So it seems the law of averages DO work. After a whirlwind that was Gameweek 12 in which an astonishing 35 goals were scored, the striking prowess of the Premier League sides seemed to go into a shell for this week’s action as they could only bolster a meager 24 goals together.
The week surely did start off with a 6 goal game at the Stadium of light, but the latter matches saw 6 teams draw a blank as defenders decided to make this week theirs. The highlight of the week was the game at Stamford Bridge where Rafa Benitez was subject to abuse from his own side’s fans (as evident from the picture above) after he replaced the former fan favourite Roberto Di Matteo.
Two negative coaches brought about a goal-less draw at the Bridge while the game at Villa Park also saw Arsenal failing to find the net against a gritty Villa side. Southampton are now above the relegation zone, thanks to a 2-0 win over a lackluster Newcastle side which lost its third consecutive Premier League match for the first time since 2008.
Jordi Gomez suddenly found himself hogging the limelight, having scored the only hat-trick of the week. Except for that, there was nothing much to get highlighted, except for the long face of Harry Redknapp which was located in the stands of the The Old Trafford, seeing his troops getting battered before he could take charge.
The defenders and the midfielder rule the roost for this. RIP – The forwards. It’s 4-5-1 this week and here they are.
John Ruddy (Norwich)
Ruddy returned to Goodison Park where he spent 5 and a half years, a spell that saw him being sent out on loan 9 times and spend a total of 80 minutes on the pitch for the Toffees. Ruddy certainly did come out of the battle as the better of the two goalkeepers. In fact, better than the other 19 that took to the field this week.
A strong right hand denied a shot to the far post from Leighton Baines early in the first half and then another in the second to keep Norwich in the game.
Honourable Mention : Gerhard Tremmel
Sebastian Bassong (Norwich)
Second successive appearance for the Cameroonian, thanks to another brilliant display at the back. Kept the threat of Nikica Jelavic to a zero. The equalizing goal in stoppage time was just the icing on the cake.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
The ICE MAN cometh. Shawcross is the leader at the back for the stingy Stoke defense. Yet another clean sheet for the second-best defense at the moment. Berbatov couldn’t buy space to operate from the towering Englishman.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Came back from a knee injury guide and led the Manchester City defense to another clean sheet, and a vital one at that, against top the table rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Thwarted Torres which doesn’t seem to take much these days. Was a key figure at the back and made some vital interceptions and blocks.
Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)
The young defender was on hand to stop the Arsenal attack from looking anything synonymous to threatening. Giroud was coming into the match on a hot streak but Clark did enough to keep the Frenchman from getting into the game whatsoever. A really important interception at the end of the game to prevent Arshavin’s cross turning into a tap-in for Gervinho.
Honourable Mentions: Leighton Baines (Everton), Sean Morrison (Reading)
Chris Brunt (West Brom)
Looked comfortable and composed in the middle of the park, spraying the ball about and bossing the midfield. Brunt’s distribution was excellent and looked solid alongside Yacob as West Brom never let Sunderland into the game.
Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Gabriel Agbonlahor couldn’t change the fact that Villa are still to beat Arsenal at Villa park in this millennium, but he sure made himself a nuisance in the final third for the home side. His runs caused problems all day long. One of his runs was ended by a brilliant but very risky tackle from Martesacker, while another caused Szczesny to handle the ball outside his penalty area. Had the chance to win it in the second half but shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Adam Lallana (Southampton)
There were two sides playing at St. Mary’s. One was just promoted to the Premier League while the other had finished 5th last year and qualified to the knock-out stages of the Europa League. You would be forgiven if you answered wrong which was which.
Southampton dominated the midfield and Lallana was the master of the engine room. Creative both in the middle as well as down the flanks, humiliating the Newcastle defense who would have conceded more if not for the aid of the crossbar.
Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
This week’s performances is what Gareth Bale is all about. Defense tearing runs, thunderous shots and setting up others. Hit the crossbar in the first half, forced Jaaskalainen into a good save before scoring a deserved goal, which required quite a bit of acrobatics.
Jordi Gomez (Wigan)
The perfect hat-trick from the Spaniard i.e. Left foot, right foot and a header. The ex-Espanyol man had wasted an early opportunity when he lashed a shot high over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat. But no one is going to remember that anymore. Wigan’s two match drought came to an end thanks to the clinical display.
Honourable Mentions: Jean Beausejour (Wigan), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton)
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
The first goal was sheer class. Took the ball 10 yards from the centre line, evaded two Hammers and rampaged his way to slotting the ball from 20 yards. The second was a gift from Aaron Lennon. Was always a thorn for the defensive line of West Ham and a vital cog to Tottenham’s offensive machinery.
Honourable Mentions: Shane Long (West Brom), Franco Di Santo (Wigan)
This is what it looks for this week:Published 26 Nov 2012, 21:21 IST