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Don't blame us, we voted for Karl Pilkington.


The worst of the worst

Mama mia!
This week the powers that be in the Premier League announced their finalists for the PFA player of the year award:

* Joe Hart
* Sergio 'Kun' Aguero
* Robin van Persie
* David Silva
* Scott Parker
* Wayne Rooney.

It's a massively uncreative, predictable list. Then again, bear in mind, English soccer can barely get anything right these days from an official standpoint so it's not that big a deal. Does anyone really care who wins a hollow award? Unless you get the actual trophy to rest on your mantle above a fireplace, why get worked up over it?

And if anyone other than van Persie wins it'll be a massive surprise.

From an American standpoint, it's a shock, too, that Clint Dempsey and his 16 goal tally from the midfield isn't on the list. This isn't necessarily an anti-American bias, it seems more a 'small' club like Fulham is going to have a hard time cracking the list.

More surprising, how does Manchester City put three guys on the final list, and nobody from Newcastle United during it's revelation of a season? Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse probably could combine for one finalist nomination and Yohan Cabaye has been excellent throughout, but his exclusion is no disgrace, is it?

Where you can massively slight hairs is either Hart of Aguero. Hart gets some benefit of the doubt since he's a fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked Englishman, but the best keeper in the Prem this year has probably been Ali Al-Habsi and an Omani keeper playing for Wigan is never going to win too many platitudes.

Aguero, yes, has 21 goals ... but has he been great? For all the spectacular goals seems like a lot of tack-in on goals from him. This started from the get-go when he had two, late, in a 4-0 win against Swansea on the first round of games and now carried to the end of the season with five goals in the last two weeks with City beating Norwich and West Brom by a combined 10-1. When I think of this season in the EPL, I don't think of Aguero all that much more than an auxiliary player.

Silva, if it was a five-month award, would have won it easily, but he wore down as the season continued and City's fade behind United can be tracked to his decline. Deserves to be on the list, but shouldn't win it.

Parker, last year's surprise winner for relegated West Ham, shouldn't be on the list, but he's English, wears a collar and hasn't racially abused anybody -- so he makes the cut.

Rooney has had the strangest season in his career. Sure he has 24 goals, but it's been a different Rooney than we're used to watching play. He's cut down his petulance and cards, which should count, but he's not exactly taking over matches. For me, this is like an Alex Rodriguez 30-home run, 100-RBI season. Just chalk it up in the pile, no more, no less.

The better question, who's been Manchester United's best player this year as they close in on another league crown? Antonio Valencia back from injury? Paul Scholes back from the grave? Lightning bolt strike me down ... Jonny Evans?

Since I'm in the questioning mood, here's one ... who's been the worst player in the Premier League this year?

I've long held the theory there aren't too many, what you'd consider, "bad" players getting burn week-in, week-out. Guys like Stephen Ireland have been known to dog it -- but he's been better this season. And if you scanned the rosters of Blackburn, Bolton and Wolves you'd find a lot of dreck. Or if you want to make a joke, you could nominate either Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll as the Prem's worst.

But who's the worst? Not some young kid thrown into the deep end of the pool? Or a veteran with nothing left in the tank? I'm thinking a player who saw lots of minutes but was out-and-out dreadful.. 

For me, the choice is clear: Arsenal 'defender' Johan Djourou.

If there's one move Arsene Wenger should do in the summer -- it's send the Swiss international on a slow boat to Serie A.

Maybe this doesn't happen, since from time-to-time I catch the "Arsenal TV" show when I'm at the gym. Djourou seems to be well-received in the locker room and have a jovial personality.

At the same time, he seems to carry the spirit of "ArsenaLOL" more than anyone on the current roster. Nothing personal, he's just a terrible defender. 

Granted, Djourou isn't a starter for the Gunners, but consider this: in games he started, or played significant minutes the club won 5, lost 6 and drew 2. He also started in the 4-0 loss at Milan in the Champions League and the 2-0 defeat to Sunderland that knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup. So when the Gunners needed him most to step up and fill in during that crucial stretch in February, Djourou stunk up the joint.

He was even on the field when they lost on Monday to Wigan -- WIGAN.

