Tag Archives: goals

Goal of the season – Premier League contenders so far

After wonder goals from Lowton and Remy, Sportsmail picks the contenders (so far…) for the Premier League's goal of the season

PUBLISHED:

10:49 GMT, 8 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:59 GMT, 8 April 2013

Forget the title race or the fight to avoid relegation, here's one competition that pretty much all football fans can enjoy – goal of the season.

It may only be the first week of April, but screamers from Matthew Lowton and Loic Remy at the weekend will definitely be contenders.

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike I: Matthew Lowton fires home his volley for Villa at Stoke

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Super strike II: Loic Remy crashes home the ball in QPR's draw with Wigan

Lowton's sumptuous late volley at Stoke breathed life into Aston Villa's battle to stay up on Saturday.

And Remy fired home a rocket from the edge of the box to give fellow strugglers QPR hope before Shaun Maloney's equaliser at the death.

Let's hope there are further contenders in the climax to the season – but, for now, Sportsmail's team of experts nominate their favourite of the campaign so far.

*Who would you vote for Explain your choice at the bottom of the article…

NEIL ASHTON

Gareth Bale – West Ham 2 TOTTENHAM 3 (February 24, 2013)

Special players score goals at important moment, living with the pressure and winning games for their team with top class finishes when others are fading. Bale did just that when he won this fixture for Spurs at West Ham with a top quality strike from outside the area. His celebrations with Andre Villas-Boas on the touchline were even better.

SAMI MOKBEL

Gareth Bale has got quite a collection to choose from this season – but this is right up there. Final minute. 30 yards. Left foot. Bang. Three points.

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas

Rocket: Gareth Bale scores at West Ham before celebrating with Andre Villas-Boas
DOMINIC KING

Leighton Baines – Newcastle 1 EVERTON 2 (January 3, 2013)

An absolute humdinger from the best left-back in the country, his effort from 30 yards dipped, swerved and sped past Tim Krul before he realised what had happened. Great technique and phenomenal power. Eclipses Luis Suarez's stunning control and deft finish against the same opponents at Anfield in November.

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

Rocket: Leighton Baines crashes the ball home from 30 yards at Newcastle

SIMON CASS

Luis Suarez – LIVERPOOL 1 Newcastle 1 (November 4, 2013)

Luis Suarez’s equaliser against Newcastle back in November will take some beating. The Uruguayan plucks Luis Enrique’s long ball out of the air, holds of Fabricio Coloccini before taking a touch to go past Tim Krul to roll it into the net. Genius.

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

Control: Luis Suarez bamboozles the Newcastle defence to score this wonder goal

SAM CUNNINGHAM

Dimitar Berbatov – FULHAM 1 Stoke 0 (February 23, 2013)

This goal was everything that sums up the nonchalant Bulgarian – class, quality, precision, technique, grace. He was standing just inside the box on the right when a defensive header dropped from the sky. The ball plummeted 20-30 metres, a distance your average armchair fan would struggle to even control the ball from, and Berbatov stroked it into the top corner from just inside the box on the right.

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

Eyes on the ball: Dimitar Berbatov volleys home against Stoke at Craven Cottage

CHRIS WHEELER

Cameron Jerome – STOKE 3 Southampton 3 (December 29, 2012)

Jerome's blockbusting 90th-minute equaliser was stunning – if it wasn’t for the net, this one would still be travelling now.

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

Salute: Cameron Jerome celebrates his stunning last-minute goal for Stoke

JOHN EDWARDS

Loic Remy – QPR 1 Wigan 1 (April 7, 2013)

It has to be Remy, for one simple reason. While Lowton’s goal was spectacular, Remy’s had an air of wonder, bordering on mystique, about it. We’ve had any number of brilliantly-executed volleys down the years, but never, as far as I can recall, a first-time side-foot shot on the run from 20 yards hit with such power, it was past the keeper before he could move. Like Paolo Di Canio’s airborne effort against Wimbledon, it left you shaking your head and wondering exactly how he did it.

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ADAM SHERGOLD

Robin van Persie – MANCHESTER UNITED 3 Fulham 2 (August 25, 2012)

What a way to introduce yourself. A cross in from the left, a step in front of the defender and, in one fluid movement and without even looking at the goal, the ball is swept home. It was a goal that said: ‘I’m worth every penny and I’m here to get your title back.’ And how he has.

