x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Premier League best and worst: And the Oscar goes to ...

Cheick Tiote goes overboard, Leighton Baines lethal from 12 yards and Brad Friedel's eight-year run comes to an end, writes Graham Caygill.

Cheick Tiote's reaction to conceding a free kick near the halfway line against Manchester United yesterday was over the top to say the least. Newcastle United lost the match at the Sports Direct Arena 3-0. Graham Stuart / AFP
Cheick Tiote's reaction to conceding a free kick near the halfway line against Manchester United yesterday was over the top to say the least. Newcastle United lost the match at the Sports Direct Arena 3-0. Graham Stuart / AFP

Best compliment

It might not win awards for being the most eloquent bit of praise ever said in the Premier League, but Theo Walcott hit the nail on the head when he said: "I don't even know what-footed he is" of his Arsenal teammate Santi Cazorla.

The Spain midfielder was majestic in his side's 3-1 victory at West Ham United and would have been deservedly the man of the match even before he rifled in a superb left-footed strike with nine minutes to go.

The loss of Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the summer rightly concerned Arsenal fans, but Arsene Wenger appears to have pulled another rabbit out of the hat as his team have looked impressive so far with Cazorla already looking a strong contender for best signing of the season.

Worst attempt at a brave face

It is hard to know who Mark Hughes is trying to convince when he claims Queens Park Rangers "have come a long way in a short space of time" since he took over in January.

Technically, the Welshman is right. The side he inherited from Neil Warnock was hovering around the relegation zone - they are now bottom of the table with no wins from seven games following Saturday's loss to West Bromwich Albion, and would have been relegated in May had Stoke City not held Bolton Wanderers to a draw in the final game last season.

QPR have had bad luck with injuries but Hughes has spent more money than Warnock, both in transfer fees and wages, and given the timescale his predecessor had to get things right, if he is not worried about his future - unless results turn around quickly - then he should be.

Best penalty taker

Matthew le Tissier, the former Southampton player, was the undoubted king of penalites during his career, which ended in 2002, as he scored 47 out of 48 attempts.

Now a new spot-kick supremo has emerged in Leighton Baines, who made it nine out of nine in the top flight on Saturday as he held his nerve to convert Everton's equaliser in their 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic. The Englishman has netted eight for his current club, with the other one coming for Wigan, his former club.

Worst booking

It is amazing how many Premier League footballers, pretty much all of them in fact, think they can change a referee's mind once he has made a decision.

Shouting at him, waving their hands in the air, debating the point. News flash - referees make decisions and stick by them. When have you ever seen one give a penalty, then change his mind because a player made a valid point that it was ball to hand and not hand to ball?

Cheick Tiote, the Newcastle United midfielder, picked up the most pointless booking of the weekend against Manchester United.

The Ivorian had a midfield tussle with Wayne Rooney and the referee Howard Webb gave the United man a free kick, just by the halfway line.

Rather than accept the decision, pick himself up and carry on, Tiote took the other option. He screamed, threw two hands in the air, feigned pulling his hair out, then threw himself to his knees, clenched his fists, more screaming and pained facial expressions. It was Oscar worthy.

Webb took his yellow card out of his pocket and hopefully told Tiote to get a bit of perspective. It was a free kick on the halfway line, man.

Best run

It was bound to come to an end at some point, with Tottenham Hotspur having spent £12 million (Dh71m) on the France international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the summer. But there was a touch of sadness when it came. The American goalkeeper Brad Friedel was dropped from the starting line-up for a Premier League game for the first time in more than eight years for Spurs' match against Aston Villa, which Spurs won 2-0 yesterday.

It brought to an end to the 41-year-old Friedel's record run of 310 consecutive matches in the Premier League, stretching back to May 2004.

The result also marked Tottenham's first clean sheet of the season, but that is surely just coincidence ...


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