Posts tagged Pienaar
Posts tagged Pienaar
After most game weeks, the performance given by Wayne Rooney would’ve been more than enough to seal his place in the team of the week: in a fiercely contested derby match between the red half of Manchester and the red half of Merseyside, it was the former Evertonian that fired United to glory with a three-minute quick fire salvo that saw the England striker finish a Ryan Giggs cross, with a smart half-volley into the roof of the net and an Antonio Valencia through ball.
However, as was the performance of one England manager candidate’s team and the performance of another candidate for the same job’s team nearly matching that, Wayne Rooney didn’t make the cut and instead, the team is dominated by Tottenham, West Brom and Everton players: two of the players represent good value for money from the January transfer window.
Keeping a clean sheet against Chelsea could be seen as an easier task nowadays, especially considering Fernando Torres plays upfront week-in-week-out and Didier Drogba was on Africa Cup of Nations duty: however, their top scorer, Frank Lampard, was starting again and midweek visits from Russian owner Roman Abramovich, cranked up the pressure for The Blues to get a result. Unluckily, for Andre Villas-Boas, Everton hit two goals without reply and it is now three games since Chelsea’s last clean sheet and their ‘keeper has the worst shots to saves ratio in the Premier League. Contrastingly, Tim Howard kept his net empty, made three vital saves to deny Chelsea a way back into the game and has now kept as many clean sheets as Petr Cech, with six.
As part of the best defence in the Premier League so far this season, conceding only nineteen goals, thirteen of them coming away from home, Joleon Lescott has been a mainstay at the heart of the Manchester City back-four for most of this season, missing only 374 minutes of football up to the 25th game of the season. Yesterday’s 1-0 away win against Aston Villa came in Lescott’s 8th clean sheet performance for Manchester City and was earned through his 62nd minute goal from close range. His man of the match performance is enough to earn himself a place in this week’s team of the week.
Mr. “I don’t like football – it is just a job” is probably enjoying his football this season: the Tottenham left-back, signed for just £3.5m, had scored just two goals before this season, and only one for Tottenham: however, this weekend, saw him double his tally after his second goal in a month started off Spurs’ demolition of Newcastle United. Unlike his previous two long-range screamers, this strike was neatly put away from 10-yards as the French-born Cameroonian international latched on to an Emmanuel Adebayor cross. His performance contributed to Tottenham’s second clean sheet of the week and earns him a place in the best XI.
As well as Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham hitting five past Newcastle United, fellow England candidate Roy Hodgson, saw his West Brom side smash Wolves for five, subsequently costing Mick McCarthy his job. In amongst the goals was defender Jonas Olsson: having scored the goal to put West Brom back into the lead over their Black Country rivals, the scorer turned provider just over ten minutes later, to help Peter Odemwingie towards his hat-trick. Although the 6’6 Swede didn’t keep a clean sheet, a goal and assist in a performance that saw him hail his boss as the “best coach in England,” was enough to earn him his place in the XI.
In a fairly abysmal Wigan defence, this is one man that can hold his head fairly high: missing just two games all season and having only been subbed once, the Scot has become an ever-present in the Latics’ defence since signing from Celtic in 2010. In a rare win, in fact only their fourth, for Wigan, the defender earned the man of the match award for the away side and his goal and strong defensive display at the back capped and signified a resilient Wigan performance that will be needed if they are indeed, “ready to fight” as Roberto Martinez has stated.
N’Zonzi, even with the return of sharp-shooting Yakubu, was Blackburn’s best performer in their Saturday 3-2 victory over Q.P.R: getting on the end of a clever Junior Holiett ball, following a mazy run through the Rangers’ defence, the Frenchman scored his first goal of the season, rifling in from just inside the box. Just eight minutes beforehand, N’Zonzi had set up the returning Yakubu to open the scoring fifteen minutes into the game. If Blackburn are to stay up, the performances of the aforementioned trio will be largely responsible.
