92 clubs favourite players – Fulham – Aaron Hughes

Fulham have not had the greatest start to the season but that does not mean they have a poor squad and I expect them to get better and Martin Jol to guide them to safety.

They have experienced players that have played at the highest level and a lot of talent in their squad including Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, John Arne Riise and Scott Parker. But even though I do like these players and think they are brilliant footballers, the player I have decided to choose is central defender Aaron Hughes.
Aaron Hughes
This may seem like a strange choice at first but personally I do not think there has been a more consistent player in the Premier League. Over the years he has not grabbed any headlines but he has also not made many mistakes which a lot of the top defenders strive for. The 33 year old has had a good career and it has got even better since joining Fulham and having one of the most underrated central defender partnerships with Brede Hangeland. They are one of the main reasons why some believe they overachieved and under Roy Hodgson got to the final of the Europa League. Hughes helped the club have a great home record and even though in recent years it has not been the greatest they are usually very consistent at Craven Cottage and even the bigger teams struggled to get results there.

It is not surprising to me that when he is not in the starting 11 Fulham look shaky at the back and it was a similar story when he was younger at Newcastle United. While at Newcastle he played all across the back four and occasionally in midfield. He also played in a Uefa Cup semi final but unfortunately for him and the team they ran into Didier Drogba who was on top form and unstoppable. I was very surprised when they sold him because Newcastle are famous for having some pretty bad defenders that make a lot of mistakes and he was always the one that put in good performances. But for whatever reason he left the club and joined Aston Villa and it didn’t quite work out for him there but he was first choice in his first season at the club.

I do feel sorry for him on the international stage because Northern Ireland have never looked like qualifying for a tournament and even though he has over 50 caps he would have maybe hoped for more. However he has been involved in some historic wins for his country and will obviously be proud to have played so many times for his country.

In his career he has not scored many goals and only got seven club goals in his career and they include goals against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Dnipro. Maybe for a centre half that went forward for a lot of corners he should have scored more however this is not what he will be remembered for and unfortunately for him he has never got the recognition his talents have deserved.

Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough to take and for most clubs their aim at the start of the season is just to stay in it.

Every season it seems to go right down to the wire with more and more teams getting involved in the relegation scrap. The promoted teams are always the ones that are favourites for the drop and this season is no different.

Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace are the favourites to go down and this is probably what he wanted anyway because he feels his teams perform better when they are the underdogs. I am not convinced by the signings that he has made either but it did almost work for him at Blackpool, so second time lucky for him. New signings Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh will need to start well and be regular scorers and Jerome Thomas will probably have to play the best football of his career if they are to be successful.

Hull City also got promoted last season but I do feel slightly more confident that they will stay up because of the players that Steve Bruce has signed. Tom Huddlestone is a very good passer and will add something to their midfield. I also like the signings of Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor and feel that their experience will get them through some tough times. I still think they lack a goal scorer but Danny Graham should perform better than what he did at Sunderland.

The final promoted team Cardiff City have spent quite a bit of money to try and stay up this season so it would not surprise me to see them finish midtable. I do however think they have overspent on Andreas Cornelius who has potential but you need more of that to survive in the Premier League these days. Steven Caulker and Gary Medel do seem like solid signings though that should impress.

Mark Hughes will be hoping that he performs better at Stoke City than he did at QPR or it will be a long season for their fans. I can see why they are getting backed to get relegated because they stood still under Tony Pulis but they were staying up and sometimes changing things makes clubs go backwards. The team he has inherited only really play one way and if Hughes tries to change that too quickly it will most likely backfire on him.

Norwich City are a team that is surprisingly one of the favourites to get relegated because of the signings they have made this summer but maybe they will not gel and if that is the case then Chris Hughton could be in trouble. They should have enough goals in their team from Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper but neither have played in the Premier League and may find it tough to begin with. But Leroy Fer, Martin Olsson and Nathan Redmond will hopefully create a lot of chances for them. They seem to have an exciting side this year but they have not improved their defence much which is a worry.

