Squarefootball's Team of the Week and the Weekend Wonders - Week Six
It proved to be another entertaining weekend in the Barclays Premier League. Arsenal got back to winning ways against Bolton, Chelsea’s Fernando Torres was headline news for the second week in a row following his red card against Swansea while Stoke City gave everyone hope by stopping the Manchester United juggernaut. But who has made it into Squarefootball’s Team of the Week?
Your regular columnist Mitch Waddon is away this week so I, Colin Illingworth, have stepped in to his boots and over the course of this article I will reveal our team of the week. We will also praise our manager of the weekend, toast our favourite goal and put the spotlight on our best save, amongst others.
So without further to do, here is our team of the week:
David De Gea – Most people thought he’d struggle against the aerial bombardment at Stoke but he choose this game to put in his most impressive performance yet in a United shirt.
Ledley King – His knees may be knackered but he continues to excel at the highest level. You have to wonder what he could have achieved in the game if he had a clean bill of health. With him in the side Spurs look unbeatable.
Steven Taylor – Newcastle United are currently sitting in fourth place in the league and Steven Taylor deserves a lot of credit for that. He’s always throwing himself into tackles, is quick in the tackle and is always a threat offensively. It’s no wonder he’s being linked with an England call up.
Brede Hangeland – The Fulham centre half led his side to their first clean sheet of the season and looked cool as a cucumber as he nullified a Baggies attack to walk the ball out of the area.
Ramires – It took the Brazilian a while to settle to the pace of the Premier League but Chelsea are now reaping the benefits. Ramires has a fantastic engine and is full of energy. His two goals against Swansea have gone some way to repaying the fans for his miss against Manchester United last Sunday.
Scott Parker – The England international looks like being the signing of the summer. For £5 million, Spurs have arguably one of the best holding midfielders in the business and he bossed the midfield area against Wigan.
David Silva – The Manchester City midfielder was shadowed by Everton’s Jack Rodwell for the whole game, but he still managed to have a say on the final score. The Spaniard found space late on at the Etihad to play in James Milner with a delightful ball behind the Everton defence. Milner raced on to slot the ball past Tim Howard, but Silva was the creator.
Gareth Bale – It’s been a while since we last saw Bale’s name on the scoresheet and who would have thought he would do so with his head? The Welshman was full of running and looked dangerous whenever he was on the ball. It’s looking good for Spurs ahead of the north London derby this Sunday.
Robin Van Persie – The Arsenal captain scored his 99th and 100th career goal for the Gunners and led them to a 3-0 win over Bolton. The Dutchman could have easily finished the game with the match ball and his movement and all-round play was first class.
Demba Ba – The former West Ham United striker claimed his first hat-trick in English football at the weekend against Blackburn Rovers and was the major difference between the sides. He put the Mags ahead after just six minutes and used his head twice to finish off Steve Kean’s Rovers.
Peter Crouch – The former Liverpool and Spurs striker would have loved his header against Manchester United. His height gave United problems all game and should have scored a second but he was thwarted by De Gea from point blank range.
The Weekend Wonders
Now that we’ve got the team of the week out of the way, let’s have a look at our Weekend Wonders.
Manager of the week: Newcastle’s Alan Pardew
Unbeaten Newcastle United hosted a rejuvenated Blackburn Rovers side at the weekend, one that had defeated the Mags six times in a row. Could Alan Pardew mastermind a win over Steve Kean’s men? You’re damn right he could. The Mags may not have the star names of Barton, Carroll or Nolan anymore and he may not have been allowed to spend much of the Carroll money, but the former West Ham chief has created a great team spirit at St James’ Park and they currently sit in the Champions League places. Considering most pundits tipped a tough season ahead for the Toon Army back in August, Pardew deserves all the plaudits coming his way.
Goal of the weekend: Manchester United’s Nani
There were a few contenders for this accolade this week. Robin Van Persie’s 99th Arsenal goal was special, Rafael Van der Vaart showed his composure to put Spurs into the lead at Wigan and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez’s against Wolves, but I think Nani’s just shades it. The Portuguese winger, who scored a blinder against Chelsea last weekend, waltzed through the Stoke defence following a neat one-two with Darren Fletcher before blasting the ball into the bottom corner of Begovic’s net. Top stuff.
Howler of the weekend: Chelsea’s Fernando Torres
Torres picked up this award last weekend following his glaring miss at Old Trafford and he’s kept hold of it after his X-rated lunge on Swansea’s Mark Gower. Quite why the Spaniard, who got Chelsea’s opener, decided to propel himself into the challenge with both feet off the ground remains a mystery. The worst thing about it is that Torres, who looks like getting back to his old self, will now miss the Blues next three games. At least he won’t be able to claim a hat-trick of howlers awards.
Save of the weekend: Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczesny
Arsenal got back to winning ways at the weekend but it could have been all so different had Szczesny not pulled off a fantastic stop from Darren Pratley inside four minutes. Petrov pinged a free-kick to the back post which was knocked on by David Wheater across goal. Pratley ghosted in front of the sleeping Kieran Gibbs to boot the ball goalwards, but Szczesny was on his toes to make a fine reflex save to his left and keep the scores level.
Controversy of the weekend: Referee Michael Oliver
There was United’s penalty shout at Stoke and the clash between Cahill and Kompany at the Etihad, but referee Michael Oliver had a mare of a game at Loftus Road. He awarded a soft penalty to Villa when Traore slightly tugged on Gabby Agbonlahor’s shirt then failed to give QPR spot-kicks when Alan Hutton saved a goalbound strike with his left arm and blocked a Tommy Smith cross. To compound matters he also sent off Armand Traore for a second bookable offence, the first one coming from the debatable penalty award.
For me Villa’s penalty should never have been given. If that happened anywhere else on the pitch play would have been waved on. Hutton’s first handball was blatant and was easily more of a penalty then Villa’s. The second incident, from Smith’s cross, could have gone either way. I’ve seen them given. Unfortunately for Neil Warnock, neither of them were. Fortunately Richard Dunne’s own goal gave the Rs a share of the spoils or Warnock really would have been spitting feathers.
It has to be Robin Van Persie’s 100th career goal for the Gunners. It’s been a long time coming for the injury plagued Dutchman but finally he has joined the club’s scoring greats. Following the losses of Nasri and Fabregas in the summer, Van Persie is vital to the club’s future. Wenger will need to wrap his captain up in cotton wool between games to ensure Arsenal’s attack is as potent as possible.
Do you agree with our analysis on the weekend's action? We'd love to hear your views. And Mitch Waddon will be back at his desk for next Monday.