Can the Southampton man go on to win full international recognition?...
Former under-21 international James Beattie boosted his full England claims with another double on Saturday - but isn't sure if he's ready for Sven's squad... Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and Michael Owen are the only Englishmen to have won the Premiership Golden Boot outright but the slightly less predictable name of Southampton's JAMES BEATTIE is leading the way this season after another double on Saturday.
Beattie, a former England under-21 international who made his international bow for Peter Taylor's side back in November 1998, scored both goals in Saints' 2-0 victory against Birmingham - one from the spot - to take his tally for the season to 11.
Naturally there is talk about Beats - who won five under-21 caps, being called into Sven Goran Eriksson's senior squad and there is no doubt that Sven is fully aware of the ht-man's amazing recent form.
However, the man that knows Beattie best, his club manager Gordon Strachan, is not sure that his forward is ready just yet.
"I think the gaffer is right," says Beattie, who promises: "I won't let being the Premiership's top scorer go to my head." The in-form striker showed cool from the spot after Birmingham goalkeeper Nico Vaesen had try to eyeball him before the kick could be taken. "He was trying to out-psyche me but I wouldn't look at him," said Beattie.
PAUL SCHOLES scored Manchester United's second goal against Arsenal as the Premiership title race was blown open at Old Trafford. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson can't praise the ginger midfielder highly enough.
"He has been fantastic this season, absolutely marvellous. "I think listened to the critics too much last year when they kept bringing up his role in the team but that isn't a problem now."
There was also wide praise after United's 2-0 win for another England player PHIL NEVILLE, who more than held his own in the midfield battle against World Cup winners Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva.
MARTIN KEOWN returned for The Gunners in his first game since September, and he had his work cut out in the absence of suspended SOL CAMPBELL.
Under-21 star PAUL KONCHESKY marked his 50th Charlton appearance with a delightful strike to register the second goal of a 2-0 win against Liverpool. He was joined on the scoresheet by another of the young English Addicks, JASON EUELL, while RICHARD RUFUS hardly gave MICHAEL OWEN a kick.
It was a disappointing day for under-21 goalkeeper CHRIS KIRKLAND, picked for the first time ahead of Jerzy Dudek, though the big man did make a series of notable saves.
Skipper JOE COLE scored his third goal of the season to put bottom-of-the-table West Ham the lead at Middlesbrough. But the game ended 2-2 with a late equaliser from UGO EHIOGU.
"It was a fantastic goal by Joe, he showed why I made him captain," said Hammers boss Glenn Roeder. "This, along with playing for England, was the greatest moment of my career so far," beamed Joe.
Meanwhile, the young lions in the Nationwide league continue to impress. Loan star CARLTON COLE scored his first goal for Wolves, while JAY BOTHROYD notched a brace for Coventry. In the FA CUP, England youth striker RICHARD OFFIONG inspired Darlington to a spot in the Third Round with a two-goal haul.
Premiership results Dec 7/8
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 1
Bolton 1 Blackburn 1
Charlton 2 Liverpool 0
Everton 1 Chelsea 3
Fulham 1 Leeds 0
Manchester United 2 Arsenal 0
Middlesbrough 2 West Ham 2
Southampton 2 Birmingham 0
Tottenham 3 West Brom 1
Sunderland v Man City (Monday)
Lions Watch is compiled by Joe Bernstein