Our weekly Premier League awards honour the best – and worst – of the football action from the midweek fixtures.
Moment of the Week
Newcastle remain bottom of the division and without a league win this season, the previous three teams to have reached this stage of the season without a win all relegated at the end of the campaign.
Eddie Howe will have been targeting a home clash with Norwich as the ideal chance to secure his first three points, but the game changed inside the opening nine minutes as Ciaran Clark was sent off.
The defender hauled back Teemu Pukki after his error freed the forward in behind, leaving the Magpies with a man disadvantage for more than 80 minutes at St James’ Park.
What was Ciaran Clark thinking? 😬 pic.twitter.com/2u1Hi1ZX8u
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 30, 2021
Howe will have no doubt been fearing the worst, though saw his side battle to a 1-1 against their fellow strugglers who failed to make their superiority count.
Newcastle’s resilience will have been an encouraging sign for Howe, but how crucial could Clark’s dismissal prove to be in the outcome of this season’s relegation battle? It could perhaps become clearer should Newcastle fail to beat Burnley at St James’ Park this weekend.
Player of the Week
Liverpool secured their biggest win at Everton since 1982 in midweek, scoring four or more goals at Goodison Park for the first time since Bob Paisley’s side achieved the feat almost four decades ago.
Mohamed Salah’s goalscoring brilliance has dominated the headlines for the free-scoring Reds this season, but it was a less regular goalscorer who set the wheels in motion for a convincing derby win.
Jordan Henderson produced an outstanding performance for Liverpool at Everton, opening the scoring with a superb first-time hit from the edge of the area after dispatching Andy Robertson’s cut-back beyond the diving Jordan Pickford.
📽️ 𝑺𝑯𝑶𝑾𝑹𝑬𝑬𝑳 📽️
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 3, 2021
Henderson then became the first Liverpool player since Steven Gerrard in 2005 to score and assist in a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, releasing Salah with a perfectly weighted pass into the path of the onrushing Egyptian.
Henderson’s drive and dynamism was at the centre of a fine performance from Liverpool, linking well with Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold down the right channel in familiar fashion.
Jurgen Klopp has had to be patient before being afforded the chance to start Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara together as a midfield three, but it is a combination that can dominate sides and one that the German will hope can be selected on a regular basis moving forward.
Goal of the Week
Manchester City ended Steven Gerrard’s perfect start at Aston Villa this week, securing a 2-1 win at Villa Park that included a thumping goal from Bernardo Silva.
The midfielder has been in sublime form for the Premier League champions this season and has found his touch in front of goal in recent weeks, scoring four times in his past seven appearances including this beauty.
It was a goal wrapped in the brilliance that has become normalised by City in recent seasons, exuding confidence as Pep Guardiola’s side swept from back to front before firing home.
Finding their way confidently through the Villa press deep inside their own half, their counter-attack was ended with a special strike from Silva who lashed home first-time on the volley to seal three points.
WHAT A FINISH 🔥
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 1, 2021
An honourable mention must go to Neil Maupay, who bounced back from a glaring miss at the weekend and criticism over his wastefulness around goal to rescue Brighton a point at West Ham.
The Seagulls were heading towards defeat at the London Stadium when Maupay’s improvised effort salvaged a point against the Hammers, an acrobatic effort out of nothing to ensure Graham Potter’s side departed the capital with a share of the spoils.
TAKE A BOW NEAL MAUPAY 👏
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 1, 2021
Miss of the Week
Jamie Vardy has been Leicester’s most reliable performer this season despite the Foxes’ struggles, the defensive frailties of Brendan Rodgers’ side – who have failed to keep a clean sheet since the opening day of the Premier League season – having been the major factor behind their inconsistent form.
Vardy, however, was uncharacteristically guilty of missing a guilt-edged opportunity during the 2-2 draw at Southampton in midweek, blazing wildly over the crossbar after finding himself through with just the goalkeeper to beat.
It was the sort of chance we have come accustomed to seeing the 34-year-old fire home without hesitancy in recent seasons, with Vardy missing the opportunity to outright eclipse Ian Wright for the most Premier League goals scored over the age of 30.
Vardy’s error proved costly as Leicester’s run extended to just one win in five league games, the Foxes well off the pace in the race to secure European football.
Quote of the Week
Manchester United’s former players have been quick to defend Cristiano Ronaldo this season, with Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand and now Patrice Evra having taken objection to Jamie Carragher’s questioning of whether the forward makes the Red Devils a better side.
Ferdinand made a jibe towards Carragher’s lack of a Premier League winners’ medal this week, insisting the former Liverpool defender had no place talking about titles given his failure to win one.
Ferdinand somewhat backtracked as the former England duo made amends on social media, but Evra is now the latest former teammate of Ronaldo to hit out at Carragher’s comments.
“There is a lot of talk about this player (Ronaldo) and I don’t understand. Some players like Jamie Carragher had 775 games. Cristiano today scored his 801st goal and those people talk about Cristiano.
“Sometimes I think people have to just stay in their lane and I just don’t understand it. Some people just wake up and they’re allowed to talk about Cristiano.”
Stat of the Week
Tomas Soucek headed home West Ham’s goal in their 1-1 draw with Brighton at the London Stadium, glancing home Pablo Fornals’ in-swinging corner to open the scoring.
The Czech Republic international has been a regular target for set-piece specialists West Ham, with Soucek having now scored six headed goals since arriving into English football.
It’s the third-highest total for any player across that period, trailing only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (8) and Christian Benteke (7).
6 – Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (8) and Christian Benteke (7) have scored more headed goals in the competition than Tomas Soucek (6). Noggin. pic.twitter.com/udcpv7pwJb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 1, 2021
Donkey of the Week
No shortage of candidates this week, with Ciaran Clark’s senseless red card having been covered in our Moment of the Week.
Seamus Coleman also deserves a mention following his howler in Everton’s defeat to Liverpool, gifting possession to Mohamed Salah to score the visitor’s third goal and end any hopes of a fightback from the home side.
It was a glaring error from one of the most experienced players on the pitch and an occasion which the Everton captain will have wanted the ground to swallow him up.
It’s tough to look past David de Gea, however, who was was responsible for conceding one of the most bizarre Premier League goals in recent memory this week, with the goalkeeper going down to leave his net unguarded as Arsenal fired home an opener at Old Trafford.
De Gea injured himself as teammate Fred stepped on his foot at a set piece, falling to the turf to allow Emile Smith Rowe to fire in from the edge of the area.
Martin Atkinson had no alternative but to award the goal given there was no infringement or serious injury, in an incident which De Gea will be grateful did not cost his side three points.
Whilst we’re not disputing De Gea’s meeting with Fred’s studs was no doubt painful, the Spanish shot-stopper – who rose to his feet to protest the goal and played out the entire clash – needed to show (to quote Troy Deeney) a little more cojones with his side still defending danger.