Team of the Week
|Jay DeMerit||George McCartney|
|Frank Lampard||Pedro Mendes|
|Henri Camara||Wayne Rooney|
In goal, Tim Howard had to be on his toes as Arsenal threw everything at the visiting Everton side. A wonderful save from an Henry header prevented an Arsenal equaliser. When the Gunners did score through Van Persie, Howard managed to get a hand to it and was unfortunate not to turn it away.
Just in front of him, fellow American Jay DeMerit was part of a Watford back-line that managed to keep out the Spurs attacking trio of Defoe, Keane and Lennon. DeMerit provided the high point of the game when his extravagant back-heeled clearance stopped Robbie Keane from scoring a crucial goal late in the game.
Nemanja Vidic continued his fine form with a rock-steady display for Manchester United against Bolton. Although the headlines were made at the other end of the park, the Serb's assured composure made life difficult for Kevin Davies and Nicholas Anelka and gave United the platform for their most impressive performance of the season.
West Ham's George McCartney made a comfortable Premiership debut in the Hammers must-win game against Blackburn. The Ulsterman looked sure-footed in the tackle and his link-up play with Etherington promised much for the future.
In midfield, Pedro Mendes was once more the fulcrum around which much of Portsmouth's play revolved in their convincing win against Reading. He provided the corner from which Gunnarsson knocked in to his own net and later hit a controlled curling volley with the outside of his boot in to the right hand corner to cap another fine performance.
Frank Lampard's fifth goal of the season against Sheffield United gave the lie to the notion that he is having a quiet season. His free-kick fooled Paddy Kenny to give Chelsea the lead and the Irish keeper had to be alert throughout to stop Lampard adding to his strike. Lampard then turned provider to set up Michael Ballack for Chelsea's second.
Aaron Lennon showed his versatility by switching wings against Watford and terrorising the Hornets defence. Martin Jol's complaints afterwards about Lennon's inability to score in the match ignore the fact that the Spurs man crafted all of his opportunities himself and was unfortunate to be faced with a keeper, Ben Foster, who is showing the sort of form that is sure to have alerted Steve McClaren.
Ryan Giggs is the pick of the week on his familiar terrain of the left wing. Giggs is having a wonderful season and his contribution against Bolton showed again how vital he is to this United team. If the understanding between Giggs, Rooney and Saha continues to produce performances like this United will be there or thereabouts when the medals are handed out in May.
Up front, Wayne Rooney hit the first Premiership hat-trick of the season and blew away any lingering doubts over his recent form. A majestic display from the United youngster who celebrated his 21st birthday this week. His second goal was perhaps the pick of the bunch as he curled the ball around the Bolton defence but just inside Jaaskelainen's post. The 'boy' is 'back'.
Kanu showed mis-firing striker partner Benjani how to do it by dinking a header in for Portsmouth's second goal against Reading after good work from Sol Campbell. It was the Nigerian's seventh of an inspired season and his all-round contribution to the game (he set up chances for Benjani and pressured Gunnarsson in to an own goal) made him man of the match.
Finally, Henri Camara gets the nod for his timely goal for Wigan against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Not a man who likes to score tap-ins, Camara took advantage of some confusion in the Fulham penalty area to hit a cool finish past Antti Niemi. The pacy striker was a thorn in Fulham's side all afternoon and the goal was just rewards for his efforts.
Manager of the week goes to Alan Pardew. Pardew was rewarded for his coolness under pressure recently when his team responded in perfect style to take all three points against Blackburn at Upton Park. The West Ham manger started with Mascherano on the bench and Sheringham up front and it paid off as the veteran striker scored a marvellous opening goal. Carlos who?