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?

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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.

England’s right back for the Euros

When Liverpool played Manchester City in the Carling Cup it gave England fans the opportunity to see two players aiming to be England’s starting right back at Euro 2012 with Glen Johnson being switched to left back for the tie and Micah Richards playing in his usual right back position.

Both players have played plenty of times for England and will be hoping to impress Fabio Capello in the coming months to show why they should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Glen Johnson seems the favourite at the minute for Capello but may not be the fans’ choice. Everyone that watches Johnson play knows he is good going forward but at times looks suspect at the back and even though in the modern game full backs need to be good going forward, their primary role in the team is to stop the opposition scoring.

Micah Richards must feel hard done by as he broke into the England team a number of years ago and seemed to be the natural successor to Gary Neville but for some reason he lost his way on the international scene. But his team are top of the table and have one of the best defences in the league so surely he deserves another shot. Like Johnson, very good at going forward and is probably one of the strongest and quickest players in the Premier League which allows him to get back into position quickly after making a break forward.

While this game was being played, Kyle Walker of Tottenham was helping his team keep a clean sheet at home to Everton and is proving to everyone why Harry Redknapp made him his first choice right back at the start of the season. Scoring a wonderful goal against Arsenal obviously made the Spurs fans love him but he is most certainly catching the eye of Capello. His loan move to Aston Villa last season has done him the world of good and he would be disappointed if he wasn’t selected.

Danny Simpson has an outside chance of making the trip to Ukraine and Poland because he has been in good form for club side Newcastle but it isn’t looking very likely at this stage. But he is proving to be one of the best right backs in the country and if the players above him in the pecking order suffer an injury or go on a poor run of form, he would do a solid job for the team.

Other options for Capello are to play Chris Smalling, Phil Jones or Phil Jagielka at right back as all of these have played in that position at some stage in their career but all three of them are better centre halves than right backs. Although, their versatility could work in their favour, it is unlikely that they will get played at right back ahead of Walker, Richards or Johnson.

Verdict: Micah Richards should be England’s first choice right back as he is currently stand in captain for the team that is top of the league and is looking very impressive, his marauding runs forward cause panic in the oppositions defence due to his sheer size and presence therefore he adds something completely different to the team.

But who will Capello choose?