The Premier League yet again produced a terrific weekend of football. For sure, there are those that will point to the “Big Four” dominating again, but there were some terrific matches (Liverpool-Wigan, Stoke-Spurs) and some individual performances worth purring over.
Not so much a good weekend, as a good week. Rooney was a man on a mission against West Brom and should have probably had another had his first half effort not been ruled out for a foul.
Following the game, the 22-year-old said “I have worked on every part of my game in training,” which may well be true, but if paper reports are to be believed it was Fabio Capello who insisted that Rooney practice his finishing.
For so long, Rooney has gone on scoring bursts such as this one, the true test will be if he can continue this form for months rather than weeks. In case anyone had forgotten, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 42 goals in all competitions last season. No pressure,Â Wayne.
In the absence of Fernando Torres and whilst Robbie Keane continues to get to grips with his role in the Liverpool side, the Dutchman stepped up to see off the Latics.
Since his arrival in England, Kuyt has excelled in the Champions League but he has been derided by many for being too workmanlike. It has been easy to forget just what a prolific striker he was in Holland. For four seasons in a row, Kuyt scoredÂ 20 or more goals in the Netherlands, the sort of record that now has many big clubs chasing after Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
If Liverpool are to win the title, and they have done particularly well just to keep pace with Chelsea up to this point, then they will need players other thanÂ Torres and Gerrard to step up. Following his late winner against Manchester City and his brace against Wigan, Kuyt is really looking the part now.
Arsene Wenger claimed it was “hard to measure” after the game just how important the introduction of Theo Walcott was at half-time. But, the fact that the Frenchman turned to the youngster when Arsenal were losing at half-time, and were on the verge of a third disappointing Premier League result, says a lot about Walcott’s importance at the Emirates.
Of all the “Big Four,” arguably Chelsea produced the most impressive result. Boro were woeful, particularly defensively but Chelsea have numerous injury problems and finally are playing some quite brilliant football. Scolari should be hailed from the rooftops for the way he has the Blues now playing, they are still a work in progress but they have begun to play some scintillating football.
Of all Scolari’s changes, the one that is most noticeable is the way the Chelsea full-backs bomb forward at every opportunity. Bosingwa and Bridge were a constant threat to the Boro defence all afternoon, looking like they were playing at home. Ironically, another full-back, Juliano Belletti, was probably the best player on the pitch.
For Chelsea, how long before their fans start singing “its just like watching Brazil?”
The Egyptian is the new Alan Shearer. Zamalek’s decision to send him on-loan to the Premier League looks like a masterstroke.
This 27-year-old Ghanaian is in the form of his life. Amoah now has nine goals this season in six appearances and is one of the main reasons why NAC Breda are now top of the Eredivisie. His goal against PSV was a class finish.
The dream for the “village team” continues. Hoffenheim have scored 21 goals so far this campaign, only Werder Bremen have scored more.
“The Small 15” (Not including Hull City)
This was one of those weekends in the Premier League where it looked like all of the “Big Four” would win, and so it proved to be. West Brom and Middlesbrough were, as expected, completely outclassed. Whilst Wigan and Everton can count themselves slightly unlucky in their respective games, with the Latics in particular unfortunate that many decisions went against them.
But, the other three games on Saturday, said a lot about the Premier League. Whilst the “Big Four” scored 15 goals between them. Six teams (Bolton, Blackburn, Fulham, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Portsmouth) failed to even register a goal.
Aston Villa’s failure to score was also a big blow to probably the one team that can challenge the perennial Champions League teams this season.
Royston Drenthe was going nowhere, Atletico had two defenders marking him and were seconds away from bagging a respectable derby draw which would help banish the thoughts of the 6-1 drubbing in the Nou Camp.
The 24-year-old Dutch defender has to learn from huge mistakes like this to turn from a decent player into a world class one.
The loss to Napoli was Juve’s second consecutive defeat and they have failed to win a match in Serie A for a month. Thankfully for the former Chelsea boss, Juve’s Champions League campaign has started well, although they will come under serious examination in the upcoming double header with Real Madrid.
Ranieri did well last season to finish third in the league, restoring Juve to the summit of Italian football. But, this season they had to challenge and this is looking unlikely now. The next few weeks will be make or break for the “Tinker man.”
In his match report on the Stoke-Spurs clashÂ in The Independent, Sam Wallace proclaimed: “no one among the Spurs players â€“ with the possible exception of Jermaine Jenas â€“ looked capable of dragging them out of the mire.”
However, in this authors opinion, if there is one player to blame at Spurs for the mess they currently find themselves in, it is Jermaine Jenas. The captain at Stoke yesterday and also the only Tottenham player to make Fabio Capello’s most recent England squad.
Jenas put in another of his anonymous displays yesterday, the type he has put in all season for a club that is desperate for their midfield to start firing. Most notable at Stoke, was the two occasions he took free-kicks in attacking areas as Spurs chased the game. Both went out for goal kicks without troubling the Stoke keeper.
Question marks rightly remain over Luka Modric, it was clearly going to take the diminutive Croatian time to adapt to English football. This was the time when Jenas had to stand up and be counted, to help Modric along. Instead, he has put in a number of feeble displays.
Jenas and David Bentley are slowly epitomising this “Championship” Spurs team. Two England midfielders who are highly-rated but seem incapable of raising their game even against the most mediocre sides in the league.
(For around the combined fee Spurs paid for Jenas and Bentley, the north London club sold Robbie Keane. Daniel Levy may have thought he got a good deal selling an “ageing striker” but its how you spend the money that counts.)
Spurs are going down, when will the football media pinpoint the blame (or any blame)Â on Jenas?