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Category Archives: Awards and Prizes

The Weekend Awards – Nonsense on and off the pitch

The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League. The usual drama followed the Premier League circus this week, so what was the best and worst?

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Highlight of the Weekend

Frank Lampard notches 203

I guess you could nominate the send off to Sir Alex Ferguson at Man United and it would run this close but to me Lampard’s was a moment that might not have happened. Where Ferguson is in complete control of his retirement, nicely timed for a league winning Old Trafford celebration that also allowed David Moyes a home farewell, Lampard had to rely first on being played, and then on getting those elusive goals to reach the record. When it became clear at the turn of the year that Chelsea weren’t looking to keep him and in his increasingly deep role opportunities for goals looked scarce. It seemed that the goal record might be out of reach. However, he kept professional, didn’t become selfish and kept racking up the goals and wins to drag an exhausted Chelsea back to the Champions league next season.

He actually is a Leader and Legend and should always be the captain when he plays. Never mind some of his deplorable team mates, Chelsea need him to be the face of their club for next season.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Brainless Red Cards

Charlie Adam, Cristian Benteke and Ramires all got two yellow cards. Bare that in mind. None of them got straight reds. They combined for 147 minutes out of a possible 270. None of them lasted more than an hour. For two bookings? And it’s not as if the bookings were unavoidable. All of the offences which brought second yellows were just ridiculous decisions and Adam and Benteke cost their team badly. Ramires was lucky to be saved by the Lampard show.

Goal of the Weekend

Kevin Mirallas (1st) vs West Ham

This was magisterial goal that should show anyone that doubts the football that David Moyes can get United playing exactly what they are capable of. Leighton Baines started the move deep in his own half and after laying the ball off he blazed forwards in to space. After some nice one touch passing Baines was found precisely by Fellaini and he dummied inside before laying it back to the Belgian. Fellaini then nudged it on to Pienaar who immediately put it straight in to Mirallas’ path and his finish with one touch from the edge of the box was unerring. Lovely stuff.

What are you talking about?! Part One

Tony Pulis on Charlie Adam’s Red Card

As always, Pulis used his post match comments to excuse another Stoke showing which was despicable in it’s lack of ambition, quality and entertainment by talking absolute rubbish about the referee. He said that when Adam slid in on a yellow card he ‘gave the referee an opportunity to send him off’. The implication is that the referee couldn’t wait to send him off and that this was an outrageously soft decision that would only be given against Stoke. It’s pretty simple really. You can’t tackle from behind. It’s a booking. It’s a foul even if you get the ball now. Adam didn’t get the ball and was on a booking. Guess what happens next then?

Strangely, during this diatribe he didn’t mention that Stoke only managed six shots all game with the only one on target being the goal. It also must have slipped his mind that his team managed an eye watering 69% passing accuracy which includes a breath takingly bad 72% accuracy on short passes. He also didn’t say that his team commited twice as many fouls. But here’s the big one. In 90 minutes of football Stoke created three chances to score. Three! But that isn’t why they lost, it’s because of the red card.

What are you talking about?! Part Two

Harry Redknapp and Alan Pardew

Anyone who hadn’t seen the incidents in question from the QPR Newcastle game would be forgiven for thinking that the referee had a horror show. But, he didn’t. Redknapp was upset about the penalty awarded against Jose Bosingwa but Bosingwa near enough had Ben Arfa’s whole shirt in his hand and hauled him away from getting in a shot. It’s just clearly a penalty. Pardew was bafflingly complaining about the red card for Rob Elliot the goalkeeper. Elliot was booked already and then decided to catch the ball outside his penalty box. Not near, not on the line, but clearly outside. So it’s a red card right? Weird.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Rob Green picks up a back pass

Another to add to Rob Green’s blunder list which thanks to the atrocity committed by Ben Foster isn’t even the biggest howler, but certainly the most mind bendingly bizarre. Armand Traore passes the ball back to him in the box and for some reason Green bends down to pick it up. Maybe he think’s it’s 1991 and it’s allowed again. Its not Rob. Adding to the comedy was Mark Lawrenson’s Match of the Day analysis in which he blamed Traore.

Most Deceptive Result of the Weekend

QPR 1-2 Newcastle

Considering this is dominating the awards given with a question and exclamation mark it says a lot. Newcastle are safe because of this result. Because of this, they are allowed to play in the Premier League next season. But, by Harry Redknapp’s own admission, QPR are not a Premier League team. They have an expensively assembled bunch of mercenaries with no fight or ability. And Newcastle only just beat them because Jose Bosingwa donated them a penalty and then an open goal after selling Green up the river with a heinous back pass. That’s it. That’s all Newcastle had to do to stay up. There’s a lot wrong up there.

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Donkeys Team of the Weekend 06/05

It’s all well and good seeing who is the best of the weekend but how about the worst. This is not a team you want to be getting in to.

