x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Wrong place, wrong time for Petr Cech

Petr Cech must be one of the league's unluckiest players, when it comes to getting nasty knocks.

Chelsea’s captain John Terry, third from left, confronts Tim Cahill, the Everton midfielder, after the Australian’s challenge left Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, on the ground, with a cut on his eyebrow.
Chelsea’s captain John Terry, third from left, confronts Tim Cahill, the Everton midfielder, after the Australian’s challenge left Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, on the ground, with a cut on his eyebrow.

Worst positioning: Cech

Petr Cech, Chelsea's No 1 goalkeeper, has built his formidable reputation between the posts on the basis of him being in the right place at the right time more often than not.

However, he also has a nasty habit of finding the worst possible position to place his head.

He has worn a rugby-style scrum-cap ever since he fractured his skull in a collision with Stephen Hunt, then of Reading, in October 2006.

However, the extra armoury was not enough to save him from picking up another facial wound when the boot of a typically committed Tim Cahill, Everton's goalscoring midfielder, clipped him on his eyebrow.

Cahill has Samoan roots, as evidenced by the pe'a on his left-arm, and the majority of his extended family are rugby players.

Some of his cousins were playing at the Dubai Rugby Sevens while he was at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Judging by his rambunctiousness against Chelsea and his resulting ruck with John Terry, he was with them in spirit.

Best positioning: Beckford

Johnny on the Spot needs to be renamed Jermaine on the Spot, following forward Beckford's timely equaliser for Everton at Stamford Bridge.

With time ticking away, the striker, who has been relatively goal-shy since his summer arrival from Leeds United, popped up four yards out to head his side to a draw.

It earned a precious point for Everton, but meant significantly more than that to Beckford. He came through the youth ranks at Chelsea, before being deemed unworthy of them and then jettisoned towards an uncertain future.

He seemed destined for a life playing non-league football, and took up work instead as a fitter of car windows.

A hatful of goals in the non-league game earned him a chance at Leeds, and he caught the eye there, not least via a match-winning goal in the FA Cup at Manchester United.

Chelsea probably thought they had seen the last of him when they released him. Now that he has put another dent in their title defence, they must be wishing they had.

Worst millstone: Nasri

Darren Caskey had it when he was hailed as the new Paul Gascoigne. James Beattie was supposed to be the new Alan Shearer down on the South Coast.

And Lee Sharpe (you remember him - the old Ryan Giggs?) was jinxed by his initial proclamation as the new George Best. But what about the pressure of being the new Zinedine Zidane?

At least Samir Nasri has managed it better so far than the similarly lauded Aadel Taraabt, despite the latter's recent bloom with Queens Park Rangers in the Championship.

Until this season, the great expectations laid on Nasri, Arsenal's young French midfielder, seemed flaky, fitful and misplaced.

Yet the Emirates Stadium faithful always say their manager, Arsene Wenger, knows best.

Nasri has started to show what his manager sees in him with a string of fine performances this term.

None have bettered what came against Fulham on Saturday, when he struck a brace of fine goals.

Best balance: Tevez

Let's be honest, if Roberto Mancini had still been playing and shoved someone like he did his captain on Saturday, 90 per cent of the players in the Premier League would have gone down clutching their faces looking for a penalty.

The Manchester City manager gave his captain a nudge on his way, after Carlos Tevez's frustrations at being substituted against Bolton Wanderers manifested themselves in a visible show of pique.

Mancini could have probably done without the sideshow to his team's 1-0 home win.

He was still trying to dampen down the fuss about a training ground spat between Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng.

"I'd like all the players to be like Carlos," the Italian manager said afterwards.

He makes a good point: given the vast sums of money players in the Premier League earn, it seems sweet that some of them are still bothered about getting as much game time as they can.

Best admission: Odemwingie

"It shows maybe I should start listening," Peter Odemwingie, the West Bromwich Albion striker, said, after admitting that for once he had heeded some half-time advice from his boss yesterday.

Roberto Di Matteo, West Brom's Italian manager, had suggested his forward hold a higher line against the Newcastle United defence. It did the trick.

Given that Sol Campbell, the 36-year-old Newcastle defender, appeared to have forgotten he had actually made a comeback from retirement, Odemwingie was always going to be on to a winner by playing nearer to him.

The Uzbekistan-born Nigeria international struck two goals to set up a 3-1 victory over Newcastle at The Hawthorns, to lift his side up to eighth position in the Premier League.