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Premier League weekend: Heroes and Villains

Hero: Neil Etheridge

Cardiff City got their first Premier League away win of the season on Saturday. Their one nil win at Leicester City was delivered in part, by the super hero antics of Neil Etheridge in goal. The Philippines International, who was spared a call up by his country for the Asian Cup, was the scourge of almost every Leicester attack.  His save from Maddison’s penalty seemed almost inevitable, although a huge share of the credit must go to the man, the myth, the legend, that is Sol Bamba, who threw in a top class tackle to deny the Leicester attacker on the rebound.

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Villain: James Maddison

The Leicester midfielder had a nailed on chance to win the match for his side against Cardiff at The King Power Stadium on Saturday.  You need your big men to step up and deliver from these situations and you could hear the audible pain from the home fans when their £20 million man spurred the chance.

In fairness, he could have been given a re-take as the referee somehow missed circa forty Cardiff players encroaching in the area, but you really need to see your player take his chance regardless. It’s another case of two steps forward and three back for Leicester this season.

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Hero: Roberto Firmino

After seeing your side go a goal down in such a huge game, you really do you need your big players to keep their cool and deliver.  Liverpool’s Brazilian dynamo duly stepped up to the plate and dragged his side back in front after a frenetic opening twenty minutes at Anfield.

There was a more than a huge slice of fortune with his first goal as Arsenal’s defence went into meltdown, giving the number nine an easy tap-in when they should have lashed the ball comfortably clear. However, Firmino’s second was simply sublime. He glided past two Arsenal defenders, leaving men on the ground looking bemused and frightened, before slotting the ball past Leno for 2-1. He even managed to score a penalty for his hat-trick. A top performance which has been somewhat overdue from the Brazilian, he does love a goal against the Gunners though.

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Villain: Aboubakar Kamara

Let’s face it; you’d have to have done something pretty awful to make the affable Claudio Ranieri want to kill you. In fairness, the experienced manager will have known how big the match with Huddersfield Town was on Saturday, so to see Aboubakar Kamara storm forward and demand he take a second half penalty over designated spot kick taker Aleksandar Mitrovic, will have been irksome for the Italian gaffer to say the least. To see him miss said penalty, will have really taken the biscuit though. The French forward spurned his chance and will have been hugely relieved to see Mitrovic nick a late winner for the home side. It showed a lack of respect and hopefully he has learnt a valuable, if almost very costly lesson. Let’s hope he avoids the homicidal Claudio for the foreseeable.

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Hero:  Marcus Rashford

United’s most exciting local lad for some time, continues to shine under Solksjaer. As Bournemouth were summarily swept aside by Manchester United’s newly found swashbuckling football, Rashford was integral to his side.  The forward looks sharper, more confident and incredibly bold at the moment. His assist for Pogba’s first goal was a delightful bit of skill which left two Bournemouth defenders chasing shadows as he dropped his shoulder and dribbled through them from out wide, before cutting it back for Jose’s best mate to tap in. He also took his goal very well, showing his striker’s instincts remain intact. As always, Pogba will make the headlines, but United have some player in Rashford.

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Villain: Eric Bailly

When you’re 4-1 up with ten minutes to go, it’s all about game management and closing out the match.  Someone clearly didn’t hand the manual to Eric Bailly.  The United defender had gone in recklessly on Charlie Daniels just a few minutes earlier, before duly scissoring down Ryan Fraser with a crazy lunge that got all of the man and zilch of the ball.  It left a frustrating sub-plot for United who will want to exorcise the defensive lapses if they are to make up ground on the top four.  Bailly now misses three games and hands the mantle to Phil Jones, United fans will be terrified at that prospect.

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