Player: Luis Suárez, Liverpool FC
With six goals in four Premier League games since returning from his ten-match ban, Suárez is back to making a uniquely positive contribution to the Liverpool cause. The Uruguay forward's latest redeeming feat came last Saturday when he scored his first Anfield hat-trick in the Reds' 4-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion FC. The treble included an audacious opener and two headers which prompted West Brom boss Steve Clarke to say of the 26-year-old: "Look at the strikers around the world, he's certainly in the top five." If the win kept third-placed Liverpool on the coat-tails of leaders Arsenal FC, it also consigned Suárez's unsettled summer to the more distant recesses of the fans' collective memory.
Team: Hellas Verona FC
Seeing promoted Verona enjoy a fine Serie A campaign, it is hard to believe they were turning out in the third division as recently as 2010/11. Wednesday's 2-0 success against UC Sampdoria, their fifth straight home victory at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi this term, allowed the Gialloblu to surpass ACF Fiorentina and move level on 19 points with fourth-placed FC Internazionale Milano. The Mastini's current crop are even drawing comparisons with the Scudetto-winning side that stunned Italian football almost three decades ago. "We are performing above expectations," said coach Andrea Mandorlini. "The success we are enjoying now is the fruit of a few years of hard work."
Goal: Kaká (AC Milan)
The playmaker's fine showing against FC Barcelona on matchday three led team-mate Marco Amelia to proclaim that the Brazilian was as good as ever – this week the Milan No22 drove that point home in style. Picking up possession on the left against SS Lazio on Wednesday, he drifted in from the touchline and fired a rocket of a shot into the far corner for his first Diavolo goal since rejoining the club from Real Madrid CF in September.
The hair is a bit shaggier these days but it was like 2007 and his annus mirabilis all over again, though a 1-1 home draw that leaves the Rossoneri even further adrift in Serie A took away some of the gloss. "I hope to score other goals which are worth three points," said the 31-year-old. You would not bet against it.
AS Roma took their place in the record books on Thursday when they became the first club to win ten consecutive games at the beginning of a Serie A season. Marco Borriello's header, his first goal for the Lupi since May 2011, accounted for lowly AC Chievo Verona at the Stadio Olimpico. "Tonight what counted was winning and making it ten out of ten," said Giallorossi coach Rudi Garcia, whose side have conceded only once this term. "As I previously said, today's game was the toughest. This is a fantastic winning streak for us, but now we have to think about Torino [on Sunday] and leave the celebrating to the fans."
"Borussia Dortmund has become my club. We've written an exciting story together, perhaps the most exciting and emotional football story of the last few years."
Jürgen Klopp after signing a new contract tying him to Borussia Dortmund until 2018
AFC Ajax prospect Mickey van der Hart made his debut for the Amsterdammers on Tuesday and had special reason to be proud: he had followed in the footsteps of his late grandfather. Although the 19-year-old goalkeeper missed out on a clean sheet in Ajax's 4-1 Dutch Cup round of 32 home victory over ASWH, Mickey was delighted to have imitated grandfather Cor van der Hart, the former Netherlands defender who played for the four-time European champions between 1947 and 1950. "I think he will look down now with a smile," said the proud grandson.
Like father, like son
Scorer of six goals as RC Deportivo La Coruña reached the 2004 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, striker Walter Pandiani has high hopes that son Nicolás can match his achievements. Indeed 'El Rifle', as Pandiani Sr is known, will be able to keep a close eye on the 19-year-old's progress after both were signed by Uruguayan top-flight side CS Miramar Misiones, having previously lined up together for Spanish outfit CD Atlético Baleares.
"This is a dream come true," said Walter, 37, who spent 13 seasons in Europe, appearing for RCD Mallorca, Birmingham City FC, RCD Espanyol, CA Osasuna and Villarreal CF in addition to Deportivo. "I've learned a lot from my dad," full-back Nicolás added. "He thinks like a coach and is always there with a helping hand."
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