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?

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Who will Leighton Baines play for next season?

Everton left back Leighton Baines is being linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer but would a move be good for him?

Baines has eight caps for England

The 27 year old has been one of the best fullbacks in the Premier League for a number of years now and I am quite surprised he hasn’t been snapped up by one of the teams in the Champions League but this summer could finally be the time when he leaves Everton. He has played 202 games for the Merseyside club and scored 15 goals in his five years at the club which just shows how consistent he has been. Defensively he is rarely caught out even though he isn’t the quickest as his positioning and anticipation are both very good but it is offensively that he is at his best. He is able to put in quality crosses on a consistent basis and provides support for his winger. Baines is vital to the team because he provides a lot of the width with whoever plays on the left usually likes to cut inside which means he has to always be an option. I don’t think he should leave Everton because they are a good team with one of the best managers in the Premier League and they have been close to winning trophies in the last couple of years and I think they could finish in a European place next season.

But if he does decide to leave, I don’t think the Everton fans should be too upset and angry at him as the only clubs that he would realistically leave for will be in the Champions League year after year. So the reason he would leave would be ambition rather than for money reasons in my opinion. He is most heavily linked with Manchester United who at the moment will be unwilling to pay the fee that is being reported but may be forced to if they want their man. After letting Fabio join QPR on loan it is clear they do need another left back and Baines is one of the best around and they want to topple neighbours Manchester City next season so they will have to recruit the best. It would be a great move for the player himself and may give him more of a chance of becoming England’s first choice left back. However, will he want to play second fiddle to Patrice Evra and if he can’t get enough game time then this move will be a waste of time. The other possibility is that he is being brought into replace Evra who in my opinion hasn’t been at his best for a number of years now.

Another club that should be interested is Arsenal because they need strengthening at left back in my opinion with Kieran Gibbs still looking a little suspect when defending and Andre Santos not much better. He would certainly add more composure to the defence and give them a lot more stability over on the left hand side. Whether Arsene Wenger will be willing to pay over £10 million for him though is another question but with the possibility of him having extra funds because of the expected departure of Robin Van Persie he may want to strengthen his defence.

Everton produce a fantastic performance to beat Sunderland

Everton are through to the semi final of the FA cup after a fantastic victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Moyes will be desperate to win a trophy as manager of Everton

It looked as though Everton may have missed their chance after only drawing at Goodison Park but their performance against Sunderland was one of the best I have ever seen from an away side especially in the second half. Sunderland must have been very optimistic that they could get through and maybe froze under the pressure of being the favourites and this will infuriate Martin O’Neill. Although, in my opinion they shouldn’t have been favourites as Everton have some fantastic players and give every team they come up against a very good game which Manchester City learned earlier in the season.

But onto the game itself and they deserved the win and I don’t think anyone in the stadium could have denied them of that. Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring and his movement and hold up play was a joy to watch at times as the Sunderland players could not cope with him and even though he did miss a few chances, he is exactly what Everton have been missing for a number of years, and that is a proven goal scorer. Maybe this is a slightly harsh assessment as they have had Yakubu, Louis Saha and Andy Johnson but I believe that Jelavic will do better than all of these and may even push the club onto the next level.

What makes it even more surprising that they could perform to such a high standard is that the team were late arriving at the stadium because of heavy traffic and this must have left them feeling slightly unprepared. When the game started though you could see that David Moyes had got his tactics spot on yet again. Their midfield was particularly impressive, and all five of them deserve a lot of praise because they worked very hard for each other and had that little bit of quality which Sunderland lacked. I am going to say that Magaye Gueye impressed me the most, this could be because I haven’t seen a lot of him and wasn’t expecting too much, but every time he had the ball he caused the defence problems and he looked very direct and quick which makes me wonder why he hasn’t had more of a chance since he signed for the club. Leon Osman on the right wing did his usual consistent job and I think it is remarkable how he hasn’t even got an England cap. Is he the best player to have never been capped in recent times? He has a lot more ability than he is given credit for and can play anywhere across the midfield which is a bonus for Moyes.

Tim Cahill’s performance was also pleasing as he is now getting back to the form we all know he is capable of. It looks as though he has got a spring in his step now and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a few more times before the season is out.

Liverpool in the semi final now and that could be the biggest game in Moyes’ 10 years in charge as it is not only local pride at stake but it is also beating your local rivals at Wembley for a place in the final.