26. Olympus Has Forlan

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The best football writing of 2012

2012 has been a great year for football writing, quasi football writing and anti-football writing. Here are just some of the best examples I’ve read in the last 12 months. Some may have more literary merit than others, but all are great for different reasons. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Has the transfer market become self aware? by Andi Thomas for The FCF – http://thefcf.co.uk/2012/01/25/transfer-market-aware/10781/

Muamba: underneath the sensationalism is a genuinely positive story for football, at last by Michael Moruzzi for Regista Blog http://www.regista-blog.com/2012/03/can-we-make-the-positive-response-to-muamba-last/

AFC Wimbledon: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart by Jamie Cutteridge for The Real FA Cup http://therealfacup.co.uk/2012/04/21/afc-wimbledon-the-pains-of-being-pure-at-heart/

Rafa’s Chelsea: A Journal by Rob Brown for The Carvalho Peninsulahttp://carvalhopeninsula.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/rafas-chelsea-journal.html

Coming up for air by Charlie Anderson for The Carvalho Peninsula http://carvalhopeninsula.tumblr.com/post/36841269534/coming-up-for-air

12 ways in which Fulham are ace by Max Grieve for Magic Spongers – http://magicspongers.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/12-ways-in-which-fulham-are-ace.html

The Danger of Mob Mentality by Ally Moncrieff for Balls, Boobs and Blow http://ballsboobsandblow.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/the-danger-of-mob-mentality/

Robin van POINTLESS by Magic Spongers http://magicspongers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/robin-van-pointless.html

#34 – Emmanuel Frimpong by The 100 Worst People on Twitter http://100worstpeopleontwitter.tumblr.com/post/31332813011/34-emmanuel-frimpong

Nobody wins QPR ping-pong tournament by John Foster for Four Four Two

http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/backofthenet/archive/2012/12/14/botn-nobody-wins-qpr-ping-pong-tournament.aspx

Gary Neville’s punditry is the best, but others need to raise their game by Michael Cox for The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/nov/27/gary-neville-punditry-sky-bbc

Antisemitic chants are sickening – and West Ham fans must show they care by Jacob Steinberg for The Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/nov/26/west-ham-antisemitic-chants-sickening?CMP=twt_gu

The Trial Of John T by Greg Theoharis for Dispatches from a Football Sofa ­http://dispatchesfromafootballsofa.com/2012/02/05/the-trial-of-john-terry/

Scott Murray on Cesar Luis Menotti’s Triumph by Surreal Football http://surrealfootball.com/post/34700950575/scott-murray-on-cesar-luis-menottis-triumph

An idiot’s guide to the Ballon d’Or shortlist by Tom Adams for Eurosport http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/early-doors/idiot-guide-ballon-d-shortlist-090448634.html

New advert for the Premier League is actually a terrible ‘advert for the Premier League’by Nick Dunmore for Fisted Awayhttp://fistedaway.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/new-advert-for-the-premier-league-is-actually-a-terrible-advert-for-the-premier-league/

Paul Jewell and the further decline of Ipswich Town – by Gavin Barber for The Two Unfortunateshttp://thetwounfortunates.com/paul-jewell-and-the-further-decline-of-ipswich-town/

Manchester United And Liverpool, Still Suffering From Their 2009 Hangover by Callum Hamilton for SB Nation http://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2012/9/22/3372736/manchester-united-and-liverpool-still-suffering-from-their-2009

Return of the rascal king by John McGee for Bring me the head of Keith Mincher http://www.keithmincher.com/return-of-the-rascal/

Soccer under the Swastika: Football’s forgotten Holocaust victims by Kieran Dodds for In Bed With Maradona http://inbedwithmaradona.com/journal/2012/9/17/soccer-under-the-swastika-footballs-forgotten-holocaust-vict.html

The whistleblower left out in the cold by James Horncastle for Eurosport http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/pitchside-europe/whistleblower-left-cold-164804765.html

2016-17: The Season in Review by Rob Langham for The Two Unfortunates http://thetwounfortunates.com/2016-17-the-season-in-review/

My First Game for Manchester United by Robin van Persie’s inner child for Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed http://rgsoas.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/everton-vs-manchester-united-as-it-happened/

Why ‘Vile’ Football Can Look Olympics In The Face by Jack Howes for The Daisy Cutterhttp://www.thedaisycutter.co.uk/2012/08/why-vile-football-can-look-olympics-in-the-face/

The Last Championsby Juliet Jacques for The New Statesmanhttp://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/07/last-champions

A good piece of business?

