x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Premier League best and worst: Berbatov's peach not among his best

Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov plays down game-winning goal, Ryan Giggs scores for Manchester United in his 999th EPL appearance and Southampton's Jos Hooiveld completes hat trick of unfortunate own goals, writes Thomas Woods.

Dimitar Berbatov  scored his ninth goal of the season on Saturday and it was just enough to lift Fulham to a 1-0 win over Stoke City. Jan Kruger / Getty Images
Dimitar Berbatov scored his ninth goal of the season on Saturday and it was just enough to lift Fulham to a 1-0 win over Stoke City. Jan Kruger / Getty Images

Best longevity – Giggs

Ryan Giggs is a Premier League icon, the only man to play in every season of the competition (formed in 1992/93), he has more title medals (12) than any player in English football history.

At Queens Park Rangers on Saturday he was head and shoulders above every other player on the pitch – not bad for someone who turns 40 in November.

And his goal that sealed Manchester United's 2-0 victory - on his 999th senior career appearance – was a reminder of his longevity. He scored a cracker at Loftus Road ... 19 years ago.

In 1994, he picked up the ball near the halfway line, dribbled past five defenders and fired home.

On Saturday, his finish was a little less explosive, but equally as important as United went 15 points clear.

It seems medal No 13 is looming for Giggs.

Worst modesty – Berbatov

The Bulgarian is one of football's misunderstood players. Not everybody "gets" Dimitar Berbatov, and if you don't, he appears lazy, spending most of his time on the pitch at walking pace.

But he is a match winner, and when he comes to life, he can be devastating.

Berbatov made the difference for Fulham with a thunderous volley to win all three points against Stoke City.

It was a beautiful goal, one that deserved praise. Berbatov was not that impressed though.

"I practice in training and score against [the Fulham goalkeeper] Mark [Schwarzer] all the time," he said in a television interview.

"It is a good one, but I have better ones.

Best goal – Cisse

There were some absolute crackers over the weekend.

Berbatov set the tone with his scorching volley for Fulham.

Rafael, the Manchester United right-back, smashed a 25-yard half volley into the top corner against Queens Park Rangers.

Arouna Kone lobbed the Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici with an exquisite chip in Wigan Athletic's 3-0 triumph.

But, it was Papiss Cisse, Newcastle United's Senegalese striker, who claimed the plaudits for his 25-yard wonder goal – hit in full stride – against Southampton on Sunday.

Everyone remembers his goal against Chelsea last season and this one was just as good.

Maybe the Londoners should have signed Cisse, and not his compatriot Demba Ba, in the January transfer window.

Worst luck – Hooiveld

Scoring one own goal is bad enough. Three in a season, well that's pretty awful luck (and also a joint Premier League record).

Southampton's Dutch centre-back, Jos Hooiveld, completed a hat-trick for the season on Sunday when he netted a fourth for Newcastle in his side's 4-2 defeat.

His first came in the 6-1 loss to Arsenal in September, when a Keiran Gibbs cross cannoned off his shins and into the net.

To make matters worse, he went off injured after 30 minutes in that game.

His second, a month later in a 2-2 home draw with Fulham, saw him stick out a foot and divert John Arne Riise's shot, which was going wide, into the net. But Sunday's goal was by far the worst.

When his teammate Danny Fox tried to clear a Newcastle cross, he succeeded only in smashing the ball into Hooiveld, and back into the net. Unlucky is not a strong enough word.

Best Chelsea striker – Lukaku

Chelsea's struggles to find a consistent centre-forward are well documented.

Fernando Torres, the £50 million (Dh278m) man, has 14 goals in 73 league games for the club. Even though this is his best season for the club – he has seven league strikes – that still puts the cost of each goal at £3.5m.

Ba, the man signed to challenge Torres for a place in the team, started brightly, with two debut goals in the FA Cup.

But he is now scoreless in seven games.

A broken nose suffered at Newcastle United has not helped.

But wait, Chelsea have an in-form striker, a man with 12 goals in 25 league games this season, who cost them about £17m and scored twice at the weekend.

One problem though, they sent that man – Romelu Lukaku – on loan to West Bromwich Albion for the season.

While Torres struggles, Lukaku is thriving elsewhere.

twoods@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE