TEAMtalk's Premier Picks

TEAMtalk's Premier Picks: February 25

Saturday 25th February 2012 11:21

Lampard and Drogba: Still top men for Blues

Lampard and Drogba: Still top men for Blues

Chelsea's old guard, Andre Villas-Boas and West Brom star Marc-Antoine Fortune feature in TEAMtalk's review of Saturday's Premier League games.

On evenings throughout the 2011/12 season, TEAMtalk's writers are presenting their Premier League Picks - the special moments, star performers, stunning matches or shocking incidents from the day's action which we expect to dominate the headlines.

We'll be watching all the action unfold on the live TV feeds which are piped into TEAMtalk Towers from grounds up and down the country.

Once you've read through our choices, let us know your opinions by adding a Comment below.

Senior stars still playing for AVB

Andre Villas-Boas was dead right in his pre-match assessment: All Chelsea lack at the moment is confidence. You can take everything else - including your conspiracy theories about the senior players having no respect for their manager - with a pinch of salt. The reason I say this is because Chelsea - struggling at 0-0 at the interval against Bolton - were there for the taking. They were on the ropes; in fact at half-time I'd not ruled out a smash-and-grab by the Trotters that would have left the Portuguese tactician probably heading home, P45 tucked under his arm.

But the old guard of Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard - the players reportedly bottom of Villas-Boas' Christmas card list - turned this match on its head and proved they still care about the club, still want to play for the club, still want to play for this manager.

The fact is, if they wanted rid of Villas-Boas - a defeat in this game could well have sealed his fate.

I'd not go as far to say as this will be a major turning point in Chelsea's season, but in that kind of mood in the second half, the Blues' senior guard at least illustrated they're still in the hunt for a top-four finish and possible cup glory.

James Marshment

Striker worth a Fortune

Peter Odemwingie has hogged the headlines for West Brom in recent times after bagging five goals in his last two games - but it's Marc-Antoine Fortune who deserves credit for Albion's resurgence.

The powerful frontman started the season well down the pecking order at The Hawthorns following the arrival of Shane Long from Reading - and was sent out on loan to Doncaster Rovers.

He has been a revelation since returning to the Albion fold, however, playing as a lone striker in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation.

The Baggies had struggled on home soil before Saturday's visit of in-form Sunderland - but were full of beans following their derby demolition of arch rivals Wolves at Molineux, where Odemwingie netted a hat-trick.

Despite this, I tipped Martin O'Neill's Black Cats to claw their way to a 3-1 win in the Roker Report's pre-game assessment, with Matty Briggs making Sunderland his headline tip in this weekend's Numbers Game too.

The one thing I did say was that an early goal was the key if Albion were to have any chance of victory - and Odemwingie delivered exactly that, scoring after just three minutes to settle the nerves of fans and players alike.

That paved the way for the Baggies' best home display of the season as they brushed aside the visitors with ease, with Fortune leading from the front, proving a handful for the Cats defenders and holding the ball up brilliantly.

Fortune has now become one of the first names on the team sheet - and the last two results have probably ensured Albion will not be dragged into the relegation scrap this season.

Simon Wilkes

Wolves show some bite

Newcastle showed their old defensive frailties as Wolves fought back to earn a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.

Kevin Doyle's scrambled effort earned new Wolves boss Terry Connor a vital point in his first game in charge as Wanderers look to beat the drop.

Connor will be the happier manager as Wolves looked dead and buried at half-time. Doyle was on the scoresheet again and his goals could keep Wolves in the Premier League.

As for Newcastle, they really should have seen the game out after going 2-0 up.

But on the bright side, Papiss Cisse scored his second goal in three games for Toon and has really hit the ground running since his arrival last month from Freiburg.

If Demba Ba and Cisse can keep banging in the goals, Newcastle could earn a place in Europe but a top-four spot may just be beyond them.

Sam Nightingale

Lack of firepower

Wigan and Aston Villa shared the spoils and both sides again showed a lack of cutting edge up front.

Roberto Martinez and Alex McLeish must be pulling their hair out on the sidelines. Martinez must get more goals out of Victor Moses, Franco Di Santo and Hugo Rodallega if the Latics are to avoid relegation.

And the sight of Villa striker Darren Bent being stretchered off with an ankle injury will be a big worry for Big Eck, as this game was Robbie Keane's last match for Villa before he returns to LA Galaxy.

But with an eight-point gap between Villa and third-from-bottom Blackburn, McLeish's side should be alright.




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