x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Premier League Best and Worst: Falling apart at Fulham

Hull City fans' dilemma, Andros Townsend steps in and Cardiff City shock all, writes Paul Radley.

Yannick Sagbo, centre, was sent off but Hull City were still able to hold on for a 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
Yannick Sagbo, centre, was sent off but Hull City were still able to hold on for a 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Worst indictment – Taraabt

Four minutes into his home debut for Fulham, Adel Taraabt tried a trick, botched it, gave the ball limply to Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson, then sat on the floor out of puff.

Portentously, that meant Dimitar Berbatov, his former Tottenham Hotspur colleague, had to track back to try to regain possession. It ended in a free kick for Arsenal and a flea in the ear for Taraabt.

If Berbatov, the famously insouciant Bulgarian, is questioning your work rate, then you must be struggling.

Fulham may have too many work-shy mavericks in their team, judging by the way they subsided at Craven Cottage to troubled Arsenal.

Best Hull – City

Due to some inopportune scheduling, Hull were playing at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

So the city's sports fans had to choose between watching their rugby league team play in the Challenge Cup final against Wigan Warriors in London, or their footballers playing their first home game back in the Premier League.

In the end, it was no contest. The rugby league team had a nightmare. Their footballers, despite attempts by Yannick Sagbo to play like a rugby player, were far better as they beat Norwich City 1-0.

Best New Bale – Townsend

So Gareth Bale is about to pocket a reported £310,000 (Dh1.74m) per week in Madrid, where he will probably call Zinedine Zidane his new best friend.

And, after some power games between a couple of Russian oligarch's, Willian has ended up under the charge of the "Special One" rather than The Apprentice.

The man tasked with filling the void at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday may lack some of the stardust of those who might otherwise have played the role.

On Saturday, rather than packing a Louis Vuitton bag and heading for a big-money move somewhere posh, Andros Townsend was looking forward to watching the Football League show as one of his mates had scored a goal.

Then against Swansea City, he did a passable impression of Bale, as he was the leading attacking force in his side's 1-0 win at White Hart Lane.

Best giant killers – Cardiff

You wait half a century to play in the top division again, then who do you get drawn against in your opening home fixture? Only the world's richest club and many people's choice as Premier League champions-elect.

Malky Mackay, the Cardiff City manager, had been so indifferent about their chances against the might of Manchester City that he predicted the away side's biggest problem may be where to park their team bus. And then the side from the Principality go and beat them, 3-2.

Whatever the Welsh is for Joga Bonito, we need to learn it. The Beautiful Game does not get more compelling than when the little guys overcome the big guys.

pradley@thenational.ae

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