x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Best and worst in Premier League week 4: Eto’o and Ozil on opposites

A look at the mixed fortunes of the two players turning out for their new teams and other events in the week.

Arsenal's midfielder Mesut Ozil hit the ground running with two assists. Ian Macnicol / AFP
Arsenal's midfielder Mesut Ozil hit the ground running with two assists. Ian Macnicol / AFP

Best tackle – Barry

There has never been a better example of the adage “that tackle was worth a goal” than the block made by Everton’s Gareth Barry against Chelsea on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard made an awful error, passing straight at Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle, who squared the ball across the Everton area to Samuel Eto’o.

The Cameroon forward was faced with the simplest of finishes, an open goal gaping, until Barry came flying into view.

The midfielder, on loan from Manchester City, is generally perceived to be short on pace, perhaps after his performance in England’s 2010 World Cup last-16 defeat when he was overrun by Germany’s midfield. But he was like a flash of lightning as he launched himself at the ball and deflected Eto’o’s shot over the bar.

Everton won 1-0 and that was Chelsea’s best chance, so his tackle wasn’t worth a goal so much as it was worth two impressive points for his new team.

Worst debut – Eto’o

A host of new boys made their first appearances in English football over the weekend and not all impressed.

Stevan Jovetic was fairly quiet in Manchester City’s bore draw at Stoke City, but it was the much-hyped Eto’o – winner of three Uefa Champions Leagues and two African Cup of Nations, as well as league titles in Spain and Italy – who laid the biggest egg.

He was world class, no doubt, in his prime, but the jury is out on whether two seasons in Russia picking up huge cheques has taken the edge off his game.

He missed an early close-range header at Everton, before, embarrassingly ballooning a shot into the upper tier of the Gwladys Street end at Goodison Park.

Best debut – Ozil

Barry aside, two creative midfielders stole the show in their first games. Christian Eriksen, 21, who seems to have been on every top club’s wanted list at some point, had a hand in both of Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goals for Tottenham Hotspur against Norwich City. All the more impressive given he had just three training sessions before taking to the pitch. “For Eriksen’s age, he is quite impressive,” said his manager Andre Villas-Boas.

At North London rivals Arsenal, another No 10 made an even bigger impression. Mesut Ozil, the biggest signing of the transfer window at £42 million (Dh245m) from Real Madrid, slotted seamlessly into the Gunner’s line-up.

He set up a goal within 11 minutes and would have had a hat-trick of assists had Theo Walcott been better at finishing. If anyone had not seen the German play before, they will now realise what the fuss was all about.

Best tweet – Micah Richards ‏ @MicahRichards

When a referee gives a player a red card do they have to point! We know what a red card is and know we have to leave the pitch. Lol

So it’s not just fans who get annoyed with headmaster-style refereeing. Richards, the Manchester City defender, points out officials flaws.

Best quote – Paolo Di Canio

“Next time I will never invite the referee to send me off because he took it seriously.”

Sunderland’s Italian manager was sent to the stands by Martin Atkinson at the end of his side’s 3-1 defeat to Arsenal.

Best statistic – West Bromwich Albion

360

While Arsenal and Manchester City have led the way with two goals per game, it took West Bromwich Albion until the final minute of their fourth match of the season to find the net. Gareth McAuley, the centre-back, popped up to equalise from a corner in the 360th minute of West Brom’s season.

Best goal – Aaron Ramsey

The Welshman’s five strikes in all competitions in 2013/14 makes this his best season in front of goal. The first of his double at Sunderland was a peach. Right-back Carl Jenkinson crossed to Ramsey, who showed superb technique in drilling a low volley all the way along the ground from 18 yards out.

twoods@thenational.ae