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Benteke's new home, Newcastle's bargain

ESPN staff
February 2, 2013
Christian Benteke seems to like Merseyside © Getty Images
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Happy hunting ground

Christian Benteke is perhaps the one true bright spot in an otherwise difficult season for Aston Villa, and nowhere has the Belgian striker's light shone brighter than when on Merseyside.

Having scored twice when Villa surprisingly beat Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the season, Benteke took his record in the city to four goals in two games after bagging another brace on Saturday against Everton.

Upon his arrival in England, Benteke famously revealed his disappointment that, as it turned out, Aston Villa was not a club in London. Based on at least two performances, however, maybe he really should have been wishing the club was in Liverpool.

Fertile fields indeed.

Deals on wheels

The January window is widely characterised as something approaching the Wild Wild West of football, where agents roam, and rule, the land and drive up prices for increasingly desperate football teams cowered into submission.

But that is not always the case. Yes, they were both out of contract in the summer, but Spurs' capture of Lewis Holtby and Newcastle's signing of Moussa Sissoko for less than £2 million each already looks like shrewd business. On Saturday it was Sissoko who stole the limelight, the former Toulouse man - who produced a remarkable pass for a goal on debut at Aston Villa - scoring twice as the Toon came from behind to beat Chelsea 3-2.

The result could prove a turning point in Newcastle's season, as they finally distance themselves from relegation trouble and preserve their top-flight status. Holtby, meanwhile, may yet come to be the difference in Spurs' pursuit of Champions League qualification. The financial rewards of both are massive. Both players could just prove to be bargains.

The obvious joke

On the day that the Six Nations gets underway, there is a fairly easy joke - 'banter', to use the hated term - to be made about Stoke City and playing rugby at the Emirates ... but far be it from us to be the ones to make it.

No, no, we will simply allude to the negative assessment of Tony Pulis's playing style (and also laugh about the poor second half challenge that saw Ryan Shawcross get a rather painful looking jolt to the crown jewels, courtesy of Laurent Koscielny).

The warning signs were there

True story this (so our resident stats guru tells us) - Everton have never lost a league game in which Victor Anichebe has got on the scoresheet. So, when the forward got a goal midway through the first half at Goodison Park, Villa should have probably resigned themselves to the fact that they were not going to come away with a much-needed three points this weekend.

Yes, the visitors subsequently moved 3-1 ahead with just over 20 minutes remaining. But you can't fight fate. Marouane Fellaini scored his second goal deep into injury time to make it 3-3 and, voila, Anichebe's record remained intact.

Bit late for Carroll singing

A first start since November saw Andy Carroll grab his second goal in West Ham colours in Saturday's victory over Swansea.

Robin van Persie walks off after the floodlight failure © PA Photos
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A timely intervention it may have been, but Carroll still has work to do over the remainder of the season to convince the Hammers to negotiate a wage with him to complete what would be - presumably - an expensive permanent transfer.

The Hammers may have an agreement already in place with Liverpool, but at the minute is he - or, more specifically, his fitness record - worth exercising it?

Booty call

Rafael produced a decent display at full back for Manchester United, a notable effort as he appeared to have the wrong boots on. The Brazilian's brother Fabio is on loan at Queens Park Rangers but Rafael had his brother's name stitched into the leather. So they are either the wrong boot, or he's pining for his sibling.

Lights out

Three minutes from half time and the lights went out at Craven Cottage, literally. United were about to take a corner when the floodlights went dark. We're not sure of the exact nature of the problem, as the scoreboard remained on - glowing 0-0 - and the advertising hoardings glowed bright (which was good news for the likes of Lucozade!). They came back on 12 minutes later (thankfully 12 minutes of Fergie time were not needed as Wayne Rooney scored the winner in the second half)

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