Top 5 Premier League Plays of the Day
Premier League Week 16 is in full flow.
With three matches still to play, we've already witnessed some fantastic moments of quality. Relegation candidates battled it out, misfiring strikers netted vital goals, and new signings began to make impacts.
Let's take a look at the top five plays of the day. Expect incisive passing, expert poaching and goals from unlikely sources.
Steven Whittaker Sparks Norwich Goal Spree
Location: The Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Steven Whittaker's early Norwich career has been blighted with a niggling ankle injury (via BBC Sport). The experienced Scot has plenty to offer Chris Hughton's side and will be pleased to contribute against the high-flying Swans.
More importantly, Whittaker's strike began a barrage of goals for the Canaries. A shocked Liberty Stadium witnessed the phenomenal destruction of Michael Laudrup's defence in the first half.
It all began with Whittaker's incisive burst into the opposition's box. Picking up possession on the halfway line, he played a short pass towards Robert Snodgrass, who brilliantly flicked the ball between two defenders and into the path of his galloping colleague.
Swansea looked as if they had the situation under control as Whittaker broke forward with pace—but the former Rangers man produced a moment of real quality to take the lead.
A neat turn in the penalty area allowed Whittaker to turn away from two defenders. He created a minimal amount of space for his left foot and rounded the move off with a sweet blast into the bottom right.
While Whittaker celebrated his first goal for the club, Norwich extended their Premier League unbeaten run to 10 games.
Grant Holt Compounds Swansea's Misery
Result: Swansea City 3-4 Norwich City
Location: The Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Rickie Lambert seems to have ousted Grant Holt as the Premier League's burliest forward. Like the Norwich bully last year, Lambert continues to receive plenty of praise for his industrious and physical way of scoring goals.
Holt's strike rate has been particularly modest of late.
Once again, Robert Snodgrass' pinpoint distribution allowed the 31-year-old the perfect opportunity at personal redemption. The former Leeds playmaker swung a beautiful left-footed free kick towards Gerhard Tremmel's goal—where it was met with the full force of Holt's skull.
The ecstatic forward neatly escaped his marker and plonked the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Swansea needing a miracle going into the second half.
Laudrup's enigmatic side fought hard to get the score back to 3-2, but were eventually undone when Snodgrass whipped home a fantastic set piece.
Fernando Torres Hints at a Return to Form
Location: The Stadium of Light, Sunderland
High-fives all round at Chelsea this weekend. Rafa Benitez secured his first Premier League win as interim boss, and Fernando Torres notched a cool brace to relieve more pressure. Whether the two occurrences are interlinked, we'll have to see.
Torres' finest moment came as early as the 11th minute. The hardworking Spaniard capitalised opportunistically after some fine work from his teammates.
Victor Moses was short of options as he drove towards the Sunderland box. The ball eventually found itself at the feet of Eden Hazard, who took advantage of too much time to dip a teasing cross towards the penalty spot. Phil Bardsley allowed the Belgian a laughable amount of space—something Martin O'Neill should hound the defender for behind closed doors.
By no means an easy chance, Torres nipped between two of Sunderland's immobile defenders to volley home the opener. Great poaching from the former Liverpool striker, who used his studs to get the European Champions on their way.
Ryan Nelsen Heads QPR on Their Way to a Vital Point
Location: The DW Stadium, Wigan
Ryan Nelsen's first goal for QPR was as simple as they come. The 35-year-old defender—who Harry Redknapp signed during his Spurs tenure—repaid the faithfulness of his boss with a storming header to level the game at 1-1.
The side from Loftus Road are still searching for their first Premier League win of the season. Redknapp will be encouraged with the effort his players are putting in. Nelsen showed tremendous desire to ghost away from Adrian Lopez and made sure he was first to Adel Taarabt's excellent delivery.
Jason Puncheon Pushes Southampton Up the Table
Location: St Mary's, Southampton
Forget the record signing of Gaston Ramirez (via The Guardian), Southampton's less immediate stars are pushing the relegation favourites away from the drop. Jason Puncheon is fast becoming one of Nigel Adkins' most important players at St Mary's.
True to form, the 26-year-old seized upon a difficult chance to secure an extremely important three points. With Adam Lallana substituted through injury (via The Southern Daily Echo), Puncheon's creative nature came to the fore. He raced into a decent position on the edge of the box, received a neat pass from Nathaniel Clyne and swept the ball past Adam Federici at the far post.
This goal could be absolutely vital come the end of the season.
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All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.com.