- Everton for the World Cup, Adam Johnson for England and Mud.
How can you not love this game, this league, the drama, the terrible state of the DW in Wigan? Forget that last one. Gameweek 27 saw Everton continue their fantastic league form as they beat Manchester United emphatically at home only ten days removed from performing so gallantly against league leaders Chelsea. David Moyes has the Toffees charging up the table while remaining involved in a competitive Europa League. The Scot surely rues the early season injuries that see Everton just in eighth spot and is left to wonder what could have been. I wonder if a Europa Cup Final featuring a red team and blue team from Liverpool is possible?
The race for L4 heated up again, with Aston Villa and Tottenham gaining 3 points confidently (over Burnley and Wigan respectively), while the clash of two more L4 wannabes ended 0-0 in Manchester as Adam Johnson impressed again (call him Fabio). Nothing is remotely close to being decided yet as L4 is now separated by only 1 single, solitary point, with two of the four teams in pursuit of L4’s riches holding vital games in hand.
Chelsea went through the motions at Molineux, Fulham left the drama late at home, Portsmouth continue to play out a doomed season with bravado, and West Ham continue to find their foot while Hull City continue to slip. Beautiful Passing Gnomes unconvincingly disposed of woeful Sunderland while they play keepy up with their title aspirations and big Sam has Blackburn above and beyond anything resembling a relegation struggle, which of course you should know by now brings us to:
Kevin Doyle, Wolverhampton Wanders– Although the forward’s side didn’t win or score a goal, Doyle’s alertness off the ball impressed me. The Republic of Ireland international and Wolves best player has an acute sense of awareness that allows him to shine for a club battling relegation. Doyle’s 16th minute run with the ball at his feet was one of Wolves best scoring opportunities of the day. Doyle ran 25 yards to the edge of the box and shot across the face of Petr Cech’s goal only for the Chelsea keeper to gobble up the attempt.
Doyle continued to make a nuisance of himself and was yards away from scoring from a free kick in the 31st minute that just missed. Again in the 79th, Doyle’s shot was stopped by Cech after he spun on a Chelsea defender and struck a low shot while falling down. If Wolves are to stay up this season, they’ll need to provide Doyle with the quality service he deserves. If they don’t, Doyle could be seen in another shirt next year.
Roman Pavlyuchenko, Tottenham Hotspur– I suppose the Russian is no longer out of favor. It seems every time he comes on for Harry Redknapp, he scores. Pavlyuchenko came on in the 73rd and scored two quality goals in his twenty minute appearance. With his opener, his first touch was quality as he brilliantly set up his second touch which was a clinical left footed, falling down strike past Chris Kirkland in the 84th. His second came only minutes later as he nicked a rebound from his saved header. Pavlyuchenko stayed with the ball and flicked over Kirkland and a Wigan defender who was laying hopeless on the ground.
What impresses me about Pavlyuchenko is that he continually performs to the best of his ability even when he hasn’t been receiving quality playing time. It would be so easy for him to sulk on the bench and phone in his late game cameos, but the Russian seems to have something to prove to boss Harry Redknapp as his brace on Sunday secured all three points for the current fourth place Tottenham.
Premier League Footballer of the Week –
Stewart Downing, Aston Villa– Yet again, a high flying Villain shows up among the week’s best. The boys from Birmingham will look to win a piece of silverware this Sunday when they take on Carling Cup holders Manchester United in the final to be played at Wembley. The quick left footed winger has been building on his good form over the last few weeks and seems to get better with each appearance. There’s a lot of pressure on Downing as his return to match fitness saw Martin O’Neill place Downing on the left side of midfield while James Milner moved to a central role. Downing will look to keep his current form as he hopes to force his way into Fabio Capello’s England plans.
Villa came out the winners in a 5-2 thrashing of Burnley on Sunday after a four goal second half blitz finished off the visitors. This thirteen minute onslaught of quick passing, forward movement and convincing finishing opened up the game and exploited Burnley’s weakness in defense while it highlighted Aston Villa’s fluid movement. Downing was at the forefront of the Villa attack scoring a quick brace in two minutes that all but finished off the tie and gave Villa the three points.
Downing is an exciting wing player who oddly enough was signed when he was injured. When at his best, his crosses into the box can be lethal to central defenders. Martin O’Neill sure put a lot of faith into the former Middlesbrough man and here’s hoping that faith continues to pay off.
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