Returning to Everton a year after leaving for Tottenham Hotspur, where he has been criminally underused (just 17 minutes this season, with 14 of them against Everton), Steven Pienaar, according to club captain Phil Neville, is “back doing what he does best at a club he enjoys playing at.” His two performances have been described by the captain as man-of-the-match worthy, and the 2-0 victory over Chelsea was “driven by the classy Pienaar,” according to BBC’s Owen Phillips, with him scoring the first and linking up well with Leighton Baines throughout the game, until he left the pitch on 74-minutes to a standing ovation.
The Wigan midfielder is enjoying a purple patch at the moment: game time was fairly limited for the 24-year old Scot, but the New Year has brought a new lease of life in the first team and the 5’10 central midfielder has now scored two goals in three games and his strike fifteen minutes from time, getting on the end of a parried Victor Moses shot, won Wigan their first game in twelve. Their last was a 2-1 victory over West Brom in early December.
Along with Steven Pienaar, it seems the players swapping allegiances between North London and the blue half of Merseyside, are wholly benefiting: before joining Harry Redknapp’s freely attacking Spurs side, Saha had only scored once all season, but with his first start for Tottenham, the former Manchester United striker has already doubled his Everton tally, with two deft finishes against the first side he played for in England. His brace, wholly assisted by Emmanuel Adebayor, has seen an instant partnership flair up, which will further hinder Jermaine Defoe’s playing time.
Back in December, the Nigerian said he was losing sleep over his goal drought: at the time, he hadn’t scored for eight games, stretching back into October, and even then he’d only scored two all season. It was far from the performances of last year in which he scored 15 times and summer interest from Arsenal and Wigan saw West Brom slap an £8m price tag on him. West Brom fans will be hoping his weekend hat-trick will mark a turn in form for the 30-year old forward.
At the beginning of the season I read Tottenham fans’ views that stated Adebayor would offer nothing different to Peter Crouch and that he wouldn’t improve the team: one fan said their two marquee signings, Adebayor and Parker, didn’t match up to Aguero and Silva and unless Chelsea challenged it would be a two horse race between the Manchester sides with Spurs scrapping for the remains with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. However, Redknapp has taken Spurs from strength to strength and they are only five points off of second, eight from the top and ten points clear of fourth. The Togolese striker has either scored or assisted 45% of Tottenham’s goal this season and his unselfish play at the weekend saw him assist four, before rounding off the scoring with a goal of his own. He is now the Premier League’s seventh top scorer, Tottenham’s top, and only David Silva has more assists: 12 to his 11.
The Premier League was rather flush with fixtures on Saturday, in a schedule that is ever more so controlled by television companies and viewing figures. Eight fixtures were played in total, providing the staple diet for any Premier League fan: there were two six-pointers; Arsenal could break into the top four if they could grab a result against an impressive at home Sunderland side and Manchester United took on fierce rivals Liverpool, in a match that had its own recurring subplots.
1. Ed Sheeran and Luis Suarez have more in common than you may think
Fresh with confidence from defeating their bitter foes in the F.A Cup, thanks to a Dirk Kuyt goal, Liverpool this time faced Manchester United away and in the Premier League. For United, it was all about keeping pace with their inner-city rivals at the top of the table and for Liverpool it was an opportunity to beat Manchester United twice in two weeks and extend their unbeaten run to four.
However, although United got the three points with Wayne Rooney scoring a quick-fire brace, the main attraction was the Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez affair: it was the first time the two had faced each other since the fateful day in October in which the former accused the latter of racial abuse resulting in an eight-match ban and similar to Wayne Bridge and John Terry and Anton Ferdinand and John Terry, there was no handshake. Unlike those two John Terry centred examples, however, it was the villain who refused the handshake and not the victim leading me to think that Ed Sheeran, who sings the line, “I know I can’t heal things with a handshake” has more in common with Luis Suarez than I thought, as does Patrice Evra with Sepp Blatter, who feels a handshake can.