Hull City in the Premier League

Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League after a nail biting end to their Championship season.

Under Steve Bruce they have certainly surprised me and did just enough to finish above Watford. A 2-2 draw against Cardiff City was one of the most entertaining endings to a game you will see and both clubs will be hoping that they can be as watchable in the Premier League. Bruce has now gained three promotions in his managerial career and this just proves how good he is as a Championship manager and he has proven in the past that he can succeed to a certain extent in the Premier League. His time at Sunderland did not end well but I still think he had enough ability to keep them in the league and they haven’t grown since or competed any higher up the table so he wasn’t doing much wrong. But with Hull he has won 25 of his 51 games in charge and this is an impressive record and maybe promotion wasn’t quite expected to happen so quickly so quite a few changes might be needed for them to stay up. If they can bring in the right players they have a manager that could keep them up.

However, they definitely need a goalkeeper because they relied too heavily on loan signings last season and need a number one. Two keepers that have been linked to the club are Chris Kirkland and Kasper Schmeichel. If they could get either of these then I think they would be fantastic choices. Defensively I do think they are poor as well, Paul McShane is someone that works hard but is probably not good enough for the Premier League and they just do not have enough quality in their backline.
Paul McShane
In the midfield it is a similar story with players that are hard working but do not really have enough quality. However, I do think Stephen Quinn could be a crucial player because he does have something else and his passing and creativity will certainly help the side. David Meyler is another that I feel has to have a good season if they are to stay up. He is a former Sunderland player and at times he did look ok for them and without the injuries he may have played a lot more for the club. Robert Koren is probably the standout player and someone that I do like a lot.
Stephen Quinn
Strikers are yet again a problem. They did not have anyone that could score goals in the Championship so I cannot see any of them having great seasons in the Premier League. Matt Fryatt is a good goal scorer and he was unfortunate with injuries last season. This will be his first season in the Premier League so he will be hoping to emulate the success of Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt in recent years, although he is a different player to them two.
Matt Fryatt
At this moment in time I am very worried about Hull City but I am sure many people have said that about Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City in recent seasons.

Which Carling Cup Quarter Final game looks the most exciting?

The fourth round of the Carling Cup produced some of the most exciting games in the whole season so far.

With Arsenal coming from 4-0 down to eventually beat Reading 7-5 in extra time and Chelsea scoring five goals against Manchester United to defeat them 5-4, it will certainly tough to find more exciting games this season and I doubt all of their defences will be as bad as this again. The team I feel most sorry for though are Bradford City because they knocked out a Premier League side in Wigan Athletic on penalties and on a normal week, this would have been the main headline surely. Also, a special mention to both Leeds United and Middlesbrough for knocking out Premier League opposition too. Swansea City and Norwich City also won games which many people didn’t expect and I am sure the fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool would have expected to be in the draw for the next round.

So, onto the next round and I think it is difficult to choose which games will be the most exciting, but I am going to look at them all and see what I think. Leeds United against Chelsea will be very interesting as this could be the shock of the round in my opinion, because Chelsea may be more focused on their World Club Championship participation and may not take this game as seriously as they should. Leeds are a good side and under Neil Warnock they will give anyone a game, just ask Everton and Southampton.

Swansea against Middlesbrough is yet another tough one to call. The North East team have a lot of momentum at the moment and if they can keep that going, I believe they have enough quality to beat the Welsh side. But, Swansea could be the dark horses for the competition in my opinion, they have a decent record at home and if they play to their potential, then Boro may not get a kick all game.

Paul Lambert will be up against his former club Norwich City yet again and he will be hoping that his Aston Villa side can produce the goods on the night and qualify for the semi finals. But, Norwich are just starting to pick up under Chris Hughton and some very good wins at home in recent weeks have been much needed and also very impressive.

