- I wanna sleep in one of those tents
As we find ourselves with four matches left in the season, we’re starting to have a pretty clear indication of who’s going home with what and who’ll be playing where next season. A lack luster, Rooney-less Manchester United could only manage a point away to Blackburn and seem to now have enough distance from table toppers Chelsea, who gained 3 points at home to Bolton, to widely be considered out of the title race.
In a conversation with Manchester United supporter, Guardian and free lance writer Rob Smyth, United’s current state was summed up quite accurately, “In many ways, the surprise is not that we have collapsed but that we stayed in the race until April before doing so”.Although I don’t 100% agree, interesting perspective from Smyth nonetheless.
I made a prediction a few weeks ago that Manchester City would end up finishing fourth this year and as of yet, the Citizens have done nothing to disprove my prediction. City have reached a cohesive attacking front having scored 14 goals, yes 14! in their last 3 matches with the likes of Tevez, Adebayor, Bellamy and others leading the charge. Again, I must stress the number of important fixtures left to be played in this year’s season, as clear a picture that is attempting to develop in regards to the finish, nothing is final just yet.
There were a number of 0-0 draws this week (more specifically, the Liverpool v Fulham match) as the ever-controversial decision managers have to make of resting players for “more important” matches takes center stage…….is an all English Europa League final in the future?
This week I’m going to leave the winner up to you the readers. What follows will be nominees for Premier League Footballer of the Week. After you read the recaps, feel free to vote for who you think is most deserved of the award. If a player didn’t make the nominees, feel free to leave his name in the comments section.
Graham Alexander, Burnley- It may be a bit too early to tell if Alexander’s double on Saturday v Hull City will be enough to keep Burnley in the Premier League. However, his two emphatically taken penalties were enough to lead Burnley in a 4-1 away win (their first of the season) in the relegation 6-pointer against Hull. When Alexander retires from football, the Scottish right back/defensive midfielder should open a school teaching the finer arts of penalty taking. If you didn’t see the two spot kicks on the weekend, it’s safe to say you missed someone most consider an expert in the field.
Alexander’s inclusion on this list isn’t for scoring two penalties, it’s for how he scored the penalties. Alexander’s unique style has made his penalties quite incredible to watch and unsaveable for opposition keepers. Alexander approaches to strike the ball with a direct and straight run and hits it with the outside of his right foot. The shots are hit with such force and precision that they are in fact almost impossible to keep out, regardless of if the keeper guesses correctly in his dive. Reports across the Internet are sketchy at best, but it seems Alexander’s penalty record is somewhere close to 73 out of 77. Astonishing.
Yuri Zhirkov, Chelsea – Chelsea look to be rightful Champions this year as the 1-0 win on Tuesday night saw them move 4 points clear of Manchester United. There are still some very interesting and tough matches left to play for all three teams involved in the title race, but the tough, grind-it-out 1-0 wins like that of Tuesday night are what make potential champions, Champions. See under Manchester United’s 0-0 over the weekend for a comparison.
Yuri Zhirkov has impressed in recent weeks as he’s deputized for the injured Ashley Cole at left back. Able to defend and move forward to support attacks, the Russian is able to take on opponents at pace and create chances for his teammates. Even a blood-flowing head injury couldn’t keep Zhirkov from contributing to Chelsea’s win as the battered and stitched up Zhirkov continued to apply pressure on the Bolton defense throughout the second half with his runs down the left side of midfield. Zhirkov was definitely man of the match in a game Chelsea may not have impressed in, but were able to solidify their 1st place position and move one step closer to the title.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Manchester City- He’s recently announced his retirement from International duty, which is odd, considering the 26 year old striker could realistically play at least another 5 or 6 years for the Togo team. Regardless of your thoughts on his International career, the tall striker was in blistering form again for City on the weekend winning a penalty and scoring a brace which saw City come out on top of another route.
Roberto Mancini has his squad playing the best football they’ve played all year at the right time of the season. As the Manchester Derby approaches, City are at their high-flying, slug fest best, while United have had one of the worst 2 week runs in recent years. City will also look forward to an important match with the now 5th place Tottenham as both teams will be sure to give it a proper go for 4th.
Adebayor and the City attacking front, when at their best, move with pace and create good chances for each other. Their quick passing and movement without the ball rival top European clubs when they click. Adebayor’s skill in finishing, passing and linking with Carlos Tevez has seen him have another solid year in the Premier League, has scored 13 total goals and looks to be a vital ingredient in City’s race for L4.
Heurelho Gomes, Tottenham Hotspur – Without a win in the league against Arsenal before Wednesday night since 1999, the Spurs keeper produced a number of fine saves in the second half to help Spurs gain a massive 3 points in the quest for L4. Often times considered a bozo the clown-esq keeper, Gomes has found consistent form this season for Spurs.
Two saves from the impressive Robin van Persie and a third off of a Sol Campbell header, Gomes’ quick instincts and shot-stopping ability kept the full brunt of Arsenal’s attack subdued.
Congratulations to Premier League new boy Danny Rose for scoring an absolute blinder of a goal in his League and Spurs debut Wednesday night. The strike is easily in the top three for goal of the season.