Who won the midweek slate? And who stunk out the joint? FOXSoccer.com fetes the stars who shone and shames the players who simply didn’t show up. Here are the studs and duds. -- FOXSoccer.com's Jamie Trecker
STUD: Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
Talk about taking a game by the teeth: Suarez scored four goals in a 7-0 thrashing of Valencia in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday night that wraps up the tie, probably puts manager Gary Neville out on his hind end, and surely makes the feisty Uruguayan our Stud of the Week. (And get this: Lionel Messi scored three in the same game!) Simply unstoppable, Suarez made the Valencia defense retreat every time he got on the ball. He might have had ten by himself.
Getty ImagesDavid Ramos
DUD: Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle)
Coloccini has been a valuable member of Newcastle through thick and thin … but the writing has been on the wall for three seasons. He’s no longer close to a top-caliber performer, and he looked nothing like a commanding defender rallying his troops Wednesday against Everton. Damagingly, he was caught in retreat twice on two plays that led to goals. He’s simply not good enough, and Steve McClaren has to make a decision now -- in what is a true crisis at the club.
Getty ImagesStu Forster
STUD: Ross Barkley (Everton)
Barkley scored two goals late from the penalty spot, but was also Everton’s best player during what was an uninspiring 3-0 win over Newcastle. Barkley can be a special talent, but he has too often drifted through games this season; tonight he was taking shots and making plays and showing the hints of class that made him, for a time, a continental target. He’s still a raw talent – and he should leave Everton if he wants to improve – but this was a solid night’s work.
AFP/Getty ImagesPAUL ELLIS
DUD: Jose Gaya (Valencia)
An ignoble part of what Valencia’s sporting director called “one of the worst results in our history” Gaya was absolutely lost on defense Wednesday night as Barcelona ripped them apart 7-0. To be fair, Gaya was not the only loose screw on the night – he was just the worst, left for dead three times on scoring plays and looking utterly emasculated by night’s end.
Getty ImagesManuel Queimadelos Alonso
STUD: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Two more goals, another win – and look at this: Spurs are up to third at Arsenal’s expense. Yes, the win was over struggling Norwich, but Tottenham looked professional and assured in the game, with Kane particularly sparkling. Tottenham may be too dependent on Kane, but right now, they are proving they should be in the title conversation.
Getty ImagesTony Marshall
DUD: Jordan Ayew (Aston Villa)
Sent off after just 17 minutes for a clueless and classless elbow on Aaron Creswell, Ayew’s ejection cost Villa the game. He will now face a suspension and a hefty fine – and judging from manager Remi Garde’s clear frustration, a lengthy spell riding the pine.
Getty ImagesDan Mullan
STUD: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
The Foxes keep on flying and a big reason is the scoring prowess of Vardy, who bagged two Tuesday as Leicester swept aside Liverpool. His first goal should be up for goal of the season honors, a half volley from 25 yards out that left keeper Simon Mignolet with no chance. Leicester remain atop the table and can start daring to dream of winning the league …
DUD: Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)
The Liverpool defender’s game Tuesday summed it all up for the Reds: he was overwhelmed all game long, and never looked better than average. It was another poor show from him in what has been an erratic season at Liverpool -- and the result, a bad 2-0 loss to Leicester -- leaves the once-mighty Reds nowhere close to the Champions League slots.
Action Images via ReutersJason Cairnduff
STUD: Fraser Forster (Southampton)
The Saints’ keeper was magnificent on the evening, repelling countless attacks from Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. The result is damaging to Arsenal’s title hopes, but is brilliant for the Saints, who picked up a point and still have an outside chance at a European place as it stands.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
Now four games without a win in the league, Arsenal look like they have begun to choke quite early. They have allowed Leicester to open up a five-point gap, have slid behind Tottenham into fourth, and appear to be chucking away what is their best chance to win the league in years. For all of Arsenal’s pretty passing and grace, they appear to, once again, lack the cutting edge when needed.