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?

Advertisements

Can Southampton survive in the Premier League?

Southampton will be playing Premier League football and will be hoping they have enough quality in the squad to stay up.

Manager Nigel Adkins has done a magnificent job and replicated Norwich City in achieving back to back promotions and ending up in the Premier League. Adkins has won 60 of his 98 games in charge which is remarkable and deserves to be praised and in my opinion will be a success in the Premier League either with Southampton or in the future with another club. I think he deserves a chance in the Premier League as all of his teams play football in the right way and love to get the ball forward and attack. The passing game the Saints have employed this year has been very good to watch and has cut open many opposition defenses. The only disappointing thing for Adkins is that he has failed to win both League 1 and the Championship but I don’t think the fans should care as they have gained promotion and are now back in the big time, which seemed very unlikely when they were relegated to League 1.

Looking to the future, do they have the players to stay in the Premier League? Starting in goal I believe they have two very good goalkeepers in Kelvin Davis and Bartosz Bialkowski. Davis is the number one and is very consistent having played nearly every game this season, and with over 600 games in his career he will not be fazed by playing in the Premier League.

At the back they are quite strong with Jose Fonte who has been linked with a few Premier League clubs over the years therefore must be too good for the Championship which he has shown this season with some very strong performances and has been a major influence in the dressing room. Danny Fox at left back may be seen as a weak point because at times he can struggle defensively but he adds to the team going forward and has the ability to put in a very good cross with his left foot. He does have Premier League experience with Burnley but that season was pretty much a disaster for him and the club and ended in relegation so he will be hoping for more success this time.

The midfield has a lot of promise with Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin who can control a game from the middle of the park and both have the potential to be Premier League players for a lot of years to come. They are at the right club right now because Adkins will give them the confidence to go out and play and will progress them further. But their real star in the midfield is winger Adam Lallana who has scored 11 goals in 41 league games this year. He has been very impressive and has ran rings round the best of the Championship’s defenders. He likes to play on the left wing and cut in to shoot and bend balls into the box and it is because of his talents that the strikers have found it easy to score over the years.

So to the strikers and this could be where they struggle in the Premier League as they don’t have anyone that has consistently scored in the top flight. But they shouldn’t be worried as Rickie Lambert who has scored 27 goals in 39 games in the Championship and is a similar player to Grant Holt who has done fantastically well for Norwich City. Alongside him they have Billy Sharp who is also a brilliant goal scorer and after a slightly slow start now has nine goals in 15 games. But the big question is will they have enough ability to score the goals to keep the team in the league.

I believe Southampton have a good chance of staying up and St Mary’s will be rocking next season as they entertain the big boys of the Premier League once again. To make the season even sweeter while they are gaining promotion their local rivals have slipped into the third tier of English football.

 

Haven’t we seen you before… David Nugent

David Nugent now at Leicester City was one of the hottest prospects in the Championship when he was at Preston but for some reason maybe poor decision making on his part his career fell away but now under Nigel Pearson he might just be getting his career back on track.

In March 2007 he must have been in dreamland when he made his debut and scored in the last minute for England against Andorra but since then this dream has turned into a nightmare. He left Preston that summer for Portsmouth for £6 million and was finally realising his ambition of playing in the Premier League. But his move to the south coast was a complete disaster and in the same transfer window he was already linked with a move away from the club which shows that something wasn’t right and he didn’t exactly fit in at Pompey for one reason or another. It took him 18 months to score his first goal in the league for the club and ironically it was against the man that signed him Harry Redknapp, he then followed this up with two more goals towards the end of the season but it still didn’t change the fact that he was a poor signing and was a failure. However, in his defence he is a striker and does all of his good work up top chasing the ball down and latching onto through balls but for Portsmouth he was played on the right wing and therefore his opportunities to score were clearly limited.

He then left the club on loan to join Burnley and enjoyed moderate success with six goals in his 30 Premier League games but under Brian Laws the team were relegated and left Nugent in limbo as to whether he would be joining permanently or staying at Portsmouth. In the end he stayed at Portsmouth and had his best season for a long time ending the campaign as their top scorer but he decided to leave the club that summer for Leicester City where he has again had a decent season and looks like he is getting back to the levels he was at when he was called up to the national squad.

In his role as the pantomime villain away to Southampton, he produced arguably his best performance for many years, constantly terrorising the Saints defence by running at them and linking up well with strike partner Jermaine Beckford. He showed tremendous pace throughout the game and scored the opening goal with a clinical finish from just outside the box. There is no doubt in his mind what he was going to do when he picked up the ball on the left wing and cut inside, he expertly curled the ball into the corner leaving goalkeeper Kelvin Davis with no chance.

He is never going to get back into the England squad but it is nice to see players that have struggled for a while get back to their best and he can always be proud of his one cap one goal record for England.