PARIS, November 1- Cameroon midfielder Alex Song spared Arsenal blushes with a late English Premiership winner over bottom-of-the-table West Ham United at the weekend.
Gunners boss Arsene Wegner says the fitness of Song has improved thanks to extra sweat at the training ground and he has struck three goals in as many games.
On a fruitful Premiership weekend for Africans, Zimbabwean Benjamin ‘Benjani’ Mwaruwari, Nigerian Ayegbeni Yakubu and Togolese Emmanuel Adebayor also netted.
ALEX SONG (Arsenal)
Cameroon midfielder popped up with an 88th-minute header as Arsenal downed West Ham 1-0 to maintain pressure on leaders Chelsea. The goal was Song’s third in consecutive games, a match-winning performance that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger attributes to an improvement in the player’s fitness. "Training was not his first quality, but he has improved at it and so his stamina has improved," Wenger said. "Now he doesn’t need a breather after going forward."
BENJANI MWARUWARI (Blackburn Rovers)
Zimbabwean’s delight at scoring first goal for Rovers was tinged with disappointment after he picked up a hamstring knock and had to be replaced at half-time in the club’s 2-1 defeat by Chelsea.
DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)
No goals, but Ivorian striker played key role in setting up Nicolas Anelka for Chelsea’s equaliser at Blackburn. Shown a yellow card during second half for fouling Martin Olsson.
AYEGBENI YAKUBU (Everton)
Nigerian international scored first goal of season in hard-fought 1-0 win over Stoke at Goodison Park, earning plaudits from Toffees boss David Moyes who believes striker’s all-round play has improved.
Moyes rejected suggestions Yakubu has been carrying excess weight. "People say that, but his weight is the same as it has been for the last two years," the manager said.
EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Manchester City)
Towering Togo striker looked to have set City on road to victory after coolly slotting a 23rd-minute penalty. However, Adebayor was at centre of a furious on-field bust-up with Vincent Kompany during first half which fuelled speculation of dressing room disharmony at Eastlands. Adebayor was later substituted as City lost 2-1.
YOUSSOUF HADJI (Nancy)
Morocco striker played key role as his side fought back to win 3-2 at Caen. Hadji drew visitors level with 35th-minute penalty, cancelling out international colleague Youssef El-Arabi’s opener, and laid on winning goal for Bakaye Traore with 20 minutes to play after running more than half the length of the pitch.
KANDIA TRAORE (Caen)
Ivorian brought Caen back into game with 52nd-minute equaliser. Reacting sharply to a loose ball inside penalty area, the well-travelled striker skilfully turned past a defender and then rifled a powerful shot across goal into the top-left corner.
OSCAR EWOLO (Brest)
Congolese centre-back, who is a preacher in his spare time, captained promoted Brest to a 2-0 victory at home to Saint-Etienne that gave Brittany club their eighth consecutive clean sheet and sent them to top of French standings.
DEMBA BA (Hoffenheim)
Senegal striker scored fifth goal in five Bundesliga matches as his side beat Hanover 4-0 to lie third on German table. The 25-year-old has scored six league goals this season and started all 10 championship games.
PAPISS DEMBA CISSE (Freiburg)
Senegalese striker lost place at top of Bundesliga scorers list when he was overtaken by Greek Theofanis Gekas, who scored twice in Eintracht Frankurt’s 3-1 win over St Pauli. Cisse failed to score as Freiburg were beaten 4-2 by defending champions Bayern Munich and picked up a yellow card.
SAMUEL ETO’O (Inter Milan)
After 15 goals in 13 games before Inter won 1-0 at Genoa, the Cameroon captain was the most feared striker in Italy, possibly Europe. But he proved human with an astonishing miss against Genoa. Played in behind the defence by Sulley Muntari, Eto’o completely lost his bearings and sliced a shot high and wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. It was the best chance of the game and Eto’o had few other sniffs at goal.
SULLEY MUNTARI (Inter)
Having started on the bench, the Ghanaian was called into the action early due to an injury to Esteban Cambiasso and proved the match-winner against Genoa. But his goal was due more to Genoa goalkeeper Eduardo’s gaffe than his own brilliance as a 25-yard effort, although firm, was straight at the goalkeeper who somehow allowed it to bounce over his shoulder.
MOHAMED SISSOKO (Juventus)
Having spent most of season on bench, Mali midfield enforcer was understandably rusty when thrown into fray against AC Milan after Jorge Martinez went off injured. Sissoko was initially put in an unfamiliar position on the right of midfield before being brought into a three-man central midfield when coach Luigi Delneri decided to shut up shop. Sissoko set up Alessandro Del Piero’s winning goal in the 2-1 victory, although that was not to the Malian’s credit. Having got behind the defence and controlled a cross brilliantly on his chest, the ball stuck between his feet, and he took a wild swipe that connected only with air before falling over. But Sissoko had the presence of mind to get up quickly and poke ball back to Del Piero, who showed him how to finish.
KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG (AC Milan)
Ghana midfielder maintained place in starting line-up but did not have one of best games in the red and black shirt. Boateng ran around a lot but did not often seem on same wavelength as team-mates, although he was just one of a number of disappointments for the Rossoneri in a 2-1 defeat by Juventus. Boateng was replaced late on by Clarence Seedorf as Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri searched for creative inspiration.
DJAMEL MESBAH (Lecce)
Algerian left-back was powerless to stop his side being beaten 2-0 by Roma but did work hard on left flank. Most of Lecce’s problems came from other side of pitch where Roma’s Mirko Vucinic was a constant menace.
PAPA DIOP (Racing Santander)
Senegalese midfielder played full 90 minutes as Racing crushed Osasuna 4-1 to move into mid-table. Diop, 24, who joined from Gimnastic in 2009, collected an early yellow card but it did not curb his game as the west African drove his team to an emphatic victory.
FREDERIC KANOUTE (Sevilla)
Retired Mali striker Kanoute captained Sevilla in the absence of first-choice Andres Palop but it proved a game to forget as his side were thrashed 5-0 at Barcelona. The 33-year-old was booked on 20 minutes for protesting and substituted midway through the second half as Sevilla were outclassed by defending champions.