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

Touch: Robin van Persie directs the ball home in United's win over Fulham

MIKE ANSTEAD

Papiss Cisse – NEWCASTLE 4 Southampton 2 (February 24, 2013)

Cisse has now scored a few belters for Newcastle. He likes to drop the odd cracker in among his finishes inside the six-yard box. This goal reminded me of Alan Shearer in his Newcastle pomp, lashing it home from 25 yards.

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

Sealed with a kiss: Cisse celebrates his stunner against Southampton

MATT FORTUNE

Theo Walcott – ARSENAL 7 Newcastle 3 (December 29, 2012)

It's not the tidiest, the most sweetly struck, or skilful, but for the befuddlement I still feel when watching it back, Walcott's hat-trick goal saw him tie two players in knots by the touchline, trip over his own feet on entry to the box, somehow slide on his knees practically through the legs of another, take out a fourth, jump to his feet and scoop the ball from a narrowing angle into the top corner.

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

Joyous: Theo Walcott wheels away after completing his hat-trick against Newcastle

ALEX KAY

Michael Kightly – Manchester United 4 STOKE 2 (October 20, 2012)

The former Wolves man doesn’t always get a game for Stoke but his run from the halfway line at Old Trafford was phenomenal and one he will remember for the rest of his career. There was a slightly lucky bobble along the way but the finish was excellent.

LUKE BENEDICT

Matthew Lowton – Stoke 1 ASTON VILLA 3 (April 6, 2013)

For the patience to wait for the ball to drop on to his foot despite two Stoke players closing down fast, for the vision to shoot on goal given the magnitude of the match and just how far out he was, then finally for the technical ability to actually pull it off. Can you imagine the fuss if Messi had scored it

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Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 0: Curtis Main secures victory for Tony Mowbray"s side

Middlesbrough 1 Leeds 0: Main is Boro's hero as fans turn on Warnock

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

22:31 GMT, 12 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:03 GMT, 13 February 2013

A boy signed on a free transfer from Darlington proved to be Middlesbrough's Main man.

Curtis Main's perfectly placed header eight minutes from time gave Middlesbrough their first win in six League games and their first victory on Teesside over Leeds in 21 years.

But the 20-year-old, who scored for the second game running since recovering from injury, was sent off by petty referee Keith Stroud in the dying minutes.

Helpless: Paddy Kenny's best efforts could not prevent defeat for Leeds

Helpless: Paddy Kenny's best efforts could not prevent defeat for Leeds

Main was booked twice, for encroaching and handball, and looked as astonished as his manager.

Mowbray said: 'The ref got it wrong.
It was not deliberate handball in a million years. Curtis has amazing
qualities and yet is such a young player who hasn't been educated.

But he is potentially a special
talent. Tonight he is disappointed, frustrated, annoyed and angry but he
got us a great winner.'

Leeds fans chanted 'Warnock, time to
go' at boss Neil Warnock, who reacted with sarcastic applause. He is
refusing to quit and blamed the defeat on his strikers following Luciano
Becchio's departure to Norwich.

Ross McCormack fluffed Leeds's best
chance and Warnock said: 'We have missed three open goals in three games
and all hell breaks loose. 'Unless I run on the pitch and put the
chances in I don't know what more I can do.'

Under fire: The pressure continues to grow on Leeds boss Neil Warnock

Under fire: The pressure continues to grow on Leeds boss Neil Warnock

Rhys Williams should have put
Middlesbrough in front with a fourth-minute back-post volley after a
Grant Leadbitter free-kick put him clear, but Leeds started to take
control after that.

David Norris hit wide and then warmed
the palms of Jason Steele after some neat interplay between McCormack and Steve Morison, while the in-form Luke Varney also drove
away from goal after cutting in from the left.

The home side managed to steady themselves somewhat after that, but were so nearly the architects of their own downfall 28 minutes in.

Paul Green played a hopeful long ball forward that was Steele's all day long but he got his feet wrong and slipped, leaving McCormack with an open goal six yards out. The Scotland international dallied, though, and when he got a shot away, Jonathan Woodgate had recovered sufficiently to deny his former club on the line.

That proved to be Leeds' last chance of the first half and they should have been behind by the time the interval came.

Although not as clear a chance as McCormack's, Faris Haroun got clean through in injury time off Josh McEachran's defence-splitting pass, but Paddy Kenny was quickly off his line to deny him on the edge of the area.

