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PLAY IT SHORT: Why would Cavani go to Arsenal?; Fergie must admire Benteke; Sterling best 17yo since Giggs; Man City dominate African market

FERGIE WILL ADMIRE BIG BENTEKEAs he reviewed the game yesterday, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is sure to have admired the performance of Christian Benteke. Although he's gone a different direction this season, Fergie loves his centre-forwards. From Mark Hughes through to Ruud van Nistelrooy, a powerful centre-forward has almost always been an option for Ferguson. Benteke didn't get on the scoresheet, but after the way he shook Chris Smalling off like a rag doll for Andi Weimann's first before his clever step over to create the Austrian's second, you begin to understand Paul Lambert's total faith in the Belgian. Aston Villa fans have a new hero and the Premier League potentially another great centre-forward to admire.

CITY SEEK TO DOMINATE AFRICAN TRANSFER MARKETManchester City's imminent talent deal with the Ghana FA is just one plank of their push to dominate the African transfer market. An agreement with Gil Vicente last season has already seen two players recommended by City from Guinea-Bissau sign for the Portuguese club. And in Sweden, Patrick Vieira has overseen a partnership agreement with Djurgardens, which have already in the past month taken two players from Sierra Leone and two from Ghana for trials after the input of City. Now they're putting the finishing touches on an agreement with the Ghana FA which will see the club get first refusal on the very best graduates from their long youth production line. So long a resource for clubs in France and Portugal, City's move is sure to put many noses out of joint on the continent.

WILL WE SEE THE BEST OF MIRALLAS?Kevin Mirallas would be dangerous if he could stay fit. Just as he did against Liverpool, on Saturday he was outstanding for Everton in the first-half of their win over Sunderland. But then injury truck - again. The Belgian played through the middle for Olympiakos, but David Moyes has been able to bed him down on a flank - and without the expectation of finding the back of the net, Mirallas has thrived. If he can just overcome the niggles he's endured since arriving in England, Mirallas could match Nikica Jelavic as another gem of a signing pulled off by Moyes.

FURIOUS BERBATOV MAN ON A MISSIONDon't doubt Dimitar Berbatov's commitment at Fulham. He went into the six-goal thriller at Arsenal hitting back at the 'lazy tag' he'd been slapped with at Manchester United. And he didn't disappoint against the Gunners. But it wasn't just his performance that stood out. Berba was seen regularly gesticulating and glaring at teammates. Demanding better. He gave Alex Kacaniklic a mouthful in the second-half before firing two verbal volleys at Mark Schwarzer. He seems a man on a mission. During the tirade last week, Berba also declared plans to play into his 40's. Certainly on the evidence of Saturday, he has the fire for it.

WHY WOULD CAVANI MAKE ARSENAL MOVE?Against Fulham, Arsenal looked a rag-tag team of individuals shot of confidence. Thomas Vermaelen went into the game with Arsene Wenger publicly admitting the captaincy was too much for him. But on Saturday's evidence, the Belgian isn't alone. Mikel Arteta had perhaps his worst game in an Arsenal shirt, being caught out for Fulham's penalty, missing one himself and struggling to hold onto the ball in key positions. Bacary Sagna also labored and doubts began to creep into Vito Mannone's game. They need a shot of inspiration. The sort of lift a big-name signing would bring. Wenger is now tipped to move for Napoli star Edinson Cavani in January. But we're talking about a potential Ballon d'Or winner. Would he want to come? Who is on the Gunners books that Cavani would be excited about playing with?

HODGSON HAS ADDED A ZERO TO ZAHA PRICE-TAGThe happiest about Wilfried Zaha's shock England call-up have to be Crystal Palace's owners. Steve Parish has already spoken of £20 million for the Ivory Coast-born 20 year-old should the likes of Arsenal or Liverpool get serious about their interest. And should he earn a first cap, you can bet Parish will feel confident quoting an even higher figure in January. An outside chance for a World Cup place? Why not given Zaha's current form - which is just what Parish and co will argue in negotiations over the New Year.

STERLING BEST 17 YEAR-OLD SINCE GIGGSThe comparison cannot be avoided. Raheem Sterling has to be the best 17 year-old we've seen in the Premier League since Ryan Giggs was breaking through at Manchester United. Yesterday, the Liverpool teen did not suffer in comparison with Chelsea's much vaunted midfield, particularly in the first-half. He was going past players, both on the flanks and through the middle. He was also holding the ball up as a foil for Luis Suarez. The willingness and courage to keep showing for the ball, for someone of Sterling's age, is reminiscent of a teenage Giggs. It's incredible to think Brendan Rodgers saw Sterling as Suarez's ideal partner in such a big away game. And like Giggs, he's also had to cope with an international tug-of-war - though that should be settled when he makes his England debut on Wednesday.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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