Once again, Africa’s stars were among the Premier League’s primary storytellers in another weekend of glorious English football. Bleacher Report’s African football expert Ed Dove runs the rule over the best and worst of Africa in the EPL.
I have devoted a lot of column inches lately to the Nigerian connection at Chelsea, the influential pairing of John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses creating some unwanted headlines off the pitch, whilst generating massive interest for the Blues in West Africa.
Recently, opinion has been changing on Mikel—once the inadequate heir to Claude Makelele, the erstwhile creator now stuck pulling a shift in front of the back four, generally lumbering around and being fairly inefficient; now, the critics are beginning to change their tune, as the towering Super Eagle is having more of an influence in the middle of the park.
Whilst Mikel did little to support this view against Swansea on Saturday—the Blues midfield often struggled to regain and retain possession—it was his countryman, Victor Moses, who demonstrated his terrific capabilities.
After impressing against Manchester United in midweek Capital One Cup action, the young frontman was rewarded with a starting berth in South Wales. The former Wigan striker rose to the occasion, and gave Chelsea the lead with a delightful flicked header. Whilst it was little surprise that Moses found himself on the scoresheet, it was impressive that the breakthrough came with his head, and not through one of his trademark rampaging runs.
Moses would probably have been the "Best of Africa" this weekend, had it not been for Everton’s Moroccan-Belgian midfielder, Marouane Fellaini.
Already one of the Premier League’s most impressive players this season, Fellaini delivered the complete performance against Fulham, dominating the centre of the park and scoring two goals. Whilst the Belgian’s display was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh, Everton’s finishing was not, and they only left London with a point despite creating over three times as many chances as their opponents.
Wigan’s Ivorian striker Arouna Kone also deserves a special mention for his terrific performance in his side’s shock win at White Hart Lane, against Tottenham.
Whilst it would be undue to identify any of the Premier League’s African stars as the "worst" of their continent in a weekend where hard work and endeavour reigned, there were disappointing results for Sunderland and Manchester City, both of whom rely on African players to spark their creative play.
For the Black Cats, Stephane Sessegnon has been off colour for a while now, and another muted display in the disappointing home defeat to Aston Villa will be cause for concern in the North East. The Beninois attacker was replaced by Louis Saha shortly after the hour mark and will be central to improving his side's fortunes.
In East London, holders Manchester City had to settle for a point after being stifled by a very able West Ham team. Yaya Toure, the hub of City’s play, failed to spark, whilst City’s Ghanaian-Italian striker, Mario Balotelli, was replaced on 69 minutes. He was evidently disgruntled with being taken off, but, based on his performance, with no cause for qualm.