x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ball was at Givet's feet...

A look at some of the highlights of the Premier League last week like Spurs defender Givet's gifted goal.

Blackburn’s Gael Givet, right, would be ruing an error he made against Tottenham Hotspur in their 4-2 defeat.
Blackburn’s Gael Givet, right, would be ruing an error he made against Tottenham Hotspur in their 4-2 defeat.

...but the Blackburn defender gifted Tottenham a goal by not clearing it out of the box, writes Thomas Woods.

Worst defending - Gael Givet

The golden rule of defending: if in doubt, kick the ball out. That is something Gael Givet, the Blackburn Rovers defender, forgot on Saturday as he gifted a rampant Tottenham Hotspur side their third goal at White Hart Lane.

When Paul Robinson, the Rovers goalkeeper, parried a wicked shot from Roman Pavlyuchenko in the 69th minute, the ball fell straight at Givet's feet.

The Frenchman had an eternity to clear it, he could probably have done a few keepy-uppies before getting rid of the ball.

Instead he chose to start dribbling back towards his own goal, Peter Crouch nipped in, stole the ball off him and gratefully accepted the gift to score his first league goal at home in six months.

Givet redeemed himself somewhat with a late goal at the other end as Rovers mounted a mini-comeback before being beaten 4-2, but he will be kicking himself for a while after his hesitant defending.

Worst start - Wolves

After league defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers could have been forgiven for breathing a bit easier at the prospect of a home game against Bolton Wanderers.

Owen Coyle's side are playing well, but they do not have a player like Nani or Cesc Fabregas.

However, any side are a threat when you give them a head start. Barely a minute had passed - 51 seconds to be exact - when Richard Stearman, the Wolves defender, headed into his own net under pressure from Bolton's Matty Taylor.

Coyle's men needed no second invitation after that as they raced into a three-goal lead, enough to see them win 3-2.

Ironically, Fabio Capello, the England national team manager, was watching the match at Molineux, ahead of naming his squad later that night for a friendly with France. Stearman's goal was the only one scored by an Englishman.

Most forgetful - City fans

A decade ago, Manchester City were in English football's second division (and a few years before that in the third tier). Their star strikers were Darren Huckerby and Paul Dickov.

How times change, but perhaps some City supporters have forgotten about those poorer times. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's investment in the transfer market - more than £300 million (Dh1.8 billion) - has obviously created a lot more expectation at the club.

The goalposts have changed and City are aiming for the title, or at the very least Champions League. But these things take time, new players have to gel together. A 0-0 draw at home to a dogged Birmingham City side on Saturday was not a great result. But it left City in fourth place.

How did City fans react? They booed their team off the pitch. Maybe they should get the 2001/02 season review DVD out of the cupboard and remind themselves of the days when their team could only dream of fourth place.

Best goal I - Johan Elmander

After two under-performing seasons in English football, Bolton's record signing has finally found his scoring touch.

The Swedish forward has scored six league goals this season to help propel his team to a surprising fifth position in the table. Cynics may say he is playing for a new contract, as his current one runs out in June.

Whatever the case, Saturday's strike to make it 2-0 against Wolves was a peach.

With an hour gone, Elmander collected a pass from Stuart Holden in the penalty area and, with three Wolves defenders around him, shimmied, swivelled with the ball and eluded them all before placing a shot into the bottom corner. Delightful.

Worst decision - Chris Foy

Late in the first half at Stamford Bridge yesterday, Sunderland broke with pace and Danny Welbeck was played through on goal about 40 yards out. Just as he hit his stride, he was pulled down by Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

In anyone's book, Ivanovic was the last man and should have been sent off. Chris Foy, the referee did not agree, producing a yellow card. It was the wrong call and it would have been interesting to see what Foy's decision would have been had it happened at the other end.