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?

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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.