TTs Premier League Opinions - October 16

The Clangers: Sir Alex Ferguson will be tearing his hair out this evening when he sits down for a glass of vin rouge with Roberto Di Matteo.

The Baggies boss must have believed it was a case of damage limitation as he delivered his half-time teamtalk to his troops, as United were 2-0 up and cruising following a fine first-half display, which admittedly had been sparked by a gift from Scott Carson, who parried Nani's early free-kick straight into the path of Javier Hernandez who gleefully tucked the ball home.

United's second came from a delightful one-two between Dimitar Berbatov and Nani, who clipped the ball past Carson with consummate ease.

Albion had shown plenty of spirit and attacking endeavour at the Theatre of Dreams, buoyed no doubt after stunning the Gunners - but no-one could have predicted that United would once again hit the self-destruct button after the break, having previously done so against Fulham and Everton.

Albion's first was fortuitous, with Chris Brunt's angled free-kick ricocheting into the net via Anderson and Patrice Evra, but their equaliser was a return gift from Edwin van der Sar, who clearly felt sorry for rival keeper Carson and fancied hogging the headlines himself.

There was little danger as Brunt punted a high, hopeful cross into the United box, with van der Sar expected to take a routine catch under no pressure.

But for some reason the veteran Dutchman spilled his catch, with the ball falling to a stunned Somen Tchoyi, who tapped in from five yards out to spark wild celebrations for Baggies fans in the stands, up and down the country - and here at TEAMtalk Towers.

Albion were widely tipped to carry on being a yo-yo club this season by finishing in the bottom three - but both the Baggies and Blackpool are showing that fortune favours the brave. (Simon Wilkes)

Good Time to be a Baggie: To quote Ken Barlow after he'd nailed Stephanie Beecham on a barge in Corrie (doing the dirty on Deirdre to boot): "Pinch me, I must be dreaming."

It was a strange feeling as my beloved Baggies went into the interval at Old Trafford - we were 2-0 down but hadn't played that badly and still looked confident on the ball.

Another Carson clanger had given United a lead (there are still big question marks over our skipper for me, but I'm happy to back Di Matteo's judgment for now), then a piece of fantastic skill from Nani and Dimitar Berbatov and we were two down.

I think the game changed when Ryan Giggs was replaced by Darron Gibson. All of a sudden they found it harder to keep possession (to be fair it's like trading a Rolls Royce in for a Reliant Robin) - and although our first goal was tucked in by Lady Luck, we deserved our equaliser for our endeavour and willingness to give it a go without any sense of fear among the players.

It was hilarious to hear Charlie Nicholas screaming on Sky Sports News in the closing stages: "What are West Brom doing, they're pushing for a winner!!!" This is exactly why we won at The Emirates - we dared to throw some bodies forward and not just roll over so the big boys could scratch our tummy.

Our entire team is infused by the swagger and confidence Di Matteo has in truck loads, and although the season is only eight games in, you've got to fancy us to kick on and finish well above the relegation zone come May time.

Remember we picked up a point without our two best players from recent games - Jerome Thomas and Peter Odemwingie - in the starting line-up, so crack open some champers tonight as it's a great time to be a Baggie. (SW)

Never underestimate the Law of the Ex

He was the man branded "Charles Insomnia" by former Toon boss Joe Kinnear, so you can understand why tricky French winger N'Zogbia (yes, that's "N'Zogbia", Joe!) would be keen to prove a point on his return to St James' Park.

Not only did he silence the crowd with a superb headed opener, he then scored a blistering second barely a minute later to leave the Toon Army scratching their heads and cursing the Law of the Ex.

Newcastle did hit back to claim a thrilling 2-2 draw at St James' Park, but it was winger N'Zogbia who was the talk of the Toon at full-time. If the gifted Frenchman can add consistency to his game, surely another France call-up cannot be too far around the corner. (James Marshment)

The Good, the Bad and the not-too-Ugly: Marouane Chamakh has certainly added a different dimension to Arsenal this season - and he played a starring role in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Birmingham at The Emirates.

Gunners fans were biting their nails after beanpole striker Nikola Zigic steered a looping header into the net to give Blues a shock lead in London.

But Chamakh won a dubious penalty for his side by going down in the penalty box under the slightest of touches from Scott Dann - and it was level terms as Samir Nasri coolly converted the spot-kick.

That was the Bad for the not-too-Ugly Chamakh, who has taken over Cristiano Ronaldo's mantle as the Premier League's pin-up with his funky hairstyle and good looks - but he saved for the Good for the 46th minute, when he latched onto Jack Wilshere's clever throughball, spun on a six pence then waltzed past Ben Foster with sumptuous ease before tapping the ball into the net for a vital victory which keeps their title aspirations alive. (SW).

Dodgy keeper, dodgy keeper: Zeljko Petrovic's actions said it all at Molineux as Rob Green's chocolate-wristed punch allowed Wolves to open the scoring. Sitting next to Avram Grant, West Ham's assistant Petrovic furiously thrust out his fist - mimicking Green's weak punch - as Grant looked on in disbelief.

The finger of blame was again pointing at the stopper as he made a real hash of a routine cross into the box. Recent performances had suggested Green had forgotten his World Cup nightmare, but his demons were back in avengence on Saturday. Moments later, though, the hit-and-miss Hammers keeper produced a fine save to deny David Jones, but that will be quickly forgotten. Still some consolation for Green was that wasn't the worst mistake of the day...step forward Edwin van der Sar. (Matty Briggs)

Ref justice for Cottagers: Controversy struck at Craven Cottage as Tom Huddlestone's long-range winner was given despite William Gallas' efforts to deny him. The Spurs defender was in an offside position and just a yard away from keeper Mark Schwarzer as Thud-dlestone's effort whistled into the net. Mike Dean's assistant initially flagged for offside, but after the two had a brief chat the goal was given. Scandalous really!

Gallas was more than interfering with play - in fact he almost touched the ball in! And he certainly distracted Fulham keeper Schwarzer. You got it wrong Mr Dean. (MB)

A taste of one's own medicine: To be fair to Stoke, the days of them scoring goals week-in, week-out courtesy of a long Rory Delap are not as common as the average man may think. And the Potters have added another string to their game of late thanks to the excellent wing play of Matthew Etherington on the left and Jermaine Pennant on the right. However, you cannot help but think - when the Potters do concede goals via a long throw into their own box - that there's a small dose of karma being dished out. I know TEAMtalk's resident Potter Mark Holmes won't be a happy bunny, but I wonder if even he had a wry smile on his face when Gretar Steinsson's long throw-in lead to Ivan Klasnic's last-gasp winner?! (JM)

Villa Park could be home fortress: I was quite quick to condemn Aston Villa for the appointment of Gerard Houllier, but to be fair, their record of four games unbeaten at home suggests they're going to be a tough nut to crack in their own backyard. The woodwork took a battering at either end late on at Villa Park, but had either Stephen Ireland early on, or Nigel Reo-Coker in the dying embers, not fluffed their lines, the Villans could have been celebrating a well-deserved victory against the Premier League champions, who looked like they were lacking a cutting edge in the absence of Didier Drogba. (JM)

Source: Team Talk