Merse, Le Tiss, Thommo and Charlie discuss Saturday's Premier League action and more...
Last Updated: November 18, 2012 11:31am
Paul Merson on WBA's 2-1 victory over Chelsea
"I thought West Brom deserved the points. I thought they played very well. As soon as they scored the first goal through Shane Long (who was absolutely outstanding all day - he ran David Luiz and Gary Cahill ragged) - they sat back and counter-attacked with so much pace. Chelsea got a goal back with a Hazard header that I don't think would have gone in unless it hit Billy Jones. Boaz Myhill made some great saves. Then another good move by West Brom and Peter Odemwingie scored with a near-post header. Ryan Bertrand probably could have done better. But after that it was Myhill against Chelsea and he was absolutely outstanding.
"To be where West Brom are with 23 points is outstanding - before the start of the season the first thing they want to do is get 40 points. They have a system; they get back very quickly into a shape, they defend very well. The lad Olsson headed everything that came in and they work their socks off for each other. It's easy working your socks off for each other when you are winning every week. If you are not winning every week it does become hard but the counter-attacking football they play is excellent and I thought they were outstanding.
"Roberto di Matteo had to bring Juan Mata and Oscar on. Mata was outstanding when he came on - he made things happen. He was always looking forward; he was like David Silva. But it was Myhill - everything that Dean Sturridge hit, he saved. Sturridge had chances and he should have scored; he done alright but it's hard when you are just coming in for one game. Fernando Torres was shocking."
Matt Le Tissier on Man City's 5-0 victory over Aston Villa
"You knew it wasn't a penalty [for City's second] because not a single Manchester City player appealed for a penalty. That tells you everything about the decision. David Silva, who took the corner, had exactly the same view that the linesman had, because the linesman was standing exactly where he was, and he didn't bat an eyelid. He jogged away as if it was a goal-kick to Aston Villa, which is what it should have been. It was a really baffling decision. When a linesman intervenes in the game like that he's got to be 100 per cent certain that he's seen an offence. There's no way that he could have been even 50 per cent certain that he'd seen a handball. Andreas Weimann gets a little nudge, which sends him off-balance a little bit, and his arm comes out to regain his balance but the ball goes over the top of his shoulder and hits the Man City player behind him. You just think, how on earth can he give that? It was a big turning point because it was 1-0. Villa had done alright, first half; they could have gone ahead with a Christian Benteke header, which Joe Hart did really well to save. Alright, they weren't the better team but City got the goal just before half-time. Villa were still in that game at 1-0. Paul Lambert's absolutely right - at 1-0 anything can happen but once the penalty is given, it took the wind out of Aston Villa's sails.
"The second penalty was given not long after and there was a slight question mark about that too because Barry Bannan had gone to slide in to block the cross. The City player - I think it was Maicon - checked back - and as he did where Bannan was sliding there was nowhere else for him to put his hand. His hand was right on the floor - it's not as though it's up in the air to stop the ball from going anywhere and it just rolls over his arm. That, for me, is not deliberate hand-ball and from my point of view I think the linesman got both of those decisions wrong. That's not to say the result would have been any different because City, although they weren't at their best in the first half, certainly once they got the second goal it was like a training match after that."
Charlie Nicholas on Liverpool's 3-0 victory over Wigan
"It wasn't straightforward for Liverpool. The crowd was as subdued as I've ever heard it at Anfield in the first half - the team's passing really wasn't going anywhere, Wigan didn't really threaten too much. There was one good opportunity in the first half for Suso, who like Ben Watson also came off injured in the first half. It was a header from only eight yards but it was really poor - he didn't adjust his body to suit the situation. Other than that Wigan kept Luis Suarez quiet. Enrique and Suarez were the two lively ones but it didn't really get going.
"But then all of a sudden in the second half it's a poor mistake; Jean Beausejour has tried to knock it back to Maynor Figueroa. The pass is slightly short; I think the defender can take the risk and take him out if he is really that determined but to be fair to young Raheem Sterling, he skips by him, he cuts it back and it's a fantastic finish from Suarez.