Finally, League 2 Bradford have been drawn against Arsenal at home and I don’t think they could have got a better draw as being at home gives them a little more of a chance of sneaking a result. Although this is very unlikely, they will surely get a big crowd it will just remind the football world once more that Bradford are quite a big club and it wasn’t that long ago they were playing in the Premier League. It is a lose-lose situation for Arsene Wenger’s side because they are expected to win but if they don’t put four or five past them then they may get slated.

Which game are you most looking forward to? Who will provide the biggest shock? At this stage who do you see winning the trophy?

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 7

Chelsea remain top of the table after beating Norwich City and more and more people are now starting to accept that they are genuine title contenders. With their attacking intent, they will be a threat to anyone and I am sure the two Manchester club are now very worried. The rest of the top four is now starting to take normal shape with Manchester United and City in second and third but Everton are still clinging onto fourth place with Tottenham just behind them on goal difference. At the bottom of the table it isn’t looking great for QPR, Reading and Norwich who haven’t won a game yet. But, they will still be positive as Southampton and Aston Villa seem to be struggling at the minute.

So, onto team of the weekend and in my opinion Manchester City deserve a lot of praise because they had to reshuffle their defence and were so comfortable against Sunderland it was unbelievable. They attacked well but more importantly they were solid at the back and kept their first clean sheet of the season so Roberto Mancini will be looking to build on this performance. They did exactly what was needed and didn’t give the away team a sniff, maybe it was a bad day for Sunderland because they never really looked like scoring but credit has to go to the two centre backs who probably haven’t played together that often in Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott. The other team from Manchester, performed brilliantly away to Newcastle United and deserved their comfortable victory and could have made it more if Danny Welbeck had his shooting boots on. But, in the first 15 minutes, I don’t think anyone could have lived with them, never mind an injury hit Newcastle defence. Everyone on the pitch played very well and they seemed to be enjoying their football and when they did come under pressure, they were strong enough to remain solid and not concede. However, there are still question marks over goalkeeper David De Gea who was poor again and almost cost them a goal. But, my team of the weekend is Arsenal, because they won a game a few years ago they certainly wouldn’t have away to West Ham. What makes it more special is that they came from 1-0 down and they even managed to control Andy Carroll for the majority of the game and often allowed him to win the first ball and just challenge for the second ball. The concentration of the back four was particularly impressive and when you have players like Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla you know they will create chances.

Unfortunately, no Arsenal players have made it onto my contenders for player of the weekend but Cazorla was very close, however fellow Spaniard Juan Mata deserves a mention instead because yet again he was fantastic, as he has been all season. He hasn’t been getting the headlines because of Eden Hazard but he has been equally impressive and is one of the cleverest players in the Premier League right now and it is remarkable that Spain can’t find a place for him in their squad. He got another two assists to his name and he also very reliable on the ball and won’t try silly things and if there is an easy option on, he will use it. Aleksandar Kolarov, though was equally impressive as he scored a fantastic free kick and set up Sergio Aguero in the second half to put the game beyond doubt. He has improved defensively in recent months and everyone knows what he is capable of going forward so Gael Clichy might find it difficult to get back in the team. He is always a threat to the opposition and certainly is a useful asset to the team, especially at home. My player of the weekend though actually goes to a goalkeeper who wasn’t first choice at the start of the season but after his performance this weekend, he is guaranteed a place for a while to come. Reading’s Alex McCarthy, produced save after save to secure what could be a vital point against Swansea City. His team may have thrown away a two goal lead but he was sensational and if it wasn’t for him then they would have surely lost the game. If they stay up by one point at the end of the season, I think Brian McDermott and the fans will look back at this performance and just realise how good of a performance it was. To pick up points away from home in the Premier League, you need special performances, and this was certainly one of them.