Four goals in three games have seen Robin van Persie already begin to repay his transfer fee

 

by Rich Ward

In the wake of Robin van Persie’s very high-profile transfer to Manchester United, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger won praise from all quarters for a piece of “good business”.

The spin was that he had managed to offload an aging, injury-prone striker, with only a year left on his contract, for £24 million.

However, the reality is perhaps a little different. Despite coming with a ‘crock warning’, RVP actually made at least 33 appearances in three of his final four seasons with the Gunners – not to mention his tally of 37 goals in 48 appearances last term.

While it remains to seen whether Podolski, Cazorla and Giroud can provide enough firepower between them to compensate for van Persie’s exit, from Manchester United’s perspective they will be delighted that he appears to have started where he left off last season, with four stunning goals in his last two games.

The irony is that, with Wayne Rooney yet to recover from a deep gash to his leg, Alex Ferguson is currently relying on the “injury-prone” Dutchman to spearhead the Red Devils’ attack.

In fact, so seamless has the former Gunner’s integration at Old Trafford been that Rooney, who even before he was studded against Fulham looked far from the top of his game, might find it hard to get back in the starting XI.

If selling RVP was a good bit of business for Wenger, how must Sir Alex be feeling? Pretty satisfied I’d imagine.

 

About the author:

Rich Ward is a writer, journalist and guitarist. You can follow him on Twitter, if you feel so inclined.

Robin van Persie: Better Late than Never

Image

Robin van Persie in action against Swansea City

I wanted to start this with a comparison, another Premier League transfer comparable to that of Robin van Persie to Manchester United in terms of scale and impact on both clubs, but I struggled to find anything appropriate.

Tottenham weren’t quite at the same level as Arsenal when Dimitar Berbatov left for United. Alan Shearer’s move from Blackburn to Newcastle was tempered in its impact by the hometown club element. Even Samir Nasri’s decision to trade London for Manchester last summer is separated from van Persie’s by virtue of the Frenchman having had a far less enduring impact on the club than his Dutch team-mate.

Whatever way you look at it, the transfer is tough to take for Arsenal fans.

This is a player who has been with the club for eight years, and is part of an ever-decreasing circle of those who have had a fair glimpse of glory, be it through the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in 2006 or even the Carling Cup final the following year.

Then, of course, you have his contribution to the here and now. 30 league goals last season made van Persie less dispensable than at arguably any other time in his Arsenal career, although a portion of this may be down to the relative paucity of the attacking talent that surrounded him over the last 12 months.

Sure, measures have been taken to rectify this gulf in the close-season, and many rightfully interpreted the arrival of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla as a precursor to the former Feyenoord man’s exit. The outraged minority (I’m looking at you, Piers) may however continue to propagate the image of Abramovich-era football as an entertainment of immediacy. Having been offered multiple carrots in the years since the superfood salad of an unbeaten 2003/04 season, there are plenty who lack the patience to favour a long-term model in comparison to a quantifiable improvement over the prior campaign.

This, of course, is by no means limited to Arsenal – you need look no further than the treatment of several of Jose Mourinho’s successors at Chelsea for another even more extreme example – but this seems ironic given van Persie’s imminent destination.

It is difficult to argue that United’s patience with manager Sir Alex Ferguson in his early years in the job, when he was lacking in two varieties of title, would be tolerated in the modern era. However that patience has played a major role in the club reaching its current level and, yes, being in a position where they are able to entice a player of van Persie’s calibre.

While the financial gap between Champions League and the rest hinders the case for blind faith, there remains an argument for the trusting middle-ground common to Arsenal fans over the years but from which a proportion of the Emirates faithful is beginning to distance itself.

