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TT's Top Men: United pair make the cut

Tuesday 13th March 2012 11:35

Rooney: Leads the attack

Rooney: Leads the attack

Two Red Devils, two Swans, two Toffees, a Black Cat and a Gunner are among TEAMtalk's Top Men, our elite Premier League XI from Matchday 28.

Every Tuesday, we'll ask TEAMtalk columnist and former England defender Danny Mills to pick his team of the weekend and see how it compares to our selection of the Premier League's finest who delivered the goods from Saturday March 10 to Monday March 12.

We'll explain our selections in more detail, then want you - our loyal army of readers - to pick your team of top men who caught your eye with dazzling displays or powerful performances.

You can choose any formation and there's no limit on how many players you can pick from each team - so have a think, then get involved.

Danny Mills' Top Men (4-4-2): Howard; Williams, Caulker, Cahill, Bridge; Hoilett, Pratley, Scholes, Moore; Drogba, Rooney.

TEAMtalk's Top Men (3-4-3): Howard; A Williams, Turner, Vermaelen; Miyaichi, Allen, Young, Hoilett; Moses, Jelavic, Rooney.

Goalkeeper

Tim Howard (Everton): We should be used to 'Americanisms' in soccer by now, but they can still be a source of some amusement on these shores. The MLS website reported on Howard's heroics in Everton's 1-0 home win over Tottenham, noting that Saturday saw "the netminder outdueling countryman Brad Friedel for the first time in seven tries", whilst praising his hat-trick of saves in "the opening frame".

They love a good stat across the pond, though, and were eager to point out Howard's current "consecutive shutout minutes" count at Goodison Park - 436, or just over seven-and-a-quarter hours. What with Liverpool's scoring problems at Anfield this season, it might be worth backing him to keep the Reds at bay on Tuesday night. Jon Holmes

Defenders

Ashley Williams (Swansea): The Swans defence looked rock solid once again against Manchester City on Sunday; they've kept clean sheets in exactly half of their home games thus far in the campaign.

Goalkeeper Michel Vorm claimed many of the plaudits, but as he didn't actually have a shot to save in the first half, I'm choosing Williams to represent the Jacks. With three interceptions and seven clearances during the 90 minutes, the Wales centre-back marshalled the rearguard expertly.

Mario Balotelli might have opened up to Noel Gallagher at the weekend, but he had little say in the matter at the Liberty - and Williams can take credit for that. JH

Michael Turner (Sunderland): Other than James McClean, no player has benefited more from Martin O'Neill's arrival at Sunderland than Turner. He lacks pace and is not exactly what you'd call 'cultured' but he does do what every good defender should - defend - and it is surely his bravery and ability in the air that has appealed to the new Black Cats chief.

All of that was evident again on Saturday as he and the equally-excellent John O'Shea combined to keep out Liverpool with ease, and the role Turner played in the win and Sunderland's revival in general has not gone unnoticed by us here at TEAMtalk. Mark Holmes

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal): Vermaelen's poor clearance led to Newcastle's goal at Emirates Stadium, but his injury-time winner more than made up for it.

It was the fourth game in succession in which Arsenal came from behind to win - and they've done it thanks to leaders like Robin van Persie and Vermaelen.

The latter is the Gunners' most reliable defender but it was his desire and energy to make that late gut-busting run into the box that wins him his place this week. MH

Midfielders

Ryo Miyaichi (Bolton): Playing on the right side of the Trotters' attack and making his full home debut at The Reebok, the on-loan Japanese teenager caused QPR no end of problems on Saturday.

His 91% pass accuracy was bettered only by Mark Davies, while Opta stats show seven of those passes were key - including the assist for Ivan Klasnic's winning goal. Gretar Steinsson told talkSPORT on Monday that Miyaichi will be one of the Premier League's best players in the coming years.

And while watching the game from home, his Arsenal team-mate and former Bolton loanee Jack Wilshere had tweeted: "What did I tell you lot about Ryo?!" Believe the hype. JH

Ashley Young (Manchester United): Wayne Rooney claimed most of the plaudits with his two goals, but Young's performance in United's win over West Brom was (at least) equally as impressive.

He won the penalty from which Rooney scored the crucial second for a start, but his running with the ball caused the Albion defence problems throughout and it was only some slack finishing that prevented a rout.

Young's form has been somewhat inconsistent at Old Trafford but he seems to have found top gear again recently and the only surprise is that he didn't cap a terrific display with a goal himself. MH

Joe Allen (Swansea): Brendan Rodgers' side needed a late goal from substitute Luke Moore to beat Manchester City, but it was no more than they deserved for another dominant display in south Wales.

Central to that were Allen and Leon Britton, who did superb jobs both on and off the ball. Allen in particular has impressed with his passing ability this season but it was the midfielder's energy, work rate and reading of the game that were crucial in keeping City quiet.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a bigger club bid for Allen this summer - imagine, for example, what a difference he could make to Liverpool's midfield.

He'd be crucial in our dream team too - surely the most attacking of all time! MH

Junior Hoilett (Blackburn): What does the future hold for Hoilett? Steve Kean continues to talk of him signing a new deal with Rovers, and even at international level, he continues to keep soccer chiefs in Canada and Jamaica on tenterhooks - he's yet to decide which nation to play for.

At Molineux on Saturday, he repeatedly left Wolves on edge and then rode off into the sunset with two goals to his name. Playing just behind Yakubu, Hoilett wreaked havoc with his dribbling and confident shooting; he punished Kevin Doyle's slack marking for the opener before doing the same to the Wolves defence with an accurate low strike from range.

Still just 21, he has to be one of the hottest properties in Europe at the moment. It would be a surprise if he chose to stay at Ewood, but what a boost to Kean and Rovers that would be. JH

Strikers

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): Sunday's brace left Rooney on 20 Premier League goals, six behind Robin van Persie in the race for the Golden Boot.

Just keeping pace with the Dutchman would be an achievement, such has been his extraordinary scoring form for the Gunners, but catching him is the kind of target Rooney relishes.

With 14 goals in 14 games, he is in red-hot form once more, but it was his all-round game against West Brom - playing in a slightly withdrawn role behind Javier Hernandez with Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck in wide positions - that ensured his place in Top Men this week.

Sir Alex Ferguson even thinks Rooney can finish the campaign with 40 goals to his name (he has seven in cup competitions); the money's still on van Persie for top-scorer honours, but Rooney can't be written off just yet. JH

Nikica Jelavic (Everton): I have to confess to being sceptical when David Moyes made use of some rare transfer funds to buy Jelavic, but he really impressed me in Everton's win over Tottenham.

His goal, on his full debut, was superbly taken and a clear sign of a natural finisher, but his all-round play was excellent, too. He held the ball up well, won plenty in the air and was neat and tidy with the ball at his feet too.

He showed his quality again with a free-kick that Brad Friedel did well to keep out, and all in all looks like exactly the right signing for the role that is required of him at Goodison Park. Moyes has pulled out another trump card. MH

Victor Moses (Wigan): Roberto Martinez's decision to leave Moses and Hugo Rodallega on the bench against Swansea was publicly questioned by Latics chairman Dave Whelan, hence it was no surprise to see the pair return up front against Norwich on Sunday.

Both were excellent in a Wigan display that possibly merited more than a point, and Moses' fine finish for Latics' equaliser gets him the nod ahead of his team-mate in our team of the weekend.

His pacy, powerful running caused the Norwich backline no end of problems and I would not rule out another great escape for Wigan if he and Rodellaga can produce more of the same over the final 10 games. MH

By Jon Holmes and Mark Holmes

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