Onto, game of the weekend and obviously that Swansea Reading game will be high up the list as there were so many chances and both teams will be thinking that they should have an extra two points on their current tally. After Swansea came from two down, I expected them to win but as said Alex McCarthy was inspired form and couldn’t be beaten again. Reading will be the most worried though because they just can’t seem to get that first win and if they had held on last week against Newcastle then they probably would have seen this out too but that first win is usually the hardest. QPR, similarly need that first win and they put in a good performance away to West Brom but unfortunately, the surprise package of the Premier League so far were even better and the game went right down to the last minute and this could have also ended a draw after one of the sides were 2-0 up but it wasn’t to be and West Brom held on for a 3-2 win. The game of the weekend for me was actually West Ham against Arsenal because it was two very different styles playing against each other and just showed what English football is all about. Arsenal were sublime until West Ham somehow took the lead and from there it could have went either way and Arsenal just had enough on the day and finished off the game with a fantastic goal. Both managers know how they want to play and for that reason, the game was action packed and there were plenty of counter attacks leading to chances and all of the goals had a lot of quality about them.

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 5

The top two in the Premier League so far is expected with Chelsea and Manchester United leading the race for the title but directly below them Everton and West Brom are having fantastic starts to the season and not many would have expected them to have been in the Champions League places after five games. At the other end of the table, there are six teams still to register a win and the most worried out of them will surely be QPR and Reading who are currently in the relegation zone. Liverpool are the other team in the relegation zone and all of them will be thankful that Norwich City also haven’t picked up a win yet.

I have already mentioned them but they don’t usually have a great start to the season and that is why it is so remarkable that Everton are third in the table and will surely finish in a European place because they usually leave their unbeaten runs just too late in the season to have an effect on them positions. Yet again, they produced a fantastic display against Swansea City and brushed them aside with ease, all of their attacking players were on form and Kevin Mirallas has fit straight into the David Moyes way of playing football and even added a goal to his good performance. Victor Anichebe has now got two goals in two games and he will have a lot of confidence and maybe they won’t miss Nikica Jelavic as much as they thought they would. Another team that are performing well in areas we don’t normally expect is Arsenal because at the back they have been superb and followed it up with another good performance away to Manchester City. I will still give them a lot of praise even though the goal they conceded was an error because in years gone by they definitely would have lost this game and went home with nothing. They also created chances and if their finishing and final touch was better, in particular Gervinho, they could have got all three points. But, the winner of team of the week has to be Southampton. After finding themselves 1-0 down their fans must have thought that their time in the Premier League was going to be very short indeed but they didn’t get on the players or their managers back and they got to see their side come from behind and beat Aston Villa. Two goals from Rickie Lambert, an own goal from Ciaran Clark and a tidy finish from Nathaniel Clyne gave them exactly what they deserved and that was all three points. If they can replicate this sort of form then they may be able to stay up this year but they will need their fans on their side and the rumours of Nigel Adkins being replaced need to go away or it could cause some uncertainty among the players.

Hugo Rodallega may have came back to haunt his old club Wigan Athletic but it is his strike partner Dimitar Berbatov that is a contender for player of the week in my mind because he has shown that he can perform just as well away from home as he does at Craven Cottage. This is what he often gets criticised for but against Wigan he did everything that was asked of him, he held the ball up well and brought teammates into play. His movement was also very good and the Wigan defence weren’t ever sure on who has supposed to be picking him up, and his cross for the first goal was superb so it was a very good day for the Bulgarian. Marouane Fellaini is another player that is proving he is worth every penny his club paid for him. In yet another outstanding performance he goes about his business so effectively, joining up with the front man and getting beyond him whenever he can. He is a lot better in the advanced role where he is playing now and like Yaya Toure at Manchester City he can make the difference in the final third. Another goal was added to his tally this weekend with a powerful header that left Michel Vorm with no chance. However, the man that is getting player of the week is none other than Southampton’s goal scoring hero Rickie Lambert. There were question marks raised on whether he will be able to score goals at the highest level but against Aston Villa he proved he not only knows where the goals is but can set up chances for his team to score. A lot of people just think that Lambert is a big target man but he is much more than that, he likes to drift out wide and get involved in the play dragging defenders away with him so there is more space for midfielders to run into and I’m sure Gaston Ramirez in particular will make the most of that.

