Greetings and welcome back for another review of the weekend gone by. As ever it’s a mix of the sublime and ridiculous, with penalty saves and red cards dominating the action. along with a beleaguered manager to keep them all in line. Let’s get into it.
Petr Cech – The rule on this column is that if a goalkeeper makes a penalty save they are included in team of the weekend. Every now and then though we end up with a situation where two keepers come up with the goods and I have to make a choice. So, with apologies to Matt Ryan, Petr Cech gets the nod for two reasons. Firstly, his save from Troy Deeney actually helped his side to a win rather than just being a mere consolation, but secondly, because it was his landmark 200th Premier League clean sheet. Cech was in this team for all the wrong reasons last week so I’m pleased he was able to put things right this week.
Eric Bailly – The long-awaited return of the Ivorian centre-half was supposed to herald a return to the solid Man Utd we have seen on so many occasions this season. It was all looking good, as Bailly pulled out a turn Maradona would be proud of in the first half, however, his joy turned to shame in the second half when he somehow turned a Sadio Mane cross into his own net. I still don’t understand the physics of how Bailly managed to botch a clearance so badly but his own goal is probably the result of football karma.
Leighton Baines – Bainesly Harriott serving up another assist! He’s been out for a long while but he looked fresh as a daisy on Saturday and his assist capped off a successful return to action. To be fair when you’re replacing Cuco Martina you’re always going to look good but this was like the Baines of old, back in tandem will fellow marauding full-back Seamus Coleman.
James Tomkins – Quite the Saturday evening for Tomkins, as he spent the majority of the game pulling off ridiculous blocks to keep the Chelsea scoreline down, mostly to the cost of Olivier Giroud. Then he got into a fight with Alvaro Morata to celebrate his achievements. The block on the line to keep Giroud’s first-half effort out was absolutely ridiculous and had Palace gone on to snatch a point, they would have owed much of it to Tomkins.
Marcus Rashford – There’s been a lot of speculation that Rashford was going to be pushed aside by the arrival of Alexis Sanchez and that has been largely true, but on Saturday the pecking order might have been shuffled for the foreseeable future. Rashford scored two goals, the first in particular a rocket of a shot that was good enough to grace any game let alone a game against your great rivals. I don’t think Rashford’s place in Gareth Southgate’s squad this summer was ever in doubt but this was a timely reminder of what he can do when afforded minutes on the pitch.
Kenedy – For all Newcastle have had struggles signing players in recent times, it’s hard to argue that the bargain bin signings they picked up in January have improved their survival chances. Kenedy netted a pair of goals on Saturday, the first a result of some clever control and the second a wonderful counter-attack team goal. It’s been a struggle at times this season but Rafa has pulled Newcastle up to 13th and edging towards safety. For Kenedy, though he’s clearly flourishing under regular first-team football but it remains to be seen whether it is enough to earn him a place at Chelsea next season, whoever their manager is.
Anthony Knockaert – Clearly being hit in the face by a football is Anthony Knockeart’s kryptonite, as his reaction was to come up with a horrific two-footed lunge that rightly earned him a red card. Last season’s Championship Player of the Season has not really hit the heights this term but not being able to provide an end product is one thing, getting sent off for a stupid tackle at 2-0 down is another. Sadly it’s the manager of the month curse for Chris Hughton.
Heung-Min Son – Sometimes everything conspires to make a great headline a reality. “Son lights up Mother’s Day” will doubtless be used across various news outlets but another pair of goals for the South Korean meant Spurs coped just fine without Harry Kane. How long the England striker will be out for remains to be seen but they have a more than capable deputy in Son.
Jordan Ayew – For all of Ayew’s good work during Swansea’s recent revival, his red card on Saturday will mean a 3 match ban and that could be costly for Swansea. The tackle itself was horrendous and a definite red card, though you can’t ignore that at the same time Ayew was on the wrong end of a pretty bad tackle that could have had the same fate.
Jamie Vardy – What a great goal! A first time left-footed volley following a pinpoint Riyad Mahrez pass was the beginning of West Brom’s latest downfall, which might yet cost Alan Pardew his job. Leicester, of course, went on to win 4-1 and I could have included any of Iheanacho, Mahrez or Vardy but went for Vards because it’s a goal of the month contender (and I picked Mahrez last week).
Chris Wood – I have opted to focus on the positives from West Ham vs Burnley, rather than the protests and pitch invasions that will dominate the headlines. Wood returned to action with a goal last weekend and added two more from the bench this week to condemn West Ham to a heavy home defeat and strengthen Burnley’s chances of finishing 7th, which might yet prove to be a Europa League place.
Mauricio Pellegrino – Southampton fans who braved the 350 mile trip to Newcastle showed their displeasure of the state their club is in by booing their manager whenever the ball came near him on Saturday. A 3-0 defeat obviously won’t have helped and I’ll be surprised if Pellegrino is still in charge for their next league game in 3 weeks time. I, for one, will be mightily relieved. I keep wanting to call him Pellegrini and of course they are different people but I have to check EVERY TIME and it’s annoying. So yeah, time for a change.
That’s it for another week but I’ll be back next week with a mix of FA Cup and Premier League heroes and villains. Bye for now.