Arteta has been a great signing… he lets Song strut his stuff
22:00 GMT, 25 March 2012
He's on Song
Mikel Arteta has been a good signing for Arsenal and his arrival has brought the best out of Alex Song. Arteta has been sitting deep and that has given Song the licence to play further up the field. It’s easy to pass it simply, but he has been hitting match-winning passes. Terrific vision and execution, almost like Paul Scholes in his heyday. He’s not getting enough credit for it.
Improvement: Alex Song has been fantastic in a more attacking role
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Nobody would have wanted to play Bolton at the weekend. They used the outpouring of emotion that followed the hospitalisation of Fabrice Muamba as a positive, rather than as an excuse. Bolton have handled themselves very well over the past week, nobody more so than Owen Coyle, their manager. But they have been poor this season and it shouldn’t have taken this for them to liven up.
Never a winger
I was at Stamford Bridge and when Fernando Torres came on with 15 minutes remaining, I feared the worst. He is enjoying a mini revival at Chelsea and has been showing more effort, but they stuck him out on the right wing — just where Spurs wanted him! Torres is not, and never has been, a right winger, but that decision by Roberto Di Matteo shows just how much his stock has fallen.
You're on trial
Kenny Dalglish will be hurting after the weekend, but be sure it’s the Liverpool players who are on trial for the remaining games of this season. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. For the majority of the new signings, it is their first time at a big club where it’s not good enough to play well every other week. There is still a lot to play for and they can end up with two cups.
The best yet
Peter Crouch scored the goal of the season and possibly one of the best goals in Premier League history against Manchester City. You think of Paolo Di Canio’s volley, David Beckham from the halfway line, but if Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie had scored it, we would be talking about it forever. Has Crouch blasted his way back into the England reckoning
Unbelievable: Peter Crouch scored an amazing goal
The first 45 minutes of football by Newcastle at West Bromwich was the best I have seen from an away team this season. Newcastle’s front three of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa caused havoc. Ben Arfa produced his best form in a Newcastle shirt. He is an enigma but in that form he is worth the hassle.
If you still do the pools, West Ham will be bringing you cheer with five successive draws; a lot more than they seem to be bringing pleasure to their own fans, who expect promotion and seem to be watching it slip away. It’s a month since once of their strikers scored and No 9 Carlton Cole has only got one goal in 2012 — against Millwall on February 4. That has to improve.
Exquisite: Hatem Ben Arfa starred in Newcastle's great performance
On the way up
Jordan Rhodes could have left Huddersfield in the transfer window, with West Ham keen to sign him. He stayed, scored the winner against League One leaders Charlton on Saturday and has now scored 35 goals this season, a post-War club record. I wrote in this column earlier this season that he should stay and his chance will come higher up the food chain. It was the right decision.