Game of the weekend can be a little difficult because some of the bigger games get a lot more attention and don’t really end up being that exciting. But, in my opinion the Liverpool Manchester United game was decent enough with both teams having chances to win the game towards the end. The home side were probably just the better team and will feel a little annoyed that they didn’t get anything from the game, but maybe they just couldn’t push themselves anymore after playing a lot of the game with only 10 men after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off. There were some good goals in the game with Steven Gerrard reminding us all that he can still be a threat going forward and Rafael scoring a goal that some of the Old Trafford greats would have been proud of. The winner did come from the penalty spot after Glen Johnson clumsily fouled Antonio Valencia which makes you wonder how he is England’s first choice right back but that discussion is for another time. Another game that was really entertaining, but a lot more one sided was West Ham versus Sunderland. Steven Fletcher gave the away side the lead and that is basically all they did and had to withhold heavy pressure for a lot of the game, eventually leading to a late goal from one of their arch nemesis, Kevin Nolan. Nolan must love playing against Sunderland as he always seems to score past them and with him being a former Newcastle United player, it must have been extra sweet for him. Game of the weekend, however goes to the Swansea Everton match as it was a really enjoyable game and was played in a very different way to how I expected it. Everton controlled most of the game and Swansea struggled for large periods but they even create some chances that they should have done better with. Everton are getting better and better while Swansea are beginning to slip could this be the game that sends the clubs in two very different directions?

Was there anyone that impressed you? Who would you give the team, player and game of the weekend award to?

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 4

Yet another weekend has passed and the league is now starting to take shape with the likely frontrunners being Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. The bottom of the table is also one many expect it to be come the end of the season with Southampton propping up the table and Reading only just above them. But with Liverpool, Sunderland and Norwich still not tasting victory they are not too far away from the other teams in the league. However, Liverpool showed signs of improvement at the weekend and will not be down there at the end of the season.

Now onto team of the weekend and I would just like to say that the game at Goodison Park between Everton and Newcastle United was definitely a tale of two halves. If Everton had played the way they did in the first half for the full game they would have won the game comfortably, but then again if Newcastle had played the way they did in the second half they could have come away with all three points. But football is a 90 minute game and a team that did perform for most of the 90 was definitely Aston Villa who have been steadily improving under new manager Paul Lambert. They picked up a great point away to Newcastle and followed that up with against previously unbeaten Swansea City. It will be a morale boosting win and exactly what the club needed as a whole because a defeat would have been hard to take especially when they played so well. Along with the good result, Paul Lambert will be pleased that two of his summer signings Matthew Lowton and Christian Benteke scored their first goals for the club. But, the clear and deserved winners are Arsenal. The only disappointing thing about their game is that they conceded a goal after a mistake by Wojciech Szczesny. However, their impressive front line made easy work of Southampton and they could have had more than the six they did score. The goals came from Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Theo Walcott and two own goals. A lot of people wrote off Arsenal and I still don’t think they will challenge for the title but they should have a great chance of finally winning a trophy. A word of warning though to Arsenal fans getting carried away, every season there is a score line like this at the Emirates and the players haven’t been able to maintain this kind of form in the bigger games.