Part of Ferguson’s success has come from demolishing and rebuilding empires when he begins to see the pieces falling, to the point where four-year cycles often replicate those of international sides’ World Cup campaigns when it comes to changes of style as well as raw materials. With this in mind, the exit of van Persie could have another hidden benefit.

His departure almost forces Arsene Wenger’s hand, requiring the manager to mould a playing style which fits his new and expensively-assembled forward line, rather than having the luxury on being able to fall back on the goals of his talisman to achieve what is required. Indeed, with some arguing that van Persie is unlikely to have more than two more years of blistering form ahead of him, the striker remaining at Arsenal could well have had an even more detrimental effect were he to leave further down the line with money having already been wasted on an elaborate plan B.

One element of the saga I have not touched upon is the allegations of ‘lack of ambition’ leveled at van Persie by certain Arsenal fans. For the pure ridiculousness of this statement, I will leave it untouched.

Tribalism on the terraces

In the second part of his series on racism in football, Rich Ward turns to the fans.

In ‘Leading figures setting a terrible example’, I discussed the issue of how Sepp Blatter and others are failing to show fans the (correct) way when it comes to racism.

What I didn’t cover in the article was the underlying issues on the terraces that are also hindering the path to racism-free football.

Recent allegations involving Chelsea fans chanting racist songs on the way back from Norwich further illustrates how some seem to have been inspired by the actions of players, managers and football chiefs.

In the past few months, racism has somehow become acceptable again and now seems to be rearing its ugly head on a weekly basis.

One of the fundamental problems is that football is such a tribal sport. So often down the years, fervent devotion to one team has spilt over into incidents of abuse.

Gary Neville was a favourite target for Liverpool fans, United fans will forever hate Carlos Tevez for crossing the Manchester divide and Sol Campbell experienced the same problems when he swapped Tottenham for Arsenal.

Fans work themselves into such frenzy that they even turn on their own.

This season, Blackburn supporters have repeatedly laid into manager Steve Kean and who can forget the hanging of a David Beckham effigy after his infamous World Cup red card while playing for England.

Most recently, in Saturday’s FA Cup game between Manchester United and Liverpool, Patrice Evra was abused and heckled throughout the match as the Suarez row took centre stage once again.

The Liverpool fans continue to condone Suarez’s behaviour just like his manager has done and ITV did not attempt to diffuse the situation either by insisting on showing the Uruguayan’s reaction in the stands to every on-field incident.

“Banter”, as Kenny Dalglish put it, was exchanged between the two sets of supporters, with United fans chanting “racist b******” in response to boos from the Kop.

The effect of this tribalism is that it prohibits fans from showing any common sense or rationality.

Players are jeered when wearing the colours of their clubs, yet cheered when sporting England white. Players who transfer teams are revered one week, hated the next and vice versa.

So it is perhaps not surprising then, that if the colour of shirt a player is wearing, or the area of the country he comes from makes him a target, that the colour of his skin can too lead to incidents of vile abuse.

It may be a cliché, but if fans and managers alike could remember the old adage “it’s only a game”, they might be less inclined to allow their passion to turn into blind abuse.

Such a change in attitude might then prevent a repeat of the scenes at Anfield on Saturday where a player who was the victim of racism was booed because he was wearing a United jersey and not a Liverpool one.

 

Find Rich on Twitter @richjward

Alternative Premier League Team of the Year

Taking a leaf out of Michael Cox’s book, I thought I would set myself a little challenge on my return to blogging.

Rather than picking a standard Premier League team of the year, I have attempted to find the best starting XI (plus seven substitutes) using no more than one player from any Premier League team.

Some might say this is a tougher task than in most years, considering the paucity of the entire bottom half of the table for much of the campaign, but you can judge that for yourself on the basis of the side I have picked.

Please use the comments section to lay into my choices and suggest a team of your own.

Goalkeeper: Ben Foster (Birmingham City)

This season was never going to be easy for Birmingham. Alex McLeish’s team had the task of building on a return to the Premier League which – while ultimately impressive – was built on a great number of narrow victories. On top of that, many members of last season’s squad (Carr, Bowyer and Phillips to name but three) were coming towards the end of their careers, while star performer Joe Hart had returned to Manchester City. But Foster, a £4million-plus signing from Manchester United, has done everything expected of him and more, with a match-winning performance against Chelsea one of the highlights of a season which has brought Birmingham likely survival and a trophy to boot.

