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Heroes and Villains: De Gea's diving skills shine, other divers simply shame

Villains: The antics of Victor Moses, Ross Barkley and James Tomkins belong on the stage, not the football pitch.

Matchday 12 of the Premier League is all but in the bag, so it's time to run the rule over the Heroes and Villains of the weekend...

HEROES

Once again, Manchester United have David De Gea to thank for averting disaster. This is a club short on present day heroes, mainly because almost all of them are either injured or out of form, but the willowy Spaniard continues to deliver. Louis van Gaal appeared to diminish his performance after the game, claiming that the majority of his saves were from distant shots, but there was nothing distant about Jack Wilshere's first half effort. De Gea was rumoured to be out with a dislocated finger. How fortunate for United that this was not the case.

This was a magnificent performance from Yannick Bolasie. Crystal Palace, having stabilised after Neil Warnock's arrival, were in a poor stretch of form and they needed their key players to stand up. Bolasie, and a number of others, were good enough to oblige. Liverpool couldn't cope with Bolasie's movement at all, and while it's true that Liverpool can't cope with any kind of movement, even at a molecular level, the Palace man was still a game-changer. He runs without fear and a few more displays like that and the South London side will rise back up the table.

He's still in the FA's bad books for skipping off after a game to watch an Ed Sheeran concert, but referee Mark Clattenburg still has a friend in Roberto Martinez. The Everton manager was delighted with his decision to play a crucial advantage, a decision that led directly to the winning goal. Perhaps Martinez felt, as we do, that if we're going to be so quick to blame referees, we should be just as swift to praise them. Should we congratulate officials for simply doing their job? Ah, why not? We're never shy about congratulating footballers for simply doing theirs.

Roy Hodgson's refusal to select Swansea's Nathan Dyer for the England squad is becoming increasingly odd. Stewart Downing, Andros Townsend, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling have all been picked ahead of him and yet none could be said to have significantly outperformed him in the league. Dyer's pass for Wilfried Bony's opening goal was another memorable moment in what has been an excellent campaign for the former Southampton man. He's not just a speed merchant. Surely Hodgson will realise that eventually?

There he is! There's the real Yaya Toure! Some players, as we'll establish further down the page, would hurl themselves to the floor at the first sign of contact in the box, but not Yaya. He opened up the throttle and blasted straight through the Swansea defenders, scattering them like crates full of live chickens in every Hollywood car chase you've ever seen. This, for a number of reasons, has not been his finest season. But that right there was a glimpse of why everyone at Manchester City is content to wait patiently for him to rediscover his form.

Yaya Toure was back to his swashbuckling best against Swansea.

VILLAINS

Where does Brendan Rodgers go from here? Furious Liverpool fans will have a few ideas. Yes, the loss of Luis Suarez has hurt them. Yes, Daniel Sturridge's injuries have been costly. But it's more than that now. And this time, you can't even try to blame Mario Balotelli. It's not just that Liverpool can't do what they did last season, they don't even seem to recall what they did last season. They just slowly shift the ball into the centre and hope that someone remembers. The defence is miserable, but nothing changes. For the first time, it feels like Rodgers is fighting for his job.

Best of Premier League Week 12 Ratings and Reaction

- Premier League Team of the Weekend
- Brewin: Excuses aplenty for Wenger, Van Gaal
- Arsenal ratings: Defeat was 'typical Wilshere'
- Man United ratings: De Gea the hero again
- Brewin: Pool crash at Palace again
- Liverpool ratings: Abject all round from Reds
- Delaney: Chelsea on song vs. West Brom

Is time running out on Steven Gerrard? It certainly appears so. This isn't just a case of weary legs failing to keep up with the pace of the game now. Gerrard's entire game was off at Selhurst Park. Five howitzers were unleashed from outside the box. Not a single one hit the target. Almost half of his passes in the final third were wayward. The galvanising effect that he used to have on the players around him has faded to the point where he is quickly becoming a passenger. Rodgers has some thinking to do.

You have to pick your battles. If Gaston Ramirez was absolutely insistent on kicking someone, he should have kicked one of the two people who bundled him over. Swinging a boot at the back of Jan Vertonghen's legs was just mean. The Belgian defender was a civilian. He was just innocently passing through. Had the Uruguayan midfielder held his temper, Hull might have held onto all three points. Instead, Tottenham were able to take control of a game they had seemingly lost. His manager Steve Bruce blamed the referee and Vertonghen. He should have blamed Ramirez.

A doubler header for the divers this week. Step forward (and then fall over), Victor Moses and Ross Barkley. Mark Hughes was angered by the FA's decision not to charge Garry Monk with misconduct after the Swansea boss called Moses a cheat last month. Moses seems to be doing his best to prove Monk right. His dive against Burnley was appalling. As for Barkley, it's unclear who he thought he was fooling when he tumbled to earth without even a hint of contact from Kevin Nolan. It's long past time for retrospective punishment for this sort of nonsense.

Even worse was to come at Goodison Park where James Tomkins outdid both Moses and Barkley with an extraordinary performance of amateur dramatics. Pushed firmly in the chest by Kevin Mirallas, Tomkins reacted like a child with shampoo in his eye, crying out, clutching his face and falling to the floor. Mirallas stood and watched in confusion, as if he himself was no longer sure where exactly he'd touched the West Ham player. Small consolation for Tomkins, at least. If he can act as well as this, a career in the soaps surely awaits.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.

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