Player of the weekend is a battle between the players that scored twice for their clubs in my opinion and they are Demba Ba, Jermain Defoe and Dimitar Berbatov. So, let’s start with the Fulham striker because when he is happy, he plays sensational football and at home in particular he will be a threat to every team. The way he took his first goal was sublime and the way he placed it was so casual that you can just tell that he does that sort of thing every day and doesn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t just his goals that was impressive, it was his movement and he just has a knack of finding space near the opponents goal. His ability has never been in doubt but he showed the Fulham fans that if they play to his strengths he will score and create chances for his teammates. Jermain Defoe is playing in a position that he is slightly unfamiliar and that is as a lone striker. Usually, a lone striker is someone that can hold up play and bring others into play but this is almost the opposite of what Defoe wants to do. As soon as he gets the ball, there is only one thing on his mind and that is to get a strike in on goal. Reading had no answer to his movement and could only watch on as he expertly finished two of his chances in their game. My player of the weekend though is Demba Ba and I know he only played 45 minutes but when a single player can change the fortunes of a team in that short space of time, he deserves a lot of praise. Within a few minutes of coming on he had got Newcastle level and they looked a completely different team and then when it looked like his team were going home with nothing he reacted brilliantly to a superb knockdown from Shola Ameobi and placed a shot underneath Tim Howard.

I think it is pretty obvious which game impressed me the most and got me the most excited but still there were some entertaining games, in particular the Arsenal game and the Tottenham games. Arsenal created chances at will and scored goals for fun and Tottenham followed suit a day later but couldn’t quite get as many goals. Both of the newly promoted teams also scored past them so that may give them confidence for the future, but they should probably put these games behind them and move on. So, my game of the weekend, Everton versus Newcastle, this game had absolutely everything, goals that should have been given and ridiculous refereeing calls, as well as goals and missed chances. The most entertaining few moments of possibly the whole season occurred during this game, Victor Anichebe got a header in on goal which goalkeeper Steve Harper tipped onto the bar with Mike Williamson clearing it, however the ball was over the line, but the referee and his assistants missed it which led to a counter attack for Newcastle which saw Hatem Ben Arfa running with the ball against one defender with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse breaking either side of him making it a three on one situation. However, they were stopped in their tracks when the referee called the game back for a free kick on Ben Arfa even though he had regained his balance and was looking to beat the defender. Two very bad decisions in the space of about 15 seconds. A draw was probably a fair result even though both will feel they could have grabbed all three points. Plus, Everton had a goal disallowed for offside even though Marouane Fellaini was onside so they may feel slightly more annoyed by the result.

Do you agree with me? Who stood out for your team this week?

Game, Team and Player of Matchday 3

Arsenal continued their great defensive start to the season with yet another clean sheet at Anfield which has left Liverpool in the bottom three along with pointless Southampton and QPR. There are still eight teams without a victory though so none of the teams should be worried at this stage. Somewhat surprisingly Tottenham Hotspur are one of these teams and after two draws in a row is the pressure already building on Andre Villas Boas? Aston Villa picked up their first points with a draw against Newcastle United which will make Paul Lambert feel a lot better and Stoke City picked up their third draw out of three so it is looking like it could be another midtable finish for them already.

But, now onto team of the weekend, Arsenal deserve great credit for the way they conducted themselves at Liverpool and were the better team throughout, creating the better chances and finishing them off superbly, while also being very tight at the back and not allowing their oppositions flair players to have a major impact on the game which has not always been the case in the past. Norwich City picking up a point at White Hart Lane is a fantastic achievement (they did win there last year I know) but they are expected to struggle a lot this year and hadn’t shown enough to suggest that they were going to be as good as last season. But, they battled and probably should have won the game in all honesty so they deserve a lot of praise and if they can perform like this for the rest of the season they will stay up. Newly promoted West Ham are not expected to struggle this year but not many will have expected them to have disposed of a confident Fulham side so easily. Debutant Andy Carroll looked very happy and within a minute he had a positive impact and the team never looked like losing from there. However, my team of the week has to be West Brom, they have started their season fantastically and their performance against an inform Everton was very good. I personally didn’t expect the Baggies to start this well and they know it is only three games in but they already have seven points on the board so this could be an interesting season for them.

