Team of the Week
|Wayne Bridge||Emmerson Boyce|
|Nicolas Anelka||John Carew|
|Sir Alex Ferguson|
This week Aston Villa's Thomas Sorensen is the man between the sticks by virtue of several important stops late in the game to protect a 1-0 lead and ultimately ensure all three points against a desperate West Ham United side. He was little more than a casual observer in the first half, but key stops, including an 89th save from Matthew Etherington see the Dane in our green jersey.
At the centre of our three-man defence is Everton's old warhorse Alan Stubbs, who was in commanding form against Liverpool in the 0-0 Merseyside derby at Anfield. Stubbs' resolute showing was of paramount importance in the Toffees' backs-to-the-wall performance; no matter how hard Liverpool pressed Everton and Stubbs would not and could not be breached.
Alongside Stubbs we find Emerson Boyce, one the Premiership's unsung defenders. The Wigan man is the sort of quietly efficient player that seldom commands the headlines, so we've decided to blow his trumpet, as it were. The key moment in what was an impressive all-round showing saw Boyce make a superbly timed, last-ditch tackle on Pompey's Benjani to deny the striker a clear shot on goal that would have levelled the game.
Wayne Bridge deputised for the unfortunate Ashley Cole against Charlton and showed that his manager is at least well covered in one defensive position. Bridge gave his usual dependable performance and you must wonder how a player of his ability can be content to play second fiddle to Mr Cole. Sixty grand a week probably helps.
In midfield we find Blackburn's Morten Gamst. He might have lost the 'Pedersen' from his moniker but there is no sign of anything else missing from the Norwegian's game, particularly going forward. Against a dogged and determined Sheffield United side Gamst got the opener and then fired in a stunning late freekick to secure all three points and give him yet another contender for goal of the season.
Next we find Reading's midfield terrier Steve Sidwell, who was instrumental in the Royals' impressive 2-0 away win over Manchester City. Not content with setting-up Leroy Lita's first goal, Sidwell was the shining light in midfield, at the centre of all Reading's key moves and generally gave new Man City, and new England U-21 manager, Stuart Pearce, plenty to think about. Sidwell's touch, technique, movement and vision make him a vital component in the Reading side, so it's little wonder that he has so many admirers.
Cristiano Ronaldo's fifteenth goal of the season in United's mauling of Spurs at White Hart Lane won him a bet with his manager. He won the penalty (going down a little too easily, to be fair) before slotting it home perfectly. His run down the right wing and cross for Paul Scholes's goal was a perfect example of why his manager believes he will become the best player in the world. Will he still be in a United shirt by then though?
It's been a good week for Frank Lampard whose energy and effort, not to mention his goals, puts others alongside him (ears burning Michael Ballack?) to shame. Lamps scored a long-range effort in midweek against Blackburn and added another to see-off Charlton at the Valley on Saturday.
In our three-pronged attack we find Aston Villa's giant striker John Carew. He was unlucky not to get off the mark for his new side against Newcastle in his first game last week, but he later said he was much happier to open his account at Villa Park in front of his new supporters. Latching onto a knocked-on ball before lashing home Carew displayed good awareness and a keen eye for goal. A player of character, poise and talent: Carew looks set to be a Villa hero.
Leroy Lita joins the attack thanks to a two-goal showing in the win at Eastlands. A tireless worker, Lita's endeavour compliments his finishing prowess, and both facets of his game came to the fore against Man City. Tireless running and two exceptionally well-taken goals underlined his value to Reading and, like Sidwell, showed Pearce the talent his City side lacks.
Nicolas Anelka, pronounced injured on Friday, appeared Lazarus-like on Saturday to take the field with Bolton. Watford will wish he had not. Anelka came close with a free-kick in the first-half, then stung the lively Ben Foster's hands with a fierce drive before getting lucky at the third time of asking, turning the ball in to the net after Foster tried to clear from Speed's corner.
Manager of the week Alex Ferguson may be four hundred pounds lighter following his bet with Ronaldo but he will be smiling when he parts with the money following his side's emphatic win against Spurs. United simply steamrollered Martin Jol's team and Ferguson even had the luxury of withdrawing his two young stars, Rooney and Ronaldo, with twenty-five minutes to spare. We were even treated to the sight of John O'Shea keeping a clean-sheet in goal following an injury to Edwin Van der Sar. Their lead is back to six points. Over to you Chelsea.