F365’s weekly awards: Lallana, Wenger, Reina, Dembele

Date published: Wednesday 8th March 2017 3:33

Premier League player: Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Sadio Mane took most of the headlines – those which didn’t belong to Alexis Sanchez, at least – but Lallana was in sublime form during Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Arsenal.

The midfielder cut through the bereft Gunners at will. He didn’t add to his season’s tally of seven assists but Lallana played the pass before the assist for all Liverpool’s goals.

His contribution towards Giorginio Wijnaldum’s late third typified the midfielder. He pulled in a loose ball with a fine touch on his weaker right foot before leading a counter. While holding it up to allow Divock Origi to readjust his run, Lallana span before penetrating the Arsenal defence with a perfectly timed and weighted pass with the outside of his boot.

Dele Ali and perhaps Harry Kane might argue, but Lallana remains England’s most technically gifted player.


Football League player: Josh Koroma (Leyton Orient)
Orient are in a mess off the field, and they aren’t faring much better on it. They travelled to fellow relegation-zone dwellers Newport County on Saturday in dire need of a win.

Koroma, only 18, set up fellow teenager Steven Alzate for their opener before scoring both his first senior goal and first hat-trick for the O’s as they ran out 4-0 winners at Rodney Parade.


European player: Andrea Belotti (Torino)
Andrea Belotti’s quick-fire hat-trick this weekend had a profound effect on Torino chairman Urbano Cairo:

“If you think back to when we inserted his release clause, €100m seemed a crazy figure, but today it seems too low. If I were to do the clause now, I would put it at €150m. Just compare him to the goals Lionel Messi has scored, yet Belotti is younger so he’s worth more.”

The Rooster will certainly be in demand this summer, even if he costs over £86million. Chelsea and Arsenal have long been linked with the 23-year-old, and reports claim his 22 Serie A goals have now brought Man Utd and Real Madrid to the party.

Against his former side Palermo, Belotti just eight minutes to notch a couple headers and a superbly executed volley…


Best goal: Kostas Stafylidis (Augsburg)
Lionel Messi’s solo goal was something very special to open the scoring in a 5-0 rout of Celta Vigo, but pah, it was Lionel Messi and what else would we expect?

But former Fulham full-back Kostas Stafylidis, now plying his trade with Augsburg, has probably never done this before. Certainly never at Craven Cottage…


PL loan player: Marvin Emnes (Blackburn)
He might not have won best goal, but this first touch certainly deserves an award…


Best pass: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea)
The Iceland star’s brilliant season is going somewhat under the radar but, once again, the Swans were grateful to their talisman on Saturday.

Sigurdsson registered his 10th assist of the season, a creative contribution matched only by Christian Eriksen, with a brilliant backheel that split Burnley’s George Boyd and Matthew Lowton.


Best save: Pepe Reina (Napoli)
Manuel Neuer made a save with his hands this week, and mightily impressive it was too. But it wasn’t as special as Pepe Reina’s work.

The former Liverpool keeper pulled off an absolute worldie in injury time to preserve Napoli’s 2-1 win over Roma on Saturday afternoon.

The readjustment, the leap, the shovel hand, the clearance, the celebration – Reina’s save had it all. Even more impressive: he made it while wearing his five-year-old son’s jersey.


Worst tactical move: Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Who else?

The Arsenal boss surprised everyone by leaving out Alexis Sanchez, claiming it was for tactical reasons, even if that excuse has been blown apart by subsequent reports of a bust-up between the pair.

For now, though, let’s take Wenger at his word. Let’s accept that he opted for Olivier Giroud so Arsenal could be more direct. So, then, why did the Gunners not bother with ever actually going direct?

The shambolic nature of Arsenal’s first-half display again highlighted the tactical gulf between Wenger and his Premier League rivals. Chelsea and Tottenham have both shown they can change systems almost at will, but Arsenal will only ever be able to play the same way under Wenger.


Best tackle: Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace)
The Palace centre-half went steaming forward from the back like a late-running express train before putting on the breaks and doing a U-turn.

By this time, Sakho had completely lost his bearings and possibly his mind. Head down, in full-on fight or flight mode, Sakho felt the presence of someone in his vicinity who must be tackled…


Best celebration: Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Dries Mertens made it 15 goals in 11 Serie A appearances with his brace in Napoli’s win at Roma. After his first goal, the Belgian evoked memories of Finidi George by cocking his leg at the corner flag.

His explanation was simply wonderful: “I love dogs.”

Indeed he does. Dogs in bow ties, if you are to judge from his Instagram account, where there is also evidence of him Facetime-ing with his pup, Juliette.

The Arsenal fans have shown the Napoli ultras what to do…


Lamest celebration: Kane and Alli (Tottenham)
Down with this sort of thing…


Biggest howler: Andre Onana (Ajax)
The Ajax keeper initially left Bryan Linssen on his backside but Onana basked in the glory of his glorious dummy for just a split second too long.

The Groningen striker leapt to his feet and took sweet revenge, putting Onana on the deck before rolling the ball into the empty goal. Onana’s mistake cost Ajax a point as they failed to take full advantage of Feyenoord’s defeat at the top of the Eredivisie.


Finest comeback: Marco Russ (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Russ made his return last week after almost a year on the sidelines undergoing treatment for testicular cancer. The 31-year-old came off the bench for the final minute of Eintracht Frankfurt’s German Cup quarter-final win over Arminia Bielefeld.

The defender has undergone two rounds of chemotherapy on his journey back to full fitness and was joined on the pitch at full-time last Thursday by his tearful wife and child.


Dembele of the week: Moussa Dembele (Celtic)
Borussia Dortmund’s Ousamane registered a goal and an assist in a 6-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen, but Celtic’s Moussa edges it with three goals and an assist in two games this week. It also allows us to enjoy this again from the Hoops’ SPL win at Inverness last week…

Ian Watson


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