Heroes & Villains: Henchmen, stamps and Danny Dyer
After a record-breakingly goaltastic Premier League weekend, James Maw sorts the wheat from the chuff...
RESULTS Sat 27 Nov Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackpool, Everton 1-4 West Bromwich Albion, Fulham 1-1 Birmingham City, Manchester United 7-1 Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City, West Ham United 3-1 Wigan Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 Sunderland Sun 28 Nov Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Liverpool
Nothing sums up Dimitar BerbatovÃ¢ÂÂs Manchester United career better than the last few weeks. During barren run of 10 goalless matches, very little came off bar a few flicks and flashes which ultimately led to nothing; then, just as his detractors were starting to write him off, an utterly scintillating performance where everything seemed to click.
While itÃ¢ÂÂs fair to say BerbatovÃ¢ÂÂs partnership with Wayne Rooney has yet to develop in the way many had envisaged when the Bulgarian arrived at Old Trafford just over two years ago, it's surely telling that his reappearance on the scoresheet coincided with RooneyÃ¢ÂÂs return to regular action: the last time Rooney started two successive games Berbatov scored a hat-trick against Liverpool.
He may have frustrated the Gunners faithful with his ponderous play in the final third against Spurs last weekend, but the MoroccanÃ¢ÂÂs performance as Arsenal returned to winning ways at Aston Villa was far more efficient and ultimately decisive.
After neatly prodding home ArsenalsÃ¢ÂÂs third just as the visitors were starting to look nervous about protecting their lead, Chamakh had the presence of mind to dink a square pass to the unmarked Jack Wilshere to nod home ArsenalÃ¢ÂÂs fourth, when many strikers would have gone for goal themselves.
Where would West Ham be without their captain marvel? Well, literally and figuratively speaking theyÃ¢ÂÂd be in the same place Ã¢ÂÂ East London and bottom of the Premier League Ã¢ÂÂ but without him theyÃ¢ÂÂd be further adrift. From the rest of the Premier League, not London.
The former Chelsea and Newcastle midfielder lead by example once again as Avram GrantÃ¢ÂÂs side beat fellow strugglers Wigan in a match the club's marketing department named Ã¢ÂÂSave Our SeasonÃ¢ÂÂ.
The 30-year-old scored his fifth goal of the season and ran the midfield as the East Londoners clinched only their second league win of the season. But with Harry RedknappÃ¢ÂÂs tracksuited henchman Joe Jordan watching from the stands, perhaps the Hammers will have to fend off their neighbours once again in January.
Can a manager have a more satisfying experience than seeing one of his substitutes pop up and score a crucial goal? Perhaps seeing two of your substitutes pop up and score crucial goals Ã¢ÂÂ and then winning.
Credit to Mick McCarthy, then, for throwing Stephen Hunt and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake into the fray at the right time against Sunderland on Saturday Ã¢ÂÂ albeit that Hunt actually entered the game with Wolves winning, only for the Molineuxistas to fall behind before benefited from the tracksuit-shedding duoÃ¢ÂÂs divine intervention. With matches against Birmingham, Blackburn and Wigan all on the horizon, now would certainly be a good time to put a little run together.
Two words: postage stamp. That is, of course, the cliche used to describe a shot that travels perfectly into the top corner - exactly where the goalkeeper canÃ¢ÂÂt get it. This is exactly where West Brom wide-man Chris Brunt bent his 30-yard free-kick past a helpless Tim Howard. First class (no signature required).
The left-backÃ¢ÂÂs contribution to one of LiverpoolÃ¢ÂÂs better away performances this season wonÃ¢ÂÂt be remembered favourably. Aaron Lennon may be quick, but thatÃ¢ÂÂs really no excuse for letting the Spurs winger sail past him with such ease in the dying seconds of the game. If nothing else he could have just hauled down the nippy Yorkshire whippet in the box, safe in the knowledge Spurs wouldÃ¢ÂÂve missed the resulting spot-kick.
You have to wonder exactly how much worse things would have been for Konchesky had Lennon seen more of the ball throughout SundayÃ¢ÂÂs match at White Hart Lane Ã¢ÂÂ particularly with the former Fulham full-back booked in the first half hour of the game and Lennon being exactly the kind of player you donÃ¢ÂÂt want to be facing for an hour under a yellow card.