Donkey Team of the Weekend: Fulham
What has happened to Fulham? They’ve gone from being an anonymous mid table team to a few results away from relegation. If Fulham don’t get any more points from their two games they will be stuck on 40. It should be enough but if the teams below each grab a win or two it certainly won’t be. A home game against an already relegated Reading was an ideal chance to get those final 3 points needed for safety, but they were atrocious. Some appalling defending and bad finishing meant they lost 4-2 and find themselves in trouble. They went on their summer holiday about 4 weeks ago and with everyone below them winning they are right in it.

Anders Lindegaard – Manchester United And this is why it’s important that De Gea has kicked on so much. Lindegaard was seen as the man last year as De Gea bedded in slowly but he wasn’t great against Chelsea. It’s a slightly harsh selection with no real competition but he didn’t cover himself in glory for Mata’s goal.

Billy Jones – West Brom If you watched the highlights you’ll be thinking ‘are you mad? He was charging forwards all game!’ Yes, quite. But let me describe all three Wigan goals for you. Beausejour cross from left flank to Kone to head in. Maloney cross from left flank for McArthur to head in. Maloney cross from left flank for McManaman to tap in. You see the problem here? It’s not often than someone can be held accountable for three goals in a game but unfortunately Billy Jones had a game to forget.

Sebastien Bassong – Norwich Bassong has been the epitome of solidity this season for Norwich but he had a bad game against Villa. Without his regular partner Michael Turner he looked a little lost. He was caught backing away for the first Agbonlahor goal then was made to look foolish for the second as the Villa striker sprinted past him from a run that Bassong didn’t pick up.

Philippe Senderos – Fulham No stranger to this type of team but Senderos had a mare. Part of a defence that conceded four goals to relegated Reading the most damming stat is that 3 of the 4 goals came through the middle of the defence. He also found time for his patented comedy clearances.

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Joe Bennett – Aston Villa The young man had a disastrous showing against Norwich and should have seen about four yellow cards so he was incredibly fortunate not to have seen red. Snodgrass ran him ragged, including winning a penalty after a ridiculous challenge. As the other Villa youngsters have improved he seems to have regressed lately.

Park Ji-Sung – QPR Park used to be Alex Ferguson’s go to man for big games and he always scored against Arsenal. This time he didn’t even figure in the game. For a man on £70k per week who was introduced to the club to offer leadership and show the club how to win he has done nothing but. His game was always based on fitness, effort and discipline rather than technical talent but at 32 his legs are betraying him.

Tom Cleverley – Man United Cleverley hasn’t played for a while and on this evidence, won’t do again any time soon. He only completed 30 passes, a meagre 11 of which were forward and didn’t make up for this with defensive output as he registered only two interceptions and nothing else of note. It was an uninspiring showing from a player with potential.

Anderson – Man United Unlike his sidekick Anderson did at least try passing the ball forwards, 19 out of 32 is an impressive ratio but none of these were in, or even near, the penalty box. He was given the keys to the car in midfield but he couldn’t figure out how to get the engine running. He didn’t add any light to a really dull United showing.

John-Arne Riise – Fulham Riise ooperated at left back for Fulham so it doesn’t look good for him that Reading right winger Hal Robson-Kanu scored twice, including a penalty that Riise gave away. Surprisingly for a player famed for his work ethic and desire he looked disinterested, and his performance summed up the mini malaise that Fulham have slipped in to.

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Edin Dzeko – Man City He’s pretty much in just for that missed open goal which was one of only four touches in the penalty box. This includes another couple of off target shots and one straight at Michel Vorm. Not exactly a showing that will force him in to the Cup Final team.

Demba Ba – Chelsea Torres was bad, but Ba was awful. He must have taken a good three air swings and didn’t look like he was alive to the chances that Juan Mata was creating for him. He didn’t look like he was going to score if he was there all day. Surely Lukaku is a better option moving forward.

The Weekend Awards – SuperBale to the rescue

The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League. Touch and go at top and bottom so here’s what stood out.

Gareth-Bale-Tottenham-West-Ham-Premier-League_2906394

Highlight of the Weekend

Wigan make the relegation fight interesting

If Wigan had lost to West Brom they would have been 5 points from safety with 3 to play instead, with the win they are just two points behind Sunderland, 3 behind Norwich and Newcastle and 4 behind Southampton. And they’ve got a game in hand on Tuesday at home to a Swansea side who have nothing to play for. Interesting. If they win that and Sunderland beat Stoke tonight then suddenly Fulham up in 12th would be just 2 points off the drop and in poor form. For the neutrals a Wigan win over Swansea would make for an incredible end to the season at the bottom.

Lowlight of the Weekend

‘Super’ Sunday

What a let down the two Sunday games were. The Merseyside derby was a fairly uninspiring 0-0 and Manchester United Chelsea didn’t get going until it was too late. All four teams looked like they knew they had done their important business for the season, even though Chelsea needed to beat United. There was a distinct lack of quality and edge to both games and made for an unsatifying few hours.

