Premier League Team of the Week
A weekend for the defender's union and proof that the Premier League elite don't always enjoy things their own way. The big four were unable to muster a single goal between them. Honourable mention must go to Shay Given for this point blank save from a thumping Frank Lampard header at Stamford Bridge but keeper of the week was Fulham's Mark Schwarzer who kept out Liverpool At Anfield.
Schwarzer was quick out of his goal to deny Robbie Keane as he looked poised to open the scoring, kept out a Fernando Torres effort and then tipped a Dirk Kuyt shot over to earn his side a more than handy away point.
Glen Johnson made a stake for the vacant England right-back slot in midweek against Germany and then laid his case for goal of the season in Portsmouth's game against Hull. A Forrest Gump-esque gallop which was stopping for no man allowed Johnson to chest down the ball and, without breaking stride, fire home a quite wonderful shot from thirty yards. Beauty.
Matthew Upson also had a fine game for England in midweek and he benefited from the injury to Rio Ferdinand by starting the game and bagging the opening goal in Berlin. Back to the Premier League day job and Upson was impressive once more as his West Ham side kept out Sunderland at the Stadium of Light to win for the first time in eight attempts.
Habib Beye was the lynchpin in a busy Newcastle defence which held out in the face of Chelsea pressure. One tackle in particular stood out as he put an end to a Florent Malouda run in to the Newcastle penalty area. Nicolas Anelka was also denied his customary goal celebration when late in the game Beye prevented the Frenchman getting a free header at goal from six yards.
Curtis Davies was another member of the Premier league rearguard charged with dampening the firepower of the big four and Messrs Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo weren't able to find a way past the Villa backline. Davies varnished further his reputation with a polished performance and outshone the exalted company of central defenders on show at Villa Park.
Stilian Petrov would appear this season to have won over the vocally critical element amongst the Aston Villa support who had questioned the Bulgarian's presence in the Villa starting eleven. 'Stan' is now a key part of the Villa midfield and put in another typically industrious performance as Manchester United paid a visit to the West Midlands and Villa took a point from them for the first time in 13 games.
Aaron Lennon put in the sort of performance on the Spurs wing against Blackburn that will have given Fabio Capello much to think about especially with Theo Walcott now out for several months. Lennon's appetite for the game showed perfectly the Harry effect at work and he was central to the first half's key moments. Lennon crossed for Pavlyuchenko's to score the game's only goal after a Martin Olsson error and his speed later forced Olsson in to a challenge that saw the Blackburn man receive his marching orders. The full-back may be secretly relieved that his exposure to the Spurs man was prematurely ended with Lennon in this sort of form.
Stephen Ireland is in a rich vein of form and Giovanni Trapatonni must be hoping there is some way to coax the young Irishman back in from his self-imposed international exile. In a reverse of Samson's hair-raising tale, the follically-bizarre Ireland seems to have grown in strength following the loss of his 'hair'. Another goal for Ireland who was again the beneficiary of a defensive mix-up as Arsenal's backline went the same way their season is falling. To pieces.
Alongside him, Robinho has made the transition from attractive piece of Real Madrid luxury to vital gleaming cog in the Manchester City line-up and the City hero scored the latest in a nine-deep line of impressive goals so far this season against a sorry looking Arsenal at the Eastlands. Shaun Wright-Phillips threaded it through to the Brazilian wizard and three touches later, one of them an oh so delicate lob, and Manuel Almunia was assuming what is becoming an uncomfortably familiar position to retrieve the ball from Arsenal's goal as the Eastlands celebrated.
Johan Elmander has found goals hard to come by since his move to Bolton but the Trotters' record signing finally bagged another goal to add to his opening day strike at Stoke. Liverpool always won when Ian Rush scored, so the belief went, and so far you would be perfectly correct to say the same about Elmander's association with Bolton. The Swedish striker reminded of what he can do when he chested down a Jlloyd Samuel cross and confidently banged in a left-footed shot to put an end to any Middlesbrough comeback aspirations Emmanuel Pogatez's goal had given them.
Dean Windass rounds off a line-up which, the presence of Robinho aside, is less a list of Premier League glitz and glamour and more a roll-call of some of its less fashionable members after a weekend when nothing went the way of the big boys. Poor lambs.
And who could be less removed from the league's hoi polloi than Hull's 39-year-old local 'lad' whose dramatic Wembley strike earned the Tigers their first crack at top flight football? His last-minute goal on Saturday earned Hull another point in their quest for a second attempt next season. Afterwards Windass refused to countenance the idea that Noe Pamarot applied the final touch as he pressurised the Pompey man, an argument Pamarot will be happy to go along with.
Mark Hughes is currently being linked with some big names as the January transfer window looms but his current crop of players did him proud in Manchester City's demolition of Arsenal. The success of Robinho's signing has dovetailed nicely with Hughes getting the best out of Stephen Ireland of late and his City side's handsome win should fill Hughes's talented team with confidence ahead of the Manchester derby.