Right-back: Danny Simpson (Newcastle United)

In their first five games of the season, Newcastle deployed £1million signing James Perch at right-back. The former Nottingham Forest man was so far from the required standard it was laughable: he picked up five yellow cards in as many games, scored an own goal against Stoke on his return from suspension, and even looked a liability in his side’s 6-0 win over Aston Villa. Thankfully for then-manager Chris Hughton and his successor Alan Pardew, former Manchester United man Simpson proved a more-than-able replacement. After returning from an ankle operation in October he has never looked back, making the position his own with a series of marauding runs and strong defensive work, helping his team guarantee another season of top-flight football with relative ease.

 

Left-back: Leighton Baines (Everton)

On February 19 at around 3:00pm, Everton were in a spot of bother. A 2-0 defeat at Bolton had left them just three points of the drop in the league, and an extra-time goal from Frank Lampard had them on the verge of elimination from the FA Cup. Then they were awarded a last-minute free-kick on the edge of the box – Leighton Baines stepped up, found the top corner, and an Ashley Cole miss helped David Moyes’ side advance on penalties. They may have later been eliminated from the cup by Reading, but that victory at Stamford Bridge gave Everton the momentum to push on, with Baines an integral part of their rise up the table. The England international shook off the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup squad, contributing six goals, 12 assists, and a constant threat from left-back.

 

Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)

It was not that long ago that Manchester United were still unbeaten in the league, despite a run of form which could at best be described as patchy. The ability to grind out results was thanks in no small part to a mean back line, and central to the concession of a mere 32 goals has been the form of Vidic, the one constant in an ever-changing defence. The Serbian has missed only two league games, yet has been paired with a whole host of centre-back partners, including Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, and even Michael Carrick. Winning the league without performing well is one thing, but keeping one’s head amidst chaos and disorder at the back is another altogether.

Centre-back: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

Vidic is joined in the middle by another Serb and another player forced to content with a multitude of centre-back partners. A member of the official team of 2009/10 at right-back, Ivanovic has been forced inside by a combination of the return of regular incumbent Bosingwa and injuries to the likes of John Terry and Alex. The 27-year-old has proved equally adept in both positions, retaining the professionalism which has endeared him to the Stamford Bridge faithful but also providing an attacking threat, mostly from set pieces (five goals is a record haul for the defender) but also with the odd marauding run from the back. Imagine how much worse Chelsea’s mid-season slump might have been without his influence.

 

 Defensive midfield: Scott Parker (West Ham United)

If West Ham stay up this season (and it is a big if), it will be in no small part due to the contribution of the man who is their captain in all but name. Lesser players would have baulked at the challenge of dragging a largely abysmal team out of the mire, particularly when displays of a similar standard last season merited nothing more than 17th place and a painful lack of international recognition. Cynics would say that recognition only truly came when he put in a match-winning performance against one of the ‘big boys’ (in a 3-1 win over Liverpool) but in truth Parker has shone all season. A record total of seven goals (as many as he scored for Chelsea and Newcastle combined) only tells part of the story: when Parker plays, West Ham have a chance; when he doesn’t, they are lost. A Football Writers’ Player of the Year Award is the least he deserves.

 

Defensive midfield: Lucas (Liverpool)

While team mate Raul Meireles has taken many of the plaudits (and a deserved Fans’ Player of the Year Award), Brazilian midfielder Lucas has been diligent, hard-working, and a vital cog as Liverpool have made the most of a worrying start to the campaign. It is strange to think that the man from Grêmio is just 24 years old, considering that this year saw him surpass the 100-appearance mark for his club, and after taking a bit of time to adjust to the rigours of the Premier League he has truly come of age when the pressure has been at its highest. What’s more, Lucas has been forced to do the work of two men, neither of them him: the departure of Javier Mascherano in August left a huge hole, which then-manager Roy Hodgson mistakenly believed Christian Poulsen capable of filling. But while the Dane has failed abysmally, Lucas has stepped up to the plate with class, skill, and a real connection to the club.