Goal of the Weekend

Gabby Agbonlahor (2nd) vs Norwich

This was both an aesthetically pleasing and vitally important goal. The inch perfect pass from Ashley Westwood followed Agbonlahor’s clever run between the two centre backs and he ended up peeling all the way around Bassong from his blind side. By the time Bassong had seen what was happening the perfect positioning of the pass combined with Agbonlahor’s express pace meant that the Villa striker was through on goal. He kept a calm head to slot home and was able to celebrate in front of the traveling Villa fans as his side recorded another key win.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Rafael’s Red Card

So the clock is running down on what is a meaningless game for United when Rafael gets embroiled in a little squabble with countryman David Luiz. Rafael has a little kick out and Luiz throws himself to the floor before looking up and smiling at his compatriot. He then makes sure to look anguished as referee Howard Webb arrives on the scene amidst a sea of card waving from Oscar and Ramires (both Brazilian) and the inevitable denoument. So much for national pride.

Most Deceptive Result of the Weekend


Fulham 2-4 Reading

This one is deceptive for two reasons. Firstly, the temptation is to say ‘Well if Reading had played like that more often they would have stayed up’. Yeah well they didn’t, so they haven’t. They played with the freedom and abandon of a team that had no pressure. For Fulham the temptation is to think ‘Oh well, they’re safe anyway’. But the thing is, they’re not yet. If Sunderland and more importantly, Wigan, win their respective game in hand then Fulham would only be two points off the relegation zone with 5 defeats in their last 6 games. They are quietly in a tailspin and need to find a win but they have a potentially rampant Liverpool visiting next before a tricky trip to Swansea. If they get zero points they will be looking nervously elsewhere.

One man team of the weekend

SuperBale vs Southampton

It’s getting a bit old now but Spurs really are dependent on Gareth Bale. Without him they’re certainly not a top four team. He was kept quiet all game with some canny tactical set up by Southampton which resulted in an awful Spurs showing in a grinding 0-0. It looked like it would end like that before SuperBale cut in from the right and in trade mark style and hit a fading shot in to the far corner of the goal.

The Weekend Awards – Liverpool’s half dozen

The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League. Touch and go at top and bottom so here’s what stood out.

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Highlight of the Weekend

Liverpool show they are more than just Luis Suarez + 10 others

Yeah, Newcastle aren’t great but they did finish 5th last year so it’s not like Liverpool have just put 6 past the 2007/08 Derby County team. Without Suarez a lot was expected of Daniel Sturridge and I tipped him to be successful on the Premier League Stock Exchange and so it proved. Thrust in to his preferred central spot he scored two, including one special one, of which more later. He ran rings around the defence and opened up a whole world of space for Player of the Week Coutinho to run riot in his most impressive display of many since arriving in January. The rejuvenated Jordan Henderson looked great in midfield as did Gerrard and Lucas. Is this the real Liverpool or is it the one that drew 0-0 twice in a row against West Ham and Reading? The great frustration for their fans.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Reading 0-0 QPR

This game was an embarrassment for both football clubs; the players, management and most importantly, the fans. Fair enough, you’re going to draw 0-0 from time to time, particularly two sides which lack a proper goalscorer. But what cannot be forgiven is the lack of application and any sign of quality and purpose that both sides were blighted by. This wasn’t the lively Reading that have pushed big teams at the Madjeski this season. Both teams seemed to be playing an end of season friendly to prepare for next season and it was a disgraceful ‘effort’.

Goal of the Weekend

Daniel Sturridge (1st) vs Newcastle

For the second week in a row it is an excellent Sturridge finish from a sublime pass which wins this. Coutinho robbed Ben Arfa on the halfway line, sauntered forwards up towards the Newcastle box whilst Steven Taylor ran away in panic and then flipped the ball up and over him straight to Sturridge who steadied himself before lashing the ball in to the roof of the net. Beautiful and savage in combination.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Figueroa and Robles lax play costs Wigan

You’re in the drop zone, you’re against Spurs, you’ve got Gareth Bale hounding you in your own penalty box. Do you a) smash the ball out to safety? or b) try and play your way out? Well unfortunately for Wigan Figueroa and Robles chose the latter. Robles had two chances to pump it away, Figueroa one, and neither chose to. In the end the denouement was humiliating for Robles who tried to chip it over the onrushing Bale but just kicked it straight at him and it flew in to the net. Oh dear.

What are you doing?! Moment of the Weekend

Bacary Sagna goes in to meltdown

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It was bad enough that Sagna had lost a sloppy ball to Robin van Persie by under hitting what was already a difficult ball to play correctly, but then after van Persie had been shown wide by Per Mertesacker Sagna launched a sliding tackle in to him from behind with the inevitable result of a penalty which was slammed home. A moment of zero danger against a lack lustre United suddenly became a disaster and cost Arsenal two precious points.

Most Deceptive Result of the Weekend

Everton 1-0 Fulham

This was deceptive because Everton should have absolutely battered Fulham. The likes of Fellaini missed easy chances against a Fulham team that seems to be on an early summer holiday having secured safety. Everton might well have steam rollered Fulham and yet somehow nearly squandered even what they had.