Matchwinner: But Curtis Main was sent off minutes after scoring

Matchwinner: But Curtis Main was sent off minutes after scoring

The first half had hardly been an end-to-end affair but it was in comparison to the start of the second, which was attritional at best.

Woodgate provided the best moment, showing impressive pace and awareness to block off McCormack's run to goal, but as has often been the case in the 33-year-old's career, injury forced him off midway through the half.

Leadbitter, the game's other class act, then curled an edge-of-the-box free-kick just wide of Kenny's right-hand post and that brought about a mini period of drama with Leeds forced to defend for their lives with 17 minutes left.

Relieved: Tony Mowbray watched his side win for the first time in 2013

Relieved: Tony Mowbray watched his side win for the first time in 2013

Kenny did well to deny Leadbitter down to his right and then combined with Sam Byram to deny Williams on the follow-up, with the keeper then darting across his line to pouch a McEachran header that should have been a forgone conclusion.

Boro seemed keen to take the initiative, though, and by bringing on Miller they took it. With nine minutes left his cross hung enough for Main to put a header back across Kenny's goal and into the top right-hand corner.

He was then dismissed by Keith Stroud for a combination of dissent and kicking the ball away but, even though Steele had to deny Habib Habibou, Boro were able to hold on without him.

Luis Suarez posts picture with a snowman

Having fun Luis Diving charges may be snow joke but Suarez gave them the cold shoulder as he enjoyed the wintry weather

By
Sunni Upal

PUBLISHED:

18:32 GMT, 18 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:44 GMT, 18 January 2013

Despite the recent handball ‘cheat’ claims and the self-confessed diving storm, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez showed things are still all white in his world.

The Reds star Kopped it from his manager yesterday but he gave the critics the cold shoulder today as he posted this picture of him enjoying England’s wintry weather.

While Liverpool’s impeding charges for diving against the striker may be snow joke, at least the Uruguayan was able to enjoy himself ahead of Liverpool’s match against Norwich tomorrow.

Ice cool: Liverpool striker Luis Suarez poses with a snowman

Ice cool: Liverpool striker Luis Suarez poses with a snowman

Suarez recently admitted to falling in an attempt to win a penalty in a Premier League match against Stoke this season, a confession that landed him in hot water with manager Brendan Rodgers.

It was wrong to say what he said,’ said Rodgers. ‘It was not acceptable. This club has always kept its matters in house and that’s what we will do. But diving is not something we advocate here.’

He added: ‘I’ve spoken to Luis on it. I’m not sure it makes a big difference if we are saying he is fined one week’s, two weeks’ or four weeks’ wages.

‘This is a big club, bigger than anyone and whatever people say goes around the world. It certainly doesn’t help him but, more importantly, it doesn’t help the team.’

Suarez may be ice cool today but let's hope he warms up properly tomorrow.

Fun: Suarez and his manager Brendan Rodgers looking relaxed at Liverpool's Melwood training ground

Fun: Suarez and his manager Brendan Rodgers looking relaxed at Liverpool's Melwood training ground

Prolific: Suarez has scored 15 league goals this season

Prolific: Suarez has scored 15 league goals this season

Arsenal target David Villa scores two great goals

Are you watching, Arsene Villa shows Arsenal what they are missing with two great goals in 5-0 Barca romp

By
Tom Sheen

PUBLISHED:

00:06 GMT, 11 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:46 GMT, 11 January 2013

David Villa showed Arsene Wenger exactly what he was missing as he scored two goals of real quality in Barcelona's 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Cordoba on Thursday night.

Arsenal have been heavily linked with the 31-year-old forward, but Wenger is believed to have reservations over a move for the Spaniard, as Villa is likely to be costly in both transfer fee and wages.

See what your missing: Arsenal target David Villa (foreground) scored two excellent goals in the 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Cordoba

See what you're missing: Arsenal target David Villa (foreground) scored two excellent goals in the 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Cordoba

Earlier this month Arsenal were quoted a price of 16million to bring Villa to the Emirates but Wenger does not usually spend big on players over 30, and has added concerns over Villa's long-term fitness as he suffered a broken leg last season.

Villa would also likely expect wages of at least 130,00-per week, which could be another stumbling block in any potential deal for the player.

His first goal tonight saw him beat two players on the byline before a neat chip over the Cordoba keeper, while his second was a very smart low drive down to the keeper's left.

One: Villa's first saw him beat two men before cheekily dinking the ball over the goalkeeper

One: Villa's first saw him beat two men before cheekily dinking the ball over the goalkeeper

Despite his high price tag and injury concerns, bringing Villa to England may not be as risky as it sounds.