There were some standout performers this weekend with Robin Van Persie scoring a hatrick but unfortunately for him, even though he did win the match for Manchester United against Southampton, I am not giving him the player of the weekend simply because of his awful penalty. His movement was great and all three of his goals were different and showed how good of a striker he is (if that was ever in doubt). Another new signing impressed this weekend and that was Steven Fletcher who scored twice for Sunderland against Swansea City and although his first was gifted to him he still had to finish it and that wasn’t easy at all. The price Sunderland paid for him may have been slightly over the top but if he can get them between 15 and 20 goals then it could turn out to be one of the best signings of the season. My player of the weekend goes to Brad Friedel who must have been feeling the pressure after Hugo Lloris was signed on transfer deadline day but the 41 year old produced the goods and kept Tottenham in the game, pulling off save after save including two spectacular ones. He couldn’t do anything about the goal and it would be a real shame if he was dropped after this performance.

Finally, game of the weekend is a difficult one to choose as always because the game at the Liberty Stadium between Swansea and Sunderland had everything, including goals, red cards, mistakes and injuries. Sunderland took the lead twice through two Steven Fletcher goals but were pegged back each time with Wayne Routledge and Michu grabbing the goals for the Swans. Chico was sent off for a ridiculous challenge on Louis Saha and was rightly sent off. It was a fiery game and a draw was probably the right result in the end. Wigan against Stoke may not have been a game that caught many people’s attentions but in my opinion it was really entertaining and had a lot of drama in it, with two converted penalties and a lot of chances for either side with Franco Di Santo and Peter Crouch also scoring to make it 2-2. Plus, the save of the season from Ali Al Habsi made it a very fascinating game to watch. But, the match of the weekend has to go to Southampton and Manchester United because they produced an epic game which could have went either way. The away side pinched in injury time but it could have been very different. Rickie Lambert opened the scoring but when Van Persie scored his first everyone expected it to be a rout and Fergie’s men to walk it but a slip from Patrice Evra allowed Morgan Schneiderlin to get free and put the Saints back in front. But the runners up from last season never lie down and came back to win like they have done on so many occasions over the years.

Who do you think should have got the player, game and team of the weekend?

Game, Team and Player of the Weekend

The Premier League kicked off this weekend and there is a lot to talk about but as from now after every weekend, I am going to decide on my game, team and player of the weekend. It will be difficult to narrow it down but I will try.

So onto the first thing, team of the weekend. This could go quite a few ways, should I give it to Swansea City under new manager Michael Laudrup, who destroyed QPR away from home 5-0 after being tipped as one of the teams to struggle this year (although it has only been one game and that may still be the case). Maybe, Fulham deserve it as they also won 5-0 against Norwich City, under difficult circumstances with their main man from last season Clint Dempsey not wanting to play. Although impressive, I have decided to go with Everton as they performed wonderfully and beat Manchester United 1-0. Everyone in their team played their part with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin phenomenal at the back, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini causing problems from midfield and up front Nikica Jelavic worked his socks off. They may not have scored as many as the others but they certainly created a lot of chances and even hit the bar a couple of times. Defensively they didn’t put a foot wrong and each one of them, Jagielka, Distin, Baines and Hibbert all get at least nine out of 10 from me. It is a great start to the season for them but they must play like this in every game if they want to finish in the top six.

Player of the weekend is another tough one to choose as all of the teams that were in contention for team of the weekend obviously had stand out players. Michu obviously grabbed the headlines for Swansea and rightfully so, I don’t even think in his or his manager’s dreams his debut would have went that well. He grabbed two goals, one with a little assistance from QPR goalkeeper Robert Green and the other a fantastic finish. Mladen Petric also had a debut to remember by also scoring two goals but one of these took a massive deflection, however he has opened his account for the team so that will give him the confidence to push on and get more. He showed nice touches round the edge of the box and looks like he can create goals for others too. Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United deserves a mention because he won the game for his team by winning and scoring a penalty, but he offered a lot more than just that with many mazy runs and great skills which forced the Tottenham players to bring him down. Yet another Premier League debutant is also a contender in Eden Hazard who in the first seven minutes of Chelsea’s game with Wigan Athletic showed why most clubs in Europe wanted him. Hopefully, he will show a lot more of that in the future. But, the winner for me has to be Marouane Fellaini who scored the winner for Everton, as I have already mentioned the whole of the backline got 9’s but this guy got a 10 and was fantastic from start to finish. He won everything in the air against both Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic, and was simply unplayable at times and he is definitely looking like he could have his best season yet in an Everton shirt. I prefer him to play in a more attacking role so he can do exactly what he did against Manchester United.

