Rants and musings from the magazine team
After a record-breakingly goaltastic Premier League weekend, James Maw sorts the wheat from the chuff...
RESULTS Sat 27 Nov Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackpool, Everton 1-4 West Bromwich Albion, Fulham 1-1 Birmingham City, Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City, West Ham United 3-1 Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 Sunderland Sun 28 Nov Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Liverpool
Dimitar BerbatovNothing sums up Dimitar Berbatov’s Manchester United career better than the last few weeks. During barren run of 10 goalless matches, very little came off bar a few flicks and flashes which ultimately led to nothing; then, just as his detractors were starting to write him off, an utterly scintillating performance where everything seemed to click.
While it’s fair to say Berbatov’s partnership with Wayne Rooney has yet to develop in the way many had envisaged when the Bulgarian arrived at Old Trafford just over two years ago, it's surely telling that his reappearance on the scoresheet coincided with Rooney’s return to regular action: the last time Rooney started two successive games Berbatov scored a hat-trick against Liverpool.
Marouane ChamakhHe may have frustrated the Gunners faithful with his ponderous play in the final third against Spurs last weekend, but the Moroccan’s performance as Arsenal returned to winning ways at Aston Villa was far more efficient and ultimately decisive.
After neatly prodding home Arsenal’s third just as the visitors were starting to look nervous about protecting their lead, Chamakh had the presence of mind to dink a square pass to the unmarked Jack Wilshere to nod home Arsenal’s fourth, when many strikers would have gone for goal themselves.
Scott ParkerWhere would West Ham be without their captain marvel? Well, literally and figuratively speaking they’d be in the same place – East London and bottom of the Premier League – but without him they’d be further adrift. From the rest of the Premier League, not London.
The former Chelsea and Newcastle midfielder lead by example once again as Avram Grant’s side beat fellow strugglers Wigan in a match the club's marketing department named ‘Save Our Season’.
The 30-year-old scored his fifth goal of the season and ran the midfield as the East Londoners clinched only their second league win of the season. But with Harry Redknapp’s tracksuited henchman Joe Jordan watching from the stands, perhaps the Hammers will have to fend off their neighbours once again in January.
Mick McCarthyCan a manager have a more satisfying experience than seeing one of his substitutes pop up and score a crucial goal? Perhaps seeing two of your substitutes pop up and score crucial goals – and then winning.
Credit to Mick McCarthy, then, for throwing Stephen Hunt and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake into the fray at the right time against Sunderland on Saturday – albeit that Hunt actually entered the game with Wolves winning, only for the Molineuxistas to fall behind before benefited from the tracksuit-shedding duo’s divine intervention. With matches against Birmingham, Blackburn and Wigan all on the horizon, now would certainly be a good time to put a little run together.
Chris BruntTwo words: postage stamp. That is, of course, the cliche used to describe a shot that travels perfectly into the top corner - exactly where the goalkeeper can’t get it. This is exactly where West Brom wide-man Chris Brunt bent his 30-yard free-kick past a helpless Tim Howard. First class (no signature required).
Paul KoncheskyThe left-back’s contribution to one of Liverpool’s better away performances this season won’t be remembered favourably. Aaron Lennon may be quick, but that’s really no excuse for letting the Spurs winger sail past him with such ease in the dying seconds of the game. If nothing else he could have just hauled down the nippy Yorkshire whippet in the box, safe in the knowledge Spurs would’ve missed the resulting spot-kick.
You have to wonder exactly how much worse things would have been for Konchesky had Lennon seen more of the ball throughout Sunday’s match at White Hart Lane – particularly with the former Fulham full-back booked in the first half hour of the game and Lennon being exactly the kind of player you don’t want to be facing for an hour under a yellow card.
With everybody fit, Liverpool really aren’t too far off the quality of the top five – but Konchesky is one player that will certainly need to be replaced if the Reds are to compete with the Premier League’s best.
Alex & Petr CechIf there’s any justice in this cruel, cruel world of ours, there’ll still be time to re-edit Danny Dyer’s Pwoppa Nawty Football Banta – the DVD on the lists of every WKD-supping, Tim Lovejoy-worshipping ‘Jack the lad’ this Christmas – and include "these two maaaaaaags makin a wite pwoppa dog’s dinner of it".
‘It’ being another avoidable goal, the Brazilian overhitting his back-pass to his keeper, Cech failing to read the pass and stumbling as it rolled heavily past him, giving Andy Carroll the chance to pounce and put Newcastle ahead.
Mauro BoselliA vital relegation clash is no time for a record
signing to produce a pathetic penalty. The Wigan striker's spot-kick
was saved by Robert Green, although Robson Green could have got to it
(Jerome Wotsit would probably have gone the wrong way, the clot).
Things didn’t really improve from that point for the Argentinian; he
even caused a second Wigan goal to be disallowed by loitering in an
offside position as Steve Gohouri prodded home. Linesman Martin Yarby
flagged despite Boselli not being active. Not strictly his fault, but
it summed up his day nonetheless.
Pascal ChimbondaBlackburn's trip to Manchester United represented a bit of a Spurs old boys' get-together, with Dimitar Berbatov, Pascal Chimbonda and Paul Robinson doubtless sharing a pre-game laugh about the days the former would score a hatful while the latter pair would haplessly watch goal after goal sail past at the other end. The longjohn-wearing Guadeloupite got so much into the spirit of the occasion, he even played a crisp, pin-point 20-yard through-ball to Berbatov, which the Bulgarian promptly blasted past the increasingly concerned-looking Robinson.
Gonzalo Jara, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Lee Mason, David Moyes and Tim CahillThey say two wrongs don’t make a right, and Everton have learned the hard way that five wrongs don’t have a positive effect either.
A cavalcade of concerning conduct and crunching challenges began when West Brom’s Gonzalo Jara appeared to enter into an 'aerial duel' with Toffees left-back Leighton Baines leading with an errant elbow; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. Steven Pienaar then attempted to barge the Chilean over; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. As the ball ran loose, Mikel Arteta steamed in on innocent bystander Chris Brunt; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. Jara then in turn steamed in on Arteta; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. The Spaniard retaliated by stamping on the clearly riled Jara; referee Lee Mason merrily waved pla… sorry, force of habit.
It was at this point that Mason finally opted to stop the game, eventually doling out a red card to Arteta and leaving the rest of us perplexed as to why he didn’t stop the whole ugly affair much sooner. But it didn’t stop there. Tim Cahill later raked his boot down the back of Jara’s leg in what looked a premeditated act of vengeance, before David Moyes refused to criticise Arteta’s stamp, ‘reasoning’ that had Jara’s initial challenge on Baines been punished, the whole affair wouldn’t have escalated.
Kevin Davies, Saloman Kalou, Maxi Rodriguez and Jermaine BeckfordThese four players, all of which play for clubs who failed to win on Matchday 15, were all guilty of missing utter sitters. Of the quartet, perhaps the most rueful looking was Maxi Rodriguez, who failed to even get a proper shot away having been played in by Fernando Torres against Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday. That’s not to say the other three should be completely let off the hook.
Davies dawdled and subsequently failed to hit the target under pressure having got his feet all tangled – not literally, that would be horrible. Kalou opted to shoot with his stronger right foot from a narrow angle when his left foot looked much the better option. Beckford, following his glaring late miss in Monday’s draw at Sunderland, volleyed across goal and well wide when a Premier League striker really should at least test the goalkeeper. Which begs the question: is Beckford a Premier League striker?
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