In limited playing time this season he has seven goals in all competitions, while he has 53 in 85 appearances for Spain and 28 league goals in 61 games for Barcelona.

Villa himself is reported to be desperate for the move to go ahead, but Barca president Sandro Rosell ruled out a move just this week.

Two: The Barcelona striker's second was an expertly driven low shot into the corner

Two: The Barcelona striker's second was an expertly driven low shot into the corner

Speaking to Catalan radio station RAC1 on Tuesday, Rosell said: 'I completely rule out the transfer of Villa during the winter market.

'He is ours and we need him, there is a lot of the season left.'

Villa's two goals, as well as goals from Thiago Alcantara and two from Alexis Sanchez, sealed a 7-0 aggregate win over Second division Cordoba that sent Barcelona into the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Reservations: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (pictured) has concerns about paying a reported 16m for a 31-year-old

Reservations: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger (pictured) has concerns about paying a reported 16m for a 31-year-old

Alan Pardew describes Demba Ba"s agents as sharks

Bunch of sharks! Pardew slams middlemen chasing 5m from Ba sale

PUBLISHED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 31 December 2012

Alan Pardew has torn into the agents chasing a staggering 5million in commission for the sale of Demba Ba, branding them 'sharks'. 'I think Demba's becoming a victim of a few sharks around him,' said the Newcastle boss.

Chelsea's attempts to make the Newcastle striker their first signing of the January transfer window hit trouble on Monday after 'unproductive' talks with Ba's representatives.

It is understood they are miles apart on the financial terms of any deal. That has left Pardew preparing to pick Ba against Everton on Tuesday with supporters angry at the Senegal forward for wanting to leave St James' Park.

Angered: Alan Pardew still hopes to hang onto his star striker Demba Ba

Angered: Alan Pardew still hopes to hang onto his star striker Demba Ba

Pardew turned his guns on the middlemen chasing levels of commission that could oblige the buying club to invest up to 28m in a 27-year-old who has a 7m release clause in his current contract and wants 90,000 a week.

Pardew added: 'I feel a little bit sorry for Demba because I think people (claim to) represent him who are not actually representing him.

'People out there are fuelling this who are not actually involved. But they want to be involved and that is the sort of world we are in.

'I can't remember a situation like this, with this level of speculation and information being put about. That's a frustration for us as a club, massively.'

Pardew believes Ba, scorer of 13 Premier League goals this season, is mentally tough enough to handle any abuse from Newcastle fans.

'Demba is as mentally strong a player as I have come across,' said Pardew. 'He's had to cope with injury earlier in his career and disappointments with the way some clubs have treated him. He can't be disappointed with the way we've treated him so I hope he rewards us by staying with us for the next couple of years.

'It's difficult for our fans to feel Demba is solid with the team, amid everything else that's going on. When he's played he's never represented that, he's always represented his full commitment to the team. 'But having said that our fans want loyalty. This is a big club and I think perhaps he needs to make a statement at some point.'

Pardew urged Ba to make up his mind soon about Newcastle's offer that remains on the table. 'He needs to make a decision fairly early,' he said.

Hitman: The prolific striker could be on his way to Chelsea

Hitman: The prolific striker could be on his way to Chelsea

Shake on it: Pardew tore into his agents for chasing the 5million commission

Shake on it: Pardew tore into his agents for chasing the 5million commission

'For everyone's sake, most of all himself. And especially for our fans – they need to know if he's going to be with us to the summer or not.

'We've had a few discussions but if he feels our offer isn't right for him, what can I do He has never said he wanted to leave the club.

'We've coped with it before and we'll cope with it again but ideally we want him to stay. In this window and in the situation we're in, I'd like to think he will stay. But that will be his decision.'

Lille defender Mathieu Debuchy is due at St James' Park tomorrow to complete his 5.5m move. He will be in the squad to face Brighton in the FA Cup third round on Saturday after Danny Simpson broke a toe at Arsenal last weekend.

Pardew added: 'A player of his quality will boost everybody. Defensively, we are so short.'

'Victim': Pardew believes Ba has surrounded himself with sharks

'Victim': Pardew believes Ba has surrounded himself with sharks

Theo Walcott should copy Thierry Henry – Martin Keown

Walcott should learn from the master… when Henry was in the zone there was no stopping him

|

UPDATED:

09:18 GMT, 31 December 2012

When Thierry Henry was in the zone, he was driven, there was a real fierce determination about him.

