- Team of the Week
English blood and the 'other' Chelsea striker
In a weekend that saw two big wins for the Manchester sides, two Argentinean defenders make it into our Team of the Week, which is led by a strike pairing of Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku.
QPR might have sunk to the foot of the Premier League again this weekend but they can take heart from their shutout of Spurs. Under pressure for large periods, they were still thankful to Julio Cesar for helping them record their second successive clean sheet. The highlight of his fine display was a brilliant double save, from Jermain Defoe's powerful drive and Emmanuel Adebayor's close range effort.
Not for the first time this season, a determined and disciplined defensive effort from Swansea was led by the outstanding Ashley Williams, who is having a season to remember. The Welshman relishes a battle and that is exactly what he got from Nikica Jelavic and Marouane Fellaini. Williams made several vital interceptions, an important goal-line clearance and looked in defiant mood alongside the also excellent Chico Flores.
The last thing Newcastle needed during this transfer window was a plea from their captain to be allowed to return to Argentina. Despite personal problems and a supposedly fractious relationship with his manager Fabricio Coloccini turned in the sort of accomplished display at Norwich reminiscent of a carefree teenager, not an under pressure veteran. In a game devoid of quality, Coloccini stood out. Newcastle must keep him at all costs.
In a good weekend for Argentinean defenders Pablo Zabaleta joins Coloccini in our TOTW after a barnstorming display against Arsenal. Zabaleta delivered at both ends of the field, excelling in both his defensive and attacking duties. The 27-year-old made numerous tackles, one of which sparked the move that led to City's second goal of the game at the Emirates.
In front of Zabaleta, James Milner mirrored his colleague's tireless performance, and added an extra threat level to his displays of late. Granted, there was more space for him to operate in after the early dismissal of Laurent Koscielny, but his run and finish to open the scoring was straight out of the world class category. Not content with that, he also put in a devilish cross that led to City's second, for Edin Dzeko.
With every game that passes, Frank Lampard makes a mockery of Chelsea's flat refusal to offer him a new contract when his bumper deal expires at the end of the season. The veteran was the best player on the pitch at Stoke and but for the heroics of Asmir Begovic, would have had another hat-trick to his name. In the end he grabbed just one goal, from the spot, and set one up for Chelsea's unlikely hero - Jonathan Walters.
It's no surprise Adam Johnson's upturn in form has coincided with a surge in Sunderland's season. The former Manchester City winger had a modest start to life on Wearside but is finding his feet now, and finding the net occasionally too. Quite apart from his goal, a tap in after shoddy West Ham defending, Johnson was the architect of most of Sunderland's attacking verve, and played his part in their other two goals.
In the heat of a Manchester United versus Liverpool battle, cool heads are a must. Luckily for the home side, Michael Carrick was in the mood. The midfielder pulled the strings for the first hour in which Sir Alex Ferguson's side dominated, then spent the closing stages sniffing out danger in and around his own penalty area as the away side threw the kitchen sink at their opponents.
Reading's season was hanging by a thread with nine minutes left of their home game with West Bromwich Albion, before their campaign got the jump start it needed. The comeback was sparked by Jimmy Kebe, who stole in at the far post on 82 minutes to nod Garath McCleary's cross past Ben Foster. Then six minutes later, he drew a foul from Jonas Olsson that allowed Adam Le Fondre to bring Reading level. With the platform built, Pavel Pogrebnyak duly grabbed the winner.
Kebe and Reading's heroics robbed Romelu Lukaku of the headlines he deserved for an all action display at the Madejski. The Royals couldn't live with the on-loan Chelsea striker, who looked a danger whenever he got on the ball. Having notched from close range for his opener he then thumped a low shot into the net for number two. He also hit the post, the crossbar and had a goal ruled out for offside.
That's four goals in his last four Premier League games for Edin Dzeko now, as the striker continues to profit from the absence of Sergio Aguero and the patchy form of Mario Balotelli. Laurent Koscielny certainly couldn't live with him, in the short time he was on the pitch, as he saw red for hauling down his opponent. Dzeko missed the penalty but his all-round performance was a notch above his usual standard, playing the target man role well and getting a deserved goal to boot.
He's had a miserable introduction to Premier League life, and for 80 minutes of Saturday's clash with West Brom, Brian McDermott must have been wondering whether it was time to turn his thoughts to another season in the Championship. But then something remarkable happened. Three goals in eight minutes earned them a third win of the season and galvanised their players and fans. Get something at Newcastle next week and the great escape could well be on.