In the opening weekend of Barclays Premier League action, who were the top performers for their clubs? There were plenty of fantastic displays, but who makes it into the TBR Team of the Week?
Goalkeeper- Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea). 8/10
Not too many contenders for this one but I’m going with the Chelsea man because of the astute impact he made on his Premier League debut. Petr Cech is certainly a difficult act to follow but the Belgian got off to an impressive start as Chelsea defeated Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor on Monday night. Courtois always looked assured of himself, almost oozing of confidence, but you couldn’t blame him if Mourinho gave him the nod over one of the best goalkeepers ever to play the game in Cech. Courtois imposed himself and didn’t let the occasion get to him in the slightest. Very commanding.
Left-Back- Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City). 9/10
The Serbian found himself back in Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI for City’s opener against Newcastle at St James Park as City won 2-0. Helping his defence to a clean sheet, he was very composed and comfortable on the ball. Kolarov looked very assured and got the balance between when to attack and defend absolutely spot on. I expect this man to play a big part in City’s attempt to retain their Premier League title. He’s also deadly from dead ball situations and that’s worth a few points on its own.
Centre-Back- James Chester (Hull City) 8/10
On the back of a very impressive Premier League debut season, Chester was very prominent in Hull City’s 1-0 away to Harry Redknapp’s new boys Queens Park Rangers. Chester raised above the experienced Rio Ferdinand to bag his first goal of the season. Hull’s defence looked solid throughout and Chester played a more than significant part in the process. Very encouraging performance from the Wales international.
Centre-Back- Calum Chambers (Arsenal). 8/10
Although he had the luxury of making his Arsenal debut against a managerless Crystal Palace side, there’s no doubt that the ex Southampton starlet impressed as he made himself comfortable at the Emirates. Chambers was brave without being too rash as a young player. He looked very solid and mature beyond his tender years. One for the future, no questions asked!
Right-Back- Angel Rangel (Swansea). 9/10
Not many gave Swansea a chance of getting a draw, let alone nicking a 2-1 win against Manchester United as the Swans spoilt Louis van Gaal’s first Premier League game in charge at Old Trafford. The Spaniard gets my vote ahead of Branislav Ivanovic and Phil Bardsley because of his remarkable concentration levels as Swansea’s defence was constantly under siege at the hands of a multi-million strike force. Application and decision-making, excellent
Midfield- Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea). 10/10
A midfield master class on his Premier League debut for Chelsea at Turf Moor as the Spanish magician provided two crucial assists, one out of this world (Schurrle assist) as he guided Chelsea to a 3-1 after the blues came from behind early on in the game. Barclays Man of the Match and certainly player of the week.
Midfield- David Silva (Manchester City). 8/10
After signing a new five-year deal at Man City last week, Silva started the new season with a bang as he grabbed City’s opener in a 2-0 victory over the Magpies at St James’ Park. Arguably the best player in the league, Silva showed why the sky blues were so keen to tie him down on a long-term contract, He kept Man City ticking over in this one, making the right pass, the right runs and rarely putting a foot wrong. A very silky performance.
Midfield- Raheem Sterling (Liverpool). 9/10
One of English football’s most prized young assists, Southampton struggled to get to grips with Sterling as his ferocious pace set alight the first Super Sunday encounter of the season. The England international opened the scoring at Anfield against the Saints and most of Liverpool’s promising play came through the youngster.
Midfield- Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal). 8/10
Perhaps not his most electrifying performance in a Gunner’s shirt, yet the Welshman was key in dragging his side back to life following the concession of a shock first half goal from Crystal Palace at the Emirates. Ramsey kept the ball rolling, linking up with Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshire and Alexis Sanchez in and around the final third with some silky touches and moves. However it was goal right at the depth that secured all three points for Arsene Wenger’s men. Although it was a tap-in, he made sure he was composed enough to keep himself onside to poke in the decisive goal of the game.
