Heroes and Villains: Super Frank Lampard and Swan Lake
David De Gea
‘David de God’ was just one of the nicknames bandied around following the Spanish stopper’s almost super-human saves to shut out Liverpool. Whilst we wouldn’t go that far, the Manchester United custodian was an unbeatable guardian of the Old Trafford goal posts. The gutsy goalie made countless crucial interventions, with enviable composure in one on ones.
Once criticised for being too weak, after this display it appears De Gea has no kryptonite. Manchester United are now 12/1 with Coral to win the Premier League.
There’s a reason Chelsea fans dubbed him ‘Super Frank Lampard’, but few Blues would have foreseen a successful switch to Manchester City, after what appeared a timely Stamford Bridge exit.
Like any super hero worth his salt, however, there is an epilogue to Lampard’s Premier League story. The former England international is not ready to hang up his top tier boots and head for New York City just yet.
The 36-year-old midfielder’s incredible scoring stats were often diminished with cries of ‘deflection’ and ‘penalties’, but Lampard timed it right yet again to save the Sky Blues’ skin against Leicester City and match Thierry Henry’s Premier League record.
With 175 to his tally, the stage seems set for mentor, and title rival, Jose Mourinho to regret letting his favourite ‘son’ go, as City are 11/4 to lift the Premier League.
It’s hard to believe the great Dane is still just 22 years old, as the versatile midfield man continues to put in mature performances beyond his years.
Eriksen was Tottenham, and Mauricio Pochettino’s, goal hero and game-changer yet again, refusing to give in as Swansea City looked sure to clinch a draw. His quality and determination made the difference, with a fierce strike panicking the host’s defence and allowing Eriksen to follow up with a lovely low shot.
Hero or villain?
West Midlands derby match-winner Gardner will have divided the crowd over his status, proving a protagonist for West Brom and an outlaw for Aston Villa.
The former Villan’s midfielder, and boyhood Birmingham fan, smashed home the only goal of the game to give the struggling Baggies all three points.
Gardner rubbed salt in the wounds by celebrating with gusto, although a little too strongly for under-fire boss Alan Irvine’s liking, with the coach stating: “I wouldn’t have minded who he went and celebrated with. My hand is still stinging, so I might ask him to go somewhere else next time!”
Liverpool’s left back may have been playing in an unfamiliar role just slightly further forward, but that was certainly no excuse for losing all sense of defensive responsibility.
The woeful wingback was caught too far up the field as Antonio Valencia romped down the right to create Manchester United’s opener, though he made little attempt to track back or slot in for those covering him.
Moreno capped-off a miserable display by going MIA again as Juan Mata doubled the Red Devils’ lead before the break, failing to spot his compatriot’s offside run. Liverpool are now 5/1 for a top four finish.
Steve Bruce illustrated his bemusement at Chelsea’s antics by likening the Blues boys to ballet performers, with the Stamford Bridge side receiving two yellow cards for blatant dives by Diego Costa and Willian.
There’s certainly no room for shameless attempts to cheat the referee , with the Premier League being beamed to audiences across the world.
The main controversy occurred after Gary Cahill, already cautioned, performed a grand jete in Hull City’s area. Looking as though somebody had pulled the turf out from under his feet, the England international escaped punishment, with the Tigers later reduced to 10 men themselves.