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Nov 28, 2010

Team of the Week

For the first time in Premier League history all 20 teams found the net this weekend, and given the bumper crop of netbusters, we make no apologies for including nine players who scored in our Team of the Week. Of course, the goal glut was bad news for the top flight's custodians, as no-one managed a clean sheet.

Tottenham's Heurelho Gomes wasn't far off. He made a number of fine saves as Liverpool peppered the target from long range, and he made a crucial punch as Fernando Torres was about to score.

Kicking off our goalscoring nine is Manchester City's Micah Richards. In an aerial ding-dong with Stoke, the defender made his heading prowess felt in his own box and he also scored a superb goal, hoodwinking Danny Collins with a clever dummy and smashing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Jose Enrique has the unique distinction of being the only non-scorer in our XI but, after a tireless performance at both ends of the pitch against Chelsea, he denies our outfield contingent a clean sweep. Always tricky going forward, Enrique made at least three vital interventions in his own penalty box as the Blues pressed forward, and even sliced one off his line for good measure.

A pair of goalscoring Baggies next as Paul Scharner and Chris Brunt secured their places with vital strikes against Everton. The duo combined to grab the first as Brunt's corner was nodded home by the defender, who was Roberto Di Matteo's defensive organiser in a disciplined display.

Just ten minutes later, Brunt doubled West Brom's lead with a sublime free kick from range. His curling, dipping effort from 25 yards dropped right into the top corner of the net and made the scrambling Tim Howard look more than a tad clumsy. As ever, Brunt's left foot was the starting point for most of the Baggies' attacking movement.

'Save our season day' at Upton Park may well have had a different ending if it hadn't been for the returning Scott Parker. So often the lynchpin for the Hammers, Parker pulled the strings in midfield with aplomb - an admirable feat given that he is still recovering from a chest infection. He grabbed the goal he deserved late in the game, slotting Victor Obinna's cross home at the near post.

It is safe to say that Aaron Lennon is back in business after two excellent performances this week. He led Werder Bremen a merry dance on Wednesday in the Champions League and did the same to Liverpool at the Lane on Sunday. Consistently beating Paul Konchesky, Lennon matched his pace with excellent delivery, and was alive to the possibility Peter Crouch's flick on offered to burst through and finish coolly in stoppage time.

Always a decent bet for a fantasy league spot, Matthew Etherington was at it again against Manchester City. His delivery from wide positions was a menace to defend and his intelligent running saw him get into dangerous positions time and time again. He had already gone close several times before he collected Tuncay's pass in stoppage time and fired past Joe Hart.

Arsenal briefly hit the Premier League summit on Saturday after a good win at Aston Villa, a game in which Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh were in fine form. The Russian has had a slow start to the season but was back to his best at Villa Park, cutting inside and firing past Brad Friedel for the opener. His defence splitting pass put Samir Nasri on goal moments later, but after the Frenchman missed, Arshavin's corner found him at the back post for number two. Arshavin also had a hand in the last goal.

Chamakh was more than a handful for the chunky centre-half pairing of Richard Dunne and James Collins, winning his fair share in the air and linking up neatly on the deck. He nearly grabbed a goal in the opening half after a towering leap but, when played through by Tomas Rosicky in the second half, he slid a shot underneath Friedel to restore Arsenal's two-goal lead. And just as Villa were pressing late on, he showed the presence of mind to lob a cross into the path of Jack Wilshere, who couldn't miss.

Last but by no means least is Dimitar Berbatov. Not even on the bench for the visit of Wigan last weekend, the Bulgarian came back with a bang against Blackburn. His heroics secured him a place in an elite group of strikers who have also hit five goals in a Premier League game - Jermain Defoe, Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. Berbatov was lethal, hoovering up nearly every chance that presented itself thanks to his perfect sense of positioning. The only tinge of disappointment he may feel is that he couldn't make history with a sixth goal, as his bullet header was brilliantly saved by Paul Robinson.

No surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson gets the nod as our gaffer of the week after Manchester United's 7-1 humiliation of Blackburn. Not only has the Scot's handling of Berbatov propelled the Bulgarian back to his best but he has also eased Wayne Rooney back into the side with the minimum of fuss. After a below par start to the season, dictated to a large extent by injuries, Ferguson has managed to keep his team in contention at the top of the table and can now rest in the knowledge that United are back to their best.

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