Striker- Saido Berahanio (WBA ). 9/10
Perhaps one of the surprise packages of last season, Berahino netted a brace as West Brom drew 2-2 with Sunderland in a great game at the Hawthorns. The England U21 star rescued his side from an early 1-0 deficit and almost secured all three points for the Baggies in Alan Irvine’s first game in charge. Very instinctive, clever and efficient when close to goal. A real prospect.
Striker- Diego Costa (Chelsea). 8/10
A close one between Costa and Edin Dzeko, I’m going to give it to the Brazilian on the basis of his ability to deliver with the up-most of pressure on his shoulders. Following Scott Arfield’s opener for Burnley, Costa poached an equalizer inside the twelve yard box to bring Chelsea back from the dead. He showed very well and his link up play with Fabregas looked very promising indeed. Fantastic work ethic for a striker and will to succeed. Impressive debut and ‘there’s plenty more from where that came from’ as they say.
Do you agree with our selection or have we left someone out from your club who really impressed in their side’s first match of the Premier League season? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .
Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract
The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.
Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.
He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.
Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.
It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.
Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.
“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.
“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.
“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”
Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.
It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.
Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.
They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.
There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.
This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.
Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.
Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.
This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.
He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.
A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.
Tottenham Hotspur fans react to Danny Welbeck dive
Tottenham Hotspur fans were not pleased with Danny Welbeck’s dive v AC Milan.
Arsenal successfully knocked AC Milan out of the Europa League last night with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium. The hero of the night was England forward Danny Welbeck. The striker scored two goals as Arsenal completed a deserved 5-1 aggregate victory over the Rossoneri.
But Milan had taken an early lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s bamboozling long-range strike. Arsenal, at that stage, were looking on the ropes. Welbeck though won and then dispatched a penalty to level the scoring. The word ‘won’ being the optimum word.
Welbeck dived for the penalty, there is no doubt about that. Ricardo Rodriguez barely breathed on the Arsenal man, who tumbled to the ground hopefully. When the penalty was given, he looked in disbelief.
For Tottenham Hotspur fans it was a moment they did not appreciate.
Spurs have seen Dele Alli victimised throughout the season, and some would say rightly so, for his diving. There is no doubt that the England midfielder has dived this season and not many Tottenham fans would suggest not.
But the anger here lies with what Tottenham fans believe is hypocrisy. There is also a certain level or irony given a thinly veiled dig by Arsene Wenger against Spurs’ players this season.
After the highly controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield, where Harry Kane was accused of diving v Liverpool, Wenger had this to say, as reported by the BBC:
“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it.
“But English players have learned very quickly and might be the masters now.”
“Sometimes players play a little bit with the rules. How far can you go? That is down to the referees.”
With Arsenal their next Premier League opponents, Arsene Wenger’s barb was not hard to see.
When that statement came out Tottenham fans quickly pointed out occasions when Arsenal’s English stars had been caught diving. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were prominent examples. Now, in Welbeck, Tottenham have seen another.
Arsenal fans will be happy that their team have booked a place in the next round of the Europa League. On balance it was more than a fair result as over two legs Arsenal outplayed the Italian giants.
But the Welbeck moment certainly put an asterix on the game for Spurs fans.
Here is some of the best reaction from Twitter…
Özil against Watford was falling down when a gust of wind went past him. It was appalling. Welbeck yesterday was one of the worst dives
— Joe B ??????? (@JblincoTHFC) March 16, 2018
Only just seen the Welbeck dive, he must be embarrassed even appealing for that.
— Joshhh (@JJonesTHFC) March 16, 2018
— Harry Hotspur (@HarryHotspurWHL) March 15, 2018
If you had any doubt about how this country treats Dele Alli (one of its brightest prospects in years) look at the difference in how the media and in particular fans, are talking about the #Welbeck dive. ? #COYS #THFC
— Gary Ford (@Spursfordie) March 15, 2018
Imagine if this was @dele_official who did this and the media onslaught! Danny Welbeck you diving cheat! Hope the likes of @talkSPORT @GaryLineker @alanshearer to name a few subject Danny to the same treatment they have subjected Dele too this season! https://t.co/MXFMAkOGcN
— H (@LittleMissTHFC) March 15, 2018
— Lucas (@MoughtTHFC) March 15, 2018
Welbeck is a cheat end of. Ruined a good game.
