x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Premier League best and worst: Better late than never from Reading

Reading salvage more points at the death while John Terry's return has yet to have the desired effect at Chelsea

Reading's Jimmy Kebe celebrates scoring against Sunderland during the English Premier League soccer match at the Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, Saturday Feb. 2, 2013. Reading won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/PA, Andrew Matthews) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE *** Local Caption *** Britain Soccer Premier League.JPEG-0aeb3.jpg
Reading's Jimmy Kebe celebrates scoring against Sunderland during the English Premier League soccer match at the Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, Saturday Feb. 2, 2013. Reading won the match 2-1. (AP Photo/PA, Andrew Matthews) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE *** Local Caption *** Britain Soccer Premier League.JPEG-0aeb3.jpg

Best late show - Reading

You could say Reading started as they meant to go on when Adam Le Fondre scored a penalty in stoppage time on the opening day of the season to earn a 1-1 draw with Stoke City.

It has become the party piece of Brian McDermott's men to score in the closing minutes to salvage either a draw or a victory.

They have found the net 13 times in the last 15 minutes of games this season, with Jimmy Kebe's goal in the 85th minute that earned them a 2-1 win over Sunderland the latest exhibit in their bulging leave-it-late portfolio of goals.

In a world where football matches ended after only 75 minutes Reading would only have 11 points and a quick return to the Championship would be a certainty. As it is the extra 12 points they have earned from their late endeavours are keeping them in the survival hunt.

Worst behaviour - Popov

Verbals on the pitch between players are as old as time itself. It is inevitable when winning individual battles on the pitch can contribute so much to the greater good of the team that tempers will flare and things will be said in the heat of the moment. But voicing a few expletives and verbal joustng towards an opponent is one thing, spitting at them is quite another.

Goran Popov, who joined West Bromwich Albion on loan from Dynamo Kiev this month, was shown a red card yesterday in the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur for spitting at Kyle Walker as verbal barbs were exchanged.

The Macedonian joins a hall of shame that includes alumni such as Patirck Vieira, El-Hadji Diouf and Frank Rijkaard, who were all sent off for emptying the contents of their throat in the direction of another player.

The West Brom supporters hardly showered themselves in glory either, booing Walker when he was substituted minutes after the unsavoury incident.

Best buy - Sissokko

A few eyebrows were raised as Newcastle United, struggling in the bottom half of the table, brought in five French players in the transfer window, taking the team total of French speakers into double figures.

But heck, it worked last season as the likes of Yohann Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, plus Demba Ba and Pappiss Cisse (both French speakers), were signed by the manager Alan Pardew and propelled Newcastle to within a whisker of a Uefa Champions League spot.

And it looks like Pardew may have pulled it off again, in particular with the signing of Moussa Sissokko. Since his arrival, Newcastle have won both their games. He set up a goal in the midweek win over Aston Villa, and scored twice in the victory over Chelsea on Saturday.

It looks as though Newcastle have unearthed another gem - they signed the midfielder from Toulouse for just £1.8 million (Dh10.45m).

Worst comeback - Terry

John Terry played two full games this week, his first 90-minute outings since early November, following a spell out injured. His Chelsea team have conceded five goals in those two matches.

Last Sunday, they drew 2-2 at third-tier Brentford in the FA Cup. On Saturday, Terry, along with the rest of Chelsea's defence, was run ragged by the pace and power of Newcastle United's new-look team.

He was beaten in the air by Jonas Gutierrez for Newcastle's first and made an error of judgement that left him out of position for the goal that made it 2-2. Newcastle went on to win 3-2.

It may take time for Terry to get back to top form, but Chelsea at the moment look better off without him at centre-back.

Best song - Norwich fans

On paper, the prospect of more than 3,000 Norwich City fans singing a version of the song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen is not the most enticing one.

But the Canadian singer's tune was an inspiration to poke fun at Queens Park Rangers's failed bid to sign West Bromwich Albion's Peter Odemwingie on the transfer window deadline day on Thursday, with considerable mirth at the fact Odemwingie had arrived at QPR for talks despite not having permission from his midlands employers.

Norwich fans took glee on Saturday in singing, to Jepsen's tune: "I'm Odemwingie, and this is crazy. I'm in your car park, so sign me baby."

The song is unlikely to win any Grammy Award nominations anytime soon, but it was certainly more entertaining than the dirge on show on the pitch in a tepid scoreless draw.

 

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