Team of the Weekend

It’s Team of the Weekend time! For the final time in 2018, I’m here to pick out the best and worst of the weekend action. It wasn’t a vintage weekend (unless you were Liverpool) but there was still plenty to get stuck into.

Goalkeeper

Neil Etheridge – I’ve been moaning for weeks about the lack of penalty saves to make my life easier. Then like London buses, two come along at once. I’ve opted for Neil Etheridge over Jonas Lossl for two reasons. Firstly, it’s his third penalty save of the season. Secondly, his team won the game. Etheridge was expected to be heading to the Asia Cup but has been left out so he can focus on his club football. That has worked out well for Neil Warnock so far.

Defenders

Willy Boly – A thunderous header. Wolves stunned Tottenham on Saturday and a bolt from Boly laid the foundations. Wolves are 7th now and after a bit of a slump in November, they’ve come back strong in December.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – A mixed bag of an afternoon for the Man City left-back. His dawdling was enough to briefly bring Southampton level but he more than made up for that with a peach of a cross headed in by Aguero. You can’t get away from the fact that he looks like the offspring of Kevin De Bruyne. I don’t think he’s a left back though and it’ll end up costing City in a bigger way sooner or later.

Eric Bailly – It just goes to show, you can be the most positive manager in the world but you still can’t make sense out of Eric Bailly. Man Utd have sacrificed defensive solidity – some would argue that wasn’t there either – for a more attacking approach. They have 12 goals in three games but Bailly still managed to turn an otherwise positive day sour with a senseless tackle. At 4-1 the game is already over but he’ll now have three games off. Maybe he’s the smartest one of us all.

Midfielders

Victor Camarasa – What a goal! If you’re going to win a game in the last minute away from home, this is the way to do it. Camarasa has quietly gone about his business in a boisterous team but his quality has really begun to shine through in recent weeks.

N’golo Kante – More like N’Goalo. Am I right? We’ve all questioned why Kante has been playing so far forward. Well, this was the day it finally made sense. Chelsea and Crystal Palace set up to each bore spectators in their own special way but we can all appreciate a good narrative. A 2018 World Cup winner finishes 2018 with a goal. Good for him.

Dwight McNeil – I hadn’t heard of Dwight McNeil until Sunday afternoon. Not only did he start for Burnley but he also scored as they recorded an all too rare win. To be fair to Sean Dyche they needed something different and McNeil was one of five changes. Whilst Tom Heaton replacing Joe Hart grabbed the headlines, McNeil’s goal should give Burnley the lift they need ahead of an important trip to Huddersfield on Wednesday.

Paul Pogba – The Pog is off the leash! Two more goals for Paul Pogba who now looks like a man possessed as he sets off to show the world Mourinho was at fault. Fair enough, Man Utd haven’t played the strongest opposition since Solskjaer took over. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Mourinho often didn’t. Pogba in this form looks capable of beating anybody and Man Utd will now look to launch an assault on the top four.

Forwards

Harry Kane MBE – Quite the weekend for the England captain. Firstly, being given an MBE for services to goal scoring, which must be a treat. He followed that up with a great long-range strike on his left foot before blotting his copybook with a needless dive. That sort of summed Tottenham’s day up as things rather simmered out after a great start before ending in mild disgrace. They are still 3rd, but the title challenge lasted 3 days.

Aboubakar Kamara – What a tit. If you’re not the penalty taker and you take the ball, make sure you score. Unfortunately for Kamara his penalty was saved and that will be his downfall. His manager, Claudio Ranieri, went in pretty hard on him afterwards. “I want to kill him” does not translate as “starting next week” so I don’t think he’ll be in many future Teams of the Week.

Roberto Firmino – I could have picked any of Liverpool’s players but a hat-trick will pretty much secure your spot. Firmino was given a huge helping hand by the worst set of defenders ever assembled. His first goal, in particular, was the type of goal my team used to concede regularly at six-a-side. Somehow though, they made even more of a show of themselves for Firmino’s second, literally falling at his feet as he bobbed and weaved through stupid challenges. Well done for hat-trick Bobby.

Manager

Neil Warnock – I hate praising Neil Warnock but the fact that Cardiff aren’t bottom of the table or even in the bottom three is remarkable. He says keeping Cardiff up would be his greatest achievement and frankly, I agree. Fair play.

That’s all from me today and indeed this year. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in 2019.