You could see it in his eyes. And I think that is coming into Theo Walcott's make-up now.

At the moment, the reason for this is that he wants to prove he deserves to stay at the club. But when that is taken care of, he needs to carry on producing.

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

Walcott needs to want it for wanting's sake. He needs to stay in this same thought process because it is bringing the best out of him at the moment.

When Walcott went home on Saturday night, he must have felt like a proud man – on top of the world with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

He needs to want to produce that same feeling next time he steps out on the pitch.

You do not stop until you feel that joy of winning, and that comes from scoring the goals that win matches.

Henry gave us tremendous hope. Without those players, you do not finish off the hard work because you don't score goals.

This transition from winger to centre forward has been seven years in the making and the club have probably been waiting for this to happen.

And right now, it's like Walcott is saying: 'Take a look at me at centre forward. This is where I really want to play.'

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

There is much more purpose and precision, and there seems to be a shift in his mentality, underlined by the way he took his third goal.

Walcott gets knocked to the ground but bounces back up again looking for a goal. There's that hunger to score – the same hunger Henry had.

Furthermore, his first goal had all the precision of Henry. And for me, that is the difference; he is more clinical in front of goal.

There was not the consistency to his finishing three or four years ago, but that consistency is there now. And I think that has come with a change of mindset.

Yes, he has maybe proved a point. But what he has to focus on is scoring goals and winning games for Arsenal. It's not about just performing well and looking good.

I think maybe, in the past, there has been that element to his game. But if you focus on what matters, winning football matches, it is easier as a professional footballer to go out there and do well.

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Demba Ba to receive 2m bonus for joining Chelsea

EXCLUSIVE: Ba gets 2m 'loyalty' bonus from Newcastle as dream move to Chelsea nears

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 December 2012

Demba Ba will be paid a 2million loyalty bonus by Newcastle United as he prepares to complete a dream move to Chelsea.

Ba’s agents staged talks with Chelsea last night and the European champions are expected to trigger his 7m January 1 release clause tomorrow.

Newcastle have accepted Ba’s departure and are confident his replacement will be at St James’ Park to watch the team play Everton on Wednesday.

Waving goodbye Demba Ba is set to join Chelsea from Newcastle and will pocket a 2m 'loyalty bonus' from the North-East club

Waving goodbye Demba Ba is set to join Chelsea from Newcastle and will pocket a 2m 'loyalty bonus' from the North-East club

Ba, 27, who has scored 13 times in
the Barclays Premier League for Newcastle this season, negotiated the
amazing loyalty bonus when he moved to the club in 2011.

Newcastle, beaten 7-3 at Arsenal on
Saturday, want the deal done as quickly as possible after failing to
convince Ba to remain at the club.

Alan Pardew admitted Ba would be sold
in the summer if he refused to renegotiate his infamous release clause,
but his exit has come sooner than expected for the Newcastle manager.

The Senegal striker has 18 months left
to run on his Newcastle contract, but he has been offered a lucrative
deal to join Rafa Benitez at Stamford Bridge.

Prolific: Ba (centre) has netted 13 Premier League goals this season

Prolific: Ba (centre) has netted 13 Premier League goals this season

Due to issues with one of his knees,
Ba agreed to a basic weekly salary at Newcastle of 20,000 with another
20,000 bolted on top for appearances.

He is expected to double his basic salary at Chelsea and will get the same again based on appearances.

Although Pardew will be upset by Ba’s
decision to force through a move, Newcastle believe it is in the best
interests of the club to complete the transfer quickly.

Newcastle believe they got a good deal
from the striker after signing him from West Ham when they were
relegated in 2011.

Ba scored 16 goals in 34 Premier League appearances
last season but his relationship with Pardew soured in September. He
claimed he was being played out of position but has still responded with
13 league goals in a struggling team.

Double salvo: Ba scored twice at the Emirates on Saturday

Double salvo: Ba scored twice at the Emirates on Saturday

Ba is only one goal behind Robin van
Persie (14) in the goalscoring charts and has scored as many league
goals as Luis Suarez and Michu this season.

Chelsea want Ba as a short-term fix
to support Fernando Torres as they prepare for a run at the title.
Although it has been made clear to Ba that he will be the second-choice
striker, Chelsea need a replacement after selling Daniel Sturridge to
Liverpool. Sturridge moves to Merseyside tomorrow in a deal worth 12m.

