Game, Team and Player of Weekend 2

Chelsea, Swansea and Everton all continued their 100% start to the season, while Arsenal are still struggling to score goals since the departure of Robin Van Persie but on the other hand have looked solid defensively so is this an improvement? Aston Villa and Southampton are the only two teams left without a single point. So who will win my game, player and team of the weekend?

Firstly, onto team of the weekend. Everton are yet again candidates for the best team as they swept away Aston Villa in the first half scoring three goals and looking like they could have went up another few gears if they needed or wanted to. They are having a quick start to the season which is very rare for the team from Merseyside. Next, I think that West Brom deserve a lot of credit this week with them getting a point at White Hart Lane, they got a last minute equaliser through James Morrison but throughout the game they at least deserved a point and dealt with the threats of Tottenham very well and only conceded unfortunately through a deflected Benoit Assou-Ekotto effort. But the winner this week is, Swansea City as they continued their unbelievable start to the season and comfortably beat West Ham 3-0. Yet again, all of their star players performed including Michu, Nathan Dyer and the rejuvenated Wayne Routledge. Is this really the same Routledge we saw struggling for Newcastle United and many other clubs over the years? They are still to concede this season and in all honesty, West Ham didn’t cause them many problems but it is still impressive. Eight scored, none conceded.

Player of the weekend is always difficult to choose because there are always players that played well but don’t exactly standout. For example, Joe Allen, did for once get a lot of plaudits but he will probably play like he did for Liverpool against Manchester City most weeks but won’t get anywhere near enough praise. He controlled the midfield in a game that the home side should have won but for two costly mistakes. The way he keeps the team ticking over is sublime and whenever he has the ball, you know he will not give it away cheaply. Another player that doesn’t get nearly enough praise is Mikel Arteta and he was also brilliant this weekend for pretty much the same reasons, but unfortunately didn’t do quite enough for Arsenal to help them get a win. Similarly, Moussa Dembele put in an amazing performance in a losing effort against Manchester United. I can’t remember the last time a player from an away side controlled the midfield as much as the Fulham man did and if anything it has just alerted even more clubs to his quality and with a few days left of the transfer window, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone came in with a bid. My player of the weekend though is, Eden Hazard who has just shown everyone why he was wanted by nearly every club in Europe. His pace over five yards is fantastic and Newcastle United had no answer to him. He seems to have just given everyone a lift at Stamford Bridge and whenever he gets the ball, the crowd know something good is going to happen. The way he keeps the ball is brilliant to watch as he easily goes past players and sees passes that not many others can, in my opinion he was the main difference between the sides on the day. To top it off, he got yet another assist and a goal from the penalty spot.

This weekend most of the games seemed very competitive and could have went either way. Liverpool against Manchester City was definitely one of these as both clubs could have won the game near the death, but it is Liverpool that are the most disappointed with the draw as both the goals they conceded were mistakes and avoidable. Tottenham against West Brom could also be a contender because to me it showed exactly what the Premier League is about. No team ever gives up and West Brom showed that by creating numerous chances towards the end of the game and deserved their draw just purely because of their effort and determination throughout the 90 minutes. But my game of the weekend has to be Manchester United against Fulham. There was everything in this game, goals, mistakes and even goalkeeper David De Gea doing a Cruyff turn inside his own box to beat Fulham striker Mladen Petric. Fulham took the lead through Damien Duff but then the home debut boys took over with Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa scoring before the game seemed over when Rafael added a third. But, Fulham didn’t lie down and led by Dembele they pulled one back through a horrendous error from De Gea and Nemanja Vidic. They just didn’t have enough in the end and if Bryan Ruiz’s header had went anywhere but at the Man United keeper, it may have been a great comeback but it wasn’t to be.

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Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta makes it to 200 games in the Premier League

Mikel Arteta is set to become only the third Spanish players to reach 200 games in the Premier League when Arsenal take on QPR.

Arteta will be trying to help Arsenal finish third season

Cesc Fabregas and Pepe Reina are the only other two to reach the landmark but Arteta will be hoping that he will play a lot more games before he leaves England or retires. He first came to England in the January transfer window of 2005 when he signed for Everton on loan with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season to fill the gap left by the departed Thomas Gravesen. He was relatively unknown to English football even though he had a relatively successful spell in Scotland with Rangers but by the end of the season he was well known all around the country as he showed his fantastic passing abilities and his eye for a goal. He scored the first of his 33 goals for the club against Crystal Palace and was then signed by David Moyes at the end of the season for £2 million which now seems like a bargain.

In his first two full seasons with the Toffees he won the Player of the Year award and it seemed to be a pretty easy choice with him scoring three goals and providing seven assists in the 2005-06 season. The following year he arguably had the best season of his whole career scoring nine times and finishing third in the assists table in the entire Premier League with 12. In my opinion, Moyes deserves credit for Arteta’s career in England because he had been playing as more of a holding midfielder for his previous clubs and was just sitting in front of the back four so he could play passes but Moyes changed his game and made him more of an attacking midfielder so his passes would create more chances for teammates to score. In his remaining years at Everton, he didn’t quite hit the same amount of goals or assists but he was still very consistent and was one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. The Everton fans loved him but I think a lot of other fans didn’t quite see how effective he was but in their defence, to see how good he is you probably have to watch him for a full 90 minutes.