More than that, he's a tall guy who can't win headers and gets played like a traffic cone the rest of the time.

Beyond his ability to dye his hair red, it's hard to think of one aspect of soccer Djourou does particularly well. 

So that's my easy pick.

If there was a PFA shortlist for EPL's worst it would also include: Alan Hutton, Roger Johnson, Paul Robinson and David N'Gog (2 goals in 1,735 minutes, not just picking on him). Anyone else I'm forgetting for this dubious honor?



Saturday:

* Arsenal v. Chelsea -- (Live, ESPN2, 7:45 a.m.) Have I made it clear, via Twitter, I'm not much of a fan of Chelsea? Slightly? Hey, I'm not proud of it, but sorry if the Blues make my stomach turn. Nice win vs. Barca, though.

It took until the end of April, but Arsenal finally lost a key player to injury -- Mikel Arteta. The Gunners should be able to limp to the Champions League, even though van Persie hasn't scored since March 12. Chelsea have to play it safe, up a goal vs. Barcelona and heading to the Camp Nou can't expend too many energy chasing around the Emirates. Guess that means extended play for Torres. ... Arsenal 1, Chelsea 1

* Newcastle United v. Stoke City -- (Live, FSC, 10 a.m.) The Mapgies are all but locked into the Europa League and will players like Hatem Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba, and the rest of the 'continental' French-type players they might be able to make a little run. Newcastle is certainly more equipped to deal with the SC Bragas of the world than Stoke City was this season, isn't it? ... Newcastle United 2, Stoke City 0


* Fulham v. Wigan Athletic -- Wish this was the game on Fox Soccer, considering the Dempsey factor and the suddenly unstoppable Wigan juggernaut. ... Fulham 1, Wigan 1

* Bolton v. Swansea City -- Bolton's reckoning might be decided in the next seven days, with a string of three matches, including trips to Vill and Sunderland. Troubling for Bolton is it hasn't kept a cleansheet vs. a Premier League team since Feb. 1 -- against Arsenal, no less. Owen Coyle isn't exactly blessed, either, with a ton of scorers. Swansea keep playing and don't make it easy for anyone, but Bolton need the three so maybe desperation kicks in. Doubt it. ... Bolton 1, Swansea 1

* Blackburn Rovers v. Norwich City -- Truly thought, with some bright play, Blackburn would save itself. Then Blackburn goes out and loses five straight. This game should be a shootout with the way both these teams score goals. ... Blackburn 2, Norwich City 2

* Aston Villa v. Sunderland -- (Live, FSC+, 10 a.m.) Wonder which one of these two clubs still wishes it was, "the good old days" more? Probably Villa. At least Eric Lichaj, back to health, is getting steady run at the club. ... Villa 1, Sunderland 1

* QPR v. Tottenham -- (Live, FSC, 12:30 p.m.) No clue what happens here. QPR seem, continually, an inch or two from climbing out of the muck, or an inch or two from tumbling all that way down. On the plus, after about eight months at least Adel Taarabt has finally started to flash a little bit of his much hyped skill. Spurs, his former club, are mired in a massive malaise and nobody seems to know why. Were they frozen in ice while a super villain extracted their "mojo"? Yes, that was an Austin Powers joke. An Austin Powers 2 joke. ... QPR 1, Tottenham 2


Sunday:

* Manchester United v. Everton -- (Live, FSC, 7:30 a.m.) If this game were prior to Everton's deflating FA Cup semifinal loss to Liverpool, they might have a better chance. David Moyes always gets a lot of his team, but are they going to be ready to rev it up again for a big week at Old Trafford? Everton certainly has played United tough in the past -- not at Old Trafford so much. Hard to see United winning a penalty this week, though, unless a land mind explodes under Ashley Young's feet. ... Manchester United 1, Everton 0

* Liverpool v. West Bromwich Albion -- (Live, FSC+, 11 a.m.) Insert Roy Hodgson face-rub GIF here. ... Liverpool 1, West Brom 1

* Wolves v. Manchester City -- (Live, FSC, 11 a.m.) If City feel like it, they could probably score double-digits here. ... Wolves 0, City 5

Last round: 5-3
Season: 157-183

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