Team of the Week: Liverpool’s Coutinho dents the title race for Manchester City as Wayne Rooney elevates Manchester United’s hope for Europe

By Benjamin Wills.

Chelsea’s prospect of adding another trophy to the cabinet this season after winning the Capital One Cup on Sunday was made more viable after Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 at Anfield earlier. Southampton’s top four dream took a hit with their 1-0 defeat to West Brom whereas Manchester United’s is well alive thanks to a brace from their skipper Wayne Rooney.

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Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)

Although Burnley have not been the most potent in front of goal, Fabianski had to be on his guard to deny the Clarets a crucial victory.

Swansea’s stopper had six saves to make, and kept a clean sheet as Garry Monk’s side moved up to eighth in the table.

Right-Back: Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United)

The Magpies snatched the shiny three points from Aston Villa, who were the better side for large periods, with a 1-0 win, with the likes of Janmaat keeping them at bay.

Newcastle’s Dutch right-back also chipped in with the assist, setting up Papiss Cisse for his 11th of the season.

It gifted John Carver his first home win as Newcastle manager, while Tim Sherwood’s tenure at Villa continues to be tough one – two defeats in two matches for them.

Centre-Back: Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)

Alan Pardew’s Palace were well organised at Saturday lunchtime and to take a 3-1 win at West Ham United takes some doing, despite the Hammers’ recent blip in form.

Scott Dann was resolute throughout and also got himself on the scoresheet for his second goal of the season as the Eagles soared to eight points clear of the dreaded drop zone.

Centre-Back: Philipp Wollscheid (Stoke City)

Wollscheid, the defender who has swapped Bayer for the Britannia (temporarily, at least), put in arguably his most impressive display in the red and white of Stoke City this weekend.

Mark Hughes’ organised outfit hindered relegation-threatened Hull throughout the entire game, with the away side only managing one shot (which was off target) all game, no roar from the Tigers, barely even a growl.

Left-Back: Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal)

Gibbs was rushed straight back into the Arsenal team for their 3-1 humbling at home by Monaco on Wednesday, despite the impressive displays of Nacho Monreal. But Sunday would show that Gibbs is back to his best.

One of, if not the, finest left-backs England currently have at their disposal was solid in the 2-0 win over Everton and kept Toffee tyrant Kevin Mirallas silent from minute one to 90.

Left-Midfielder: Ashley Young (Manchester United)

Louis van Gaal’s side stuttered against Sunderland for large sections, but while stellar signing Angel di Maria was subdued, Ashley Young on the other side of midfield shone.

Young was unfortunate not to have scored, maybe even twice, with one of his shots only narrowly clearing the cross bar and another was deflected onto it by a sliding John O’Shea.

Centre-Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Another wonderful goal and a good all-round performance helped include Coutinho in this 11 again. As the tricky Brazilian establishes himself as a key player for Liverpool more and more each week, his manager and the footballing world become more impressed with him.

A wonderful winner relatively late on dents Manchester City’s title ambitions and lifts Liverpool’s chances of making the elusive top four at the end of the season.

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Centre-Attacking-Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

A subject of much criticism since his arrival to the Premier League, Mesut Ozil looks to be back to his best since his return from injury though. Two more assists for both of Arsenal’s goals against Everton means that he has assisted a goal in each of his last three appearances in the league for the Gunners.

He also now has the third highest minute per assist rate in Premier League history – he sets up a goal every 224 minutes. Only Jose Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fabregas have better records.

Right-Midfielder: Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)

Palace were the only team to score more than three goals on what was a timid Saturday afternoon, and that was largely thanks to Puncheon.

Every Eagles goal was set up by the English winger, including Glenn Murray’s brace and finding Scott Dann for number two with a pinpoint free-kick.

Striker: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Rooney was one of only two players to score more than goal this weekend.

He was stunted in a central midfield role for large portions of the match, but when deployed up front in the second half he made more of an impact.

The controversial penalty that Wes Brown was dismissed for instead of O’Shea was netted by the England captain and a close-range header made it two for him and his side soon after.

Striker: Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace)

Murray had an eventful Saturday, scoring two goals that earned three points for his Palace team, but was later dismissed for two yellow cards.

Despite the red card, though, he does merit his place, by opening and closing the scoring for the travelling team to get Crystal Palace back to winning ways after three matches without success.

Follow @BenjaminWillsSJ

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