to a second clean sheet in three Premier League games.
Jose Bosingwa's place may well be under threat once Chelsea's defensive options are all fit but the Portuguese right back is certainly giving his manager something to think about with an impressive streak of early season form. After laying on the Blues' winner last week, he got them off the mark this with a thunderous drive from 30 yards out against Norwich.
Liverpool registered their first home win of the campaign against Bolton on Saturday and Charlie Adam was the chief architect. The Scot cost significantly less than Jordan Henderson - who also grabbed his first goal in red - and already looks superb value for money. He whipped in the corner that saw Martin Skrtel grab the second then rifled home his first goal for the club soon after to complete a memorable afternoon.
Big things were expected of Adel Taarabt this season and at the DW Stadium he gave notice of his attacking prowess with a barrage of efforts on goal. Twice in the opening half the midfielder beat Ali Al Habsi but twice the ball rattled back off the woodwork. He also forced a fine fingertip save from the Omani keeper with a fierce free kick and floated in an inviting ball for Bruno Perone to bring the best out of the overworked Wigan stopper.
Samir Nasri slotted snugly into Manchester City's midfield to ram the boos from White Hart Lane's faithful back down their throats. Already he seems to have tuned into Edin Dzeko's wavelength, creating two goals for the Bosnian striker, both from perfectly delivered crosses. And just so Sergio Aguero didn't feel left out, Nasri laid one on for him too. All in all, a solid debut.
Arsenal's defensive disarray was manna from heaven for Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney, who both drank deeply from the well of incompetence offered up by the Gunners. Young's two goals oozed class as he curled precise shots into the far corner beyond a helpless Wojciech Szczesny. Young already looks like he fits Manchester United like a glove.
Rooney helped himself to a dead ball hat-trick at Old Trafford, two pinpoint free kicks sandwiching a penalty. Twice he outfoxed Szczesny with delicious, curling efforts that drifted into the corner of the net from just outside the area. He also succeeded where Robin Van Persie failed - from 12 yards - and provided countless chances for the likes of Young, Nani and Welbeck and almost scored the goal of the game with a 30-yard chip that cannoned back off the upright.
But Rooney's heroics were trumped by the Premier League's most renowned Bosnian as Edin Dzeko fired four goals at White Hart Lane. Dzeko kept up his record of scoring in every game this season thanks to two goals in each half. He produced a toe poke and a precise header to polish off two Samir Nasri crosses, then finished from a Yaya Toure's cross to complete his perfect hat-trick. But the coup de grace was his fourth, a delicate curler into the top corner from 25 yards.
Newcastle's need for reinforcements in the striking department is well known but in the meantime Leon is doing his level Best to fill the void (sorry). The 24-year-old is reportedly surplus to requirements on Tyneside but his double against Fulham might have Alan Pardew thinking twice. His opener was a simple tap in after Yohan Cabaye's shot had hit the bar but his second was far more notable as he killed Demba Ba's powerful cross stone dead before slotting past Mark Schwarzer.
Perhaps for the first time ever, our manager of the week mantle is shared between two gaffers from Manchester. Roberto Mancini's City side devoured Tottenham at White Hart Lane, underlining their altered approach to life in the top flight by pouring forward at every opportunity and racking up an impressive five goals. Not to be outdone, Sir Alex Ferguson then inspired an eight-goal performance from his young charges as Arsenal were put to the sword in spectacular fashion. Yes, the Gunners were below par, but United were clinical, showing their rivals no mercy. A great afternoon for Manchester; a woeful one for north London.