x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The best and worst in Premier League this week

Yakubu gave Everton fans a neat reminder of the goalscoring prowess he is capable of on his day.

Best return to form: Yakubu

David Moyes should be careful what he wishes for. "It would be great if we could get back the old Yakubu," the Everton manager said after the Nigerian striker's first Premier League goal since April proved decisive against Stoke City on Saturday.

Which old Yakubu would that be then? The one who mopes around for 90 minutes - or more usually about 70 minutes before being subbed - looking about as disinterested as it is possible to look?

The one who Steve Gibson, his former paymaster at Middlesbrough, could not wait to usher through the exit door perhaps?

Or the one who does not need a second invitation when a chance presents itself in front of goal?

The current Yakubu looks sharp. He hinted at a return to form when he gave Liverpool's defence the run around in the Merseyside derby earlier in the month.

And his fine strike to down Stoke at Goodison Park, where he picked a path through the defence then lashed his shot into the roof of the net, provided a timely reminder that he can actually play a bit.

Best prophecy: Allardyce

If Sam Allardyce thought he could get Nicolas Anelka to go easy on his side by massaging his ego in the lead-up to their meeting on Saturday, he was sadly mistaken.

The Blackburn Rovers coach last week termed Anelka, the Chelsea striker whom he managed at Bolton Wanderers, the best goalscorer he has ever had under his charge.

He suggested that Anelka would score 15 goals per season if he were playing in his Blackburn side and would make them European contenders.

Unfortunately for Allardyce, he is not - nor is he likely to, no matter how many millions the Venky's company bring with them from India when they complete their takeover at Ewood Park.

So Allardyce could only look on wistfully as Anelka predictably struck against his Rovers side, scoring the opener in Chelsea's 2-1 triumph on Saturday.

Best goalkeeping: Green

The fact West Ham United left the Emirates Stadium empty handed on Saturday was harsh on their goalkeeper. He was robbed. Arsenal fans seldom get to see high-quality goalkeeping in person, but Robert Green, the much-maligned former England No 1, provided an exhibition of it on Saturday.

The fact his side went in on level terms at the break was mainly down to his excellence.

When the red tide was at its height in the closing minutes, Green raised the standard again, expertly turning away an effort from Theo Walcott which was deflected off Danny Gabbidon, his centre-half, in the 83rd minute, then another from Cesc Fabregas two minutes later.

All his heroics went to waste, however, when Alex Song headed in the winner from Gael Clichy's cross with two minutes left of normal time.

Worst celebration I: Nani

Nani has often spoken of how he one day wants to be like Cristiano Ronaldo, his Portuguese wing mentor. He still has some way to go to match the goalscoring exploits of his former Manchester United colleague, not to mention his star quality.

He has nailed some aspects of his game, though. The way he tumbles at the merest suggestion of contact with a defender, before imploring the referee to penalise his assailant bears a striking resemblance to his forebear on United's right flank.

He has got the smug, look-at-me-aren't-I-wonderful goal celebration down to a tee, as well. His trademark somersault, inspired by the Brazilian dance form capoeira, is all very impressive.

But there is a time and place. To unfurl it and stick his tongue out like he had scored a spectacular 35 yarder into the top corner after his sneaky effort against Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Saturday was galling for the away team in the extreme.

Worst celebration II: Nolan

Some celebrations are instinctive, sometimes they have been planned and rehearsed in training.

You have to hope Kevin Nolan did not spend too much time thinking up his celebration in the 5-1 derby win over Sunderland yesterday, when he scored a hat-trick.

After his goals, the Newcastle United midfielder ran away doing a funky chicken impression.

Was this his animal instinct coming out? Was he telling his wife what he and live-in teammate Andy Carroll wanted for dinner after the game? Was he sending a message to whoever set Carroll's Range Rover on fire outside Nolan's house last week? Whatever the case, he looked like a right idiot.

pradley@thenational.ae