Game of the weekend isn’t quite as tough I don’t think, because 5-0’s are good but I would like a game to be less one sided and as I have said Everton played fantastically but Manchester United definitely weren’t great and couldn’t get out of first gear. So, my game of the weekend is Manchester City versus Southampton. The away side almost came away with a very unlikely win never mind just a point, after going 2-1 up but unfortunately couldn’t hold onto their lead and ended up losing 3-2. Both teams played the game in the right way and kept the ball on the floor and tried to pass through the opposition. When Carlos Tevez was brought down in the box for a penalty, I thought that was it for Southampton but Kelvin Davis managed to save David Siva’s penalty and there was renewed optimism, however, this didn’t last long as Tevez then did put City ahead. Game over? Not quite as sub Rickie Lambert scored with a fantastic finish and all of a sudden the momentum switched, and when fellow sub Steven Davis put them 2-1 up with an equally good finish, there was a feeling of worry growing round the stadium. But, just as he did against QPR on the last day of last season Edin Dzeko managed to get an equaliser, leaving enough time for Samir Nasri to fire home the winner. Good start from both teams but I think Nigel Adkins will be the happier of the two managers.

Which teams, players and games impressed you this weekend? How did your team do, were there any standout players?

Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough on any team and it is the magic 40 point mark that a lot of teams aim for first even when they are not expected to get relegated. Even mid table teams don’t want to get dragged into a battle so they aim to get their as fast as possible and then build on that.

Inevitably the promoted teams are always the favourites to go straight back down and there is no change this year, with Reading being one of the teams that need a good start to the season or it could be a very long year for their fans. They have however some good signings in the summer which will surely give them a better chance in the always reliable Danny Guthrie and striker Pavel Pogrebnyak who had a very good goal scoring record at Fulham last year. They do lack a little experience in the Premier League throughout their squad so Jason Roberts and Ian Harte will both be essential to their side.

Norwich City have a new manager this season in Chris Hughton and he has the difficult task of following in the footsteps of Paul Lambert. But, he has inherited a good team that was comfortable in the Premier League last year and there will be a lot of talk of second season syndrome but Hughton has performed minor miracles before at both Newcastle United and Birmingham City so I am sure he will be a success here too.

Nigel Adkins hasn’t changed much at Southampton in the close season so he obviously believes that this team are good enough to stay up but I think they need a little more especially considering the start to the season they have. In the opening five games they have to play both the Manchester clubs and Arsenal so like Bolton last season they may be demoralised before the season has even really begun. The signings of Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne would have been very impressive in the Championship and even though I rate both of them highly they just might not be able to cut it in the Premier League.

Wigan Athletic will always be considered as one of the favourites for relegation no matter how they finish the previous season. At the end of last season they were one of the most in form teams in the whole league but that have lost Hugo Rodallega and Mohamed Diame who have both been influential in the past for them. The signing of Arouna Kone may show their intent of finishing a lot higher up than they have in previous seasons but they will always be considered as the underdog in the Premier League but maybe they like it that way.

Swansea City are one of many teams with a new manager this year and a lot of people are already writing off Michael Laudrup before he has even took charge of them for the first time in a competitive game. They won’t have to change their style much under the new manager but maybe this is the problem because a lot of teams will have now worked out ways to stop them and they still don’t really have an option B so it will be a tough task for them to stay up.

For me it will be Swansea City, Southampton and Reading that go down.