— THFC (@RaoullyT69) March 15, 2018
Look how everyone destroys Dele over diving. No one will comment on Welbeck’s dive. Shocking! #THFC
— Harry Hotspur (@HarryHotspurWHL) March 15, 2018
— Steve Williams (@spurssteve69) March 15, 2018
Welbeck dives. Dele will be in trouble in the morning. #THFC
— Stephen Vincent (@StevieV14) March 15, 2018
If Dele Alli did what Welbeck just did?
— Billy Adams (@ThfcAdams) March 15, 2018
Victory in Milan, but is this another false dawn for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger?
Arsenal were triumphant in Milan despite their recent miserable form.
Arsenal ended their losing run of four matches with an excellent performance away to AC Milan in the Europa League. This competition has the potential to save the Gunners season and the commitment from every player suggested that they want to go all the way.
They were coming up against a team full of confidence under Gennaro Gattuso. Milan hadn’t lost a match since the end of December. The Serie A club hadn’t conceded a goal in six and had won five of those inside ninety minutes.
These sides came into this fixture in remarkably different form, but football is played on grass and not on paper.
Despite Milan having more attempts, it was Arsenal who created the better chances. They had a couple of half-chances early on before the opening goal.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a hot and cold start to life in a Gunners’ shirt, but he was one of the best players on the pitch in Italy. His goal was emphatically taken as he drove the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
It is important to capitalise when you are on top, especially away from home in European competitions and Arsenal did just that. As the first-half progressed, they continued to create the better opportunities. Both Danny Welbeck and Mkhitaryan had good chances to double the visitors’ lead, but they were squandered.
In stoppage-time of half-time, Arsenal scored a second to give them a commanding lead in the tie. It was a great move from the team and Mesut Ozil found Aaron Ramsey who coolly rounded Donnarumma before putting the ball into the net.
The first-half performance from Arsenal was one of the best that supporters have seen this season. They were better all over the pitch and showed the work rate that they had lacked in previous weeks. Milan pushed in the second half, but they couldn’t penetrate the Gunners’ defence.
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi were both excellent. Arsene Wenger will be hoping that both are returning to their best after some uncharacteristic errors in previous matches. The centre-back pairing made eight ball recoveries and were always in the right position on Thursday.
Patrick Cutrone is a teenager with a big future, but the young striker had no luck out of the Arsenal defence and that will encourage the manager.
Another player to emerge with credit is Danny Welbeck. The ineligibility of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the injury of Alexandre Lacazette means that the Englishman started the game up front for Arsenal. It was a huge opportunity for him after being pushed down the pecking order at the club and he took it with both hands.
The Englishman worked tirelessly and caused problems with his movement.
Although his final product wasn’t great, he was a constant threat and led the defensive effort from the front. Welbeck will never be a leading Premier League striker, but he is effective in matches such as this one. He deserves more opportunities during the run-in.
It would be too soon to get carried away for Arsenal fans. There are still questions regarding Arsene Wenger and the work rate of the players, but this was an excellent performance that finally provides the club with positive momentum. They have had a miserable few weeks and the supporters can get excited about their team once again.
When the draw was made, a lot of supporters checked their expectations when it came to the Europa League. Milan were the overwhelming favourites, but Arsenal have taken a dominant position in the tie and should be able to finish the job in London.
If they can do that, they will move into the quarter-final stage. Although it will be difficult to win it, they will have as good a chance as any.
There have been many false dawns for Arsenal in recent years and this could be another one. That said, it takes enormous character to go away to a huge stadium like the San Siro after a poor run of form and win comfortably.
Considering the criticism that they have had for their lack of desire, few would have thought the Gunners to be capable of a result like this.
It is now up to Wenger to prove that he can get this level of effort and performance out of his players on a regular basis. The Frenchman remains in a difficult position with no margin for error. If he is going to keep his job, he needs to finish the season strongly and win the Europa League.
It won’t be an easy challenge, but this performance and result will give him hope that he can upset the odds to claim his first European trophy.
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