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Sunday, August 15, 2010
ESPNsoccernet: December 27, 10:37 PM UK
Team of the Week

Chris Murphy

It is just possible that Joe Hart has had better weeks than this last one, but I doubt there have been many. After being confirmed as England's number one on Wednesday, Hart then won the battle for numero uno at Manchester City, leaving Shay Given as the only remaining person who thinks it was the wrong choice. Hart made a string of superlative saves from Tottenham's Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone and Benoit Assou-Ekotto at White Hart Lane as he kept his team in the contest against Tottenham. • Richard Jolly at Anfield
• Report: Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
• Saturday: Blackpool coast to victory
• Premier League gallery Hart may have enjoyed being in the thick of the action but his delight was nothing compared to Blackpool's. Written off by all and sundry before the action began they delivered a fearful riposte, by stuffing Wigan 4-0 at the DW Stadium. Veteran striker Marlon Harewood led the mauling, taking his two goals calmly, while Alex Baptiste rounded off Wigan's and Chris Kirkland's humiliation with the fourth. Gretar Steinsson shone in a game that didn't at the Reebok Stadium, where Bolton and Fulham registered the second scoreless draw of the term. A defensive approach from Fulham allowed Steinsson an opportunity to get forward, which he did time and again. His delivery into the box was consistently good, and he made some timely interventions in his own penalty area. Scott Dann had no doubt watched on in disgust as his team-mate Stephen Carr handed Sunderland a two-goal lead at the Stadium of Light, but the defender's performance deserved at least a point, and that's what it got. He rose to nod Sebastian Larsson's free-kick home with 13 minutes to go, and should have grabbed his second shortly afterwards. In the end it was left to Liam Ridgewell to secure a late draw. Javier Mascherano's bid to leave Liverpool isn't going especially well but if the Argentine carries on playing like he did against Arsenal, surely the suitors will pour forward. He was superb in central midfield and his commitment to the cause cannot be questioned. He did his best to disrupt Arsenal's ball players, snapped into every tackle with relish and laid on a neat pass for David Ngog's goal. If James Milner does make the journey to Manchester City, Aston Villa fans can at least be comforted by the sparkling performance of Marc Albrighton on his first Premier League start. The youngster was involved in all three of his side's goals, forcing Rob Green to parry his shot into Stewart Downing's path for the opener, linking play neatly so Ashley Young could find Stiliyan Petrov for the second, and crossing for Milner to fire home the third. Big things will now be expected of the 20-year-old. That Wolves won their opening game of the season owes much to their flying winger, David Jones, and his early contender for goal of the season. As Karl Henry rolled the ball back to him from a free-kick on the edge of the area, Jones flicked it up and lashed a volley in off the crossbar. At the heart of most of their attacking menace, Jones demonstrated why he'll be such a key player for Mick McCarthy this campaign. Gareth Bale clearly summered well after turning in an all-action performance against Manchester City of the ilk we became accustomed to last season. A constant threat with his speed and penchant for direct running, Bale nearly capped his solid afternoon's work with a goal - the post denying him a winner. Didier Drogba picked up where he left off at Stamford Bridge with another Premier League hat-trick, as West Brom were put to the sword by six, just as Wigan were by eight back in May. Drogba's treble owed much to West Brom's shoddy defending, but when he's not banging them in from range (albeit via a deflection for the third) he's lurking in the right place at the right time, to snaffle any chances that come his way. Drogba was ably assisted by Florent Malouda, who helped himself to a brace from the generous Baggies. His first was a tap in after Scott Carson had fumbled Drogba's free-kick, while his second was the product of a well timed run, and neat slice of control, as he rounded Carson to fire home. No contest whatsoever about our boss of the week, as Ian Holloway led his supposed relegation certainties to a thumping victory. Premier League debuts don't get much better than this, and the Tangerine army lapped up a four-star performance. Their cohesion and adventure threw Wigan, who capitulated in the face of an orange onslaught. Holloway must be wondering what all the fuss is about.


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