2. Feed the Yak and He will Score
We knew that already right? We did, but it may well prove to be what keeps Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League for next season: during his three-game ban, Blackburn Rovers amassed just a solitary point and furthermore, they struggled to capitalise on the chances they did create, proving wasteful without the Yak.
However, reintroduce the Yak after his three-game, and Blackburn hit three goals just like they did in the last game he featured in and just like in the previous 60 games Blackburn have scored three in, they went on to win with Yakubu getting the decisive goal in a 3-2 victory over fellow relegation candidates Queens Park Rangers. Yakubu is now the fifth highest scorer in the Premier League with thirteen goals in a side that has only found the back of the net 39 times, leaving the Nigerian responsible for 33% of their goals. Luckily for Rovers, Yakubu is the most potent striker in the Premier League with a 39% conversion rate.
3. Chelsea slip to 5th, whilst Capello is linked to the job and Roman’s lurking
Everton’s January really has paid dividends much quicker than anyone could have realistically expected. At one point, it looked as if no transfer activity would take place: however, four signings were made, two on loan and two permanently, and three of them have already returned the favour of a new lease of life, either assisting or hitting the back of the net, going much of the way to ease Everton’s scoring worries that existed for much of the first half of the season.
On Saturday, without Jelavic even featuring, the man signed to “score goals, goals and more goals,” Everton took ten shots, had a 70% shot accuracy and converted their chances twice, with one of their January signings scoring in the form of Steven Pienaar as well as Argentine Denis Stracqualursi. Meanwhile, Chelsea, who are now without a win in four games and have only won two of their last ten, slip to fifth place as Arsenal secured a last minute victory over Sunderland thanks to a Thierry Henry volley, in a week in which Fabio Capello is linked with the club and Roman Abramovich visits the training ground twice.
4. Norwich Head up the table inflicting only Swansea’s second home defeat
Before Norwich City, Swansea’s fellow Championship promotion achievers, the only defeat inflicted on the Swans at Liberty Stadium was handed out by reigning champions Manchester United. That loss, only their fourth league defeat since the beginning of last season, was only by one goal and it didn’t deter Swansea from their free-flowing passing game that is built on from the back.
Norwich defeated Swansea by three goals to two, but before that game, Swansea had only conceded seven goals at home in 12 games - 0.58 goals conceded per game – and furthermore, only Arsenal, 2, had scored more than one goal at the Liberty Stadium. However, considering Norwich City’s aerial prowess this season – they are the most prolific PL side in the air with 14 of their 37 goals coming from headers – and Swansea’s averagely short stature, was it that surprising that Norwich got all three points? Norwich are now up to eighth, leaving Swansea in 11th place and just nine points off of relegation: yet, their home form should be enough to ensure Premier League survival.
5. Harry Redknapp isn’t distracted by England talk as Spurs smash home for five
At 4/11 to manage England for Euro 2012, 5/4 to become the permanent manager of the Three Lions and Harry Redknapp himself describing the post as the “ultimate job,” you’d be entitled to doubt how stable some feel at White Hart Lane now, despite Redknapp’s insistence that he “can’t take [his] eye off the ball at Tottenham at the moment,” declaring that he, “owes it to [Tottenham] to continue to keep completely focused on the job.”
However, if there is any worry that Redknapp might leave his Spurs post permanently, it certainly wasn’t a distraction on Saturday: The Guardian’s Scott Murray expected a “home capitulation to Newcastle at the weekend,” but it was Newcastle who would leave capitulated, as Tottenham ran rampant on home turf, clocking up 18 shots on target, nine of which were on target and five of the on-target strikes finding the back of the net. With a 63% of the possession and over twice as many shots, Spurs never took their foot off the pedal, but it was an impressive first half performance that saw them four goals to the good come half-time that won them the match. Emmanuel Adebayor was particularly delectable, notching up four assists and scoring the game’s only other goal, whilst new signing Louis Saha scored two goals for the first time in a year.