 

 Attacking midfield: Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

Injuries may have taken his toll since Christmas, and he may have gone off the boil a bit, but in the first half of the season Samir Nasri was entirely unplayable. The skill we saw in patches last season, most notably with his Goal of the Year nominee against Porto, was suddenly visible on a more regular basis and Arsenal reaped the rewards. While continuing to create chances for team-mates, the French international has also been far more productive in front of goal, more than doubling his previous best with a month of the season to spare. Perhaps spurred on by missing out on the World Cup last summer, Nasri has also not been subject to the criticism and alienation which greeted many of his international team-mates.

Attacking midfield: Luka Modric (Tottenham)

Gareth Bale may have been named PFA Player of the Year, but ask any Tottenham fan and they will tell you the Welshman was not even the best player at White Hart Lane this season. Sure, Bale starred in the Champions League group stage, and Rafael van der Vaart similarly impressed in the early part of the season, but Luka Modric has been consistently brilliant throughout. The Croatia star has flown under the radar at times, but only because we have come to expect the nimble-footedness and unbelievable close-control which has characterised his game since a £16.5m move from Dinamo Zagreb in 2008. That fee is looking more and more like a bargain every day, as Modric continues to embody the attacking flair which has won Spurs so many new admirers from across England and Europe this season.

 

 Attacking midfield: Charlie Adam (Blackpool)

If Scott Parker’s contribution to West Ham has been crucial, then I am lost for words when trying to describe how vital Blackpool captain Charlie Adam has been to what could yet end up the Tangerines’ maiden Premier League campaign. Many questioned what impact the former Rangers man would have, given his obvious lack of pace, but he has more than made up for that with his ability on the ball, helping bring team-mates into the game at every opportunity and making the 2010-11 season an enjoyable one in the most part for fans of Ian Holloway’s club. There are obvious parallels with Geovanni’s debut season with Hull City two years ago, not least due to the Scotsman’s dead-ball prowess, and if his team can stay the distance then the Bloomfield Road faithful will know who to thank for their survival.

 

Striker: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

Emmanuel Adebayor had a limited impact before his departure to Real Madrid, Edin Dzeko has struggled to find his feet since replacing the Togolese international, and Mario Balotelli has been in equal parts sublime and ridiculous. But amidst all that chaos, Carlos Tevez has once again been magnificent. Injuries have somewhat restricted the Argentine’s impact, but he has still managed better than a goal every other game, providing the one element of consistency in a Manchester City frontline affected by Roberto Mancini’s Ranieri-esque tinkering. The captain’s armband has seemed to invigorate Tevez, and – while his best performance arguably came back in August against Liverpool, he has continued to let his form on the pitch override any off-field rumours, however strong.

 

Substitutes:

Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) A shrewd signing from Steve Bruce, the Belgian has outshone Craig Gordon in the fight for the goalkeeper’s jersey at the Stadium of Light.

Carlos Salcido (Fulham) The former PSV man has more than made up for the departure of Paul Konchesky at left-back, settling in at Craven Cottage immediately.

Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers) A rock at the back as always, Blackburn would be lost without the Congolese international .

Stilyan Petrov (Aston Villa) Providing some much-needed steel once he returned to the fray around the turn of the year, Villa’s captain has eventually helped them pull away from the relegation zone.

Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers) One of the stars of the campaign until suffering a horrific broken leg for the second season running, Holden’s absence has coincided with Bolton’s downturn in form.

Matthew Etherington (Stoke City) For all their physical strength and aerial prowess, Stoke have needed someone to provide a spark. Etherington has consistently been that man.

Peter Odemwingie (West Bromwich Albion) 12 league goals and counting have endeared the Russo-Nigerian striker to the Hawthorns faithful, and the scary thing is that Odemwingie is still improving.

Premier League Round-Up 16/01/11

There were many sub-plots running through this weekend’s full programme of Premier League fixtures, but for many the biggest story was the Manchester City debut of £27m man Edin Dzeko.

The Bosnian enjoyed an accomplished introduction to English football, made even more impressive by the fact that he hadn’t played in a month, but his appearance in a nervy 4-3 win over Wolves was overshadowed by a splendid individual goal from Carlos Tevez.

