By Benjamin Wills.
It was business as usual for the top seven of the Premier League as they all secured wins this midweek. Jonas Gutierrez’s return to football after beating cancer was met with delight at St James’ Park, but the Magpies failed to hold on as a late blunder from Tim Krul saw Manchester United leave with all three points. Aston Villa’s win over West Brom in the midlands derby remains the talking point as Tim Sherwood’s match to goal ratio finally picks up.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea (Manchester United)
Wins for Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as Southampton on Tuesday, almost made for a terrible midweek for Manchester United, but fortunately De Gea came to their rescue. Two terrific stops were made, one at 0-0 to keep them in the game, and one soon after their late winner to keep them ahead in what was another crucial performance from United’s number one.
Although De Gea was the Man of the Match, the Red Devils victory is largely down to a goalkeeping gaffe from the Spaniard’s opposite number Tim Krul.
Right-Back: Phil Bardsley (Stoke City)
Victor Moses and Mame Biram Diouf netted the goals in Stoke’s 2-0 win over Everton which takes them up to eighth but Bardsley was the man that shaped the victory.
Moses’ headed opener was provided by Bardsley’s cross and he also kept a clean sheet to extend Stoke’s winning run to three matches.
Centre-Back: Jose Fonte (Southampton)
The Saints go marching on in the Premier League, their first win since February 7 was a dramatic 1-0 win over Crystal Palace with Sadio Mane’s goal seven minutes from time securing the result.
Fonte was the glue at the back – and equal to the nine shots Palace had at goal for his as well as Southampton’s first clean sheet in three games.
Left-Back: Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal)
The Gunners fired two past Queens Park Rangers to keep in pole position in the race for third, and Gibbs was the star man at Loftus Road.
Both goals were set up the English left-back, and he was unlucky not to keep a clean sheet, too, in a great all-round performance.
Right Midfield: Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle United)
The story of the night, without a doubt – Gutierrez making his comeback after undergoing treatment for testicular cancer in September 2014. Gutierrez was introduced to a hero’s welcome at St James’ Park when he replaced Ryan Taylor with 25 minutes to go.
He was booked a minute-and-a-half later but the Geordie faithful did not mind a jot (apart from a bit of booing for referee Anthony Taylor). Welcome back, Jonas.
Centre-Midfield: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Like Arsenal, Liverpool kept the top-four battle interesting with a routine 2-0 win over Burnley, but it was Henderson that stood out in their encounter.
Steven Gerrard’s hopeful replacement opened the scoring with a swerving half-volley the Liverpool legend would be proud of and then he set up Daniel Sturridge’s goal with an accurate cross.
Centre-Midfield: Jack Rodwell (Sunderland)
Rodwell may have caused a touchline spat between his manager Gus Poyet and Hull boss Steve Bruce with an alleged dive, but despite that, he did have a good game.
A header in 77th minute saved a point for Sunderland (although, it did seem to strike his hand), but this one did count and his overall performance merited his goal. It keeps the Black Cats the right side of the dreaded drop zone, four points ahead of QPR in 18th.
Centre-Midfield: Ramires (Chelsea)
Not a regular for Chelsea this season, but Ramires can still show why Chelsea paid £17million for him back in 2012.
Eden Hazard’s early header was the difference between the two sides with Ramires contributing the assist with a trademark lung-busting run and a pinpoint ball into the box.
Left-Midfield: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Both of Arsenal’s goals on Wednesday night involved the Chilean who has attracted some criticism of late. Since Mesut Ozil’s return from injury, Sanchez had only managed one assist and had not scored in seven games, but he scored one and was in the build-up of the other against QPR.
Sanchez has now been involved in 20 goals this season, only Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero (23) has been involved in more.
Striker: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)
Benteke has been well under par this campaign as Villa have been woeful in front of goal, however, an assist and a penalty converted in injury time against rivals West Brom will endear him back to his supporters.
The penalty was beyond cool to win the derby, as he stuttered and shimmied, and delicately swept the ball past Ben Foster for the most vital of three points.
Striker: Gabriel Agbonlahor (Aston Villa)
Due to Villa’s aforementioned lack of action in front of goal this season, it is a huge shock to see two of their strikers in the Team of the Week – but Agbonlahor was as important as his partner Benteke on Tuesday.
Agbonlahor tucked in the opener, hit the post late in the first half, and was fouled for a penalty that was not given too in a performance that caused the Baggies nightmares all night.
Who would be in your team of the week?