With everybody fit, Liverpool really arenÃ¢ÂÂt too far off the quality of the top five Ã¢ÂÂ but Konchesky is one player that will certainly need to be replaced if the Reds are to compete with the Premier LeagueÃ¢ÂÂs best.
Alex & Petr Cech
If thereÃ¢ÂÂs any justice in this cruel, cruel world of ours, thereÃ¢ÂÂll still be time to re-edit Danny DyerÃ¢ÂÂs Pwoppa Nawty Football Banta Ã¢ÂÂ the DVD on the lists of every WKD-supping, Tim Lovejoy-worshipping Ã¢ÂÂJack the ladÃ¢ÂÂ this Christmas Ã¢ÂÂ and include "these two maaaaaaags makin a wite pwoppa dogÃ¢ÂÂs dinner of it".
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂ being another avoidable goal, the Brazilian overhitting his back-pass to his keeper, Cech failing to read the pass and stumbling as it rolled heavily past him, giving Andy Carroll the chance to pounce and put Newcastle ahead.
A vital relegation clash is no time for a record signing to produce a pathetic penalty. The Wigan striker's spot-kick was saved by Robert Green, although Robson Green could have got to it (Jerome Wotsit would probably have gone the wrong way, the clot). Things didnÃ¢ÂÂt really improve from that point for the Argentinian; he even caused a second Wigan goal to be disallowed by loitering in an offside position as Steve Gohouri prodded home. Linesman Martin Yarby flagged despite Boselli not being active. Not strictly his fault, but it summed up his day nonetheless.
Blackburn's trip to Manchester United represented a bit of a Spurs old boys' get-together, with Dimitar Berbatov, Pascal Chimbonda and Paul Robinson doubtless sharing a pre-game laugh about the days the former would score a hatful while the latter pair would haplessly watch goal after goal sail past at the other end. The longjohn-wearing Guadeloupite got so much into the spirit of the occasion, he even played a crisp, pin-point 20-yard through-ball to Berbatov, which the Bulgarian promptly blasted past the increasingly concerned-looking Robinson.
Gonzalo Jara, Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Lee Mason, David Moyes and Tim Cahill
They say two wrongs donÃ¢ÂÂt make a right, and Everton have learned the hard way that five wrongs donÃ¢ÂÂt have a positive effect either.
A cavalcade of concerning conduct and crunching challenges began when West BromÃ¢ÂÂs Gonzalo Jara appeared to enter into an 'aerial duel' with Toffees left-back Leighton Baines leading with an errant elbow; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. Steven Pienaar then attempted to barge the Chilean over; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. As the ball ran loose, Mikel Arteta steamed in on innocent bystander Chris Brunt; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. Jara then in turn steamed in on Arteta; referee Lee Mason merrily waved play on. The Spaniard retaliated by stamping on the clearly riled Jara; referee Lee Mason merrily waved plaÃ¢ÂÂ¦ sorry, force of habit.
It was at this point that Mason finally opted to stop the game, eventually doling out a red card to Arteta and leaving the rest of us perplexed as to why he didnÃ¢ÂÂt stop the whole ugly affair much sooner. But it didnÃ¢ÂÂt stop there. Tim Cahill later raked his boot down the back of JaraÃ¢ÂÂs leg in what looked a premeditated act of vengeance, before David Moyes refused to criticise ArtetaÃ¢ÂÂs stamp, Ã¢ÂÂreasoningÃ¢ÂÂ that had JaraÃ¢ÂÂs initial challenge on Baines been punished, the whole affair wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt have escalated.
Kevin Davies, Saloman Kalou, Maxi Rodriguez and Jermaine Beckford
These four players, all of which play for clubs who failed to win on Matchday 15, were all guilty of missing utter sitters. Of the quartet, perhaps the most rueful looking was Maxi Rodriguez, who failed to even get a proper shot away having been played in by Fernando Torres against Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs not to say the other three should be completely let off the hook.
Davies dawdled and subsequently failed to hit the target under pressure having got his feet all tangled Ã¢ÂÂ not literally, that would be horrible. Kalou opted to shoot with his stronger right foot from a narrow angle when his left foot looked much the better option. Beckford, following his glaring late miss in MondayÃ¢ÂÂs draw at Sunderland, volleyed across goal and well wide when a Premier League striker really should at least test the goalkeeper. Which begs the question: is Beckford a Premier League striker?