Finally EPL fans around the globe witnesses some action after the last round of games were called off due to snowy conditions in the British Isles. Man Utd strengthened their position at the head of the chasing pack while Arsenal finally got one over their London nemesis. Carlos Tevez inspired the other team from Manchester to an away win at the St. James Park and in the process kept City in touching distance with their hated neighbors.
Elsewhere Dutch maestro VDV’s brace earned ten man Spurs all three points at Villa Park thereby heightening the pressure on Gerrard Houiler’s team, who are tantalizingly close to the relegation zone. Mic Mcarthy’s Wolves are now at the bottom of the league table after they lost to the Latics. In another relegation battle, Mark Hughes’ Fulham lost at home to hitherto poor West Ham. Hughes was booed by Fulham fans and is definitely under severe pressure to deliver after a string of poor results. Blackburn Rovers lost at home to the all action Stoke, the January transfer window can’t come soon enough for Rovers’ new Indian owners who need to spend to ensure safety.
The games at Merseyside were postponed due to heavy snowfall so the two Merseyside clubs along with Blackpool and Birmingham enjoyed a longer festive period.
Star of the Week: Dimitar Berbatov (Man United)
The Bulgarian has suddenly hit a purple patch with an astounding seven goals in his last two league outings. His brace against the Black Cats was good enough to ensure a win for Sir Alex’s men, the smiling assassin has endured a lot of criticism during his time at the Old Trafford club and its pleasing to see him finally get his due reward. Sir Alex has now set the Bulgarian hitman a target of 25 goals for the season, interesting times ahead.
Pass of the Week: Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspurs)
At about the 23rd minute, Tottenham’s frustration were forgotten as a sweeping move cut Villa apart, sparked by a raking cross-field ball from Modric into the path of Hutton down the right wing, who in turn delivered a low cross which was tugged in neatly by man of the moment VDV, but kudos to Modric for such vision and creativity, stuff of champions.
Goal of the Week: Mathew Taylor (Bolton)
Taylor provided a delightful chip over the defence for the Korean Lee, however Lee looked like he had taken it too far after going round Carson but he had the presence of mind to look up and play in Taylor, who tucked away his first of the season. Mathew Taylor’s vision must be complimented in the first place and also his eagerness to get into flow and climbing up the charts slowly but steadily.
Quote of the Week: Roberto Mancini (Man City)
Roberto Mancini showed the whole world that he is the man in charge at the club as he put the over cocky Balotelli in his place by giving this byte.
“If Mario deserves to play he will play, if he doesn’t deserve to play he won’t,” warned Mancini. “If Mario doesn’t work, he doesn’t play. Mario is a special player but you have to put strength and heart into your performances as well.”
Mancini has earned the right to be respected after guiding the blue half of Manchester to near the summit of the Premiership.
The Race for the Golden Boot Award:
|1||Dimitar Berbatov||Manchester United||13|
|2||Carlos Tévez||Manchester City||12|
|3||Andrew Carroll||Newcastle United||11|
|5||Johan Elmander||Bolton Wanderers||9|
Both Berbatov and Tevez added a brace and guided their respective Manchester clubs to all three points. Interestingly all of the usual suspects ala Torres, Rooney, Drogba are struggling form and fitness while the less fancied names are certainly lighting up the league. Johan Elmander has been a revelation at Bolton with some brilliant solo efforts.
Save of the Week: Petr Cech (Chelsea)
This is probably the only place where a Chelsea player would find a mention in this review for a good reason. In the 42nd minute, just before Song scored to put Arsenal ahead, Nasri attempted a 25-yard chip. The ball was heading into the top corner with Cech slightly off his line, but the Chelsea number one did well to judge the situation perfectly and tip the ball over the cross bar for a corner.
Flop of the Week: Team Chelsea
What happens when 11 clueless men take the field against a team that’s yearning to defeat them? That’s what happened at the Emirates.
Team of the Week
Attack: Berbatov, Tevez
Erstwhile team mates Barbatov and Tevez will join hands to spearhead TheHardTackle’s Team of the Week’s attack. Berbatov’s claim for a starting place on the team was strengthened after his brace against Sunderland, while Tevez scored two and assisted one to help Man City record an important win, away at Newcastle.
Midfield: Cleverly, Van Der Vaart, Song, Walcott
Van Der Vaart made an impressive comeback against Aston Villa at the Villa Park scoring both the goals for his team in the 2-1 victory. Tom Cleverly had a brilliant away outing at the Molineux Stadium as Wigan registered another away win against the struggling Wolves side. Cleverly, playing on wide left, scored the second goal for the visiting side. Joining VDV and Cleverly in the midfield will be Arsenal duo of Alex Song and Theo Walcott, who terrorized the Chelsea defence in the 3-1 win over the reigning Champions. Both of them capped a wonderful display with one goal each.
Defence: Assou-Ekotto, Kinght, Djourou, Sagna
The French left wingback, Assou-Ekotto had a solid display for Harry Redknapp’s side and did admirably well to restrict any advances made by Aston Villa through the right wing. Arsenal’s Bacary Sagna did well to keep a lid on Molouda’s surging runs down the left and covered up for Walcott brilliantly whenever the lanky winger went up to support Arsenal’s attacking moves.
Johan Djourou was a surprise selection by Arsen Wenger ahead of Squillaci, but the decision paid off as the Swiss international delivered a commanding defensive display against Didier Drogba-led Chelsea attack. His challenges were right on the money and at last he seems to be performing true to his immense potential. Partnering Djourou at the heart of the defense would be Bolton Wanderers’ Zat Knight, who was rock solid at the back in a 2-0 home win against West Brom.
Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes
With another splendid display under the bar, Gomes repaid the trust shown by his manager Harry Redknapp even after committing occasional howlers. He pulled off a couple of impressive stops against Villa and did well to deny Emil Hesky a shot on target with a timely diving effort.