If you read last week’s post and failed to believe me, then just maybe because of this weekend’s matches and results you’ll start to realize that this league isn’t one that falls into the cliched colloquialisms that tend to surround themselves with the Premier League.
Supporters of both Manchester clubs will emerge from the weekend most happy while Tottenham fans are likely still too delirious to realize how ecstatic they actually are after winning away to Arsenal. For all its plaudits, this season’s first North London derby in the league truly was an epic taste of Premier League glory as Spurs came from two down to win 2-3 against all odds.
Arsene Wenger seems to give Premier League fans two or three great moments each year as his frustrations get the better of him. Last season, with arms spread out in a moment of disbelief and dishevelment, Wenger found himself in the Old Trafford stands without a seat.
Saturday’s capitulation by Arsenal at the hands of Tottenham will be remembered by the water bottle that was hurled to the ground in a petulant fit of rage, it’s remnants covering Pat Rice without the slightest hint of remorse from Wenger. For all the joy Wenger brings to the neutrals, something dreadfully important remains elusive as it pertains to this Arsenal side.
Honorable Mentions –
Ben Foster, Birmingham City – The Manchester United throw away keeper has found his best form at Birmingham City this season quite like Joe Hart did last season while on loan at St. Andrew’s. Although Foster is a Blue to stay and Hart is back with his parent club, there seems to be something in the water in Birmingham that young England keepers are drinking to reach their full potential.
Foster was solid on Saturday for the Blues in their 1-0 win over Chelsea who continue their recent run of bad form. For all their inefficiencies, Chelsea still tested Foster in goal multiple times over the course of the full 90 yet Foster stood tall to produce a myriad of good saves in a man of the match performance.
Morten Gamst Pedersen, Blackburn – Pedersen’s free kick exploits in the last few weeks have produced a couple of moments of pure quality – stunning in their own right while seemingly defying the laws of physics at the same time. Most recently, the Norwegian midfielder/attacker curled an impressive free kick from an impossible angle past a flapping Brad Friedel just before the half to open the scoring in Sunday’s eventual 2-0 win at home.
The perfectly struck free kick tugged and teased Friedel out of the Villa goal only to dive in at the precise moment in which Friedel stood no chance to recover. The swinging arm of Friedel could only get the slightest of touches before the ball found the back of the net and Pedersen celebrated his goal while Blackburn soon took a slim lead into the interval in a match where the first half didn’t impress.
Pedersen then added a second for Blackburn to double Rovers’ lead when he flicked in Ryan Nelsen’s well struck ball across the face of goal. It was equal parts right place/right time and intense moment of precise timing and skill to slot home his second of the day.
Carlos Tevez, Manchester City – Is Tevez the Premier League’s best player? That question may have an answer on another day, but on Sunday, the little Argentine was yet again at his best as his former national coach Diego Maradona looked on at Craven Cottage. Maybe just a step offside but incredibly close to being level, Tevez scored City’s first when he held off Carlos Salcido and finished well past Mark Schwarzer low and to the corner. Tevez set up Yaya Toure for City’s third with a well timed ball directly into the path of the midfielder who took a great first touch and finished into the same corner as Tevez before him.
Continuing his brilliance, Tevez scored a cheeky second (City’s fourth) when he knew exactly what he was doing by flicking on a Pablo Zabaleta shot with his back to goal past Mark Schwarzer to end any idea of a Fulham comeback. For City, the 1-4 performance was one their fans have wanted to see for sometime as the 0-0’s started to pile up. Tevez, alongside David Silva, remains the catalyst for City’s attack and overall performance. When the Argentine is at his best, others perform to his standard which is greatness personified.
Premier League Footballer of the Week –
Johan Elmander, Bolton – If you’ve not been watching Bolton this season then you should change that soon and enjoy a match or two of their efficient, organized and highly energized brand of attacking football. Owen Coyle sets up Bolton in a 4-4-2 formation with Elmander and Kevin Davies up front – two strikers who work brilliantly together, a midfield with plenty of width through the in form Chung-Yong Lee and Matthew Taylor, and a very balanced central midfield comprised of Stuart Holden and Fabrice Muamba – Holden often getting up front in a forward role while Muamba holds in a defensive position.
The big Swedish striker scored a brace in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Newcastle and while a two goal performance will always warrant a mention, it was the way in which both of Elmander’s goals were constructed and executed in such a manner that defined Bolton’s play this season that initially caught my eye and prompted me to recognize Elmander as the weekend’s best player.
Elmander’s first was a brilliant one-two punch with strike partner Davies but was the result of some fine individual brilliance from Elmander himself when he side-stepped Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal to finish. It was Bolton’s third of the day but maybe their most impressive of the season and a perfect example of what has made them so impressive thus far this season.
Elmander’s second was equally as impressive but a better example of Elmander’s individual brilliance – his strength, desire and at times his ability to create something a bit special out of nothing. In the 72nd minute, Bolton’s Matthew Taylor found Elmander with what was essentially a clearance out of Bolton’s half and into an area of safety. Elmander took Newcastle’s Fabricio Coloccini one v one, won the waiting ball, out-muscled Coloccini and plowed forward towards goal to finish past Krul again. It was another great goal from Elmander who is now level with Andy Carroll as the Premier League’s leading goal scorer with eight.