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Dec 16, 2007

Team of the Week

In a weekend short on blindingly brilliant goalkeeping displays, Marcus Hahnemann earns the number one jersey after making several crucial saves for Reading at St. Andrew's. He denied Birmingham's strike duo of Mikael Forssell and Cameron Jerome and then punched away a Sebastian Larsson free-kick.

Ever-dependable Jamie Carragher was the usual dominant presence in the Liverpool defence and won any aerial battles at Anfield as the champions paid a visit. He got involved at the other end of the park too causing confusion with a header that came close to setting up a goal for the home side.

Danny Higginbotham was Sunderland's goalscorer in Saturday's clash with Aston Villa. He headed home after ten minutes to give the home team an early lead but spent a lot of the game from then on having to thwart Villa's attacks. His goal earned a point for the Black Cats.

William Gallas will have been delighted to also get on the scoresheet against his old club Chelsea at the Emirates on Sunday. Gallas was up for a corner which the normally unflappable Petr Cech, erm, flapped at, providing the Frenchman with a gilt edged chance which he did not pass up.

Nineteen year old Kelvin Etuthu came on as a sub to score his first senior goal as Manchester City came from behind to beat Bolton. He made an immediate impact, crossing from the right for Hamann to force Lubomir Michalik in to conceding an own goal and his shot in the dying stages of the match sealed the points for City.

Tim Cahill is in a rich vein of form at the minute and, although he failed to get on the scoresheet against West Ham, was a major player in Everton's second Upton Park victory in a week. He set up Yakubu for Everton's first goal, knocking down for the big striker to set the Toffees on their way.

Super-sub Shaun Maloney may be homesick but he has found a place in the hearts of Aston Villa fans who have warmed to the small man's abilities. Maloney came from the bench to win, and then convert superbly, the free-kick which gave Villa a point and Martin O'Neill food for thought when selecting his next starting eleven.

Stephen Hunt had a major influence on Reading's game against Birmingham City. He showed instinctive speed to pounce on a sloppy back-pass from Matthew Sadler before rounding Maik Taylor and winning a penalty when the City keeper brought him down. He then dispatched the spot-kick coolly, sending Taylor the wrong way.

It's unlikely to happen to him again, but Roque Santa Cruz scored a hat-trick against Wigan and still ended up on the losing side. Santa Cruz is proving something of a bargain for Mark Hughes and had wrapped up his hat-trick to pull Rovers level after being 3-0 down. Unfortunately for Rovers their defence were feeling a little too seasonily generous.

In the same game, Marcus Bent scored three of the five Wigan goals which gave new manager Steve Bruce something to smile about at the end of a game duruing which he would have been pulling out his hair. Bent showed strength and aerial ability for his goals and also set up Denny Landzaat for his strike.

Middlesbrough's Turkish striker Tuncay Sanli has really found his feet in the last few games, something Derby know to their cost after his wonder volley gave Boro the points at Pride Park. Stewart Downnig crossed from the left and Tuncay hit his shot first time with such pace and precision that Stephen Bywater had no chance in the Derby goal.

Steve Bruce gets manager of the week for his team's win over Blackburn. The potentially demoralising effects of squandering a 3-0 lead were set aside and Wigan fought hard to reclaim their lead, and an important win, which is just the sort of character their manager will be looking for as they rough it out at the wrong end of the table.

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