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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 7 hours ago
Read
Sep 13, 2009

Team of the Week

Given the Premier League's ten games this weekend yielded 35 goals and only two clean sheets, we're not exactly spoilt for choice in the keeping department. Chris Kirkland, Pepe Reina and Brad Friedel managed the only clean sheets but were hardly overworked, so for one save and one save only, Ben Foster is in. His spectacular diving stop to deny Jermaine Jenas' goal bound shot is the sole reason he's selected, and we make no apologies for it.

The first of our goalscoring defenders is Bolton's Gary Cahill, who played his own round of head tennis in Portsmouth's penalty area before sealing Wanderer's first success of the campaign at Fratton Park. He may not have had the best of times so far but his late winner could be the spark that helps launch their season.

As soon as Phil Brown agreed to sell Michael Turner to Sunderland he must have known the defender was bound to score against his former club on debut. Granted, Kamil Zayatte may have got a large piece of the ball too but Turner deserves his inclusion for an aerially dominant display against the Tigers, and just for that good, old fashioned quality of being in the right place at the right time.

Also included is Micah Richards, who claimed an assist for goals one and two of Manchester City's win over Arsenal. His header was flicked into the net by Almunia for the opener then his cut back allowed Craig Bellamy to score. Nice to see home-grown talent flourishing amid the lavish spending.

Amidst all the Adebayor carry-on Nigel De Jong had a quietly studious game in the heart of City's midfield, so much so that Cesc Fabregas was almost reduced to passenger status at times. Not much fanfare accompanied his signing and he makes few headlines, which is precisely why he was purchased, to do the ugly things well.

Unlike Rafael Benitez, we're happy to regularly pick Yossi Benayoun for our first eleven. One gets the feeling he may see a little more of regular first team action after Saturday's hat-trick against Burnley. It could have been four if the linesman hadn't ruled one out. Two were precise finishes, one was a tap in, and my oh my what fun he had against Owen Coyle's men. He won't be the last.

One often forgets Morten Gamst Pedersen is at Blackburn Rovers on occasion, until he turns in a solid 90 minutes like he did against newly-promoted Wolves. The Norwegian winger slammed a free kick against the post in the first half at Ewood Park before slotting a superb ball round the back of Wanderers' defence for Jason Roberts and David Dunn to combine and make Rovers' first win of the season safe.

Darren Bent was always going to be a fantasy league bargain and I do hope you lumped on in the summer. If he sat on your bench for the visit of Hull you made a big error. The first of his two goals was a routine penalty conversion after Craig Fagan's inexplicable handball in the area; the second a precise finish after being allowed the freedom of City's half by their generous defenders.

We thought of stripping Emmanuel Adebayor of his team of the week t-shirt and pen after his ridiculous flick at Robin van Persie nearly dislodged an eye, and upon seeing him sprint a thousand yards to celebrate in front of Arsenal's fans. But despite nearly causing a riot he did plant a sweet header beyond Manuel Almunia, play a part in Bellamy's first goal and generally have a stormer of a game.

After a comprehensive win over Spurs, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs get the nod to pull on the lurid yellow, pink and purple Team of the Week shirt. Apart from scoring brilliant goals, they both looked head and shoulders above most of those in Harry's harem. Rooney was lively and lucid up front while Giggs rolled back the years with a slick display on the wing. He curled a beauty into the top corner to give United an equaliser before Anderson netted, then Rooney sealed the points with a glorious individual effort.

You could forgive Mark Hughes for being more than a little cheesed off with Emmanuel Adebayor, after the striker's boot slash and Gooner-goading celebration took the gloss off another confident and spirited Manchester City display. Hughes knows he's on a hiding to nothing after embarking on the biggest spending spree since Pretty Woman, with any failure to win derided and any victory dismissed as expected, but thumping the side that may well be most vulnerable to slipping out of the top four is a decent signal of intent in anyone's language.

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