"Suarez just floats in and out of the three centre-backs that they have and they just found it really hard. Again, Enrique comes inside and Suarez is cute enough to get inside two of the centre-backs; it's a pin-point accurate pass and he just stubs it past the keeper with a little toe-poke. It was really game over after that. Wigan never, ever got going in the second half; they couldn't respond at all. They got deeper and deeper and then it was a simple tap in for Enrique, who is in good form at the moment. It was another one-two set up by Sterling and Suarez. That's 10 Premier League goals now for Suarez - he's starting to get a mixture of tap-ins and exciting ones. He's the difference."
Phil Thompson on Newcastle's 2-1 home defeat to Swansea
"Swansea did very well but it's worrying times for Newcastle. We mentioned before the game the injuries that are cropping up with them and the suspension to Cheick Tiote; it's not just working out for them at the moment. Defensively they are not as secure. But this is a Swansea side that, for me, are capable of taking advantage of that and they do it by keeping possession as they do. It was a strange first half because it was very flat. The crowd didn't really get up and that didn't help Newcastle at all and so Swansea were able to get nice and comfortable and play their stuff.
"Sammy Ameobi did ok and in the second half they took off Shane Ferguson and brought on Shola Ameobi so both brothers are on, so it's a huge size advantage to them. But Ashley Williams and Garry Monk did very, very well in defence and it was like 58 minutes when Michu scored. It was a bad kick out of defence from the goalkeeper Tim Krul. He puts it straight to Hernandez; he attacks it and dinks a great ball in and there's Michu, just timing his run, and it's a downward header right into the back of the net.
"Newcastle have tried, huffed and puffed, but then in the 87th minute Swansea counter-attack again. It was awful defensively by Steven Taylor; Danny Graham goes forward, gets a shot in and Krul only parries it out to the side and there's Jonathan de Guzman and he puts a high shot in and that's 2-0 down. Newcastle score - Demba Ba gets his eighth Premier League goal - but I would have to say that Swansea deserve this result."Read our match report here
Charlie Nicholas on press criticism of Manchester City's Joe Hart
"He may be getting a bit cocky - all top players do when they get to a certain level; it's part of the respect you earn from being a top player. He's become one of the top goalkeepers in world football. I don't think he's there yet but he's not far away from it. I see a smile on his face, I see a guy who wants to work hard. I've looked at a guy who has learned the harder side of the game when he came to Man City and became No 1 and England's No 1. I see a cockiness about most goalkeepers and they always have a bad period in their career. There's no doubt he's going through probably the hardest one so far since he became No 1 at Man City but I don't see a spoilt child that says I don't deserve criticism; I see a guy who is honest enough and good enough to accept it."
Matt Le Tissier and Phil Thompson on David Bentley's loan spell at FC Rostov
Le Tiss: "If he finds his form and his fitness over there, there's no reason why we won't see him back in the Premier League. It's just whether he's going to be able to do that on a consistent basis and keep himself fit."
Thommo: "I don't think he could handle [the 'next David Beckham' tag]; I think he more or less got carried away with it, thinking he was probably better than he was and we've seen a lot of players like that. I agree with Tiss - I think he could come back to the Premier League but it's at what level and I think you're probably looking at more the middle level of the Premier League rather than any of the top six or seven teams."
Phil Thompson on Sebastien Bassong's importance to Norwich
"This is a player who at times at Spurs and at Newcastle just looked an absolute Trojan. He's quick, good in the air; the only thing with him sometimes for me is just his positioning play. He gets drawn out of the middle. As a centre-back positional play is vital - how close you are to your full-back, where you have to defend. Those are the things he had to improve on and he looks as though he is because he does possess everything. He's got the height, he's got the heading ability and he's got the pace in the modern game to be able to do it. It seems as though he is getting it together there at Norwich.
Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas on where Luis Suarez's future lies
Merse: "Suarez is world-class. He could go and play for Barcelona or Real Madrid, in my opinion. If you want to be the best you need the best and he is at the moment for me one of the best. But what happens if Liverpool sell him? One, they've only got one centre forward - which is him - and two, if they sold him they might as well jack it in because they are not a million miles off being a one-man team. Him and Steven Gerrard are head and shoulders the rest..."
Charlie: "Everybody's interested in Suarez. Every manager at every top club would be interested if Suarez became available - if Liverpool were crazy enough to attempt to sell him. Other than Chelsea, Roberto Mancini is in pole position because of the wealth at Man City."