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Rivers United ease relegation fears

By ESPN Staff

Team of the Week

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Thomas Sorensen

Sol Campbell  
Jonathan Woodgate  Paul Scharner 
Cesc Fabregas Steve Sidwell
Morten Gamst Pedersen
Didier Drogba
Kevin Kilbane
  Andrew Johnson     Obafemi Martins
Arsene Wenger

All the doomsayers who had Arsenal written off as midtable fodder this season were forced to eat their words this weekend as Arsenal proved they can still live with the best.

The credit must go to manager Arsene Wenger, who has manage to rid his players of those lingering doubts and, without talisman Thierry Henry, mastermind a victory at once-rampant Manchester United. It was the Red Devils who had earned the tag as Chelsea's main challengers but after Arsenal's performance at Old Trafford those without prior knowledge would have thought the Gunners were the danger to the 'Special One'.

That quite rightly earns Arsene the honour of ESPNsoccernet's Manager of the Week. And he is joined by Cesc Fabregas, the 19-year-old Spanish midfielder who ran the show in the centre of the park with a calm head and a footballing brain.

Aston Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen may have had his critics in the past, but his second half performance at Watford helped preserve Martin O'Neill's unbeaten return to the Premiership.

Another returning name is Jonathan Woodgate, handed the captain's armband at Middlesbrough with George Boateng suspended. And he was again a rock at the back at Bolton with the Boro fans baying for an England recall.

There may well be fans at Portsmouth saying the same about Sol Campbell. The central defender has banished the demons of his final season at Arsenal with outstanding performances, another coming as Pompey made it five clean sheets out of five in winning at Charlton.

The final name in defence is Wigan's Paul Scharner, a player who has featured as much in midfield as at the back for the Latics. And he showed his penchant for notching goals by getting up to twice bag levellers at Everton.

Both Scharner's goals came from Kevin Kilbane crosses as he came back to haunt Everton boss David Moyes just 16 days after being sold to Wigan.

But Moyes will not be haunted by the presence of Andrew Johnson, who now looks at snip at £8.5million and showed all his predatory instincts in giving Everton the lead against Wigan.

Reading now sit up in sixth place - though tough times lay around the corner with a frightening run of fixtures on the way - and much owes to the superb midfield displays of former Arsenal trainee Steven Sidwell. He was again pulling the strings as the Royals piled more agony on fellow newboys Sheffield United.

The final place in midfield goes to Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen - who scored and created in the 4-2 home win over Manchester City.

African strikers fill the final two berths. Didier Drogba is hardly the best-loved player in the Premiership but when he produces pieces of skill like he did for the winner against Liverpool few can touch him.

And last, but not least, we come to Obafemi Martins. The forward finally got off the mark as a Newcastle player to complete the Magpies' 2-0 win at stuttering West Ham United.

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