Jermain Defoe; Gaston Ramirez; Jordi Gomez & Darren Fletcher.
By Dave Smith
It was another exciting weekend of Barclays Premier League action – Sunday’s televised goalless draws aside – and a number of star performers staked their claim for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for November. Here are a few of the contenders.
JERMAIN DEFOE (Spurs)
England striker Defoe scored twice against former club West Ham to take his tally for the season to ten and help end a run of three league defeats for Spurs. Gareth Bale hit the bar before Defoe opened the scoring with a superb run from the right and a typically brutal finish. Aaron Lennon broke free and squared for Defoe to claim his second and seal the points.
Andre Villas-Boas said: “In one-on-one situations he is immense. His first goal was decisive because it unlocks the game. He is an incredible striker who is enjoying his football.
“When we see strikers of this nature, their hunger for goals, it is exactly what you want from a striker. I could not ask for more.”
GASTON RAMIREZ (Southampton)
Playmaker Ramirez, the club’s record signing, was the inspiration behind Southampton’s second successive win which lifts Saints out of the bottom three. The former Bologna player squared the ball for Adam Lallana to slot in the home side's opener against a Newcastle team on a slippery slope. Newcastle's Vurnon Anita missed a gilt-edged chance before Ramirez pounced for a Saints’ second after keeper Tim Krul parried a Jason Puncheon cross.
Nigel Adkins said: “Obviously you've got to get used to it all. Gaston missed the start of the season as it was before he signed and then he got injured. He hasn't lasted the full game but when he was on the field of play he was exhilarating.”
JORDI GOMEZ (Wigan)
Jordi Gomez turned the early jeers of the Wigan fans following a couple of dodgy, early touches to cheers with a stunning hat-trick in an exciting encounter against Reading. The Spanish midfielder was making his first league start for two months and his treble ensured chairman Dave Whelan celebrated his 76th birthday in style.Roberto Martinez said: "I've seen it so many times and it's very difficult to compose yourself, and it would have been all too easy for him to hide and look away from the challenge. But that's not Jordi at all. Nobody deserved a hat-trick more than him. The crowd were too vocal against him and I hope that they realise that the only thing Jordi does is give his life for Wigan Athletic and to win football games. I hope we all realise that and he gets a bit of warmth the next time he's on the pitch."
DARREN FLETCHER (Manchester United)
One of the most heart-warming stories of the weekend was that of Darren Fletcher scoring on his first Premier League appearance for a year. The Scottish international midfielder missed the majority of last season with a bowel complaint but looked backed to his old self with a typically workmanlike display in the 3-1 comeback win against QPR.and a clinical, timely header.
Sir Alex Ferguson said: “Everyone is delighted. It has been a long road back for him. It is the first time he has played twice in one week. He didn't let us down again. He never does. It is lovely to have him back like that. We will look at Wednesday but he has made a great contribution in this game.”