x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

The best and the worst of the Premier League weekend

Hitting the woodwork has cost Liverpool as Carr recruitment drive aids Newcastle, write Thomas Woods and Kevin Affleck.

Luis Suarez, centre, and his teammates at Liverpool have hit the post more than 30 times this season, a troubling statistic. Paul Ellis / AFP
Luis Suarez, centre, and his teammates at Liverpool have hit the post more than 30 times this season, a troubling statistic. Paul Ellis / AFP

Worst accuracy – Liverpool

When Jordan Henderson hit a lovely shot that bounced back off the crossbar just after 50 minutes of the game against West Bromwich Albion and Dirk Kuyt hit the post 10 minutes later, Liverpool surpassed 30 for the number of times they have hit the woodwork this season.

They say games, and therefore league titles, are decided by the slightest of margins, so where would the Anfield side be if they have managed to hit the net instead?

Well they would have won 2-1 yesterday for a start.

Even with the extra goals they would still be far off the pace of the two Manchester clubs, but they might be challenging Newcastle, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea for the coveted fourth spot. Instead they are battling Everton for seventh and city pride.

Maybe someone needs to explain to Luis Suarez that hitting the woodwork is not good, as the Uruguayan striker, in a recent interview with the club's official magazine, described shooting and hitting the post as thus "as a striker, you can shoot from 25 yards and hit the post with a shot that is technically perfect".

Surely, Luis, technically perfect would be hitting a shot from 25 yards out and hitting the back of the net, no?

Best decision – Ferguson

The Manchester United manager has his detractors, not for his footballing record but for his off-the-field approach. Refusing to speak to the press, criticising referees.

But yesterday the Scot set a fine example.

After "having a word" with the winger Ashley Young earlier this week about his alleged dives to win penalties in United's two most recent home games, Ferguson dropped the England winger to the bench in favour of Nani for the Everton match.

Ferguson had cited Ryan Giggs as a role model for Young – the United great who his manager claimed had won just five penalties in 20 years at Old Trafford because he stays on his feet.

And after being forced to watch yesterday's draw from the sidelines, Young must have got the message.

Worst neighbour – Taarabt

The Moroccan strikes you as one of those players who could start an argument in an empty room.

He walked out of the club's end of season awards night last year in a fit of pique after finishing second in the player of the year poll. He did not wait for the winner to be named.

He was also so sure of his departure from Queens Park Rangers in January he promised to give his BMW X6 to a member of the coaching staff if his move fell through.

So imagine living next door to him? Jack Wilshere, the Arsenal midfielder, has that dubious privilege but Taarabt was the toast of the street in north London on Saturday after his goal helped inflict defeat on Tottenham Hotspur, his former club, and push Arsenal closer to automatic qualification for the Uefa Champions League.

"I ... may give him a kiss when he gets home!", tweeted Wilshere yesterday.

Best scout – Carr

Mike Ashley, Newcastle United's colourful owner, was sporting a smile as wide as the River Tyne on Saturday. And why shouldn't he.

Two years after forking out £500,000 (Dh2.96 million) a week to keep the club afloat, Newcastle now stand on the brink of qualification for the lucrative Champions League.

The retail entrepreneur can take most of the credit for Newcastle's remarkable transformation for boldly hiring Alan Pardew as the manager and squeezing £35m out of Liverpool for Andy Carroll, but one of the unsung heroes is Graham Carr.

The head scout is the father of the comedian Alan Carr but he has ensured Newcastle are no longer a laughing stock by playing a major role in recruiting the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse for around half of what Liverpool paid for Carroll.

If Liverpool are looking to replace Damien Comolli, they need look no further than Carr.

Best reception – Newcastle

Not the ovation given to the Newcastle team after they registered a sixth successive league win. No, a wedding reception.

Most football-loving men in England tend to try to plan their big day around the football season to avoid missing a fixture but a groom in the north-east of England had the bright idea of killing two birds with one stone and staging his wedding on a match day at the Newcastle citadel.

Apparently, it is not unusual to hold weddings at the ground. The club website says: "You don't have to be a 'Toon Army' fan to get married at the iconic venue that is St James' Park – just a couple with a taste for a venue with a difference".

It is difficult to imagine a non-fan wanting to stage their wedding at the ground and running the risk of Cabaye upstaging the bride on the biggest day of her life.


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