Newcastle are poised to complete a deal to sign France right back Mathieu Debuchy, 27, from Lille for just under 5.5m.

Strike partner: Ba is being brought in to compliment Fernando Torres up front at Chelsea

Strike partner: Ba is being brought in to compliment Fernando Torres up front at Chelsea

Meanwhile, Benitez further enhanced
his claims to become Chelsea manager on a permanent basis after hailing
the ‘best result’ of his Stamford Bridge tenure yesterday, ending
Everton’s 13-game unbeaten home run.

Chelsea’s interim boss saw his side
bounce back from conceding after 63 seconds with two goals from stand-in
skipper Frank Lampard.

Benitez said: ‘It was a great win for
us, and when you consider how well Everton have been playing and how
they had not lost for a long time then, yes, maybe it was one of our
most difficult games and our best win. The players showed character,
commitment, passion and quality against a team who were pushing us all
the time. We made a mistake at the beginning but the reaction was good.’

Goalkeeper Petr Cech faces a scan on an ankle injury that forced him off at half-time.

Everton boss David Moyes, who saw his
side hit the woodwork twice, said: ‘We were a wee bit unlucky but I
still think 2012 has been a good year for us.’

The Walcott should copy Thierry Henry – Martin Keown

Walcott should learn from the master… when Henry was in the zone there was no stopping him

|

UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 30 December 2012

When Thierry Henry was in the zone, he was driven, there was a real fierce determination about him.

You could see it in his eyes. And I think that is coming into Theo Walcott's make-up now.

At the moment, the reason for this is that he wants to prove he deserves to stay at the club. But when that is taken care of, he needs to carry on producing.

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

Walcott needs to want it for wanting's sake. He needs to stay in this same thought process because it is bringing the best out of him at the moment.

When Walcott went home on Saturday night, he must have felt like a proud man – on top of the world with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

He needs to want to produce that same feeling next time he steps out on the pitch.

You do not stop until you feel that joy of winning, and that comes from scoring the goals that win matches.

Henry gave us tremendous hope. Without those players, you do not finish off the hard work because you don't score goals.

This transition from winger to centre forward has been seven years in the making and the club have probably been waiting for this to happen.

And right now, it's like Walcott is saying: 'Take a look at me at centre forward. This is where I really want to play.'

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

There is much more purpose and precision, and there seems to be a shift in his mentality, underlined by the way he took his third goal.

Walcott gets knocked to the ground but bounces back up again looking for a goal. There's that hunger to score – the same hunger Henry had.

Furthermore, his first goal had all the precision of Henry. And for me, that is the difference; he is more clinical in front of goal.

There was not the consistency to his finishing three or four years ago, but that consistency is there now. And I think that has come with a change of mindset.

Yes, he has maybe proved a point. But what he has to focus on is scoring goals and winning games for Arsenal. It's not about just performing well and looking good.

I think maybe, in the past, there has been that element to his game. But if you focus on what matters, winning football matches, it is easier as a professional footballer to go out there and do well.

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Sale 33 Worcester 27

Sale 33 Worcester 27: Cueto grabs record-equalling try to earn vital win for strugglers

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UPDATED:

01:28 GMT, 29 December 2012

Danny Cipriani won the praise of arch-critic John Mitchell after he helped struggling Sale to a crucial Premiership win.

The much-criticised fly half kicked 18
points and helped fire Sale in a second-half which was capped by a
record-equalling Premiership try from Mark Cueto.

Cueto struck in the 58th minute to
round off a sweeping Sale move which put him level on tries at the top
of the Premiership charts alongside former Sale wing Steve Hanley.

Main man: Sale's Mark Cueto helped his side to a narrow but vital win

Main man: Sale's Mark Cueto helped his side to a narrow but vital win

Cipriani converted the try and two late penalty goals helped him rebound from the criticism of Mitchell, the former All Blacks coach, following that trouncing at Toulon two weeks ago when he was vilified for his poor tackling.

Mitchell, Sale’s new consultant coach, dropped him for last week’s trip to his old club Wasps but had to pick him last night when Nick Macleod suffered a back injury.

And Cipriani did not let Sale down making a full contribution including a 100 per cent goal-kicking record by converting seven chances out of seven.

It left Mitchell commenting that Cipriani had shown the talent he was capable of. But he added it was only ‘one’ response and he is now expected to play a full part every week.

