- Premier League Plays of the Day
Plays of the Day: Wilshere wonder
Jack no longer in a box
June 4, 2011 was the last time Jack Wilshere kicked a ball in anger, and even that was in an England shirt. You would have to go back to May 22, 2011 for his last competitive Arsenal action, so what a joy it was for club and country to see him start against QPR on Saturday.
Wilshere completed all 33 passes that he attempted in the first half - the type of statistics that Alan Shearer will no doubt disapprove of on Match of the Day. Nevertheless, now that he's back, you can guarantee Roy Hodgson will be under fierce pressure to select Wilshere in his next squad, with media "experts" cluelessly convinced he can turn water into wine alongside the world beating talents of James Milner and Andy Carroll.
We hold our breath.
Wenger's silver tongue
After Arsene Wenger tried to tell anybody that cared to listen that Champions League qualification was more of a trophy than winning the FA Cup, it set the mind to wandering what other crazy theories the Frenchman is preaching at Arsenal.
Against QPR they failed to score in the first 30 minutes of a Premier League game for the eighth time in nine matches this season. Is passing accuracy the equivalent of scoring goals Arsene?
The never-ending game
A plethora of Manchester City fans left early in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Swansea, but for once they maybe could be forgiven, given that they were attending the longest game in Premier League history. Injuries to Michel Vorm and Micah Richards prompted the referee to play 12 minutes of injury-time, with the overall game time reaching 102 minutes, 42 seconds. The fact that Swansea still couldn't score does not exactly reflect well on their strikers.
What started out as a commentator's nightmare, with Norwich's Elliott Bennett playing directly opposite Aston Villa's Joe Bennett, turned into Villa's ghastly tale as their No. 27 earned himself a red card in ridiculously stupid fashion during their 1-1 draw. Having already been booked, Joe Bennett needlessly yanked the shirt of his namesake early in the second half, cementing one of the daftest dismissals of the season when Villa led 1-0. Still, it helped out commentators across the nation, who not only had to put up with Joe and Elliott, but also Ryan Bennett after half-time.
If you were to list the easiest jobs in football, you'd probably come up with: Marking Cameron Jerome, making David De Gea cry, and manning a post at a corner. However, the latter of the three cost Villa big time against Norwich. All Marc Albrighton had to do was mark the big white thing that doesn't move as Norwich lined up a corner - trailing 1-0, but Albrighton alleviated himself of all responsibility as he mindlessly walked off, allowing Michael Turner to glance Norwich's equaliser in off the very post that had proved so difficult to pin down.
Turner's strike now means all 20 Premier League clubs have scored from a set-piece this season.
And the Oscar belongs too...
Chelsea boast the two most creative players in the Premier League so far this season, with Eden Hazard and Juan Mata both laying on five goals apiece for their team-mates. However, Roberto Di Matteo clearly made a mistake in splashing the cash on their other attacking midfielder, Oscar, who is not a patch on Reading's Jobi McAnuff. After setting up Mikele Leigertwood's opener against Fulham, McAnuff took his assists tally to four, and can surely expect to be exchanged in a swap deal involving Frank Lampard any day now.
Sunderland failed to produce a single shot on target against Stoke at the Britannia. Imagine that, you pay upwards of £30 for a ticket, and your team fails to muster a single effort. Martin O'Neill's men have now hit the target 12 times all season, 16 times less than any other side in the Premier League. Did somebody say "Darren Bent"?