City’s visitors also played their part in one of the games of the weekend, and it could have been a different story if Matt Jarvis’ first-half shot had evaded the block of Aleksandr Kolarov and put Wolves 2-0 in front.

The only other top-six side in action on Saturday was Arsenal, who took advantage of a comically-bad West Ham debut from Wayne Bridge to cruise to a 3-0 victory.

Bridge was at fault for all three goals, two of which came from the boot of Robin van Persie, in what could yet prove Hammers boss Avram Grant’s last game in charge.

In a battle between two newly-promoted teams, West Brom edged past Blackpool to end a losing run which had threatened to drag them into the relegation zone.

Peter Odemwingie fired home the winner after getting the better of Craig Cathcart, and the Nigerian striker looks to have put his recent poor form behind him.

That victory lifted Albion above fellow-strugglers Fulham, who themselves had a previously-misfiring striker to thank for earning them a point at Wigan.

Andrew Johnson had not scored in the league since March 2009, and both he and manager Mark Hughes will hope yesterday’s late equaliser gives him the confidence to recapture the form which earned him a £10.5m move to Craven Cottage in 2008.

Hughes opposite number Roberto Martinez will also be pleased to see one of his strikers getting on the scoresheet. With Mauro Boselli’s departure on loan to Genoa, Hugo Rodallega will be under even more pressure to fire the Latics to safety.

After that 1-1 draw Wigan have two wins from their last 10 league games, a figure matched by Chelsea after Carlo Ancelotti’s side got the better of Blackburn at Stamford Bridge.

Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka were on target, but just as important is the clean sheet, Chelsea’s first in three top-flight outings since the turn of the year.

Blackburn boss Steve Kean will have been disappointed at his side’s inability to build on an impressive win over Liverpool last time out, but they are unlikely to be looking over their shoulders too much during the remainder of the campaign.

Liga Inggris

The sixth game on Saturday saw Stoke City beat Bolton to move level with their opponents on 30 points. Matthew Etherington and Danny Higginbotham scored the goals, demonstrating that what the hosts lack in flair they make up for in long names.

After a flying start to the season, Bolton have now moved back into the mid-table pack thanks to a run of four points from their last six games.

Sunday’s four matches were optimistically billed as ‘super’ before kickoff, but there was far more grit than skill for the most part as they all ended level.

The best of Sunday’s action came at Anfield, where Kenny Dalglish had Dirk Kuyt to thank for avoiding the ignominy of three successive defeats since returning to the Liverpool hotseat.

Raul Meireles first strike for his new club gave the hosts a half-time lead, but Sylvain Distin and Jermaine Beckford looked like inflicting another body-blow on an already-painful season before Kuyt’s penalty – awarded for a foul by Tim Howard on Maxi Rodriguez – restored parity.

Despite surrendering top spot to Manchester City on Saturday, Manchester United returned to the top after an underwhelming goalless draw against Tottenham.

A harsh second-half red card for Rafael killed what spark was left in the game, as two teams afraid to lose ended up cancelling each other out.

Lunchtime kickoffs all-too-often take the sting out of local derbies, but at least Sunderland and Newcastle displayed some passion and commitment at the Stadium of Light.

The visitors squandered early chances but it still looked like Kevin Nolan’s second-half strike would secure a famous double over the Toon Army’s local rivals. However Asamoah Gyan had the last word, the £13m man drawing the teams level as the clock ticked down.

In the other midday kickoff, Birmingham and Aston Villa also drew 1-1. Again both goals came in the second period, with James Collins cancelling out Roger Johnson’s opener.

With strikers from both teams struggling for goals this season, it was perhaps no surprise that the two scorers were centre-backs, and Alex McLeish and Gerard Houllier may well invest in a new frontman before the transfer window closes.

Team of the week (4-3-1-2): Al-Habsi (Wigan); Ivanovic (Chelsea), Vidic (Man Utd), Coloccini (Newcastle), Kolarov (Man City); Mulumbu (West Brom), Ramires (Chelsea), Etuhu (Fulham); Tuncay (Stoke); van Persie (Arsenal), Tevez (Man City)