Good Neville, bad Neville

The weekend's winners and losers, literally and figuratively...

HEROES

Lukasz FabianskiA confident and composed performance from the Arsenal goalkeeper helped his side seal all three points in what had looked a tricky away day. Hang on a second, what the...?

No, we've checked and it's definitely right - an Arsenal goalkeeper had a good match, and he wasn’t even a jolly moustachioed Yorkshireman or a mental German.

Perhaps his best save was one he didn’t need to make, from Emmanuel Adebayor’s point-blank header in the 73rd minute. The Togolese forward had been flagged offside, but neither he nor his former Arsenal teammate were to know that.

It’s often said that confidence in the most important attribute for a goalkeeper, and this performance and the clean sheet that resulted from it will do Fabianski the world of good.

Samir NasriSky may have handed the post-match champers to Cesc Fabregas, but Nasri was just as, if not more integral (if it’s possible to be ’more integral’…) than the Gunners skipper, scoring the opener and playing through Nicklas Bendtner for Arsenal’s third.

The Frenchman has imposed himself on matches on a far more regular basis this season, and looks physically stronger and more energetic than in previous seasons.

Mark ClattenburgWe’re always quick to criticise when an official makes an error (although we did omit to lament Clattenburg last week for wrongly ruling out a late West Ham goal at Wolves…), so it’s only fair to praise them when they’re on the money.

Clattenburg, despite chants of ‘1-0 to the referee’ towards the end of the first half, got all of the game’s big decisions right and was strong in the face of a barrage of whinging from City players throughout the first half.

As tough a break as it was for Dedryck Boyatta to be dismissed after barely four minutes, it was the right call, as was the penalty award against Vincent Kompany for a clumsy challenge on Cesc Fabregas.

Javier HernandezIf ‘The Little Green Pea’ (as Richard Keys insists on incorrectly calling him) was just doing what comes naturally to a centre forward in smashing home his second goal of the from close range to seal Manchester United their first away win of the season at Stoke, his opener was more unorthodox.

The Mexican somehow powered the ball home with the back of his head, displaying the kind of neck strength you’d expect from a seasoned musclebound headbanging rock Adonis rather than a tiny, slightly feminine 22-year-old.

Phil NevilleLeft-back Leighton Baines may have been the one to put Everton into the lead with a superb free kick, it was his right-sided pal Neville who was perhaps Everton’s best performer on the day, keeping in-form Inter-botherer Gareth Bale in check in a way Douglas Maicon could only dream of…

Kevin Nolan and Andy CarrollIn all honesty, these goalscoring co-habitants probably weren’t Newcastle’s best performers at Upton Park on Saturday evening, so honourable mention should go to the brilliant Chiek Tiote, but it was still nice to see the Toon roomies slightly awkwardly embrace one another following their goals.

Things probably aren’t quite so warm and fuzzy when they’re bickering over spending too much time in the shower. Or when there’s a flaming Range Rover on the driveway.

VILLAINS

Richard Dunne & Jamie CarragherFar, far more thrilling than the race for the Premier League title or golden boot is the eternal struggle for own-goal supremacy.

For a few years now - essentially since Frank Sinclair left Leicester in 2004 - two men have dominated the Premier League OG scene; two men who ‘wear their hearts on their sleeves’ and are ‘as honest as the day is long’. Those two men, as you really should have guessed by now given their names are in bold above this here blathering nonsense, are Aston Villa’s Richard Dunne and Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher.

Going into this weekend’s matches, ‘Dunny’ led ‘Carra’ by seven own goals to six, and doubled his lead up at Sunderland on Saturday with an acrobatic near-post finish from a Steed Malbranque cross.

But Carragher, never one to be out-calamitied, bravely pulled one back barely 24 hours later against Blackburn at Anfield, bundling (or bungling) the ball into the net after team mate Paul Konchesky had cleared it off the line from an El Hadji Diouf shot a split second beforehand.

The footballing battle to end all footballing battles continues next weekend, sports fans.

Gary NevilleLet’s be honest, nobody outside the red half of Manchester (or Guildford, lolz) likes this guy at the best of times. Less so when he’s been ludicrously, massively, gut-wrenchingly fortunate to avoid seeing a red card, having twice clattered Stoke winger Matthew Etherington in the first half, but still looks genuinely perplexed at his manager’s decision to pull him off (stop giggling at the back).

Roberto ManciniOK, OK - one more mention of that game.

The Italian insisted post-match that his side would have won had they not gone down to 10 men. Quite how he can confidently make such a bold statement given the sending off came after just four minutes of the match we have no idea.

He then went on to reason that, as Boyata was shown a red card for his foul on Chamakh, Newcastle’s Mike Williamson should have also seen red for his ‘foul’ on Carlos Tevez when the Magpies visited Eastlands earlier this month, nimbly sidestepping all the questionable refereeing decisions that went his team’s way that day (including the aforementioned penalty award).

West HamUsually, playing at home under the floodlights against a team close to you in the league is enough to galvanise out-of-form players. Sadly for West Ham fans, their boys were not inspired in such a way in their match against fellow strugglers (yes, yes - it’s only October) Newcastle on Saturday evening.

The Hammers having exploded out of the traps and taken a deserved lead through Carlton Cole, the locals could have been forgiven for dreaming of a memorable night for all the right reasons.

Instead they were treated to 80 minutes of utter dross from Avram Grant’s side, meaning this match will be remembered for all the wrong reasons by all associated with the club, not least if the worst is to happen come May.

The haters of Fulham’s green third kitIt’s frickin awesome, regal even, and those who have spoken out against it are just afraid of it. Because they don’t understand it.

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