Arsenal regained top spot and Stoke beat Man United for the first time at home in 30 years this weekend to make it eight defeats on the trot for David Moyes. Elsewhere Sunderland ran riot in the Tyne-Wear derby, and someone has finally stopped the Man City goal machine. It’s the PA Team of the Week, taking a 3-5-2 formation, and brought to you by Steve Neville.
GK – David Marshall:
He may have conceded early in the first, but Marshall had a superb second half to give Cardiff a vital three points. He made two crucial saves, the first getting down low to reach Nathan Redmond’s effort, and saving a Leroy Fer header from point blank range. Heroic stuff from the keeper.
DF – James Tomkins:
Tomkins put in another fine performance at the heart of the West Ham defence. He ensured the free flowing Swansea were unable to make many clear cut chances. Big Sam will need him to continue his recent good form if West Ham are to avoid relegation.
DF – Gary Cahill:
In the last edition of this column I posed the question can anyone stop Man City scoring? The answer – Jose Mourinho. The manager masterminded a 1-0 win over City at the Etihad but he had a few players to thank for the effort. His right back Branislav Ivanovic may have scored the wonderful winner, but Gary Cahill was unbeatable in defence. His head was like a magnet for the ball, he was a rock at the back and made sure Man City’s famed goal scoring never got into gear. He had a great chance to double Chelsea’s lead with a great header that he saw come back off the post.
DF – Phil Bardsley:
He was welcomed in from the cold by Gus Poyet after Paolo Di Canio’s departure and Bardsley has thanked the new manager with some fine displays. His experience has helped improve Sunderland’s defence and he helped them keep a clean sheet against Newcastle. He was good going forward too, winning the penalty that opened the scoring.
MF – Nemanja Matic:
It was over 60 games since Man City were held scoreless at home and the master tactician Mourinho played a real trump card handing Nemanja Matic his first Premier League start. Thrown in at the deep end, away against the title favourites, he was simply outstanding in midfield. He protected the defenders, passed consistently well and got forward too, hitting the post in the second half. Dominating a midfield with Yaya Toure on the pitch is no easy task, so expect to see Matic more and more for Chelsea.
MF – Kevin Nolan:
It hasn’t been a very good season for Nolan or West Ham. He has been criticised for under performance and his sending offs putting his captaincy under threat. But he put it all behind him against Swansea as he netted two goals to put his club one step closer to getting out of the relegation zone. Nolan seems to be benefiting from the return of Andy Carroll with their link up for Nolan’s first and second goals proving it. West Ham will need Nolan at his best if they are to have any hope of avoiding the drop.
MF – Charlie Adam:
Another midfielder who bagged a brace, Adam was a name cursed around Old Trafford on Saturday night. After signing Juan Mata and having recorded a very comfortable win over Cardiff, things seemed to be on the up for the Red Devils. Adam brought them back down to earth with a bang in an all action performance. He covered every blade of grass and he fired home a bullet for his second goal that any player would have been delighted with. A fine day at the office but the result will put David Moyes further into the spotlight.
MF – Adam Johnson:
So many players stared for Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby on Saturday. Fabio Borini had a fine game, Jack Colback was excellent in midfield, but Adam Johnson seems to just keeping getting better and better. Reacted fastest to Tim Krul’s save for Colback’s shot and hit the post after some magic footwork weaving into the box. We can start taking the whispers about him going to the World Cup seriously.
MF – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain:
Another hitting form at the right time, Oxlade-Chamberlain has returned to form remarkably fast after injury at the start of the season. Played in the centre of midfield and was excellent adding to the list of brace scoring midfielders. His first was the pick of the two, delicately chipping the ball over the keeper after a fine Santi Cazorla pass. The big question for Oxlade-Chamberlain is can he make the central midfield role his own?
FW – Rickie Lambert:
Southampton have picked up a lot of fans this season and it’s easy to see why when the Saints play like they did against Fulham. Their three stars, Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert, all scored and could all be in Rio with the England team and no one would begrudge them. Lambert gets the nod this week, but any of the trio could be here. Lambert had a hand in all the goals, and he took his own well. But it was his long ball to Jay Rodriguez for the Saints third that was his real highlight. An excellent pass from the centre forward.
FW – Shane Long:
Always good to see an Irish striker score goals, and Shane Long will be delighted to be off the mark for Hull. He worked tirelessly as he always does in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham and if he can keep up the level of performance he may find some consistency in front of goal. His manager Steve Bruce will also be delighted with how well he linked up with fellow January signing Nikica Jelavic.
Pundit Arena, Steve Neville.