Team of the Week
There's something about a visit to the Emirates that seems to inspire goalkeepers to a higher state of consciousness and Simon Mignolet followed the lead laid down by several before him to thwart Arsenal with a superlative performance. The stand-out save in an impressive collection came from Samir Nasri's free kick, as he got the faintest touch to divert the ball onto the crossbar.
Kicking off a hat-trick of goalscoring defenders is Everton's Phil Jagielka who demonstrated fine technical skill to divert Leighton Baines' bouncing free kick in off the underside of the bar at St James' Park against Newcastle. After a slightly wobbly start, Jagielka marshalled the Toffees' back line expertly, as they stood firm in the face of a second half onslaught from the Magpies.
The last thing Gerard Houllier needed after a rotten week was for Bolton defender Gary Cahill to put in a man-of-the-match performance against his former club. After resting his big guns in the midweek FA Cup surrender at Manchester City, the Villans boss needed a victory and for a while it looked like he might get one as Villa twice took the lead. But Cahill had other ideas, turning home from two corner kicks to pinch the points.
Any team that plays Stoke needs their defenders to stand firm in the face of a predictable aerial bombardment and in Manuel Da Costa, West Ham had just that. Not only did the Portuguese stopper prove formidable in his own box, he also out-Stoked Stoke at the other end, rising high to plant a powerful header into the far corner and register a vital second for his side.
By his own admission, Mikel Arteta has had to endure a "pig of a season" so far but in the last few weeks he's shown signs of his former glories. Against Newcastle he was back to his sparkling best and gave the returning Steven Taylor a torrid time. He had already forced Steve Harper into a smart save before he laid on the equaliser for Leon Osman. A constant threat down the left, he also provided two glorious chances for Louis Saha, neither of which the striker could convert.
West Ham might well have been able to boast a superior league position had Thomas Hitzlsperger been fit from the start of the season. The German's vision and dynamite-laden left boot perfectly complements the industry of Scott Parker to add an extra layer of grit in the middle of the park. He was hugely effective against Stoke and nearly ripped a hole in the net hammering home his late strike.
Damien Duff clearly fancies himself in front of goal when facing his former clubs, following up his match-winning strike against Newcastle in February with a brace against Blackburn at Craven Cottage. He might not possess the power in his left foot of Hitzlsperger, but his low back lift ensures a quick release of the ball, something that wrong-footed Paul Robinson not once, but twice.
In what was a particularly laboured Manchester City performance, David Silva was one of the few players to emerge with credit. While those around him were constantly barracked for sloppy passing or lax marking by their increasingly irate manager, Silva wasn't found lacking in either the work rate or class stakes. His goal may have owed more to a mistake from Ali Al-Habsi but that it was Silva who forced it was fitting.
Given that his three goals came with a cumulative distance of about eight yards, Dirk Kuyt's treble can either be interpreted as a triumph of positioning or just plain old goal-hanging. Not that he or Liverpool's fans are complaining after Kuyt became the first Reds player to hit a treble against Manchester United since Peter Beardsley in 1990.
Kuyt was quick to pay tribute to strike partner Luis Suarez after the game and well he might, given that two of his goals were thanks to the quality of his Uruguayan colleague. Suarez's mazy run in the box foxed three defenders before he squirted the ball through Edwin van der Sar for Kuyt to tap home, befores his dipping free kick forced the veteran 'keeper to spill the ball into his compatriot's path for the crucial third.
It's incredible to think that Jermain Defoe's double at Molineux represented his first Premier League goals of the season, but they were well worth the wait. In the space of just five minutes he twice found the net from 25 yards; the first, a testament to his power, the second his precision. Defoe was unlucky not to notch a hat-trick too, after a late effort cannoned back off the upright.
He may have lost out to Sir Alex Ferguson on his return to the dug-out in January but Kenny Dalglish exacted his revenge in style at Anfield to further derail Manchester United's title quest. Playing Dirk Kuyt in a striker's role alongside Luis Suarez proved to be a masterstroke as the Dutch workhorse claimed a predatory hat-trick, while Liverpool's midfield made the combination of Scholes and Carrick look pedestrian. Getting one over his old adversary was the perfect present after Dalglish turned 60 on Friday.