x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A tumble in the right direction for Tottenham and Van der Vaart

Premier League Best and Worst Rafael van der Vaart's botched celebration leaves him sore as English weather puts a dampener on matches.

Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael Van der Vaart had a bit of a tumble while celebrating his goal against Blackburn Rovers in the Spurs 2-0 win on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur's Rafael Van der Vaart had a bit of a tumble while celebrating his goal against Blackburn Rovers in the Spurs 2-0 win on Sunday.

Worst drought - the UK

The British Isles are suffering from a Fernando Torres-style drought at the moment - meaning, nothing of the sort.

Even though the country is experiencing one of the wettest April on record, much of it is still officially in "environmental drought".

Water companies across the UK have hosepipe bans in place, as groundwater levels are low and summer is on its way.

All of which looks a little ludicrous when watching the rain-battered matches of this weekend in the Premier League.

Chelsea's easy win over Queens Park Rangers on Sunday was played out in a heavy downpour. For much of the game there was standing water all over the Stamford Bridge playing field.

Torres, the previously goal-shy striker, is making just as much of a nonsense of his own fallow spell, after he followed his decisive strike against Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League with a hat-trick amid the deluge.

Worst slide - Van der Vaart

All the wet weather around this weekend made for perfect conditions for the slide-on-your-knees goal celebration favoured by the majority of Premier League players.

Rafael van der Vaart managed to find himself one of the few arid areas in London, though, immediately after knocking in his goal against Blackburn Rovers at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

The result was a botched slide, an ungainly tumble, a sore knee and a red face.

Luckily for Tottenham Hotspur's Dutch forward he was mobbed straight away by the rest of his teammates, who were starting to feel the burden of their recent poor run of form lighten.

The mass of bodies piled on top of him helped conceal his shame, while Kyle Walker, the Premier League's Young Player of the Year, helped out by rubbing his knee better.

By rights, Van der Vaart should have returned the favour with a massage, a cup of tea and a box of chocolates when Walker curled in the glorious clincher later on.

Best Spaniard - Martinez

Tito Vilanova?

Pah.

Barcelona should get a bit of Roberto Martinez in their life instead when Pep Guardiola steps down at Camp Nou at the end of this season.

The Wigan Athletic manager has got it all.

The passing game.

The centre-backs who prefer a jaunt upfield to a header or a tackle.

The stocky little playmaker with the penchant for a back-heel.

All he is lacking is a club with years of rich history, a worldwide supporter base, a charitable outlook on shirt-front sponsorship and a trophy cabinet.

The former Real Zaragoza and Walsall midfielder is suddenly a man in demand after Wigan's demolition of Champions League-chasing Newcastle United.

Who says one swallow does not a summer make?

Best tactic - tattoos

It turns out there are two fail-safe ways of making sure you can go about your business unseen on the football pitch.

You can always opt to wear Manchester United's grey camouflage away kit from 1996, which is well known to guarantee invisibility.

Or, judging by Alan Hutton's feats for Aston Villa against Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, you can daub your arm with a sleeve full of tattoos.

The Scottish full-back was in clear view of Mark Clattenburg, the referee, when he punched away a goal-bound header from Liam Ridgewell, who has similarly impressive body art, at The Hawthorns.

Perhaps the official could not make out the outstretched limb against the backdrop of the crowd. The stealthy-cum-glaringly-obvious misdemeanour went unpunished, and Villa held on for their 16th Premier League draw of the season.

Best praise - Suarez

Even in the worst of times, there was always a lot of love for Luis Suarez down Anfield way. As such, it was probably no surprise that the eulogies were so gushing after his sublime hat-trick against Norwich City.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool's midfield general, said it best when he described the Uruguayan striker's second goal - rather than his extraordinary third - as being "Robbie Fowler-like".

Seeing as he is not from around those parts, Suarez might need informing that there is no higher praise that could come from among Liverpool folk.

The Kop faithful regarded their former striker as a minor deity, so he should be happy with the comparison.

And Kenny Dalglish then claimed that even at his pomp he would not have been able to have executed the lobbed third as adeptly as his on-song striker managed.

You can officially mark that down as a good day, Mr Suarez.

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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