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Mar 20, 2011

Team of the Week

Robert Green was a key performer for West Ham in their 0-0 draw away to Tottenham. The former England No. 1's form has been up and down since his error against USA in South Africa last summer but, against Spurs, Green showed what he was capable of. The former Norwich shot-stopper made a smart save to deny Jermain Defoe from point-blank range, before saving the best for last when he stretched to tip Gareth Bale's late free-kick onto the post and preserve a well-deserved clean sheet.

After helping Blackpool into the Premier League last season, Seamus Coleman has made an impact in the top-flight with his parent-club Everton this campaign. Coleman, 22, has shown he is not shy in getting forward and it worked a treat for David Moyes' side against Fulham as the young full-back headed home a first-half goal to set the Toffees on the way to a 2-1 triumph. It was the right-back's fourth strike of a season which has seen him earn full international honours with Republic of Ireland.

When Wayne Bridge made his debut for West Ham in a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal back in January, his performance summed up the Hammers' season: lousy. At White Hart Lane, Bridge showed signs that the player who once challenged Ashley Cole for England's left-back berth is still knocking around. Faced with the lightning pace of Aaron Lennon, the on-loan Manchester City defender acquitted himself admirably and stifled Tottenham's usually threatening wingers. Along with central defenders Manuel Da Costa and Matthew Upson, Bridge showed that the West Ham rearguard could have what it takes to help the Londoners avoid relegation.

The last week has been fantastic for Stoke City after they followed up their FA Cup quarter-final win over West Ham with a 4-0 thumping of Newcastle. Robert Huth scored in their cup victory and he was a commanding presence in the Potters' no-nonsense defence on Saturday. While Stoke's attack put Alan Pardew's team to the sword, at the other end Huth led a defence that hardly gave Newcastle a sniff all afternoon. A towering presence at both ends of the pitch, the German could yet help Tony Pulis' team end the season in memorable style.

Of all the big-money movers in the January transfer window, David Luiz has arguably been the most impressive. The Brazil defender's swashbuckling style has seen him commit his fair share of fouls with some over-zealous tackling, but it has also meant his commitment to the Chelsea cause cannot be questioned. Luiz scored the all-important opening goal in the champions' 2-0 defeat of Manchester City and he kept another January signing, Edin Dzeko, quiet for the full 90 minutes. Composed in possession and not afraid to burst forward, the former Benfica defender has shown glimpses of what could be a very bright future.

Jermaine Pennant has aided Stoke City this season by replicating the threat posed by winger Matthew Etherington on the opposite side of the pitch. Pennant helped get the ball rolling in City's rout of Newcastle by floating in a cross which proved too good to turn down for Jonathan Walters. The former Liverpool wide man made a bigger impact in the second half as he capitalised on hesitancy in the away team's defence to squeeze a second goal into the net and set Stoke up for a barnstorming second half.

The word talisman could have been invented to describe Blackpool's Charlie Adam. Not content with leading the Seasiders to an unlikely promotion last term, the Scot is now set on making sure Blackpool are still around for a second campaign. The one-time Rangers midfielder netted a brace for Ian Holloway's side against Blackburn, although it was only enough to secure a 2-2 draw. The first was a calmly converted, but dubiously awarded, penalty and the second was sublime. Faced with a free-kick 25-yards out, Adam waved his wand of a left-foot to bend his shot beyond Paul Robinson and set the seal on another memorable individual performance.

Ramires is showing signs he is settling in at Chelsea after a shaky first few months in England. Along with his former Benfica team-mate and fellow Brazil international Luiz, Ramires was on the scoresheet as the Blues registered a win that just about maintains their faint title hopes. The 23-year-old controlled a midfield containing battlers such as Yaya Toure and Nigel de Jong, as well as taking his goal emphatically. Latching onto Essien's pass, Ramires pirouetted round one challenge before evading Gareth Barry and Aleksandar Kolarov to confidently fire past Joe Hart.

Calls from some quarters for Matt Jarvis to be handed an England call-up were answered on Sunday, and the Wolves winger showed what an asset he can be as he rifled home a sumptuous volley to hand his relegation-threatened team a 1-0 triumph at Aston Villa. With Villa fielding a makeshift defence, Jarvis was a constant thorn in their side and a key reason Mick McCarthy's team were able to pick up a vital three points.

While Fernando Torres continues to toil in pursuit of a debut Chelsea goal, his replacement at Liverpool is already making a significant impact. Luis Suarez was a pest for the Sunderland defence during Liverpool's 2-0 success at the Stadium of Light and, even after a frustrating first half, the Uruguayan maintained his high work-rate. The former Ajax star's reward arrived in the second period, when he performed a conjurer's trick to slam a shot beyond Simon Mignolet at the near post and set the seal on another impressive Liverpool win.

Jonathan Walters is a battering ram of a centre forward, but in Stoke's humbling of Newcastle, the Irishman showed there is more than just physicality to his game. Walters' deft flicked header from Jermaine Pennant's right-wing cross was the first of four Stoke goals at the Britannia Stadium and the striker worked his socks off throughout the match.

Any manager who registers his team's best ever Premier League win deserves recognition, so step forward Tony Pulis. The Stoke boss masterminded his team's comfortable defeat of Newcastle, a result which means he can probably start to look forward to a third-consecutive top-flight season. The pace and crossing ability of Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington caused Newcastle problems all afternoon and, eventually, Stoke steamrollered their opposition.

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