At the age of 30, it seemed to me like he was going to stay at Everton for the rest of his career but Arsenal reportedly offered £10 million for him. It must have been hard to take for the Everton fans that he got sold but in their manager and chairman’s defence they got a lot of good service out of him and made a profit of £8 million on him. He already has five goals for the Gunners and three assists which shows that his career is not coming to an end anytime soon. His free kick against Aston Villa was one of the best this season and with him already captaining the side in an FA Cup game against Leeds United, he could still play a very important part in Arsenal’s future.

Ten years at Everton for David Moyes

David Moyes has reached a landmark that not many others do in modern day football and he deserves every bit of praise that he receives.

For 10 years he has been at Everton and has taken them to the FA Cup final and also to Champions League qualification. Who could have imagined this when he first took charge? Especially when at times in his reign he has been given very little money and had to replace players with cheaper options who he has made into very good Premier League players. Tim Cahill is one of these who owes his Premier League career to Moyes and he has served club and manager brilliantly. At the time of his signing a lot of clubs were looking at him but Moyes took a chance on him and he has repaid the faith with eight years loyal service and scoring many important goals.

Moyes became Everton manager on the 14th March 2002

Sometimes in football the stats do lie though and I believe the Scottish manager has been overlooked for arguably bigger jobs because of his win percentage which is surprisingly only 41.74%. But during this time he has got Everton into Europe on four occasions and in the last two seasons came very close to getting the team there again. But his real skill is in the transfer market, yes he hasn’t got them all right but nobody ever will, just looking at the players he has bought, when he signed them they were not necessarily household names but after a season or two they were considered some of the best in the league. Mikel Arteta is one of these who not many had heard of but he was vital in the way the team played and this led to speculation that he could leave the club which he eventually did when he joined Arsenal. Steven Pienaar is another great example of this.

He also doesn’t mind giving players a chance for example he signed Joleon Lescott and in my opinion he would not be at Manchester City if it wasn’t for the Everton manager because he took a chance on him even though he had never played a Premier League game. Leighton Baines is another, as well as Phil Jagielka. The lists just go on for him and his success far out way his disappointments in the transfer marker, even the experienced players he has brought in have made a positive impact, a lot of people may not have thought the Phil Neville signing was going to be good but his versatility has proved vital over the years and Tim Howard who was deemed a failure in the Premier League but was given another shot and he is arguably one of the best keepers in the league.

Finally, Moyes does not only rely on transfers, he is very good with the youth team, when they bring a player through he treats them right and does not let the spotlight get on them too much. When Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene it would have been easy for the pressure to get to him but Moyes didn’t allow that and I hope that Rooney realises one day how much Moyes did for him. You can add Jack Rodwell and Ross Barkley to that list as well.

It is remarkable looking back at his Everton career because there are so many positives in everything he has done but how different it could have been if he got sacked after finishing 2003-4 season in 17th place. But the board stuck with him and well done to them too. He three time LMA Manager of the Year and eight time Premier League manager of the Month will no doubt continue to do a very good job at Everton and I also believe he is one of the reasons why Everton are a lot of football fans ‘second team’ and this cannot be a bad thing for the club on a whole.

Fredrik Ljungberg’s next move

Fredrik Ljungberg wants to rejoin the Premier League after leaving Shimizu S-Pulse by mutual consent. He does not want to join any Premier League club either with him stating that he wants to join a team that will be challenging at the top of the table. Surely, this means he wants to follow in the footsteps of Thierry Henry because I cannot see Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea wanting to sign him as he is getting towards the end of his career.

Since leaving Arsenal he has not been able to settle anywhere having short spells at West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Celtic but can he still offer something in the Premier League. He possibly could give Arsenal a lift with them suffering a humiliating defeat against AC Milan, and he is still a very intelligent footballer and will be able to get himself into good positions, pace wasn’t his greatest attribute therefore he has always had to rely on other attributes to influence games.

If he got given a contract till the end of the season, he may be able to produce some moments of magic like Henry has done in his short loan spell but will it really be worth it for him and the club? Probably not because I cannot imagine he would start many games ahead of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain so if he did play he would have to play as a central midfielder. Yet again, it’s unlikely that he will be able to get ahead of Aaron Ramsey, Alex song or Mikel Arteta in the pecking order, plus he is about the same level of Tomas Rosicky so he would most certainly be a squad player and at this late stage of his career surely he will want to play as many games as he can.

So if he wants to come back to England he has to look further down the league, I could see Liverpool possibly being interested to add a bit of experience to their squad but they do have quite a few midfielders already so he wouldn’t be guaranteed a start.

The team I think he is most likely to sign for is actually QPR because they will be able to guarantee him a game most weeks, with him playing on the right and Joey Barton playing in the middle. Also they could offer him a very good wage which will obviously interest him but will he want to be involved in a relegation battle.

I would like to see him back playing in England because when he is on form he was one of the very best in the league and scored some very important goals. The Swedish international was a key part of the Arsenal side which played some fantastic attacking football and if he can recreate these types of performance whoever he signs for have got a real player on their hands and may make a big difference to where the team finishes in the league.