Heroes & Villains: Lovable barmpots, sub-human scum & hypocritical gum-flappers

FourFourTwo.com features editor James Maw names the boys who 'done good' and shames those who...didn't

HEROES

Roberto Mancini & Mario BalotelliThe Italian’s decision to make five changes from Tuesday0’s defeat in Munich was vindicated - and then some - with the Eastlanders romping to a 4-0 victory at Ewood Park.

The less-than-sexy shadow of Carlos Tevez had threatened to loom large over the previously in-form Citizens, but an emphatic victory over their north-west rivals did little to suggest any long-term damage had been done, not least with lovable barmpot Mario Balotelli once again coming to the fore.  The Italian scored his second league goal in as many games, while creating goalscoring opportunities for others and was a constant thorn in the side of the ragged Rovers defence, in what was an impressively mature performance from a player often chastised for lacking focus and drive.

If Super Mario can maintain this form, perhaps there'll be no need to splash out on a replacement for Tevez in January.

Frank Lampard We were told his career at the top level was over. He scored a hat trick on Sunday and is now, once again, in Fabio Capello’s England squad. Some decline, eh?

His treble at the Reebok helped the Blues romp to a 5-1 win over Bolton, and saw him become Chelsea’s fifth highest goalscorer of all time. Lampard still has a big role to play for Chelsea, even if that role doesn’t entail starting every single match. His desire and experience could be crucial if the West Londoners are to successfully chase down Manchesters United and City. 

"In case you were struggling, this is how many goals I've scored"

Andy Johnson We were told his career at the top level was over. He scored a hat-trick on Sundaybut is still NOT in Fabio Capello’s England squad. Where’s the justice? 

Despite the crushing disappointment of not being involved in the national set-up, Johnson will be on somewhat of a high, having scored as many Premier League goals in one afternoon as he mustered in the entirety of the 2010/11 season. In doing so, he helped Fulham to their first league win of the season and helped manager Martin Jol end a 13-match run without a win in England’s top flight, spanning the first two months of this season and the bitter, soggy dregs of his tenure at Tottenham. 

Gabriel Agbonlahor Like Johnson, Agbonlahor has already matched his tally of top flight goals from last season; his opener against Wigan was his fourth of the campaign, and the jet-heeled forward looks to be heading back to somewhere near his best. 

Scott ParkerWhile Kyle Walker was named Sky Sports’ man of the match after a decent all-round performance, capped off by his 30-yard winner, the real plaudits should go to England squad-mate Parker, who demonstrated exactly why Harry Redknapp had been so keen to take him to White Hart Lane with a dominant midfield display in Sunday’s win over Arsenal. 

The 30-year-old continued his speedy assimilation into the Tottenham engine-room, protecting the back four in a game that saw Spurs without the ball for prolonged spells. His record since arriving in N17 speaks for itself – played four, won four. 

Ooooh errrr...

Adel Taarabt With his team getting comprehensively gubbed, the QPR playmaker left Sunday’s match at Craven Cottage early and caught the bus home - clearly on the same wavelength as the fans. A real man of the people… 

VILLAINS 

Premier League fans Not all of them, obviously, but this was hardly a weekend when those on the terraces covered themselves in glory.

First their were the berks in the crowd at Goodison Park, who saw fit to launch a barrage of bottles, coins and other brick-a-brack at Liverpool players who had the audacity to celebrate scoring a goal in a rather important match,  or even - wait for it - TAKE A CORNER!  A number of Arsenal fans, meanwhile, felt it appropriate to serenade former player Emmanuel Adebayor with a reprehensible chant relating to the gun attack on the Togo national team bus during the 2010 African Cup of Nations in which two of the Tottenham loanee’s fellow countrymen, and the bus driver, were killed. This in turn led to pockets of the home support responding with that old, pathetic chestnut about Arsene Wenger. Scum, sub-human scum.

At least Norwich fans gave us something to smile about, with their chant aimed at Manchester United’s ‘green and gold’ brigade; “We’ve come for our scarves. We’ve come for our scarves. We’re Norwich City, we’ve come for our scarves.” 

"...but the vending machines here don't take £2 coins"

Bolton The very nature of this blog, and indeed football, means there is a certain degree of repetition.  As such, you have probably heard this before, but Bolton really are looking utterly atrocious at the back this season. The figures don’t make particularly pleasant reading for the club’s fans, players or manager; in the six Premier League matches since their opening day win at QPR, Wanderers have scored five, conceded 21 and accrued the disconcertingly circular total of zero points. 

As a Trotters cult hero, Owen Coyle can expect more patience than many other managers in his position would be afforded, but it can't be much longer before serious questions are asked of him.  

Mark Halsey & Ron Ganfield Wolves will certainly have felt hard done by in their home defeat to Newcastle. The Midlanders should have had a first-half penalty - when lumbering Toon defender Steven Taylor brought down Jamie O‘Hara in the penalty area - only for Halsey’s to insist the incident occurred just outside the 18-yard box. 

Then, as they chased a late equaliser, Matt Jarvis headed the ball back across for Kevin Doyle to bundle home, at the second attempt. But flag-tender Ganfield -sporting a very fetching cap that would not have looked out of place on the head of a Geography teacher on mufty day - inexplicably ruled that the ball had gone out of play and awarded the visitors a goal kick, much to the delight of Mick McCarthy.

Martin Atkinson There’s no point skirting round the issue, Atkinson made a right old clanger in dismissing Everton’s Jack Rodwell for a legal - if robust - challenge on Luis Suarez, who of course reacted in modest fashion… 

Having then made a rod for his own back, Atkinson failed to dole out matching punishments to a host of players - in red shirts and blue - for similar and, in some cases, clearly more dangerous challenges. 

One man who decided to shy away from a debate on refereeing inconsistency was Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish. The Scot reacted angrily to being asked about the key talking point of the match in an interview with the BBC, having spent the last month flapping his gums about what he had perceived to be a string of injustices against his side to anybody who would listen. Maybe he’s just getting bored of it… 

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