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Thursday, 03 January 2013

Squarefootball's Team of the Week - Week 21


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Arsenal failed to build on their emphatic win at the weekend over Newcastle, having to settle for a draw on New Year's Day away at Southampton. It was a good start to the year for Fulham, Everton, Liverpool, Man City, Man United, QPR, West Ham and Spurs though, with all eight teams picking up three points.

QPR gave their survival hopes a huge lift by beating champions of Europe Chelsea - who saw that one coming? - while Aston Villa started 2013 with a point away at Swansea.

There were plenty of goals and a number of top performances, but who has made it into the first Squarefootball Team of the Week for 2013? Deputy editor Colin Illingworth reveals his starting XI and Weekend Wonders.

Team of the Week

Goalkeeper - Brad Guzan

If it wasn't for the brilliance of Guzan the Villans could well have been on the receiving end of another battering. Swansea, in the first half in particular, cut Lambert's men open time and time again, but Guzan did his best to keep the Swans out. He was beaten twice, but it could have been a lot worse without him. Special mention also goes out to Julio Cesar of QPR for his clean sheet at Chelsea.

Defender - Leighton Baines

Ashley who? Leighton Baines is definitely the best left-back in the Premier League this season. He's scoring goals, delivering telling balls into the box and is a danger offensively and defensively. He scored again on Wednesday night against Newcastle with a stunning free-kick and has been a regular in our Team of Week throughout the season. Great stuff.

Defender - Guy Demel

The West Ham man didn't put a foot wrong against Norwich City and it was his ball into the box that won the Hammers a disputed penalty. Should have had another assist to his name when he laid the ball on a plate for Carlton Cole, only to see the England striker make a meal of it.

Defender - Clint Hill

The QPR defender was made to look like a statue by Liverpool's Luis Suarez on Sunday but he was a commanding figure in keeping Chelsea out on Wednesday night at the Bridge. He led the team by example and kept everyone on their toes.

Defender - Pablo Zabaletta

Manchester City eased past Stoke City and the Argentinean defender found himself on the scoresheet yet again. Full of energy and running, Zabaletta more than earned his place into our team again.

Midfield - Wayne Routledge

The Swansea City man was only on the pitch for 66 minutes but he terrorised the Villa backline up until that point. Routledge scored the opener with a well taken goal, rounding Guzan, and could have had a hand in many more, but for the heroics of the Villa keeper.

Midfield - Mark Noble

The West Ham captain scored from the spot and played a huge part in the Hammers' second with a driving run into the box. The 25-year-old dominated the midfield area in the absence of Kevin Nolan and Mohamed Diame. Noble also showed Roy Hodgson that he can take penalties and is well worth a call-up for England.

Midfield - Aaron Lennon

The Spurs winger made light work of Ian Harte of Reading and gained an assist for Adebayor's opener. Lennon, who made our final Team of the Year for 2012, booked his place in the first STOTY for 2013 with another outstanding display.

Striker - Dimitar Berbatov

The Bulgarian striker oozes class and strolled around the Hawthorns like he owned the gaff. Berbatov started Fulham's opener with a long ball from his own half to Dejagah and was on the end of it to score past Foster. His vision and deft touches were a threat to the Albion all game.

Striker - Robin van Persie

The Dutchman started the new year the way he ended 2012 by getting in amongst the goals again. Last year United lost at Wigan. With RVP and Hernandez on form, they tore the Latics apart to win 4-0. RVP grabbed another brace to take his tally to 15 and both were with his right foot. RVP could well be getting his hands on some silverware, at last, in May.

Striker - Luis Suarez

The Liverpool striker took his goal tally to 15 in the league this season with another brace. The Sunderland defence just couldn't handle this bundle of energy and Suarez even stayed on his feet when it would have been easier to fall to the ground in order to score Liverpool's second. I wonder how he will link up with his new team-mate Daniel Sturridge?

 Weekend Wonders

Game of the Week - West Brom 1 Fulham 2

Well it was never going to be Southampton v Arsenal. What a turgid affair that was! Unlike at the Hawthorns where both teams did what they do best, get the ball down and play football. The game ebbed and flowed and Romelu Lukaku gave the Fulham defence plenty to think about, but Ruiz, Dejagah and Berbatov were on song and gained the Cottagers their first win in five. West Ham v Norwich was a close second.

Goal of the Week - Shaun Wright-Phillips v Chelsea

How crucial will this goal be for QPR come the end of the season? Granero's corner was swung out to the edge of the area, which Adel Taarabt cushioned into Wright-Phillips's path. The former Chelsea man lashed the ball into the corner of the goal first time. A clean sheet against Chelsea and three points. Who said the R's were all but down? This strike just edges out Leighton Baines' cracker against Newcastle due to the huge importance of the goal.

Manager of the Week - Harry Redknapp

Anyone who still doubts his ability is an absolute clown. The R's were ripped apart on Sunday by Liverpool, but for Redknapp to pick them up and get them in the zone for the visit to Stamford Bridge, home of the their fierce rivals and champions of Europe, and leave with a win is unbelievable. Maybe the Great Escape is still on the cards.

Save of the Weekend - Mark Bunn v West Ham

Jack Collison's snapshot in the six-yard area was instinctively saved by the Norwich keeper to keep the Canaries in with a chance.

Well that's our first Team of the Week for 2013. Do you agree or disagree? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.

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