The weekend's top performers

Team of the Week

October 17, 2010
By Chris Murphy
(Archive)

In the absence of any stellar goalkeeping performances this weekend our top custodian is Chelsea's Petr Cech, largely on the strength of his clean sheet, his superb fingertip save from John Carew in the opening half of the game with Aston Villa, and his charging bull routine at the feet of Nigel Reo-Coker that caused the midfielder to dribble a pathetic effort wide of the goal in injury time and ensure a goalless draw.

Charles N'Zogbia
PA PhotosCharles N'Zogbia scores against his former club

There was an air of surprise around Villa Park when 21-year-old Ciaran Clark was chosen over the experienced Carlos Cuellar to replace Richard Dunne just 13 minutes into the Villains match against champions Chelsea. But the youngster slotted into his centre back role soundly and more than played his part in a determined attempt to nullify the league leaders.

Much has been made of Fernando Torres' most recent malaise but when the striker comes up against mean spirited defenders like Phil Jagielka it is no wonder he repeatedly fails to puncture his goal drought. The England defender, alongside Sylvain Distin, didn't offer Torres a sniff in the Merseyside derby and with a little more composure in front of goal, he may well have bagged a goal to his name too.

Is there a more attacking flank in the Premier League than the one that comprises Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Gareth Bale? Tottenham's resident left-back may blow hot and cold far more than his Welsh colleague but when he turns in the sort of determined, skilful display like the one at Fulham, he is on a par with the Patrice Evras of this world.

Charles N'Zogbia may have stropped out of Newcastle after being called Charles Insomnia by previous Toon manager Joe Kinnear, but he wreaked his revenge on his return to St James' Park with two well taken goals. He sneaked in front of James Perch and Mike Williamson to plant a header into the net for his first, then seconds later smashed a rapier-like shot into the roof of the net for number two.

With every game that passes, Rafael Van der Vaart looks like more and more of a snip at £8 million. The Dutchman ran Tottenham's attacking show at Craven Cottage, with opportunities spewing forth whenever he got on the ball. An exquisite piece of control and a delightful chip allowed Roman Pavlyuchenko to open the scoring, while he was a whisker away from registering a goal of his own on several occasions.

The first goal in the Merseyside derby was always likely to be key, and though Tim Cahill may have scored it, Seamus Coleman created it. The Irish right back has been converted into a winger in recent weeks and he demonstrated why with a display full of energy and direct running. David Moyes paid his own, unique tribute after the game, saying: "He cost £60,000 from Ireland. It isn't all about money."

Manchester United's porous defence may have attracted most of the headlines but Nani's contribution had set them up for a comfortable victory until Edwin Van der Sar's inexplicable aberration. The winger is fast becoming United's go-to man, especially in the absence of any form for Wayne Rooney, and created the opening goal for Javier Hernandez with a vicious free kick. Then he swapped passes with Dimitar Berbatov to double United's advantage.

Carlos Tevez is Manchester City's top goalscorer this season.
GettyImagesCarlos Tevez is Manchester City's top goalscorer this season.

That Fergie was left fuming with a point was thanks to a spirited West Brom fight back, led by the left peg of Chris Brunt. Yes, he may have dithered ever so slightly when confronted with an open goal to allow Rafael to clear, and yes, the cross he hoisted into the box that prompted Van der Sar's comical fumble may have been far from menacing but the Northern Irishman was the creative spark behind many of the Baggies' attacks, and has been for most of the season.

Though Blackpool dominated large chunks of their game with Manchester City, they came away with that familiar, bitter taste of defeat in their mouths largely thanks to Carlos Tevez. The striker has now scored an incredible 28 goals in his last 31 Premier League games and added another two to his tally by the seaside. The first was a neat flick from a low David Silva cross, the second a snapshot that arrowed in via a deflection.

Arsenal have Marouane Chamakh to thank for preventing them from slipping to a second successive home defeat by a Midlands outfit, after his trickery ensured a win over Birmingham. The striker nipped in front of Scott Dann to win the penalty that brought the Gunners level before pirouetting inside the area to net the winner in the second half.

Liverpool's off field fortunes may have improved over the past few days but their on-field prospects remain just as bleak as David Moyes' Everton side gave themselves yet more ammunition in their never-ending quest to poke as much fun at their forlorn Merseyside neighbours as possible. Despite what Roy Hodgson may have claimed post-match, Liverpool were second best throughout and were soundly beaten. Two wins on the spin for the Toffees shows they are far further on the road to redemption than the red half of the city.