One man team of the Weekend

Romelu Lukaku vs Southampton

Lukaku is the answer to Chelsea’s problems if they will just realise it themselves. He was dominant against Southampton and was responsible for all three goals as West Brom surprisingly won 3-0 at St. Mary’s against an in form Southampton unit. He ran the recently decent Saints defence ragged.

Best Refereeing Performance

Robert Madley – Southampton vs West Brom

Making his debut in the Premier League Madley had an outstanding game, and contrary to idiotic commentary, a game he would dream of. He gave three red cards, all of which correct. He had a goal given when the ball crossed the line before being hacked out and allowed for a positive flow to the game.

Whilst I’m here, why wouldn’t the referee have wanted to give three red cards? If anything, it showed that he wasn’t intimidated by his new surroundings and made correct decisions. Who cares how many reds he dishes out if they are all fair? He had an excellent game.

Most Bizarre Team Selection

Alan Pardew vs Liverpool

Pardew picked a five man midfield, all of whom are most comfortable in central areas. So who offers the quality and width? Bafflingly, despite this Newcastle were still carved apart centrally at times and despite picking only one attack minded player his team shipped six. No less startlingly in his pre-match summary ESPN commentator Chris Waddle descirbed the team as ‘well balanced’. Uh huh…

The Weekend Awards – Suarez all over the place

The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League. One man, and one incident, dominate.

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Highlight of the Weekend

The return of Gareth Bale

As I mentioned in my Friday preview the return of Gareth Bale was always going to spectacular. Spurs have been on a little wobble lately without the star power of Bale and for the first 75 minutes against Man City they continued to not pose much threat even with him on the field but having seen enough he decided it was time to don the red cape and become SuperBale. His cross for Dempsey’s goal was a feat of technical ability that only a few players in the world are capable of and his super chipped finish for the third game took away any chance of a Man City comeback. Even if only for 15 minutes it’s still good to have him back.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Luis Suarez bites Ivanovic

I was trying to think of something more creative but it just clearly is this. I won’t go in to a diatribe about this because it’s impossible to add anything to the flood of opinion and hysteria sufficed to say that it was literally unbelievable and that he has surely played his last game of the season.

Goal of the Weekend

Daniel Sturridge vs Chelsea

This was a fine goal which showed Liverpool at their Suarez led best. A nice interchange of passing saw the ball drop in to Suarez who clipped a perfect ball over the Chelsea defence first time with the exact weight that it needed to evade everyone other than Sturridge and it plonked right down for him to stroke home with his left foot without having to adjust. It came from not a lot and dragged Liverpool back in to the game.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Suarez handball to concede a penalty

This was dumb for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it came at a time when Liverpool had got back in to the game and were looking to push on and win, never mind draw. So it swung momentum away from them. Secondly, just look at it. What is he doing? It’s inconceivable that this isn’t the most unbelievable thing he did in the game but why is he waving his hand around in the air like that? Madness.

Most Deceptive Result of the Weekend

Stoke 2-0 QPR

If you read the score you think, ‘QPR roll over, show no application and Stoke record a professional win’. The reality is that Stoke were incredibly lucky to win this. If not for a timely return to form for Asmir Begovic they not only wouldn’t have won, but would have lost. QPR lost key attackers to injury as well. Pulis didn’t change the team which showed he hadn’t learned from previous results and they were very fortunate to get a win from this.

One man team of the Weekend

Luis Suarez vs Chelsea

Suarez was responsible for everything that was good about Liverpool’s football. If not for Bite-gate he would have come off to glowing reviews about how he had made his case for Player of the Year but one quick nibble later and that is all gone. However, with a ball at his feet he was a one man team. The rest of the Liverpool attack looked completely bereft of ideas but he was a constant pest and threat to make something happen. In the end he made and scored goals completely out of nothing to earn a point.

Most bizarre team selection

Frank Lampard rides the bench

De ja vu from last week but again Chelsea’s lack of leadership and control in the midfield cost them dearly. Maybe secret agent Benitez didn’t play him for nefarious reasons but whatever the reason it was a costly omission.

Best game you didn’t see

Swansea vs Southampton

This was a magnificent game between two of the surprise packages of the season. Both teams took their obvious La Liga influences and infused Premier League pace and tempo to create a fascinating and thrilling encounter. It was the best 0-0 you will see all season and could have been 3-3 but for some excellent saves and defending. Both teams played slick, quick, passing football and pressed high up the field. It was a great advert for the English game but will be lost in the wash from the Suarez nonsense. Mores the pity.

The Weekend Awards – Sunderland at the double

The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League and FA Cup.

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Highlight of the Weekend

Paolo Di Canio’s celebration

With each goal that Sunderland scored Di Canio’s celebrations became more and more over the top and his wide eyed visceral passion was transferred on to the pitch as a Sunderland side who had looked moribund and completely uninspired for a couple months fizzled in to life. They played the exact brand of football that Di Canio promised which is an impressive achievement after just two weeks of work in season.

