Benjamin Wills picks out this weekend’s star Premier League performers from the Cherries, Manchester United, West Ham, Arsenal, the Foxes, Newcastle, Watford and Stoke.
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc (AFC Bournemouth)
Bournemouth’s 1-0 win over a still abject Chelsea was the story of the weekend – despite the fact seemingly everyone can beat the champions this season. However it could have been a different story had it not been for Artur Boruc.
The Polish goalkeeper, who it is fair to say, has been guilty of losing the Cherries points this season, put in a marvellous display to help Bournemouth in their relegation fight.
Boruc made seven saves in total; his finest was arguably a flying dive to prevent Eden Hazard from notching his first goal of the season, and he was also key as the Blues dominated the second half.
Centre-back: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United continue to bore and frustrate their fans so it is fortunate that defender Chris Smalling gives the supporters something to smile about.
He was impressive again as United drew 0-0 at home to West Ham in what was a good defensive display from both sides.
West Ham could not break down the Red Devils at Old Trafford with Smalling being equal to most balls into the box.
Centre-back: Winston Reid (West Ham United)
What Smalling could do, Winston Reid could do too but even better.
The New Zealander was superb from start to finish as United peppered the West Ham goal at times and was crucial as the Hammers continued their fine form against the top sides that has seen them beat Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Reid was also pretty close to getting on the scoresheet but a header of his hit the base of the post.
Centre-back: Steve Cook (AFC Bournemouth)
Boruc saved Bournemouth on a number of occasions as they pulled off one of the most famous results in their history and defender Steve Cook was crucial for Eddie Howe’s men, too.
The defender was solid at the back throughout the 90 minutes as Chelsea provided a second-half onslaught but Cook and Bournemouth were resolute.
The Bournemouth ace then made the difference in the Chelsea half when he assisted Glenn Murray for a dramatic late winner to send the travelling supporters into delirium.
Right midfielder: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)
Xherdan Shaqiri’s £12million summer switch to Stoke raised eyebrows, but Saturday lunchtime was the first instance this season of the ex-Bayern winger showing his quality.
Both of Stoke’s and Marko Arnautovic’s goals came via Shaqiri assists as then-Premier League leaders Manchester City’s title challenge took a dent.
Shaqiri shrugged off Fernando then stepovered his way past Aleksandar Kolarov to set up the first goal and he spun past the Brazilian again before the pass to Arnautovic for 2-0.
Centre midfielder: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Aaron Ramsey has failed to recapture the scintillating form that saw him light up the 2013/14 season, but a goal and an assist in Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Sunderland was much needed and appreciated.
Olivier Giroud had earlier scored in his own net, but a Ramsey cross was pinpointed for the Frenchman to header in and make amends.
Welshman Ramsey then sealed the three points for the title-chasing Gunners after a swift passing move that was typical Arsenal.
Centre midfielder: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
On most other days N’Golo Kante would have earned the Man of the Match award for his display in Leicester’s comfortable win over Swansea, but Riyad Mahrez stole his thunder.
Kante did have a part to play in two of the three goals for the Algerian, however, contributing a direct assist for one of them and having a huge influence in the final goal.
A wonderful lofted ball from the Frenchman set Mahrez on his way for his second of the afternoon and then went on a marauding run that ended up leading to the goal hero’s crowning glory.
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Left midfielder: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
For once, just once, Jamie Vardy was not the story as Leicester smashed Swansea 3-0 as Mahrez bagged a hat-trick at the Liberty Stadium.
The winger bundled in the opener as a result of a Marc Albrighton corner and doubled the tally in the 22nd minute after curling home when in acres of space.
He might have completed his treble in the first half had Lukasz Fabianski not been equal to one effort but the match ball was secured midway through the second period, thanks to a powerful strike into the bottom corner as Vardy turned provider.
Centre attacking midfielder: Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United)
Newcastle’s season has been dire so far, but one bright spark has been that of Georginio Wijnaldum, and he was on hand again to raise some spirits on Tyneside.
Martin Skrtel’s own-goal put the Magpies ahead as a result of the Dutch ace’s shot that deflected off the Slovakian and over Simon Mignolet with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Wijnauldum did claim a goal of his own merit, though, in second-half stoppage time with an astute little dink over the Liverpool keeper to ease a little bit of pressure off Steve McClaren.
Striker: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City)
Shaqiri did all the tricks and flicks to set Stoke on their way, but Arnautovic was the one who put the icing on the cake at a windy Britannia Stadium.
The imposing Austrian stabbed home the opener from the midfielder’s low cross and was there again later on to run onto a wonderful through ball to put Mark Hughes’ men out of sight.
If Arnautovic could have kept his footing, he would have had a hat-trick too, but unfortunately for him his effort struck the outside of the post and he had to settle for two.
Striker: Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Few expected Watford to pull up any trees this season, but thanks to Odion Ighalo, the Hornets are buzzing about life in the Premier League.
The Nigerian has steadily gone about his business and he currently sits fourth in the Premier League goal scoring charts.
Ighalo added his ninth of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Norwich when he finally slotted home in the 90th minute after knocking on the door all game and he was also fouled for the penalty, which Troy Deeney converted.
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