Crystal Palace stoppers and Stoke City attackers lead this week’s Team of the Week, while Swansea and Southampton got their seasons back on track.
Goalkeeper: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)
Crystal Palace did not have any goals to celebrate over Christmas after two 0-0 draws against Bournemouth and Swansea, though Wayne Hennessey would have enjoyed his two clean sheets –making six saves in total.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick in the game’s dying moments was brilliantly kept out by the Welshman to save a point for Palace in the Swansea game, while Eunan O’Kane had an effort tipped over the bar two days earlier.
Palace are now up to an impressive fifth place in the Premier League table.
Right-back: Cuco Martina (Southampton)
Goal of the season? Quite possibly. Cuco Martina’s Roberto Carlos-esque goal against the Gunners stunned everyone watching in the ground and at home.
Martina was also part of a Southampton side that not only kept a clean sheet against title-chasing Arsenal, but also scored four at the other end in a surprise demolition job.
Centre back: Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)
As well as Wayne Hennessey, Scott Dann was also crucial to Crystal Palace keeping two clean sheets in two games, and their third from their last five.
Dann has been a rock at the back for the Eagles practically every week, and his performances are being rewarded with results.
Against Bournemouth, Dann made five interceptions, more than anyone else on the pitch.
Centre back: Ashley Williams (Swansea City)
Like Palace, Swansea have played two and kept clean sheets in both their games, and captain Ashley Williams was, as usual, at the heart of that.
Williams was most impressive in the Palace clash, performing like the experienced leader he has garnered a reputation for being.
Caretaker Swans boss Alan Curtis described his display as “absolutely brilliant”, as the Welsh club work to regain a bit of stability.
Left-back: Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur)
Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Norwich was the first half of a two-part success for Spurs that saw them rise to third over the festive period.
Ben Davies fed Tom Carroll for his goal to seal the points for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, while he was impressive defensively too.
Right midfielder: Michail Antonio (West Ham United)
Two games in three days equals rotation, and Michail Antonio took his chances perfectly during his limited time in a West Ham shirt.
Antonio, formerly of Nottingham Forest, set up Aaron Cresswell’s goal in the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, and notched a goal and an assist against Southampton.
His goal was somewhat fortunate, as was his assist, but getting in the right areas normally results in goals.
Centre midfielder: Tom Cleverley (Everton)
It may have been a long time coming, but Tom Cleverley has finally had a week to remember.
The 13-time England international has had to battle poor form, a transfer, and injuries in recent months, but the festive double-header will have left him in good spirits.
Cleverley scored a 90th minute winner – his first Everton goal – against Newcastle at St. James’ Park, and he also set up Romelu Lukaku’s tenth goal in ten games in the 3-4 humdinger at home to Stoke.
Left midfielder: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)
Mark Hughes’ Stoke side had one of the best Christmases in the Premier League, with two sensational wins over Manchester United and Everton. The latter match was particularly memorable, featuring seven goals, and because Xherdan Shaqiri stole the show.
Stoke’s Swiss winger turned in a low cross to give the Potters the lead, and, soon after, Shaqiri scored what could turn out to be the goal of the season.
Some cynics call it a botched cross, but in reality, Shaqiri’s second was a thing of near-indescribable beauty as Tim Howard was somehow lobbed with a volley from just inside the area.
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Harry Kane added another two goals to his tally, as well as setting up a teammate in a good couple of games for the Englishman.
He grabbed a brace against Norwich City – where he once spent a brief spell on loan – and he turned provider two days later to tee up Erik Lamela at Vicarage Road.
Kane was able to tuck home a penalty against the Canaries, and he picked up his second with a tidy finish before the break.
Striker: Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Watford’s form took a minor dent after tough games against Chelsea and Tottenham, but Odion Ighalo was not slowed down as he netted another two goals.
It briefly looked as if Watford would snatch three points at Stamford Bridge when the Nigerian made it 2-1 via a deflected effort.
Ighalo was at it again in the 2-1 defeat at home to Spurs, when he spun past Eric Dier before poking the ball home under Hugo Lloris.
Striker: Bojan (Stoke City)
Marko Arnautovic’s ever-impressive form is getting the headlines, but it was a little man who was once let go by Barcelona that made everything happen against Manchester United and Everton.
Bojan’s blocked free-kick landed into the path of Arnautovic for his stunner against the Red Devils, and he completely ran the show before and after.
He also had a part to play in the Everton tie, linking with Arnautovic in the build-up for Shaqiri’s first, and the Spaniard directly set up number two with a sensational through ball.
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