They pressed high and consistently, they passed the ball with a purpose and tempo that has been sorely lacking and they looked like a team that believed in themselves. It’s pretty basic stuff yes but sometimes doing the basics well is exactly what is needed when you are in trouble.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Tony Pulis accepts defeat before kick off

Stoke have made a name for themselves by making life extremely difficult for visiting clubs at the Britannia through a mix of ferocious passion from the stands, commitment on the pitch and a direct, in your face, scared of no one style of play.

So, after a terrible run of results, and with a possibly tentative Manchester United heading to town surely the time was right to attack them and go all out for a victory which would haul them 6 points clear of the drop zone. Well, apparently no one told that to Pulis. All of the old favourites were selected with the selection of Ryan Shotton on the right wing particularly baffling. He was picked to counter the roaming runs from left back of Patrice Evra. Seriously? You pick a right winger to stop their left back? At home? In a team that is overburdened with attacking talent. If United found that Evra was shut down he could just stay back and the attack go elsewhere and still be just as dangerous. This isn’t Everton and Leighton Baines we’re talking about.

He picked Charlie Adam, a deep lying midfielder by trade as the number 10 behind the striker. Thus, when Adam dropped ever deeper to seek out the ball Kenwyne Jones was stuck upfront on his own and unable to bring any others in to play. The apparently key Glenn Whelan was back but hardly got a touch of the ball as the defensive full backs meant that Stoke were so deep. They didn’t try to unsettle an out of position Rooney in midfield and didn’t bombard David De Gea in goal.

Instead of flying all out for a win they went in to the game trying to avoid a loss but expecting that they would. Disgraceful.

Goal of the Weekend

Stephane Sessegnon vs Newcastle

This was good for two reasons; importance and quality. In and of itself it was a nice goal. A tricky shuffling run followed by a precise finish in to the tiniest of spaces from a good 20 yards out. All very pretty. But the key to this being the goal of the week was it’s importance in the flow of the game.

Sunderland had started well but cautiously, not really able to capitalise on their good attitude with any real goal threat. It was a familiar pattern for their fans who must have feared that when they eventually ran out of steam that Newcastle would punish them, but the goal came at just the right time and sent the delirious Sunderland fans, including one who had somehow got in to the commentary box, in to raptures.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Sergio Aguero tangles with David Luiz

Was it a two footed horror lunge? Was he falling over in an unfortunate way? Only Aguero knows what his intention was.

How did you miss that Ref?!

Gouffran on Johnson & Torres on Aguero

This could easily go to the Aguero one but that was so absurd we won’t give it two awards. This however, is a joint winner because both tackles were similarly vicious. Jamie Redknapp pointedly, and correctly, called them ‘cowards’ tackles. Both of them involved studs being raked down an opponents legs to cause maximum, and intentional, damage.

As Redknapp said, perhaps referees don’t realise the severity of these assaults but anyone who saw the way that Adam Johnson’s ankle buckled was surprised not to have witnessed a bad injury. Torres could have annihilated Aguero’s achilles.

Mind you, the ref was right there when Johnson took his shirt off to celebrate his goal. Quite right too, we don’t want any of this shirt off nonsense. Two bits of awful refereeing that have so far gone unexplained.

One man team of the Weekend

Dimitar Berbatov vs Aston Villa

Berbatov successfully defends his title from last week after another virtuoso, and single handed, display. He literally posed the only threat for Fulham and probably should have won the game for them. His frustration at his inferior team mates is getting stronger by the week despite Fulham’s serene mid table progress.

Most bizarre team selection

Frank Lampard rides the bench

Benitez deployed Ramires and Mikel in deep midfield behind the ‘three musketeers’ and it was a disaster. Chelsea didn’t need John Terry, they need Frank Lampard and he was conspicuous by his absence

The Premier League Weekend Awards – Aston Villa dominate the prizes

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The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League.

Highlight of the Weekend

Villa teach Stoke a lesson

Even as a neutral I was hoping Villa would be beat Stoke for a few reasons. Firstly, the three points for Villa tightened things up massively at the bottom of the table so that now 14th to 18th are separated by just 4 points. This makes things exciting. T

here’s also the fact that Paul Lambert has his young and very inexpensively assembled side playing a tactically disciplined and creative style of football that finds room for 3 attackers, all of whom have played as a lone front man in the past. Villa are playing fearlessly at the moment and they swarmed all over Stoke. In truth, it could, and should, have been about 5 or 6 goals for them. They came out and attacked, as they have done against everyone of the last month or so and got their just rewards.

