All eyes were on Old Trafford this weekend as second-placed Manchester United hosted third-placed Spurs.
Whilst that game disappointed, however, there was plenty of drama elsewhere in the Premier League, with Crystal Palace rescuing a late point against West Ham and Liverpool miraculously keeping a clean sheet.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the Premier League Team of the Week.
GK – Joe Hart
Joe Hart can’t catch a break. The most-capped player in the England squad – a veteran of four major international tournaments – has endured the most difficult 18 months of his career. After an abortive spell with Torino last year, he joined a resurgent West Ham hoping a move could benefit both player and club.
Those hopes, though, have largely gone cold. For once on Saturday however, Hart could hold his head high. He did everything possible to secure a win for Slaven Bilic’s side, making several elastic stops as Palace devoured West Ham’s 2-0 lead. If only his teammates had showed the same desire.
RB – César Azpilicueta
‘Dave’ was tremendous once more for Chelsea at the weekend. Captaining the side in the absence of Gary Cahill, the Spaniard shut out Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson and Jermain Defoe with ease. Antonio Conte’s men have been rudderless of late, but the Spanish full back remains one of their most consistent performers.
CB – Kurt Zouma
Jack Butland could have brought a book to Vicarage Road on Saturday. Watford, who have been so impressive in this campaign couldn’t muster a single shot on his goal.
That is due in large part to the impressive display of the Chelsea loanee who forgot the horrors of Stoke’s recent form to put in a commendable display at the back. With David Luiz performing erratically, questions should be asked as to why he was allowed to leave Stamford Bridge at all.
CB – Ragnar Klavan
“Three points, three goals, clean sheet” purred a buzzing Jurgen Klopp on Saturday. His Liverpool defence has been much maligned this season and a few of the home fans may have happy to see Dejan Lovren pick up an injury in the warm-up.
His replacement has had an equally torrid time at the club, arriving at training in midweek with the bumper of his 4×4 hanging off after a road traffic accident. There were no such mishaps on the pitch, however, as Klavan performed heroically at such short notice.
LB – Sead Kolasinac
Beast mode on. Arsenal were widely praised after capturing the Bosnian left-back on a free this summer. But nobody expected the former Schalke man to be this good. Three goals and three assists have brought him instant cult status at the Emirates and it surely won’t be long before he wears the captains’ armband.
He was imperious against Swansea, offering a constant menace on the left. Scoring Arsenal’s equaliser, he then went on to set up Ramsey’s winner. An impeccable display.
CM – Darren Fletcher
It’s been a good month for Darren Fletcher. After being named in Stoke’s lineup against Bournemouth last week, he became just the eighth player to reach 100 consecutive Premier League appearances.
Fletcher’s career is marked by a quite brilliant consistency made all the more impressive given the diagnosis of ulcerative colitis that so hampered his time at Manchester United. He was outstanding against West Brom, pinging in an expertly-taken volley to give his side all three points.
CM – Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey should have over fifty goals for Arsenal. After scoring 16 in the 2013/14 season, the Gunners thought they had their next great goal-scoring midfielder on their hands.
Alas, the Welshman’s roaming talents have fleeted in the years since. Last season was especially difficult but Arsene Wenger’s decision to retain his number eight now looks inspired. Ramsey was brilliant, unpredictable and decisive in the Swansea game – if only he could add consistency to that mix.
CM – Gini Wijnaldum
It’s probably reductive to link Liverpool’s 4-1 collapse against Spurs with the absence of just one player. When Wijnaldum plays, however, Liverpool instantly look better. Their passing becomes cleaner, their movement more intelligent, and the goal threat from midfield more urgent.
His strike against Huddersfield was his ninth at Anfield, but he was effective all game. An impressive all-around performance.
RF – Wilfried Zaha
There was a crushing inevitability about Crystal Palace’s late equaliser against West Ham. Nothing should be taken away from Wilf Zaha’s tidy finish though.
The Ivorian is his teams’ best player by a mile and is quickly becoming their only hope of avoiding a relegation dogfight. In the seven games Palace lost at the start of the season, Zaha was missing from six. Says it all really.
CF – Javier Hernández
A few months ago, West Ham pulled off one of the coups of the summer when they signed Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen. £16 million was a snip for a proven Premier League goalscorer who, in each of his four years at Manchester United, had weighed in with some crucial goals.
After just 3 strikes in 10 league games, however, there have been accusations that Hernández hasn’t received any support from his Hammers teammates. Aaron Cresswell rectified that on Saturday, his low cut-back from the left allowing the Mexican to clip a cute finish at Selhurst Park. If Slaven Bilic lets his team play to Hernández’ strengths, he might just save his own job.
FL – Anthony Martial
Inconsistent? Yes. Frustrating? Absolutely.
It’s hard not to look at Anthony Martial and wonder. The Frenchman was the toast of Old Trafford on his arrival a few years ago, the comparisons with Thierry Henry seeming apt after he scored four goals in his first four games.
Since then, however, he’s found a more regular home on the United sub’s bench. José Mourinho has seemed loathe to use him, preferring the hard running and diligence of Marcus Rashford. When given a chance this season though, ‘Tony Marshall’ has shown glimpses of the form that convinced United to part with nearly £40 million for his services.
After scoring the winner off the bench against Spurs, Gary Neville criticised Martial for “playing at 85 per cent”. It’s a fair criticism, one that Martial himself is happy to accept. Performances like the one at the weekend will go a long way to quieting such disapproval though.
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