This week saw an optimistic Aston Villa rescue a point against title contenders Manchester City as Manchester United’s promising talent Jesse Lingard scored his first goal at Old Trafford. Elsewhere Newcastle United smashed and grabbed three points at Bournemouth and Harry Kane maintained consistency at the North London Derby.
Goalkeeper: Rob Elliot (Newcastle United)
When Tim Krul suffered his season-ending ACL injury made it seem already struggling Newcastle were destined for relegation, but if Rob Elliot puts in performances like he did at Dean Court on Saturday, the Magpies have a fighting chance yet.
Elliot made five saves in total as Bournemouth dominated proceedings but ended up losing 1-0, with visitors Newcastle scoring their only shot on target.
The finest stop was a flying effort at his near post to somehow keep out a Dan Gosling header in the first-half from point blank range.
Right-back: Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa)
Remi Garde’s first match as Aston Villa was a successful one as they kept a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at home to title-chasing Manchester City.
No defender was more impressive than Ciaran Clark who made 11 clearances, more than any other player. More results like this and Aston Villa may just escape relegation.
Centre-back: Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle United)
Newcastle’s smash-and-grab win away on the South Coast was largely down to Elliot’s aforementioned goalkeeping, but Bournemouth would have had even more than their 20 shots had Mbemba not been solid.
The Congolese centre back made a number of crucial clearances, interceptions and blocks to keep
Bournemouth at bay for the 90 minutes, and when Newcastle’s back four was breached, Elliot was there to be the impenetrable last barrier.
Centre-back: Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
Diego Costa suggested mid-way through the second half that Ryan Shawcross struggles with body odour, but the Stoke defender’s performance certainly didn’t stink as the Potters heaped on the misery to Chelsea.
Costa’s threat was kept to a minimum, body odour banter aside, and Stoke kept their second clean sheet on the bounce and their fourth in five matches.
Left-back: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)
England named their squad for the Euro 2106 warm-up friendlies against Spain and France, and once again Ryan Bertrand’s name made it, and you can see why with displays such as this weekend’s.
Kieran Gibbs still needs to be dislodged as Roy Hodgson’s first-choice left-back, despite not being an Arsenal regular, but Bertrand is marching on for the Saints.
He contributed to Ronald Koeman’s men keeping another clean sheet and also won the penalty that Dusan Tadic converted to earn the three points for the away side.
Right-midfielder: Gerard Deulofeu (Everton)
Gerard Deulofeu’s brace in the demolition of Sunderland last weekend seemed to inspire him this match week as he was on good form again.
His mazy runs and sumptuous skill worried West Ham all afternoon, and inevitably he did end up providing an assist.
Deulofeu’s perfectly-weighted pass released Romelu Lukaku, who rounded Hammers keeper Adrian to make it 1-1 just before half-time.
Centre-midfielder: Jonny Howson (Norwich City)
Norwich’s 1-0 victory over Swansea City at Carrow Road was by no means a thriller, but Jonny Howson was one man who showed at least brief moments of quality.
Howson’s deliveries from set pieces caused the Welsh outfit bother for large periods, but it was his goal that hurt them the most when he netted a tap-in as a result of Dieumerci Mbokani’s cut-back across goal.
Centre-midfielder: Jordy Clasie (Southampton)
Southampton’s acquisition of £8 million Jordy Clasie had the potential to be the bargain of the season, but the deep-lying Dutchman has struggled to get into the team since his arrival.
He started and shone on Saturday though as he was the spearhead of many of the Saints’ attacks, just like he was for Feyenoord in the Eredivisie.
Clasie completed 88% of his passes at the Stadium of Light, more than any other player.
Left-midfielder: Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Get the ball, pass to Tadic, cross into the box, and repeat; that appeared to be Southampton’s tactic at Sunderland, which seemed to have worked.
Tadic caused havoc on the left-hand-side from minute one to 90, putting endless crosses into the box which the Black Cats dealt with for the majority.
A goal did not come from one of those crosses, however Tadic did score the winner when he notched a perfect penalty past Pantilimon.
Centre-attacking midfielder: Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
While Wayne Rooney, an Englishman who was a talent as a youngster, starts to struggle in the twilight of his career, one new prospect seems to be emerging in Jesse Lingard.
Lingard, who has spent time on-loan at Leicester City, Birmingham City, Brighton, and Derby County, scored his first Manchester United goal at Old Trafford in his fifth appearance for the Red Devils.
It was a cultured, curling finish that left Boaz Myhill clutching at thin air and set United on course for a comfortable 2-0 win over West Brom.
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Harry Kane has no doubt struggled to replicate his heroics of last season, but five goals in his last three games is a good way of getting back to your best.
The latest one came in Sunday’s north London derby with a cool side-footed finish past Petr Cech to put Spurs 1-0 up at the Emirates before Kieran Gibbs’ equaliser.
Kane also found the back of the net twice in the 2-1 win over Arsenal last season at White Hart Lane. Turning up in the big matches shows the signs of a real top player.
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