Stoke on the other hand were beyond abject in attack yet again. As I seemingly have to write every week, Pulis picked a team that included absolutely no flair. Even the usual loyal Stoke fans are now openly questioning the team selection. It’s all well and good picking hard workers and players that put a tackle in to ruffle the feathers of the likes of Liverpool, their last win, but against teams like Villa it doesn’t work. Villa have been unlocked by flair this year. Suarez torched them last week, Bale got a hat trick and so on. But Pulis picked his usual hard runners and simple passers. It’s not good enough and this rank negativity is coming home to roost. They are in a nosedive.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Liverpool go back to old ways

For the prior two seasons Liverpool have been stuck in a mid table malaise of their own doing caused by extreme profligacy in front of goal. They seemed to have shaken that streak this season with Suarez leading the goal scoring charts and various teams put to the sword at Anfield. But it all went wrong against West Ham.

Brendan Brent bemusingly felt Sturridge’s goal was wrongly disallowed when he was clearly offside but that was misplaced criticism. There’s just something inexplicably inconsistent about Liverpool. You look at them on paper and can’t see how this sort of result, or the the defeats to Southampton and West Brom, are possible when you watch them in full flight. On paper they look good but in reality they are a mile away from the top 4.

Goal of the Weekend

Matt Lowton vs Stoke

How many weeks could this goal have two legitimate contenders against it. In most other weeks Mirallas’ lovely dribble and clean finish would win, and in any other week Loic Remy’s technical masterpiece against Wigan would win but Lowton’s goal has the unbeatable combination of jaw dropping quality and gravitas.

This wasn’t a dead rubber goal, it was the strike that won the game for Villa. At 1-1 they were rocking all over the place but one counter attack that wins a corner, a nodded clearance that drops to Lowton, and one outrageous volley later, and they’re 2-1 up and cruising. That moment of quality seemed to reinvigorate Villa’s young team and make them believe in themselves again.

Really?! Moment of the Weekend

Bobby Zamora gets 3 points for a clean head shot

Bobby Zamora, fighting in the White Tae Kwon Do dobok lands an absolute beauty of a headshot to pick up 3 points in his clash with Jordi Gomez in the blue dobok. Nope, hang on. They’re playing football. Ah…

What are you talking about?

Rafa Benitez: ‘We scored 2 and an own goal, so really we scored 3’

Uh huh, but the first Chelsea goal was an own goal? Plus, Chelsea were abject anyway. That’s not relevant, but it’s true.

Pundit being pushed to the top

Kevin Kilbane

The BBC are clearly trying to freshen up their punditry ranks but Kilbane is not the answer. The thing is, there isn’t an obvious reason as to why he is being pushed so hard. He was a moderate player, isn’t outspoken and also doesn’t offer unique analysis. So he doesn’t doesn’t tick any of the boxes. For all the criticism that goes in the direction of a lot of pundits, at least they have been there done that. Even if they can’t articulate how.

Kilbane seems like a nice bloke but what does he add? When he makes his first pun or reference to an unpronounceable name with a knowing glance to Gary we’ll know he’s made it.

One man team of the Weekend

Dimitar Berbatov vs Newcastle

I’m sure Christian Benteke won’t be disappointed to miss out on this for once and with Gareth Bale down injured, Berbatov gets this unopposed. The MOTD2 highlights package only seemed to mention Berbatov’s name for Fulham. He had their best two chances and also cleared a goal bound shot. And they still lost…

Most bizarre team selection

Romelu Lukaku on the bench for West Brom

What’s the biggest weakness of the Arsenal central defence? They struggle against pace and power. OK. So, obviously you play perhaps the most dangerous physical player in the league in Romelu Lukaku to cause chaos. If you didn’t, it would be crazy. Right? Well…

The Weekend Awards

The Weekend Awards takes an analytical and humorous look at the Weekend’s football. This week we have the FA Cup and Premier League to look at;

Highlight of the Weekend

David de Gea’s save

He’s taken a lot of heat during his time at United but David de Gea is showing why he was selected as Edwin van der Sar’s heir. Following on from his incredible save from Coentrao in the Bernabeu, de Gea pulled off an even better stop to preserve the draw against Chelsea.

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With the game poised at 2-2 coming in to the final minutes, Juan Mata sublimely controlled and turned Ferdinand before firing a shot in. In real time it looked like he had just fired wide but the replay told a different story. Andy Townsend and presumably most other viewers screeched ‘He’s saved it!’ with a suitable level of amazement. In a split second he managed to get down, stretch his leg out and divert it wide with the sole of his foot. Incredible and memorable.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Millwall v Blackburn

If you made it all the way through this then you deserve a medal. I feel like ESPN got the short of the stick; they show this whilst ITV had United v Chelsea and Everton v Wigan, by far the two most entertaining FA cup games of the weekend.

These sorts of games don’t really offer anything for the neutral unless it’s a goal fest but two teams that not many would describe as their ‘second team’ playing volleyball it was good Sunday nap stuff, except it was too early even for that…

Goal of the Weekend

Suarez v Spurs

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This goal had three separate components that were all sensational. It’s hard to rank them in order of quality but let’s give it a go:

3) Enrique’s pass to Suarez – the left back found the tightest of angles and with perfect timing slipped it through to Suarez who had made a diagonal run across the Spurs defence

2) Suarez’s toe poke finish – the amazing thing about this was that he fired off a shot without breaking stride, and because it was instantaneous Lloris in the Spurs goal didn’t have a sniff of getting to it.

