Sunderland picked up a vital victory over high flying Everton on Thursday which ended their run of six Premier League matches without a win. An integral part of the Black Cats picking up all three points last night was goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who kept his third clean sheet in a row . Although Everton played the majority of the match with 10 men, the Italian was brilliant whenever called upon and looks to be transmitting confidence to the Sunderland defence with every passing week.
It seems baffling as to how Ashley Cole lost his regular spot at left-back for Chelsea. The defender is one of the most consistent players the Premier League has ever seen and on his first start in the league for over two months against Swansea last night, the England international was solid as ever. He expertly negated the threat posed by the likes Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge and did not look like breaking a sweat.
In a match where the rampaging Manchester City were handed their toughest home assignment yet, against a dangerous Liverpool side, captain fantastic Vincent Kompany was the star of the show as City were just about able to grab a victory. The imposing defender handled probably the league’s most feared striker Luis Suarez admirably and got the important equalizer with a fine header to help City on their way.
The Tony Pulis effect on Crystal Palace is beginning to show as the once leaky Eagles defence has now become a pillar of strength and at the heart of the defence, Damien Delaney along with Danny Gabbidon have been absolutely fantastic. Palace grabbed a vital away win over Aston Villa last night with Pulis’ side showing remarkable resistance. Admitedlly Villa have been a bit toothless in attack but Delaney snuffed out danger immaculately and stuck to his task very well.
There are few full-backs in world football as good as Pablo Zabaleta and his importance to Manchester City cannot be stressed enough. The defender was a surprise starter against Liverpool after returning from injury but did not show any sign of rustiness and was solid as ever at the back while posing a danger upfront as well. A typical performance from Zabaleta and you would not expect anything less than that from the defender.
One of Southampton’s star performers, Jay Rodriguez again displayed why he is a major contender to win a ticket to Brazil, with a clinical performance to hand the Saints an important away win over Cardiff City. The 24-year old grabbed a brace and an assist as he looked a class above the Bluebirds’ side.
If there was ever a player you would want in a relegation dogfight in your side then would probably have to be Scott Parker. The midfielder plays with his heart on his sleeves and you cannot expect anything less than a 110% from the midfielder. The inspirational 33-year old was immense as Fulham grabbed a vital away victory over Norwich City. Parker is not known for his goalscoring prowess but be poppedup with one of the most spectacular of goals in the last minute to the delight of the Fulham faithful. The midfielder will certainly have a big say on whether Fulham survive or not this season.
Much has been made about Arsenal’s need of a new striker in January. However, with the return of Theo Walcott from injury, the Gunners may not need a new frontman after all. Walcott is more than capable of finding the net to reduce the burden of off Olivier Giroud’s shoulders and that is what he exactly did against West Ham United as Arsenal grabbed a comeback victory. The pacy Englishman scored a quickfire brace to turn the game on its head helping Arsenal end their mini-slump and reclaim their place at the summit of the Premier League table.
Newcastle United made only one signing over the summer and what a signing he has been. Loic Remy is well and truly leading the French revolution at St. James’ Park and again grabbed a couple of goals as Newcastle United hammered Stoke City 5-1. Admittedly, Stoke played the entire second half with nine men, but you still have to put your chances away and that is what Remy exactly did.
After a couple of quiet weeks, Southampton talisman Rickie Lambert is finding his feet once again. The England striker was constant thorn for the Cardiff City defence and the Bluebirds simply could not deal with his imposing figure. The striker scored a goal and displayed an uncharacteristic deft touch to provide a wonderful assist for Rodriguez. A fine performance leading the line for the Saints.
Wayne Rooney time and again proves how critical he is for Manchester United. United fashioned typical comeback after going two goals down against a spirited Hull City and it was inevitably Rooney who was the man to lead the fightback. The striker delivered a wonderful cross for Chris Smalling to reduce the deficit before his wonderful volley from well outside the box leveled things. Then it was his run into the box that forced an error out of James Chester who diverted the ball into his own net. Wayne Rooney is single-handedly dragging United at the moment.
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