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All Things Footie | Sunday, September 29 | Jordan

Owenly A Matter Of Time

It's taken him 12 hours and 20 minutes of football but Michael Owen must have delighted Gerard Houllier by scoring from open open play at Maine Road on Saturday. To rehash an old cliché, it's evident that these things are a bit like buses; for it was not to be a solitary goal to cheer his manager, but the forward's third hat-trick for his club he love so much.

What started off looking like a difficult game against a defence that hasn't lost at home all season — and has been particularly impressive of late — was finished off clinically by the young Welshman. Playing centre forward is arguably the most confidence dependant position on the pitch and this brace will no doubt go a long way to restoring his killer instinct. To disagree with Gary Lineker though, I still feel Owen has some serious issues with his game, most notably he lacks a first touch as good as most of his contemporaries.

Dedication's What You Need

Just two all time league records set this weekend by Arsenal, though they also equalled Manchester United's record of going 29 consecutive games unbeaten. No boring one nil at Highbury either, Arsenal put Leeds to the sword emphatically with a 4-1 victory at Elland Road — traditionally a bit of a bogey ground for the Gunners. Arsenal's dominance was so absolute that it's impossible for Leeds fans to learn anything about their team, apart from the fact that Dacort, Smith and Bowyer's fouling feet are in working order.

Anyone claim to have injury problems? How about Pires, Ljungberg and Edu unavailable? How about replacement Kolo Toure causing Leeds no end of problems, scoring his second goal of the season and setting up another. It's worth giving the young Ivory Coast International a mention for his contribution, after all; who apart from some Arsenal fans had heard of him a year ago? Or three months ago for that matter? On top of his considerable talent and the ease at which he's earned the respect of his more senior teammates, Toure brings a boundless enthusiasm for the game and his adopted country (he allegedly carries an English dictionary wherever he goes).

Although United took three points from The Valley, they certainly weren't as easy to come by as the 3-1 socreline suggests. I'm absolutely baffled as to why Ferguson — in the absence of Ruud Van Nistelrooy — decided to play Scholes up front, Forlan on the right wing and Beckham through the middle. It surely doesn't take much tactical nous to take three players and play them in their preferred roles, it's more difficult to put them all out of position.

Highlights of the weekend must include the 2-3 thriller at Stamford Bridge, where struggling West Ham overcame the unbeaten Chelsea with an inspirational performance (and a breathtaking goal) from Paolo Di Canio. Elsewhere, Steve McLaren's Middlesbrough resumed normal service at White Hart Lane beating Tottenham 3-0 and making Spurs fans' top of the table memory fade even further.

It would be criminal not to mention the Sunderland players' first class reaction to the plight of their manager Peter Reid. He couldn't have asked a lot more from his team as they put in a gutsy performance to win 1-0 at Villa Park, they're going to have to dig a little deeper next weekend on their trip to Highbury.

Performance of the Week has to go to Arsenal for eclipsing Leeds at Elland Road. With three or four improbable results this weekend it was difficult to choose just one, but Arsenal's near perfect footballing performance wins the day. Sorry Hammers/Sunderland/Middlebrough fans.

Goal of the Week goes to Paolo Di Canio for his phenomenal strike against Chelsea. Too good for words.

Player of the Week amongst a number of strong contenders goes to Michael Owen for quenching his goal drought with a match winning hat-trick. That's the way to do it.

Team of the Week ;

Paul Jones
  David Weir
Pascal Cygan
Jody Craddock
Sylvain Wiltord
Thomas Gravesen
Paul Scholes
Man Utd
Kolo Toure
  Thierry Henry
Michael Owen
Paolo Di Canio
West Ham

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