Mitchell said: ’Danny played well and defensively he showed some improvement. I would still like to see get his ‘shoulders’ on – I think everyone would.

‘But he stiffened up defensively which is what we have asked him to do. But we clearly need him at this level every week – not just one in three.’ Victory for bottom-placed Sale puts them a point behind 11th-placed London Irish who play champions Harlequins at Twickenham today.

But for the first part of last night Sale looked set to suffer another defeat. The conceded Worcester three easy penalty goals to Andy Goode and looked off the pace.

A try-saving tackle by full-back Rob Miller on Nikki Walker lifted Sale and they had fought back by half-time to be only 14-16 down, lock Richie Gray having scored a try to one by Worcester’s Neil Best.

Cipriani and Goode exchanged penalties in the second half before Sale found the winning edge when Cueto scooted over on the right for a try which his fly half converted.

That score put Sale 27-22 ahead and two late penalties by Cipriani kept Sale ahead despite Worcester’s grabbing a late try through flanker Matt Kvesic. Good failed to land the conversion in a final period when his usual accurate kicking boots let him down as he also missed two penalties.

Jan Vertonghen tells Andre Villa-Boas to play him in the centre to face Christian Benteke

Play me in the middle and I'll keep Benteke quiet! Spurs man Vertonghen admits frustrations at left-back role

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Jan Vertonghen is looking forward to facing Belgium team-mate Christian Benteke at Villa Park on Boxing Day.

The Tottenham defender has told manager Andre Villas-Boas that he wants to play at centre-back instead of on the left, and has praised the influence Benteke has had at Villa since his 7million move from Genk in August.

The striker has scored a third of Villa’s 15 league goals after being preferred to record signing Darren Bent, who will miss the whole of the Christmas period after suffering a hamstring injury on his recall in the Capital One Cup quarter-final against Norwich City earlier this month.

Front foot: Jan Vertonghen wants to play in his preferred centre-back role

Front foot: Jan Vertonghen wants to play in his preferred centre-back role

Centre of attention: The Spurs man says he will keep Christian Benteke quiet

Centre of attention: The Spurs man says he will keep Christian Benteke quiet

But Vertonghen is aware of the aerial threat his 22-year-old international pal will pose as Villa attempt to recover from Sunday’s 8-0 thrashing at Chelsea.

Vertonghen, 25, said: 'Benteke is very good in the air and he can score. He will be a very tough player to play against.

'I know him quite well from Belgium, in the league and playing for the national team. It doesn’t surprise me that he has done well at Villa. He now feels the confidence of the team and the crowd and manager.

'In the last two three games for the national team, he was very, very good. I think that Aston Villa made the right choice to sign him.'

Vertonghen admitted he has been frustrated filling in at left-back for Tottenham in the absence of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and insisted he could have more influence on the game if Villas-Boas selected him in the centre of defence.

The Spurs boss has tended to partner Steven Caulker with either Michael Dawson or William Gallas this season and Vertonghen’s versatility has seen him moved out to full-back while Assou-Ekotto recovers from a knee injury.

The Belgian said: 'Yes (I'm frustrated), and the manager knows. But we needed some height in the team (against Stoke City) for the set plays and he knows I prefer centre-back, but that is enough for me.

'He respects me but tells me whenever I need to play left-back. I want to help the team.

Good buy: Vertonghen has impressed since his summer switch from Ajax

Good buy: Vertonghen has impressed since his summer switch from Ajax

'I love to attack. I love to go up front. It is a little more difficult than when you are playing centre back. I think my influence is better as a centre back. That is why I want to play.

'For the team it is best that I play as a centre back. I like to bring the ball out. You need to move the game quickly and that is one of my qualities as well.'

Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel, 41, also backed his successor at Villa Park, Brad Guzan, to recover from Sunday’s humiliating result and said his fellow American, 28, could be Villa’s No 1 for the next 10 years.

Friedel, who is likely to be a substitute again on Wednesday as Villas-Boas continues to select Hugo Lloris, told Villa’s official website: 'Brad can be one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League. He has all the attributes.

'But he has to go through a lot of experiences – good times and bad times. He needs to get to the point where he develops that thick skin of leather where you don't care what people think.

'Once he gets 34 or 35 years under his belt, then we're really see how good he can be. He's still very young in goalkeeping terms.

'He could be Villa's No 1 for over 10 years, absolutely. It's entirely up to him by way of his performances.'