1) Coutinho’s pass to Enrique – For me, this was the pass that had me purring. Coutinho has shown this ability a few times in his short Liverpool career. Roaming in to the middle of the pitch he plays a reverse pass straight in to Enrique’s feet through an invisible corridor and with such deft pace that Enrique could control and release Suarez in one fluid motion.

Truly a goal to savour.

Comedy Defending of the Weekend

Kyle Walker and Hugo Lloris

This could just as easily go to Defoe & Assou-Ekotto for their double act on the 3rd Liverpool goal but this was the one that started the meltdown. The old adage is to never pass the ball square unless the player receiving has time and space to control the ball and move it on. Walker ignored this, not only passing it but smashing it across the Spurs defence to no one in particular.

But it’s OK, the sweeper keeper is coming out to deal with…oh. Lloris seemed to be trying to flick the ball to a team mate rather than just putting his foot through it. This left Downing racing towards an empty net and Martin Tyler saying he’d score. He did his best not to, hitting it straight at Vertonghen on the line but he couldn’t get the block in. Oh dear…

Most Suspicious Result of the Weekend

QPR win a second game in a row

So they’ve now thieved a lucky win away at Southampton and then beaten an appalling Sunderland with a couple of nice goals. Sunderland have been wretched for some time now and could very easily be the team that plummets in to big trouble. They’ve got some brutal games still to come as well, so watch out for them.

What does this result say about QPR? Well, I don’t really know. It’s another 3 points gained certainly and they did play well in patches but their chronic lack of creativity is still a major problem.

Was this a blip for Sunderland? Are QPR on the charge? Are they both in trouble? This just muddied the waters.

Worst Excuse of the Weekend

Tony Pulis blames the referee, again…

Pulis came out and blamed the referee for his side’s latest defeat. What were his reasons for this? Cisse should have been sent off before scoring the winning goal and Stoke should have had a second penalty.

Ok, so he might have had a point with the penalty so we will concede that. But Cisse? He argued that he pushed Marc Wilson in the chest, Wilson pushed him first. He pushed Shawcross too, which was arguably on the borderline but it was hardly violent conduct, more like a tickling party. Shawcross found the lack of power in the shove funny. How about red for the horrendous tackle Wilson, whose own leg was broken by something similar earlier this year, put in on Cisse that provoked the reaction? No comment.

How about criticising the farcical Stoke defending for the Cisse winner? The defensive line was in a Z shape which is never good and is symbolic of a recent defensive slide. Wilson, a left back in centre defence, was so out of position but where is their first choice centre back? Oh that’s right, he’s suspended for smashing his elbow in to a Fulham face.

And how about the most damning stat of all; only QPR have scored less goals than Stoke who have now managed only 6 goals in 9 games and only managed 9 goals away from home ALL SEASON.

If Pulis really believes that the referees are costing him he’s looking in the wrong place.

Reactionary Punditry of the Weekend

Rooney is back

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This is ridiculous for two reasons; he was never gone & he didn’t really do much anyway. The whole reaction to Rooney being on the bench, which Ferguson justified tactically and was working up to Nani-gate, was so comically overblown that the reaction to him starting this week was always going to follow suit. Yeah he scored, with a cross that went straight in, but he wasn’t up to much most of the game. He’s just in a slump in form. Even then he scored a beauty against Norwich last weekend. He can be hot & cold at times, and this is a cold period.

Ugliest atmosphere of the Weekend

Everton

The incredibly negative reaction of Everton fans to their side’s performance against Wigan caught all non-Evertonians by surprise. Moyes is thought of as a deity elsewhere for his great record and loyalty. Right now though, he is hanging them out to dry. Sure, he’s got every right to look elsewhere but doing so openly is always going to get the fans backs up. The same can be said of their reaction to Fellaini who has echoed his manager in looking to join a ‘bigger’ club. The thing is, Everton are a big club and their fans don’t like being used as a stepping stone.

The Weekend Awards

Held every week in glamorous Watford, this weekend’s prize winners are;

Highlight of the Weekend

Papiss Cisse’s volleyed goal against Southampton

This narrowly squeaks out Rafael’s purely struck rasper against QPR for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there something magical about Newcastle number 9s that causes them to score these kind of goals. Secondly, there was something uniquely Premier League to it. The goalkeeper smashes it forwards, the defenders let it bounce and then the striker puts his foot through it. You could hear Peter Kay shouting ‘Have It’ even above the Geordie roars.

Lowlight of the Weekend

Fulham v Stoke

I mean, it just was wasn’t it? When the highlights package is a great volley, three acts of violent conduct and a penalty miss it doesn’t scream ‘Sky Plus me’

Hissy Fit of the Weekend

Steven N’Zonzi

Was he berating the crowd? Was he trying to elbow the physio? Was he showing the referee what had just happened to him? Who knows, but it was football pantomine at it’s best. The wronged hero has no witness for his injustice so seeks vigilante justice. Except, he punched Bryan Ruiz, not Berbatov. Woops.

