Premier League Team of the Week: Fernando Torres, Antonio Valencia and More
On a weekend where two legends (and a manager) made their returns to the Premier League, there were plenty of talking points. Arsenal got beaten at their own game by Swansea, 10-man Blackburn beat Fulham to move out of the relegation zone and Tottenham were held to a draw by Wolves.
Elsewhere, Manchester United drew level on points with rivals Manchester City after a victory over Bolton, Chelsea beat Sunderland, Norwich continued their fine form with a win over West Brom and Aston Villa and Everton played out a 1-1 draw. Liverpool vs Stoke ended goalless while Newcastle saw off QPR 1-0.
There was also plenty of controversy over tackling, with refereeing inconsistencies a source of major discontent, and there were several controversial penalty decisions.
So, without further ado, here is The Team of the Week, lining up in a 4-3-3 formation. Manchester City play Wigan on Monday night and their players have not been considered.
GK Shay Given
Shay Given returned to Aston Villa's starting XI after a spell out injured, and it was like he had never been away. The Irishman made save after save as he gave Villa every possible chance to beat Everton.
He made a good diving save to keep Louis Saha's header out after a Leighton Baines free kick, and then made another good stop after one of his own defenders misjudged a back-passed header.
In the second half, Given made a block with his chest at the near post, but was ultimately beaten by Landan Donovan's through ball and Victor Anichebe's cool finish.
Aston Villa have not been at their best this season, and currently lie 13th, but in Shay Given they have the ideal man to help them move up the table.
LB José Enrique
Liverpool's match against Stoke was not the most eventful of affairs, and Liverpool's defence was not overly busy, but that didn't stop José Enrique from having a good afternoon.
His perfectly placed long ball to Charlie Adam was nothing short of beautiful, while his willingness to get forward up the left wing helped to keep Stoke pinned back.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, Enrique's efforts were not enough to pick up the three points, but what defending he had to do he managed comfortably and insured that Liverpool had little to worry about at the back.
CB Robert Huth
Stoke's Robert Huth is a very effective centre-back and did his job confidently against Liverpool as he got stuck in to Liverpool's attack force, putting them off at every opportunity, especially from corners.
Liverpool's players were not particularly happy with his tugging and the like, but it kept Liverpool's attacking threat to a minimum.
Huth also made several good challenges and led the defence confidently as Stoke got a useful away point at Anfield.
CB Roger Johnson
Roger Johnson helped Wolves to a potentially decisive point (at both ends of the table) away at Tottenham Hotspur with a dogged defensive display as Tottenham's potent attacking force was thwarted time after time.
Johnson also grabbed himself an assist after finding room in Tottenham's box to win a header from a corner and force Brad Friedel to push the ball out to Steven Fletcher.
Wolves have been struggling this season, but Roger Johnson is as good a candidate as any to see them through a tough season.
RB Angel Rangel
Swansea pulled off a huge upset against Arsenal, and Angel Rangel played a significant role in that success. The right-back played sensibly and was not panicked by the presence of the likes of Robin van Persie and, in the second half, Thierry Henry.
He was confident enough to pass the ball out of defence and get forward when an opportunity presented itself while not neglecting to keep Arsenal's defence as quiet as he possibly could.
Swansea's success stems from a tight defence and attractive passing football; Rangel is involved in both those departments and more than pulls his weight.
LM Nathan Dyer
Swansea are looking to be a thoroughly competent side and have a great threat on the wing in Nathan Dyer. The Englishman has adapted to life in the Premier League quickly and did not look out of his depth against Champions League level opposition.
The winger blends pace and skill cleverly and caused problems on both wings for Arsenal. He scored a great goal, finding room on the edge of the box and digging the ball out from under his feet to find the corner of the net, and also won his team a penalty that got Swansea back in the game.
Swansea play exciting football and Dyer epitomises their style, but, like his teammates, he backs it up with substance.
CM Scott Sinclair
Scott Sinclair has proved to be a great find for Brendan Rodgers and continued his good form against Arsenal with an assured display.
The midfielder is a potent attacking threat and is deadly with the ball at his feet. He made several charges through Arsenal's midfield as he caused problem after problem for Arsenal's defence.
Sinclair scored a perfectly placed penalty, and it's easy to see why he's being linked to the likes of Liverpool.
CM Michael Carrick
Michael Carrick played the pass of the weekend as he curled a long-range ball to Danny Welbeck that bent around Bolton's defence and found Welbeck perfectly.
Carrick distributed the ball confidently throughout United's match with Bolton and capped his performance with a curled shot from 20 yards out, with his left foot. United have had multiple injury problems this season, and they will need Carrick to stay fit and keep performing if they are to see off Manchester City.
RM Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia was in fantastic form for Manchester United as he dominated the right wing for the Premier League Champions.
He linked well with Wayne Rooney and his darting runs caused havoc as he put in several dangerous crosses, one of which Wayne Rooney nearly converted. His through ball to Danny Welbeck, curled off the outside of his boot, led to Manchester United winning a penalty.
Manchester United have not been at their best this season, but in Antonio Valencia they have a player who can threaten even the best sides around and creates plenty of chances.
ST Danny Welbeck
Danny Welbeck had a good outing against Bolton and looks to be a very promising player. He scored a good goal to put United 2-0 up and won a penalty, although Wayne Rooney missed it.
He forced a good save from Alex Bogdan after cutting in from the wing in the first half and continued to cause problems with clever runs.
Welbeck will be hoping to get more playing time over the remainder of the season as he pushes for inclusion in England's Euro 2012 squad.
ST Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres? One of the best performers of the week? Yes, it's not a mistake: Fernando Torres had a great outing against Sunderland and was desperately unlucky not to score.
Torres worked hard and seemed to have found the positional awareness that has made him so deadly in the past. He could have had two penalties, but one was missed and the other, for some reason, was given as a dive.
Torres inadvertently provided the assist for Frank Lampard's winner after his spectacular volley cannoned the back of the crossbar.
Torres may not be back to his best yet, but he seems to be going in the right direction.
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