We run the rule over Africa’s key protagonists in another compelling weekend for football in the English Premier League
Africa’s standout display this weekend came from a player who has made a very impressive start to this Premier League season. Everton’s midfielder Marouane Fellaini has gained a wide circle of admirers after some devastating performances this year, and he continued the trend against Fulham this weekend. Whilst the Toffees failed to win the match – despite over trebling their opponents’ rate of shots – Fellaini was the undisputed man of the match in another impressive outing. Scoring twice, and nearly completing his hat-trick with a glorious attempt late on, the Belgian-Moroccan midfielder was Africa’s standout performer in this series.
The Nigerian connection at Chelsea has endured mixed fortunes of late; whilst John Obi Mikel’s on-field work has improved greatly over the last twelve months, he has found himself embroiled in an off-field racism controversy with referee Mark Clattenburg. It was, unfortunately, back to the lumbering Mikel this weekend, as Chelsea’s midfield failed to take control of the action at Swansea.
Chelsea’s other Nigerian star, young frontman Victor Moses, did, however, have a more successful day out. Not content to merely rend Swansea's defence permanently paranoid with his fulgural forays forward, the attacker also opened the scoring with a delightful flicked header. Unfortunately for Moses and his new teammates, the goal wasn’t enough to seal the three points, as Swansea hit back through Pablo late on.
Manchester City and Sunderland are two teams who rely on African players to spark their creative play, neither flourished this weekend, and their failures can perhaps be viewed on the back of muted displays by their stars.
Stephane Sessegnon was once again quiet at Sunderland, his flair and endeavour of a year ago seem a distant memory as the Black Cats laboured to a home defeat against Villa. At West Ham, where Man City failed to break the deadlock, Yaya Toure also seemed off colour, whilst Mario Balotelli also had an off-day, and was unceremoniously hauled off on 69 minutes. The Ghanaian-Italian striker was characteristically ruffled by being replaced, but in truth, he was wholly ineffectual throughout the bout in East London.