Another two days of Premier League action is in the books, and once again Africa’s stars were key protagonists across the weekend’s games. In the second installment of a new series with Bleacher Report, I'll take a look at the hits and misses from the continent’s UK-based players.
In looking for Africa’s Premier League misses this week, it’s hard to see too far beyond QPR defender Stéphane Mbia. A summer signing from Marseille, the giant Cameroonian has all the credentials to be a top performer in England, and it’s not his fault that he’s one of a raft of many new players to arrive at Loftus Road in recent times. That excuse can perhaps forgive some of his shaky performances in recent times, when QPR’s defence has looked about as settled as the Lava Falls.
What cannot be excused is his ridiculous behaviour in Saturday’s clash with Arsenal. With QPR’s much maligned backline finally showing some signs of resilience and organisation, and with Julio Cesar picking up the scraps behind them, the R's were finally transmitting some semblance of being a team who are able to keep goals out. That was until Mbia’s inexcusable lashing out at Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny. Riled by the opposition’s muscular play, Mbia lost his head, and after one shove too many, kicked out at the Frenchman.
Foolish doesn’t come close to describing it, and the centreback looked close to tears as referee Taylor flashed the red card. With a crucial component of QPR’s backline gone, it wasn’t long before Arsenal’s previously profligate attackers were able to craft a more convincing opening, and Mikel Arteta scored the winner on 84 minutes.
Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba are no strangers to popularity in the North East, and Newcastle fans have grown accustomed to one or the other scoring goals to bail the Magpies out of any number of difficult situations over the last year. On Sunday, both managed to find the net, as the Senegalese duo secured the points against West Bromwich Albion.
Belgian-Congolese striker Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for the Throstles, equalising Ba’s initial strike for the home side. West Brom looked to have secured an impressive point, before Ba’s partner in crime Cissé won the day with a deflected shot in injury-time. This season, the striker has struggled to replicate his impressive scoring run of early 2012, and such a crucial goal, to win a match so late on, may provide him with a perfect springboard to reignite his form in front of the net.