We thought of doing this last year, but frankly forgot and didn't bother. This year, much more prepared, we've actually decided to dish out what we thought were some of the best moment's, players, goals and more of the season to date.
It should be relatively interesting to see how many of them still stand up at the end of the season too. One would hope that the second half of the season breeds new contenders in all categories, as that would suggest there's been some more magical moments.
Anyway, here's our winners (and a loser) of the season so far...
Game Of The Season So Far... Sunderland 2-1 Blackburn Rovers
Martin O'Neill's "homecoming" had everything. A new feeling around the ground, a celebration almost, but lest we forget Blackburn nearly spoiled the party. When Simon Vukcevic opened the scoring, you feared the worst. The occasion seemed to mask the fact that we were in a precocious league position. Luckily, Blackburn are worse than us, and for some unknown reason sat back and allowed wave upon wave of attack from us. The tide was almost literally turning right in front of us. Inspired substitutions for once, and perhaps an element of luck roared on by 40,000 or so of us who for the first time in donkeys years, believed we'd actually pull it back from 1-0 down.
When David Vaughan struck an absolute thunderbolt past Paul Robinson, it was game on. When Seb Larsson's beautiful free-kick sailed over the wall and into the bottom corner, there was an elation I've not felt in a long, long time. Two magical moments on a historic day made you remember what football is all about.
QPR away also comes close, but by then we were slightly indoctrinated to the O'Neill way of life. This was a voyage into the unknown, and made you believe in things once again.
Goal Of The Season So Far... Sebastian Larsson's Freekick At Arsenal
This award could well have been "Seb Larsson Goal Of The Season" however, the one which takes the top spot for him personally and for us is his magnificent strike away at Arsenal. It's certainly exciting now that when we have the ball at this sort of distance, we have someone who makes you think we might do something.
What a goal it was too. Up and down over the wall, with more whip than Indiana Jones, dressed as a dominatrix, holding a Mr Whippy, it beat Wojciech Szczesny all ends up. Not to mention it was loaded with pace to make it an absolutely unstoppable strike. I don't think any keeper would have saved it. Hell, it even brought a smile to the face of Tomas Rosicky too, as well as the 3000 or so who 'd made the trip to London.
Player Of The Season So Far... Kieran Richardson
This one might split opinions, but we're happy to give it to Kieran, he's done very well so far. Much improved when he was at left-back in the side, and the fact he's done just as well when moved around too, selfless and happy to play wherever for the good of the team. He's also managed a few goals too, and his quickness and directness form anywhere on the left-hand side has been a real boon. Plus as fellow Roker Reporter Dan Williams pointed out in his nominations; "he also plays in the right position to win Player Of The Season too". You could also make a very good case for the likes of Larsson, Brown, Westwood too I feel.
Individual Performance Of The Season So Far... Connor Wickham At Bolton Wanderers
Welcome to the Premier League young man. A great performance on his first start, and particularly as he'd taken a rough ride in some sections of the SAFC faithful. On that day he was almost unplayable, and he certainly was for David Wheater and "Top Defender" Gary Cahill, neither of whom could handle the eighteen year old. From then on there was no looking back for him as he became a crucial fixture in the starting eleven, for examples look at just how much re-shuffling we did to accommodate his absence.
Team Performance Of The Season So Far... Blackburn Rovers At Home
Perhaps not a sexy choice like the drubbing of Stoke City, but on that day I couldn't help but feel we were aided slightly by Stoke's Europa League exploits only days earlier. Blackburn at home, Martin O'Neill's first game, we were faced the reasonably difficult task of overcoming the bus which Blackburn had parked in front of their goal for the entirety of the second half. It took every player fighting and working together to overcome them, which lead to two moments of brilliance to actually seal things. For the first time in long time, we looked a team.
Most Improved Player Of The Season So Far... Michael Turner
I've said similar already, but oh how we mocked Michael Turner and his lack of pace, ability and well, anything upon his return to the team.And he proved it by looking incredibly sluggish, but now I must admit, over a serving of humble pie and a side of my own words, Turner's looked a lot more like the quality player we signed originally as opposed to the clogger who wandered around the Stadium Of Light for large parts of last season. Well played Michael, don't let standards slip.
Worst Player Of The Season So Far... Phil Bardsley
It's fair to say a number of people were in the running for this one, such as Lee Cattermole or Titus Bramble or Nicklas Bendtner etc etc, but for me those nominations relied too heavily on off the field problems. Phil Bardsley, on the pitch has been relatively rubbish. As one Roker Reporter made the case (I'll eave you to guess which one is anti-Bardo) "All of last season's worst stuff but added thuggery and sans the goals and decent shots"... I find it hard to argue against that. Sort it out Phil!
Pass Of The Season So Far... Nicklas Bendtner Away At Wolves
Kieran Richardson also put in a worthy contender for goal of the season in the away defeat at Wolves, but part of the build-up was simply superb. When the ball was threaded forward to Nicklas Bendtner, barely out of his own half, you'd have expected the Danish striker to take it on himself, and you wouldn't have blamed him as most would have done the same. Instead we saw an inspired back heel into the path of Stephane Sessegnon, who in turn played a lovely weighted ball to the left-foot of the on-rushing Richardson to smash the ball in. The flick though. So nonchalant, and almost without even looking where Sessegnon was. Beautiful stuff.
Save Of The Season So Far... Kieren Westwood's Save Against Manchester United
Not just one save, but two for the price of one as Westood's fantastic double save had writers such as myself sweating, red-faced, desperately trying not to draw comparison to another double save from the SAFC history books.
On his first start for the club, he made a string of fabulous saves at Old Trafford, but the double save from Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra will live long in the memory. I honestly don't think, nor particularly hope it's needed to be, bettered this season.
As Westwood himself recanted of the game "All you need to do is look around (Old Trafford). It's the stuff of dreams. Will those saves be in my dreams? Ha! Yeah, I suppose so"
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