Pomp, spanking and japery

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The weekend's heroes and villains from the Premier League…


Dimitar Berbatov
Sunday’s win over Liverpool was the day Dimitar Berbatov has been waiting for since moving to Old Trafford just over two years ago. It was the day he finally showed the kind of complete performance he so regularly achieved at Tottenham – and in a match against one of United’s greatest rivals.

If there had been any United fans left unconvinced by the Bulgarian despite his red-hot start to the season, surely all but the most hardened pessimists will now be won over by the languid front man.

Berbatov possesses a first touch to rival that of any other in the Premier League. That combined with his newly rediscovered confidence in front of goal puts him back where he was during his Tottenham pomp as one of English football’s most feared frontmen.

Peter Odemwingie
The Nigerian forward scored his second goal for the Baggies as Roberto di Matteo’s side clinched a vital three points in a derby win over Birmingham. Having lacked a consistent goalscorer in their previous Premier League stints, West Brom may have just found a forward capable of helping them beat the drop this time round.

Also, each goal he scores makes the moronic Lokomotiv Moscow fans who displayed a racist banner following his departure from Russia look and feel even more stupid. Which can only be a good thing.

Hatem Ben Arfa
The France international and five-time Ligue 1 champion nobody has ever heard of, at least according to keen researcher Alan Shearer, made one hell of an impact on his first start in this here Premier League.

Most expected the Magpies to leave Goodison, where Manchester United were so memorably undressed last week, with any more than sore backsides (from a footballing spanking). However, thanks to a superb display and goal from French football’s latest enfant terrible, Chris Hughton’s side now have a respectable seven points from their first five Premier League matches.

Whether or not Ben Arfa will kick up a stink on Tyneside later in the season only time will tell, but if he can be kept motivated this won’t be the last time he wins a match for Newcastle this season.

Darren Bent
A lesson in not losing focus or heart, despite infrequent service. For the second time in two home matches against the team he’s now willing to admit supporting as a nipper, the Sunderland striker scored with his first and only shot of the game in the latter stages. (Thanks to Zonal Marking's Michael Cox for that interesting little stat.)

Alan Hutton
The fact it was a surprise just to see the Scotland international even named among Tottenham’s substitutes is a clear marker of how far his metaphorical star has fallen since his January 2008 move to the Lane. In fact, had youngster Kyle Walker not been out on loan at QPR, Hutton may have been even further down the pecking order.

But a first-half injury to Younes Kaboul gave the buccaneering former Rangers right-back the chance to prove his worth – and that’s exactly what he did. Hutton's valiant run led to the penalty from which Rafael van der Vaart levelled the match, before forcing the error which led to his first goal for for the club.

It’s easy to forget, or not realise, that Hutton is still only 25 and should have his best years ahead of him. Perhaps given Vedran Corluka’s less than commanding performances in these early stages of the season he has a chance to have a pretty good one at Tottenham.


Arsene Wenger
To the hilarity of Arsenal fans, the Professor is famed for fielding questions about questionable decisions in the Gunners' favour by claiming "I did not see it”. Perhaps his hearing is a bit squiffy too, because it seems he didn’t catch Sunderland’s stadium announcer explain that there would be a MINIMUM of four minutes' added time at the end of the match.

It’s not like Sunderland’s late, late equaliser came two minutes beyond the four-minute mark, it was a mere 14 seconds - a period in which Wenger's team managed to cram in some notably shoddy defending.

After shoving fourth official Martin Atkinson in the back, Wenger reportedly exclaimed that "If you have a watch, you can control time.” You’re thinking of Bernard’s Watch, mate…

Marouane Fellaini
One of Fellaini’s favourite hobbies is collecting yellow cards. He's got one from most Premier League grounds - 20 from his first two seasons in England. Impressive stuff.

Despite being booked so regularly, Fellaini is yet to receive his marching orders, which is all the more surprising given he attempted to decapitate Newcastle’s Mike Williamson with his elbow on Saturday afternoon.

But justice was done, in a funny way - literally - as the be-afroed Belgian blasted wide in the dying stages when it had looked easier to find the net, and Newcastle held out to seal the win.

Lee Bowyer
The Birmingham midfielder was forced to apologise to a West Brom fan after getting involved in a heated exchange with her following his substitution at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Swearing at a grandmother in front of her seven-year-old grandson isn’t great form, although by Lee Bowyer’s standards it was something of a career highpoint.

El Hadji Diouf
A bit of textbook Dioufian japery lead to Blackburn’s opener against Fulham, as the Senegalese pantomime villain barged into Cottagers keeper Mark Schwarzer with absolutely no intention of challenging for the ball. But...

Mark Schwarzer
...for someone tipping the scales at 14 stone 7, the Australian did seem to go to ground a bit easily following Diouf’s shove. Some (including Sam Allardyce) would also claim the Cottagers' custodian was lucky to be on the pitch after a fingertip save outside the area. Ewood's not the easiest place for a visiting goalkeeper but Schwarzer rarely looked comfortable, with crosses causing chaos and punts prompting pandemonium.

With deputy David Stockdale impressing earlier in the season as Schwarzer looked Arsenal-bound, Mark Hughes might drop the Aussie. Fortunately for Fulham these errors went unpunished by either the referee or Blackburn’s strikers… Diouf was probably too busy letting the air out of the tyres of the visitors' team bus. More to read...
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