Best of the weekend
Skysports.com casts an eye over this weekend's Premier League action and picks out the highlights.
Last Updated: 12/02/12 8:05pm
Team of the week
Game of the weekTottenham 5 Newcastle 0
What a week it has been for Harry Redknapp - cleared in court, installed as the overwhelming favourite to land the England job and handed three precious points in a contest which was supposed to be a lot harder than it looked. Tottenham offered their manager the perfect end to a hectic few days as they swept aside top-four chasers Newcastle at White Hart Lane. Spurs, aware that seemingly everyone in the country apparent from them wants their manager to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss, flew out of the blocks against the Magpies and were three up inside 20 minutes. A fourth was added before the break, with Alan Pardew's half-time team talk likely to have been focused on damage limitation. As it was, Tottenham netted just once more in the second period, but that was more than enough to send the locals home happy. A crushing 5-0 victory saw Spurs cement their standing in third place, with the Premier League title still a realistic target.
Player of the weekEmmanuel Adebayor
While it was impossible not to be impressed by Tottenham's all-round display against Newcastle, one man stood out above all others. Adebayor has proved to be a shrewd acquisition by Redknapp this season, with Spurs having been able to bring the best out of a man deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City. The Togolese frontman, who is on a season-long loan at White Hart Lane, had a hand in all five of Spurs' goals on Saturday. His early cross was lashed into the net by Benoit Assou-Ekotto to hand the hosts a dream start, and he delivered again shortly after for Louis Saha to turn home his first goal for the club. Adebayor then combined with Saha again for Spurs' third, before seeing his shot blocked into the path of Niko Kranjcar as Tottenham threatened to run riot. An almost faultless performance from the burly striker was topped off on 64 minutes when he collected a flick from Saha and volleyed past a hopelessly exposed Tim Krul.
Goal of the weekYakubu Aiyegbeni
How Blackburn have missed Yakubu over recent weeks. The Nigerian was forced onto the sidelines after being shown a red card in a victory over Wigan, with a three-match suspension queried but ultimately served. Rovers struggled in his absence, but welcomed him back for a home date with fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. It took Yakubu just 15 minutes to reintroduce himself to the Ewood Park faithful, with his fine finish paving the way for a priceless 3-2 victory. His impeccable touch on the edge of the box opened up space and allowed him to swivel before firing low past Paddy Kenny. Honourable mentions in this category also go to QPR's Jamie Mackie and Bolton's Mark Davies for their efforts in losing causes and to Wayne Rooney for his well-struck volley that broke the deadlock during a tense North West derby between Manchester United and Liverpool. More on that game later.
Save of the weekJoe Hart
With there little to choose between Manchester's noisy neighbours in this season's title race, expect the finest of margins to determine who takes the crown and who is left cursing their luck. Individual moments of brilliance could prove to be the difference, at either end of the field. Joe Hart underlined how important he could be to Manchester City's cause with a smart stop towards the end of their away date at Aston Villa. With the Blues leading 1-0 heading into the closing stages, England's number one produced an instinctive one-handed stop to keep international colleague Darren Bent at bay. His intervention ensured City collected three points rather than one and took Roberto Mancini's men back above Manchester United and into top spot. How crucial that stop proves to be remains to be seen, but for now it means the world to City. Swansea's Michel Vorm and Norwich's John Ruddy also deserve a mention for their showings at opposite ends of an entertaining encounter at the Liberty Stadium, while Paul Robinson and Brad Friedel caught the eye for Blackburn and Tottenham respectively.
Untimely injury of the weekPer Mertesacker
It is fair to say that Mertesacker has not enjoyed the best of luck in English football, with the jury still very much out on Arsenal's Germany international. His season took another bizarre twist on Saturday as he picked up a freak injury at the Stadium of Light. You know the world is against you when even fresh air can trip you up, and that is precisely what happened to the unfortunate Mertesacker. Having allowed the ball to run through his legs, the languid centre-half turned and tumbled to the turf. It appeared as though he had tripped at first, but as he clutched his leg it was clear that he had damaged himself in some way. Sunderland took full advantage of the opportunity presented to them, with James McClean collecting the loose ball and rifling it past Wojciech Szczesny. Aaron Ramsey and Thierry Henry got Mertesacker off the hook, but by then he had already been carried from the field and towards a lengthy spell on the sidelines with possible ligament damage.
Farewell of the weekThierry Henry
As mentioned, a certain Mr T. Henry was among the goals on Saturday, with the French striker marking his second farewell to the Premier League in spectacular style. It is not clear who writes the striker's scripts, but they should be among those battling it out for an Academy Award on 26th February. Henry had already scored a match-winner in the FA Cup and netted at the Emirates prior to heading for Sunderland. He was introduced off the bench in that contest and, after a quiet showing, went on to snatch the winner in stoppage-time. He was in the right place at the right time to meet an Andrey Arshavin cross and grab the Gunners a 2-1 win - and his 229th goal for the club. With Henry set to return to MLS employers the New York Red Bulls on Thursday, that could turn out to be his final appearance in Premier League football. If it is, he has only served to build on his standing as one of the finest players ever to grace the English game.
Controversy of the weekLuis Suarez-Patrice Evra
After much deliberating we have decided to plump for a certain event, or non-event, as our controversy of the week. After an unnecessary amount of will he, won't he during the build-up to Manchester United's home date with old enemies Liverpool, it turned out that he won't. All eyes were on the pre-match handshakes at Old Trafford and two players in particular. Luis Suarez, back from an eight-match ban for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra, opted to snub the Red Devils full-back, while Rio Ferdinand then decided against welcoming the Uruguayan to Manchester. A scuffle is said to have broken out in the tunnel at half-time, while Evra's rather elaborate celebration at the final whistle only served to further fan the flames. Apologies have since been issued and accepted, but the whole sorry saga has left a rather unpleasant taste. Fortunately, United and Liverpool will not meet again now until next season, so we can all move on and work towards ensuring that a similar scenario is not allowed to play out again in the future.