x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Larsson's scissors have the cutting edge

The best and worst of the Premier League

Sebastian Larsson fires home his brilliant equaliser for Sunderland against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images
Sebastian Larsson fires home his brilliant equaliser for Sunderland against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Best goal - Larsson

The way Liverpool started their match against Sunderland at Anfield, it looked like they were going to romp to a comfortable victory.

A missed penalty from Luis Suarez - who then opened the scoring - and a disallowed goal from his striker partner Andy Carroll. Liverpool were all over their opponents for 30 minutes.

Then things started to go wrong, passes were not finding their men and Sunderland got back into the game.

And it gave Sebastian Larsson a chance to demonstrate his class, and show why he could be the signing of the season by Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager.

The Swede, who arrived on a free transfer from relegated Birmingham City, was once tipped for a great future at Arsenal, emerging from the same youth team as Nicklas Bendtner.

He did not quite make it there, but his quality is evident. He takes a wicked corner, scores often from direct free-kicks and, from Saturday's evidence, his volley technique is not too shabby either.

As an Ahmed Elmohamady cross looped into the area on 57 minutes, Larsson found space at the back post, jumped and produced a perfect flying-scissor kick that flew past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. It earned Sunderland a point and all the plaudits for Larsson.

Worst dive I - Gervinho

He sounds like a Brazilian but was born in the Ivory Coast, and has obviously modelled himself on a 2005 version of Didier Drogba when it comes to diving.

Arsenal's new signing from Lille, the French champions, will soon learn that it is best to stay on your feet in the Premier League.

The winger went down theatrically in the latter stages of Saturday's late game against Newcastle United. An uber-slow-motion replay shows that he might have been slightly touched by Chiek Tiote's flailing leg.

But it does not excuse the classic arms-in-the-air, back-arched flop on the floor that the Ivorian thought would earn him a penalty from Peter Walton, the referee. It might work in France, but this is the Premier League.

Instead of a spot kick, Gervinho got himself roughed up by Joey Barton, criticised by pretty much every one, and a three-match ban too boot for a red card.

Worst dive II - Barton

This is a man who has been convicted of assault, stubbed a cigar in the eye of a trainee footballer and beat up his own teammate.

Yet it seems that Barton can dish it out but not take it.

After Gervinho's tumble at St James' Park, Barton took it upon himself to grab the winger by the collar, haul him to his feet and subsequently join a melee of teammates in berating the Arsenal player, who probably did not understand their protests, what with a mixture of Scouse and Geordie being spoken and the fact that the Ivorian has only just arrived in England.

Either way, Barton clearly was not politely asking for an apology. Provoked, Gervinho did what a lot of people would have done and lashed out. Lash meaning flicked a feather-light slap at Barton's head.

And this hard man, who has spent time in prison, counted to two before letting his legs go from under him and dropping to the turf. A red card for the Arsenal man, but it should be a red face for Barton.

Best sound bites - Warnock

The journalists who cover the Premier League will not have spent too long lamenting the loss of Blackpool and their colourful coach, Ian Holloway. For while the Blackpool manager, whose team were relegated last season, was possibly the most quotable Premier League character since Eric Cantona, Neil Warnock, the QPR manager, is just as lively.

Yesterday, after a summer of frustration at the lack of investment from his club's owners - who include one of the world's richest men and Bernie Ecclestone - Warnock used his post-match conference to launch a thinly veiled attack at his bosses.

QPR were beaten 4-0 at home by Bolton Wanderers, prompting Warnock to rant: "[Bolton] don't have the most financial clout, but year after year, with good management and a settled boardroom, they manage to defy the odds."

"Good management", "Settled boardroom": we get the message, Neil.

Worst hands

David de Gea has been bought at great expensive to replace the great Edwin van der Sar in Manchester United's goal. The Spaniard, 20, obviously has immense talent. He was Atletico Madrid's No 1 at 18.

However, his start to life at United has been rather shaky. Criticised for conceding a long-range effort from Edin Dzeko in the Community Shield two weeks ago, he was given the benefit of the doubt by most - the ball swerved, slightly, but he should still have stopped it.

However, yesterday's blunder against West Bromwich Albion, to allow Shane Long to make it 1-1, was indefensible. The ball slipped through his hands as if they were a sieve.

 

twoods@thenational.ae