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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 9 hours ago
Read
Dec 7, 2009

Fifth Official: Bobby dazzles critics with simple header

Few of us like Monday but The Fifth Official does, for it brings with it a chance for him to point the finger and laugh. Here he pulls out the pretty, the puzzling and the downright pig-ugly from a five-star weekend.

• Saturday's round-up
• Fulham 1-0 Sunderland
• Everton 2-2 Tottenham

No, you shut up, Bobby ****ing Zamora

Is Bobby Zamora that sensitive a soul? Heck, if us humble hacks at Soccernet threw a hissy fit whenever we were the subject of criticism, the top story would still be leading on England's triumph in the1966 World Cup final. The fact is, Bob, that people are entitled to their opinions, however incorrect they may be. And if you are going to tell them to 'shut their ****ing mouths' (which we would never dream of doing to you, our respected and valued readers) we'd at least do something dazzlingly brilliant first, not nod a regulation cross into the corner from eight yards then give it the big sshhhh.

Still, it seems Bobby thinks he should be immune from criticism, plenty of which will flood his way now after manager Roy Hodgson touted him for an England call-up. It was all going swimmingly for Bob, until the Premier League's friendly uncle dropped the Emile Heskey bomb in connection with the ex-Brighton striker.

Roy's hysterical cry - he also compared Zamora with Ledley King, for reasons unknown - prompted a genuine piece of research on my behalf. I know - there's a first for everything. Anyway, in the last three seasons, Emile Heskey has played 62 Premier League games and scored ten goals, meaning he notches, on average, once every 6.2 games. Bob, on the other hand has played 54 games and scored six goals, netting, on average, once every nine games. No amount of cynical sign-off could be as funny as those stats, so I won't even try.

Oil-Rich XI 2-1 Less Oil-Rich XI

It's testament to the fickle nature of the Premier League that oil-rich Manchester City can labour to drab draws against the likes of Hull, Burnley and Fulham then smash their run of stalemates when confronted with the Premier League's prematurely crowned shoo-ins.

Chelsea may be top, but they've been beaten three times already this season. City, of course, have lost only once (in the 107th minute of their game with rivals United) but owe their disappointing position to a prolific run of drawing that Picasso would have been proud of.

The game started and ended brightly but served up a fair helping of torrential-rain inspired dross in the soggy middle. Emmanuel Adebayor was only trying to help, but Shay Given didn't seem to appreciate it, and gave him the sort of disdainful shove he has reserved for Thierry Henry. Speaking of which, Adebayor made amends after Micah Richards handed him a pass the Barca star would have been proud of. Then Cech sidestepped Tevez's free kick and that was that.

Henry may have been a Frenchman who was only too keen to offer his hand on the field of play, but it was a courtesy his fellow countryman, Arsene Wenger, refused Hughes in their midweek Carling Cup tie. Classy Carlo had no such qualms.

Coleman's mustard

The Toffees can take heart from their fightback against Spurs but the game at Goodison Park was also notable for the birth of a new career, and perhaps the death of an existing one. As soon as David Moyes' defensive crisis is over, Tony Hibbert might find himself surplus to requirements thanks to the emergence of Irish full-back Seamus Coleman.

It gives me no great pleasure to lambast ol' Tone - well, not much anyway - because, bless him, the lad is clearly giving a thousand million percent every week. He's also as honest as the day is long (off the field anyway) but his weekly display is the sort I imagine we all think we could conjure up if we ever got a chance at the top level: bursting full of effort, but littered with mistakes.

Hibbert knew what was coming when Coleman trotted on, and the extra load in his pants showed how little he likes playing centre back. He'd managed to keep out of trouble to a large extent while Coleman hauled the Toffees back into the match with a part in both goals, before Tone nearly ruined it, by crashing into Wilson Palacios as if he were Jonah Lomu felling Rory Underwood inches before the try line. Luckily for him, hot-shot Defoe spurned the chance. Tone breathes again. For now.

The smallest centre-half in the world

Things got so bad at the back for Sir Alex at Upton Park that I swear I saw him doing a few hip thrusts and groin lunges on the touchline as defensive casualties fell all around him like fire hydrants near Tiger Woods' house. Luckily for him they did so in a game against a West Ham side so limp that no amount of Viagra would have stiffened them up.

Midfielder Darren Fletcher was at right back by the time Gary Neville hobbled off, prompting Michael Carrick to come on as centre half. When Wes Brown became the latest victim, Patrice Evra, who clocks in at an underwhelming five foot nine, stepped in as understudy No.2 to partner understudy No.1. After the game, Fergie labelled Evra the "smallest centre half in the world" and he'll find no arguments within these pages, unless I discover Alan Wright ever played there during his 20-year long career (he's still going by the way, for non-league Fleetwood Town).

Luckily for Fergie, he also had the most ginger midfielder in the world whipping up a storm in the middle of the park. Paul Scholes has been hinting he might pack it in at the end of this season, but you could tell he was just fishing for people to email the club in their droves and beg him to stay. As for Wolfsburg on Wednesday, an aerial battle between Edin Dzeko and Patrice Evra looms. Hmm.

The lad's done Sid-well

Any of you who have Steve Sidwell in your fantasy league team deserve the precious few points you get off him as far I'm concerned, but it must disgust you to note that he won't get any for the finest off-field assist in modern times during Villa's defeat of Hull.

Sidwell's part in Villa's second was only made possible by the onrushing Matt Duke, who clearly hasn't heard of the term staycation. As Duke hurtled towards the touchline to clear a danger-free through ball, he hadn't banked on substitute Sidwell, who broke off from his gentle jog to scoop the ball swiftly into Gabriel Agbonlahor's arms. He chucked it to James Milner and, by the time he lobbed the ball into the net, Duke hadn't even made it back to his six-yard line.

Of course, Villa's task was made all the more comfortable after Hull's Jimmy Bullard once again fell foul of a nasty-looking knee injury. He limped off in tears after an awkward fall in the first half and must wait for scans to determine his fate. No-one can doubt the Premier League is a much brighter place with him around so let's hope his injury isn't as serious as we all secretly fear it might be.

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