x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Carroll showing how to repay a big debt

Andy Carroll puts his best foot forward on the road to redemption with his captain at Newcastle, Kevin Nolan.

Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll, left, illustrates he and his captain, Kevin Nolan, are on good terms after they teamed up impressively to defeat West Ham United on Saturday.
Newcastle United’s Andy Carroll, left, illustrates he and his captain, Kevin Nolan, are on good terms after they teamed up impressively to defeat West Ham United on Saturday.

Best duo: Nolan and Carroll

Midway through last week, Kevin Nolan was probably ruing the day he met Andy Carroll, let alone welcomed him into his home. Or, more accurately, had the striker's presence foisted upon him and his family.

After being arrested for an alleged assault the previous weekend, the highly rated Carroll has been bailed to live with Nolan.

That was when the drama really started. A day into his stay, his brand new, chrome-plated, lavishly personalised Range Rover was set alight on his captain's driveway. Nolan also had abusive graffiti daubed on his garage door.

Against West Ham United on Saturday, Carroll did the best he could to repay his captain, landlord and chaperone for the strife he has caused.

First, his natural boisterousness came in handy when he won an aerial duel in the West Ham box, and Nolan smashed in the rebound to equalise for the away team. Then, in the second half, the England Under 21 target-man showed off his heading prowess again to seal a valuable victory for Newcastle United.

Best innovation: Hernandez

How to imitate Javier Hernandez's physics-defying goal at Stoke City yesterday?

Take a 50fils-shaped head, do the Salmon Dance, jump, then hope for the best.

Manchester United had loaded their side with some of the biggest players available to them, in a bid to cope with the physical threat of an ever-robust Stoke side.

However, they were indebted to arguably the least imposing player on the field, Hernandez, the Mexican striker whose nickname is "The Little Pea", for their first-half lead at the Britannia Stadium.

His back-header is likely to be replayed a number of times, but it is doubtful whether anyone will ever be able to replicate it.

Wayne Rooney cannot do things like that. Next week, perhaps Hernandez should throw a hissy fit, demand a pay rise or a transfer and see how he gets on.

Best beanpole: Zigic

Peter Crouch has had a mixed start to the season. There has been the odd oasis of optimism along the way: a hat-trick against Young Boys of Berne in the Champions League and news that he is to become a father for the first time.

Yet, rather like Rooney, Crouch's form in front of goal has been mostly abject since being the subject of lurid revelations in British tabloids. To top it off, he is not even the best gawky centre-forward in the Premier League on current evidence.

Just after Crouch drew another blank against Everton on Saturday, Nikola Zigic showed that there is a new beanpole in town.

Zigic had already stolen Crouch's crown as the Premier League's tallest player, just by signing for Birmingham City in the summer. He stands at 2.02m tall, one centimetre more than Crouch.

His performance in the 2-0 win over Blackpool on Saturday, when he set up one goal and scored the other, was the first evidence that the £6 million (Dh34m) it cost to get him to St Andrew's was money well spent.

Best bench: Manchester City

Not so long ago, City fans were grateful to have Uwe Rosler up front and Gary Flitcroft in the middle of the park.

Nothing typifies the turn around which has taken place in the blue half of Manchester than their list of replacements yesterday.

Add four youth team players of moderate to good ability to the following line-up, and you would have a chance of beating most teams: Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Joleon Lescott, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Adebayor, Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli.

All internationals at some point in their careers. All worth a pretty penny. And all worthy only of a place on the substitutes bench for City's defeat to Arsenal.

Worst awareness I: Carragher

There is something about whole-hearted centre-half stoppers which seems to make their failings invisible to their team's fans.

Take the case of Jamie Carragher as an example. He is loved on the Kop at Liverpool, even though he has scored more goals for the opposition than he has for his own side during his lengthy career, his seventh arriving against Blackburn Rovers yesterday.

Worst awareness II: Dunne

Richard Dunne experiences similar immunity from criticism. When he was at Manchester City, the centre-half was adored by the fans and was named their player of the season virtually every time.

He is similarly popular at his new club, Aston Villa, despite his nasty own-goal habit. When he put through his own net against Sunderland on Saturday it was the eighth time he had done so in his Premier League career, leaving him top of the own goalscorers charts.

pradley@thenational.ae