The Weekend Awards are a somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek affair in summary of the best and worst of the Premier League.
Highlight of the Weekend
Villa teach Stoke a lesson
Even as a neutral, I was hoping Villa would be beat Stoke for a few reasons. Firstly, the three points for Villa tightened things up massively at the bottom of the table, so that now 14th to 18th are separated by just 4 points. This makes things exciting.
There’s also the fact that Paul Lambert has his young and very inexpensively assembled side playing a tactically disciplined and creative style of football that finds room for 3 attackers, all of whom have played as a lone front man in the past. Villa are playing fearlessly at the moment, and they swarmed all over Stoke. In truth, it could, and should, have been about 5 or 6 goals for them. They came out and attacked, as they have done against everyone of the last month or so and got their just rewards.
Stoke on the other hand were beyond abject in attack yet again. As I seemingly have to write every week, Pulis picked a team that included absolutely no flair. Even the usual loyal Stoke fans are now openly questioning the team selection. It’s all well and good picking hard workers and players that put a tackle in to ruffle the feathers of the likes of Liverpool, their last win, but against teams like Villa it doesn’t work. Villa have been unlocked by flair this year. Suarez torched them last week, Bale got a hat trick, and so on. But Pulis picked his usual hard runners and simple passers. It’s not good enough and this rank negativity is coming home to roost. They are in a nosedive.
Lowlight of the Weekend
Liverpool go back to old ways
For the prior two seasons, Liverpool have been stuck in a mid-table malaise of their own doing, caused by extreme profligacy in front of goal. They seemed to have shaken that streak this season with Suarez leading the goalscoring charts and various teams put to the sword at Anfield. But it all went wrong against West Ham.
Brendan Brent bemusingly felt Sturridge’s goal was wrongly disallowed when he was clearly offside, but that was misplaced criticism. There’s just something inexplicably inconsistent about Liverpool. You look at them on paper and can’t see how this sort of result, or the the defeats to Southampton and West Brom, are possible when you watch them in full flight. On paper they look good, but in reality they are a mile away from the top 4.
Goal of the Weekend
Matt Lowton vs Stoke
How many weeks could this goal have two legitimate contenders against it. In most other weeks Mirallas’ lovely dribble and clean finish would win, and in any other week Loic Remy’s technical masterpiece against Wigan would win but Lowton’s goal has the unbeatable combination of jaw dropping quality and gravitas.
This wasn’t a dead rubber goal, it was the strike that won the game for Villa. At 1-1 they were rocking all over the place but one counter attack that wins a corner, a nodded clearance that drops to Lowton, and one outrageous volley later, and they’re 2-1 up and cruising. That moment of quality seemed to reinvigorate Villa’s young team and make them believe in themselves again.
Really?! Moment of the Weekend
Bobby Zamora gets 3 points for a clean head shot
Bobby Zamora, fighting in the White Tae Kwon Do dobok lands an absolute beauty of a headshot to pick up 3 points in his clash with Jordi Gomez in the blue dobok. Nope, hang on. They’re playing football. Ah…
What are you talking about?
Rafa Benitez: ‘We scored 2 and an own goal, so really we scored 3?
Uh huh, but the first Chelsea goal was an own goal. Plus, Chelsea were abject anyway. That’s not relevant, but it’s true.
Pundit being pushed to the top
The BBC are clearly trying to freshen up their punditry ranks, but Kilbane is not the answer. The thing is, there isn’t an obvious reason as to why he is being pushed so hard. He was a moderate player, isn’t outspoken and also doesn’t offer unique analysis. So he doesn’t tick any of the boxes. For all the criticism that goes in the direction of a lot of pundits, at least they have been there done that. Even if they can’t articulate how.
Kilbane seems like a nice bloke, but what does he add? When he makes his first pun or reference to an unpronounceable name with a knowing glance to Gary, we’ll know he’s made it.
One man team of the Weekend
Dimitar Berbatov vs Newcastle
I’m sure Christian Benteke won’t be disappointed to miss out on this for once and with Gareth Bale down injured, Berbatov gets this unopposed. The MOTD2 highlights package only seemed to mention Berbatov’s name for Fulham. He had their best two chances and also cleared a goal bound shot. And they still lost…
Most bizarre team selection
Romelu Lukaku on the bench for West Brom
What’s the biggest weakness of the Arsenal central defence? They struggle against pace and power. OK. So, obviously you play perhaps the most dangerous physical player in the league in Romelu Lukaku to cause chaos. If you didn’t, it would be crazy. Right? Well…