- Feeling the need to award some warm goal scorers this week.
- Feeling the need to award some ice cold shot stoppers this week.
- Feeling the need for some warmth from this ice cold week.
There were derbies galore this weekend including a dramatic West Midlands derby featuring Wolves and Birmingham City and a certain 36 year old who proved he’s still got something in the tank, a bruising Merseyside derby that could have ended 9 v 9 or less, and a highly anticipated London derby where one team of giants continued their pursuit of silverware and the other team of beautiful passing gnomes gracefully bowed out of the title race.
The team that was second top of the league dealt with bottom of the table and financially stricken Portsmouth, 5-0, where OG-Pompey outscored United 3-2 (debatable). Two teams competing for L4 (lucrative fourth) entertained and canceled each other out in another draw that didn’t produce any goals, but produced some fine individual performances. A certain American scored his first goal in the Premiership and as the Gaffer mysteriously cruised the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico as ESPN’s guest, we at the mother-ship stayed indoors and out of the 25°F weather and attempted to analyze the Premier League. Hey, what else was there to do, watch the Super Bowl?
Honorable Mentions –
Brad Friedel and Richard Dunne, Aston Villa – I seem to notice a small theme developing here as Villa players, week in-week out seem to deliver strong and consistent performances on their crusade for L4. They’ll need to keep it up as the champs travel to Villa Park this Wednesday looking for revenge, (COME ON ROONEY!) but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I really like this Villa team. I love what Martin O’Neill has done with them in the aspect that he’s fine to let them sit back and take the brunt of the opposition’s attack waiting for that precise moment when a counter attack presents itself.
Friedel has been quite possibly the best and most consistent keeper in the Premier League all season. The American made numerous fine saves to keep a clean sheet for Villa and his moment of brilliance came in the 41st when he saved a close range flick from Ledley King who was just a few yards out. The quick instincts of Friedel to stretch across the face of goal and divert King’s attempt should be thrown in the hat of top saves of the season.
Maybe the best buy of the season?
Richard Dunne for Villa has barely put a step, ball, header, whatever(!) in the wrong direction all season. Manchester City has to lament letting the talented Republic of Ireland defender go as they continue to struggle to find a cohesive back line. Dunne should have been mentioned last week for his performance against Arsenal in another 0-0 draw. Dunne impressed as he ran with the ball at his feet for 50 plus yards outrunning the, let’s say veteran, Sol Campbell, making himself look like Lionel Messi for a few seconds and the aforementioned Campbell look, well, slow.
Dunne’s sliding block Saturday on Peter Crouch’s 18th minute attempt was an incredible display of poise and timing as Dunne made up 10 yards to perfectly deflect the low Crouch shot. Dunne is strong, good in the air, a goal-scoring threat on set pieces and a natural leader at the back.
Kevin Phillips, Birmingham City – The Premier League and Championship journeyman Phillips came off the bench for the injured Christian Benitez and scored a late brace for the Blues to claim all three points. The first was a classic poacher’s goal as Phillips volleyed a Craig Gardner header home from close range. Right place, right time. Phillip’s second was a masterpiece. City’s Stephen Carr bombed down the right flank and into the penalty area unmolested and sent a neat ball to Phillips who chested down and scissored a right footed strike into the back of the net in one smooth stride. A great piece of skill, technique and control from the veteran striker as Birmingham City continue on their fantastic season and remain in 8th place.
Premier League Footballer of the Week –
Didier Drogba, Chelsea- He’s back. Drogba, love him or hate him, he’s an incredible talent. The Côte d’Ivoire strongman made his return from the African Cup of Nations last week v Burnley and on Sunday scored two and just missed a hat-trick by the skin of Manuel Almunia’s crossbar with a stunning free kick that just wasn’t to be. Drogba officially owns Arsenal Football Club as he’s now scored 12 in 12 games against Arsene Wenger’s men. From the start of Sunday’s big 4 clash with Arsenal, Drogba looked up for it as he made quite the nuisance of himself and only needed seven minutes to open his account for the day.
Drogba patiently awaited a John Terry header to the back post from a Chelsea corner to blast home his first before running at a hesitant Arsenal defence and slotting home a powerful left footed shot to score his second. Chelsea’s second goal was oddly familiar to Manchester United’s second against Arsenal just a week ago. Arsenal, more specifically Arshavin, gave the ball away to Frank Lampard deep in the Chelsea half, Lampard quickly countered and ran untouched with the ball at his feet before sliding to Drogba who continued the forward run shifting the ball to his left and finishing. Game over. For Chelsea, a well worked counter attack. For Arsenal, another failed outing and a defence grasping at straws. The strength of Drogba just too much for the Gooners to deal with.
Thanks to Coachie Ballgames for the new and now official EPL Talk Premier League Footballer of the Week logo. The mother-ship will be back and off the ground floating somewhere high above Lexington, KY this Thursday to cover the midweek Premier League matches from Tuesday and Wednesday. Enjoy your football.