Best Punditry of the Weekend

Alan Hansen & Alan Shearer

Hang on, best punditry of the weekend? On Match of the Day? Some mistake surely? Well, no. Messers Hansen and Shearer come in for a lot of criticism, often rightly, but they were on form on Saturday. Firstly, Shearer gave an illuminating and genuinely insightful piece of analysis on Adel Taarabt. He highlighted the fact that Taarabt doesn’t move in to space, preferring the Aaron Ramsey trick of running towards the ball possessor who is in oceans of speace in order to slow & narrow everything down. He may well have magic in his boots, but as Shearer showed us, he can’t do that from the halfway line.

Following this, Hansen gave an excellent demonstration of how Everton’s defence drops deeper and deeper towards the end of games and how this costs them points. The casual fan may well have watched thinking, ‘how does this keep happening to them?’, and Hansen gave a good explanation of just how they do. Well done lads.

Worst Punditry of the Week

Alan Hansen & Alan Shearer

Huh? Now I’m confused?! Yeah, it couldn’t last. After the Norwich summary, the lads were asked their opinion on Norwich. The consensus was ‘they’ll be all right’, ‘they’re having a great season’. The same Norwich who have just won for the first time in the league for the first time since December 15th? A time period that includes them becoming the first ever Premier League team to lose to a team in the 5th tier at home in the FA Cup? D’oh!

Anti-climax of the Weekend

Sunday’s televised games

Sky trailed the City v Chelsea game and Capitol One Cup Final with an arty slow mo filled piece to Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’. Well, let’s hope there is only day like this. City Chelsea didn’t really get going. If I ask you next week, or even tomorrow, to tell me something that happened what would you say? Well?…Exactly. As for the Cup final, that the commentators spent the entire game reminding us how historic Bradford’s efforts to even get to it were showed what a non event the game was. All credit to Swansea who did what Villa and Arsenal couldn’t and won at a canter but it wasn’t much of a watch.

Is this a Premier League game? Moment of the weekend

Wigan’s 2nd goal at Reading

The entire defence is in the Wigan half, why? The ball is then lost easily and poor Adrian Mariappa is then faced with 3 attackers. Unsurprisingly, Wigan sweep through to score. Any standard of professional team shouldn’t be conceding like that, never mind a Premier League one.

Easily deployed cliche alert of the weekend

ALL mentions of Wigan’s win

Well, it IS late season, and Wigan have just won again. So, all and sundry get the opportunity to wheel out the ‘they always do it’, ‘they’ve been there and done that’, ‘Wigan always leave it late and then escape’ type sentiments. Anyone want to offer any reasons as to why that might be? No? Thought not.

The Weekend Awards

Held every week in glamorous Watford, this weekend’s prize winners are;

Highlight of the weekend

Birmingham City 0-4 Watford

Forgive the slightly biased nature of this one. However, even objectively speaking this was the best performance of the weekend in the Championship. Coming of a second half horror show against Crystal Palace, a visit to St. Andrews was always going to be a tricky ask. However, a free flowing display of attacking and counter-attacking football produced a thorough demolition of the lovable (?!) Lee Clark’s team.

Runners up: City 4-0 Leeds & Luton 0-3 Millwall. You get the idea.

Lowlight of the weekend

Arsenal

Arsenal’s first defeat to a non-Premier League club under Arsene Wenger helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of the unbeaten season.

Funniest moment of the weekend

Michael Brown attempts to intimidate Yaya Toure

I mean, it’s Yaya Toure Michael. He had just scored the opening goal. He was lifeless against Southampton and needed something to put some spark in to him. He’s 6’4′ and can out sprint you when he’s jogging. He can take over an entire game against good players. What happened afterwards again?…

Punditry of the week

Craig Burley, ESPN Press Pass

Burley was at his tumultuous best when analysing the Celtic Juventus game. Berating the referee for not given penalties to Celtic for the wrestling in the box and berating the European officiating style in general. On Sunday he was on commentary for the Man City Leeds game and had a very different view of the penalty given for the pull on Aguero in the box. It was ‘soft’ and as co-commentator John Champion added, ‘if you give them you give 10 every game’. So, which one is it?

Tree impression of the week

Phil Jagielka

In scoring Everton’s second goal against Oldham, Jagielka feel to the ground in the manner of a gracefully falling Oak that has been logged. With the defender wrapped all around him, he managed to get his head to the ball and just continued his fall, seemingly frozen out of excitement.

Mudbath of the week

Huddersfield’s pitch

Having hosted a Rubgy League game the night before the pitch was not in good shape, looking like it had been used to film the Top Gear Rugby stunt to practice before Twickenham. The ensuing mess didn’t seem to stop both teams from playing some decent stuff and allowed for references to cup games of yore when big teams had to compete on the local marsh. ‘The great leveler’ is always a bad pitch, but on this occasion it just saw Wigan level Huddersfield.

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