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Apr 26, 2009

Team of the Week

It may not have been the best of seasons for Paul Robinson, who has been collecting crosses as though its time he collected his pension, but the man can still stop a shot. He made a string of crucial saves in Blackburn's hard fought win over Wigan, the highlight a brilliant double save; from Emerson Boyce's close range effort and Antonio Valencia's stinging shot.

Jonas Olsson clearly feels little for the North East of England, despite its glorious stretches of coastline and heart-warming folk, having added the opener against Sunderland to his match-winner at Middlesbrough. He only went and kept a clean sheet into the bargain too. Baggies fans will feel miffed he wasn't fit for the visit of Newcastle.

Ryan Nelsen is without doubt the finest player in the Premier League. From New Zealand. And after his delicate glancing header - his first Rovers goal in after four years at the club - secured three points for Sam Allardyce, he's set to stay the richest Kiwi plying his trade in the top flight too.

Chris Brunt's scoring spree will ultimately prove too little too late in West Brom's frantic quest for Premier League survival. Had the former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder embarked on his goal glut a tad earlier perhaps the Baggies would be within loitering distance of Blackburn and Pompey, not Newcastle and 'Boro. As it was, his fourth goal in three games against Sunderland at least provided Brom fans with some end of season cheer.

Both Robinho and Micah Richards have had their problems with Manchester City boss Mark Hughes this season, if we are to believe what we read, but maybe their bust-ups with the boss have inspired them out of their malaise away from home. Both chucked in throwback performances; Richards circa 2005, Robinho circa September. The Brazilian was superb, running onto Elano's exquisite pass to notch the first, before turning provider for Stephen Ireland's sublime second.

Much maligned he may be but Dirk Kuyt has played his part in Liverpool's (ultimately doomed) quest for honours this season. You know what you're going to get with the potato-headed one; plenty of effort, the occasional goal and a large helping of averageness in the middle. At Hull he marked his 100th Premier League start with two relatively simple goals, but he was in the right place at the right time.

It's not been a great week for Frank Lampard, seeing his private life smeared all over the tabloids and defending himself live on air after a radio-show host decided to call him names, all in the week that marked the year anniversary of his mother's death. Just what he needed then, was an afternoon of unrelenting abuse at Upton Park. But as usual, Lamps had the last laugh, creating the winning goal and generally playing as if he'd no cares in the world.

Lord knows its depressing enough living in Middlesbrough, but Cesc Fabregas deepened the Smoggies' gloom with two clinical strikes at the Emirates. The first a precise finish after a wonderful, flowing move, the second a model of composure, as he skinned Brad Jones before rolling home. How important for Arsenal that he's fit and firing at the business end of the season.

It would be impossible to leave Wayne Rooney out of our team of the week after he scored two and had a hand in Manchester United's other three goals. Almost anonymous in the opening half he was a slap head reborn in the second, wreaking havoc whenever he got the ball, passing superbly in the build-up to the first, finishing clinically for his two goals and crossing superbly for the third and fifth.

Benni McCarthy may not be Big Sam's cup of tea but he nudged Blackburn a large way towards safety against Wigan, nodding the first from a precise Pedersen corner, before thumping in a delightful set piece of his own, allowing Ryan Nelsen to put the game beyond doubt.

Yes, West Brom are going down but that doesn't mean Tony Mowbray can't have his day in the sun, however late in the day it may be. The Baggies executed his season-long game plan perfectly on Saturday, playing attractive, attacking football while leaving few gaps at the back. Had they got their act together a little sooner, or managed to find that elusive formula just a bit more often, they might be staring down the barrel of another Premier League campaign.

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