EPL Hot 11: Balotelli, Sturridge, Ba, Johnson, More Keep Scoring Form in MD 8

Jonathan WooCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2011

EPL Hot 11: Balotelli, Sturridge, Ba, Johnson, More Keep Scoring Form in MD 8

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    It was a day for doubles for both Robin van Persie and Anthony Pilkington, as the two forwards each recorded doubles in wins for their respective clubs. Van Persie returns to the Premier League Hot 11 for the Gunners, but Pilkington's two-goal effort marks his Hot 11 debut for Norwich City.

    Demba Ba, Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli and Frank Lampard all maintained their places in the ranking.

    Other newcomers include Wigan's Mohammed Diame, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart.

    Every Wednesday, 11 footballers in the Premier League will make up the EPL Hot 11, a fluctuating power ranking that highlights the top performers over the course of the entire season. Dependent on their match-day performances, players may move up or down the list each week.

Robin van Persie

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    Fueled by Robin van Persie's double, Arsenal picked up a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Emirates on Sunday.

    Van Persie opened the game with a right-footed effort in the first minute. The Dutchman nearly had a hat trick, but his effort to chip the goal keeper from inside the box clanked off the far post.

    After a fabulous Seb Larsson equalizer off a set piece, van Persie answered with a special free kick of his own, curling his attempt over the wall and into the net.

    The 28-year-old now has scored four goals in his last three league games.

Anthony Pilkington

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    In Norwich's 3-1 win over Swansea, Anthony Pilkington had a big say in the home side's dominance at Carrow Road on Saturday.

    The 23-year-old winger/forward opened scoring after just 48 seconds into the game with a wondrous half-volley from just outside the 6-yard box.

    Pilkington poked in another poacher's goal in the 64th minute off a corner. From inside the 6-yard box, the ball gently fell to the former Huddersfield man who never hesitated to secure his double.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Chelsea was too much for Everton Saturday at Stamford Bridge, as the Blues dominated in a 3-1 win.

    After recording a double and an assist two weekends ago in Chelsea's 5-1 triumph over Bolton, Daniel Sturridge hit the score card again against the Toffees.

    Ashley Cole popped a looping cross high towards the far post, and it landed gently onto Sturridge's head, who easily beat the keeper to put Chelsea ahead in the 31st minute.

    The 22-year-old has shined for the club when other strikers vastly have underperformed. His good scoring form certainly will merit more starts.

    In his last two first-11 selections, the England international has recorded three goals and an assist.

Demba Ba

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    Newcastle's Demba Ba is on a scoring tear.

    Three weeks ago, Ba recorded a hat trick in the Magpies' 3-1 win against Blackburn. A week later, he added another in the club's 2-1 win at Molineux. Two weeks later, he is at it again.

    Ba equalized in the 48th minute against Tottenham with what is becoming a classic, point-blank finish for the Frenchman. Jonas Gutierrez' cross found an unmarked Ba at the far post, who simply stuck out his foot to guide it past Brad Friedel.

    After failing to score in his first four appearances for Newcastle, Ba has five goals in his last three.

Mario Balotelli

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    When Manchester City scores one, it usually turns into a couple more.

    Mario Balotelli continued his run of good scoring form Saturday in City's 4-1 win over Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium, opening the game in the 28th minute with a fantastic display of body control, technique and flair.

    An Adam Johnson corner bounced off of Villa's Darren Bent, then City's Micah Richards before falling in front of Balotelli, who turned in an acrobatic overhead kick that was perfectly placed into Villa's net.

    That makes three straight games with a goal for the controversial, young Italian striker.

    Carlos who?

Adam Johnson

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    In consecutive matches, Adam Johnson has put in a pair of clinical finishes to his name.

    Against Blackburn two weekends ago, the 24-year-old classically curled a shot into the upper 90. This week against Aston Villa, the winger was lucky to find a Yaya Toure lob at his feet before finessing his effort around former City keeper Shay Given less than 90 seconds into the second half.

    Just five minutes later, Johnson's corner kick found the head of City's captain Vincent Kompany who directed the ball into the far side of the net, putting the Blues ahead 3-0—and they would never look back.

    Despite City's star-studded roster, Johnson has turned in back-to-back productive games, forcing Roberto Mancini into some future decisions that inevitably will leave someone unhappy.

Steven Gerrard

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    The Liverpool legend made his first start of the season (and his first since March), and the captain turned in a memorable performance in front of the Anfield faithful.

    Charlie Adam won a ticky-tacky free kick some 25 meters in front of the United goal. Steven Gerrard wasted no chance as he curled a ball through a hole in Manchester United's wall and opened scoring for the home side.

    The set piece score was Gerrard's 50th goal at Anfield. But with United equalizing in the 81st minute, the draw may have put a damper on the 31-year-old's return to the pitch.

Matthew Etherington

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    Stoke City won 2-0 over Fulham on Saturday, and Matthew Etherington had his foot in both goals.

    In the 80th minute, the end of a set piece saw the ball out to Etherington near the edge of the box. His effort would have gone wide, but Jonathan Walters stuck out a foot to guide the ball into the net.

    The 30-year-old recorded his second assist of the game, this time from a set piece. From left of the box, Etherington's cross found Rory Delap just outside the 6-yard box, and he could not miss.

    That makes three assists in the last three games for the former West Ham player.

Juan Mata

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    Since joining Chelsea, Juan Mata has poured in fantastic performances nearly every match day for the Blues, as the young Spaniard has compiled three assists in his last three league games.

    Mata was not credited on the score sheet for Daniel Sturridge's opening goal, but it was the former Valencia man who found Ashley Cole down the left flank before the fullback popped a cross for Sturridge's finish.

    The 23-year-old notched his third dime of the season when his precise cross between three Everton defenders and the keeper found Ramires, who simply poked home the Blues' third goal.

    Mata has been instrumental in many of Chelsea's offensive fronts; Arsenal should be disgusted at the missed opportunity to secure Mata's services.

Rafael van der Vaart

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    Three goals in three games warrants Rafael van der Vaart a place in the EPL Hot 11 this week, and it's better late than never.

    After Emmanuel Adebayor drew a penalty, van der Vaart showed little hesitation with a cool, collected and adamant finish with his left foot.

    The Dutchman scored 13 goals in 28 league appearances last season in his debut campaign. Perhaps this run of goals will maintain his good form as Spurs continue their unbeaten streak.

    Tottenham dropped its first two matches of the season, but the club has not lost since Aug. 28 in a 5-1 loss to Manchester City.

Frank Lampard

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    Frank Lampard has taken much heat recently over his place at Chelsea, but the 33-year-old midfielder has put in consecutive good performances.

    He recorded a hat trick in the Blues' 5-1 win over Bolton two weeks ago, and he followed with a set piece assist in the club's 3-1 result over Everton on Saturday.

    During extra time in the first half, Lampard sent a cross high and deep to the far post, finding John Terry, who would rarely miss from that distance, to put Chelsea up 2-0 going into the break.

    With Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka each struggling in their own right, the emergence in form from Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge and Lampard should be welcomed by Chelsea supporters.