Call it the weekend of surprises. An unexpected thumping in the Manchester Derby. A shocking loss by Chelsea to a team who had been playing badly enough it hardly seemed to matter that is was a local derby match in West London. Liverpool conspired to drop points at home to a modestly talented team new to the division. Fulham lost at home. Everton won on the road. And maybe most surprisingly of all, Arsenal won comfortably. If you'd said that any of those things were going to happen at the outset of the weekend, no one would likely have believed you. If you'd said that they'd all happen you'd have been committed. And yet, happen they did. Keep reading to learn more about what we learned from Week 9 in the Premier League:
1. Buying - five guys whose performances deserve recognition for their immediate goodness as well as being indicative of them being better than their reputations (or at least as good as their reputations).
- Gervinho - He had a vintage Robert Pires day as he finally announced himself as a potential match-winner. RvP's substitute brace will likely get most of the attention but Gervinho did something that Arshavin and Walcott seem incapable of and got to the by-line and actually found a teammate when he brought the ball back. The result were van Persie's winner and insurance goal. Gervinho's opener was a nice piece of finishing but credit where it is due to Ramsey for a really nice chipped pass into the box to find the man with the worst hair in the Prem (and there's a J. Lescott on the line thanking the Ivorian for taking the title from him).
- Danny Graham - We did this before last weekend and we're going to do it again until people start paying attention. He's good. His team lost points late to a great Wolves comeback but it wasn't his fault. I don't know if he's going to make my fantasy squad too many times but in the official Premier League game where he's cheaper and there is a bigger need to diversify, he's a great bet to continue producing.
- Yohan Cabaye - He doesn't seem to get a lot of publicity and his game is very much understated but with a match-winning goal, and a classy one at that, I'm going to put my momentum behind the bandwagon until it gets rolling in a more noticeable way.
- Anthony Pilkington - Another repeat visitor to this space and he has to be acknowledged in the weekend where he powered his team to a famous draw at Anfield. His assist in this one combined with his goals last weekend has him in contention to be this season's Charlie Adam-like character rising up in stature after coming up with an unfancied team (even for a newly promoted squad).
- Michel Vorm - The two late goals were hardly his fault and he made some excellent saves to ensure that Swansea at least picked up the one point that they did get. If I were Spurs and looking for a long-term replacement for Brad Friedel whose body is bound to start disintegrating soon, I'd start looking west-ward to Wales for the Holland international. Imagine how good he could be with a better team around him. (And no, I'm not generally in the business of suggesting great moves for Spurs but this one seems pretty obvious to me).
2. Selling - 5 players who had strong performances that look to be more flash in the pan than "the real thing" or players with big reputations that aren't living up to them.
- Patrice Evra - Did you see Dzeko out race him down the sideline to receive a pass from Silva in the 75th minute or so? He outpaced Evra who at least in theory should have been on a dead run. Dzeko didn't convert the shot but if Evra can't, or doesn't want to, keep up with a lumbering guy like Dzeko, then his star has to be fading faster than anyone on the Red side of Manchester should admit.
- David Luiz - He's generally a very good player but he's good for one genuinely dumb play every time he steps on the field. Despite losing two players to red cards, it was Luiz's boneheaded concession of a penalty that made the difference in Chelsea dropping three crucial points on a day when they should have been gaining ground on United.
- Johnny Evans - See Luiz, David above with the exception that Evans is only an OK player most of the time but he equals Luiz in making stupid plays on a regular basis. The Manchester Derby was shaping up as a close match that United were likely to win late as United tend to do. Getting sent off certainly changed the course of the match and may have changed the course of the season.
- Dzeko - He didn't start a crucial match, his replacement scored a brace while the game was still at issue, and his goals were in garbage time. Throw in the fact that he actually managed to be wasteful in about 20 minutes of action that included a brace. His stats will look great coming off the weekend but his season is starting to look a lot like Berbatov's from last season.
- Roger Johnson - What happened to the decidedly above average defender who was supposed to be the guy to put Wolves defense over the top and the club firmly into the middle of the table? Not only did the defense look bad at home for most of the match against a Swansea team that hasn't shown a great deal of attacking potency but Johnson looked especially bad. Hard to know what's going on but it doesn't look good for Wolves big summer buy.