Team of the Week: Liverpool striker shines, Chelsea hit man frustrates Arsenal again and some magic from Tottenham’s diamond
Leicester and Spurs contribute to this week’s Team of the Week following convincing victories, while Liverpool, Chelsea and Swansea emerged victorious from tightly-fought games.
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Ben Foster has spent the last ten months of his career on the sidelines following a cruciate injury, and he quickly showed West Brom fans what they had been missing with a routine display in the derby stalemate against Aston Villa.
Foster kept a clean sheet on his much-awaited return to the Hawthorns and made four saves in the process, keeping out the Villains – in name and in nature to West Brom fans – as Jordan Ayew continued to threaten in what was a rather tepid Midlands clash.
Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)
Long-serving Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic signed a new one-year extension to his contract in the week, much to the dismay of some Blues fans, but he showed he can still be a useful asset in the 1-0 win over Arsenal.
The imposing Serbian picked out Diego Costa with a cross which led to the only goal of the game, and he kept Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell subdued at the Emirates Stadium as Chelsea won the London derby bragging rights yet again.
Centre back: Ashley Williams (Swansea City)
Swansea City’s 2-1 triumph over Everton in new manager Francesco Guidolin’s first match in charge will perhaps be remembered for John Stones’ poor showing, although Ashley Williams was more important at the other end of the pitch.
Captain fantastic Williams was a rock as ever at the heart of the Swans’ defence, as they edged a closely fought encounter at Goodison Park to crank up the heat on Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
Centre back: Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion)
Foster was key in keeping out Villa during the 0-0 draw at the weekend, but Craig Dawson was one of the main reasons that the match did not quite live up to pre-match billing.
Dawson kept Remi Garde’s rock-bottom club rooted to the foot of the Premier League table, as the Claret and Blues had 15 shots on goal, but only a measly four were on target.
Left-back: Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
While Leicester’s defence does not usually command many column inches, the clean sheet kept against Stoke at the weekend was their seventh of the season.
Christian Fuchs, signed on a free transfer from Schalke last summer, was useful in defence, and also contributed to link-up play with Leicester going forward.
Centre defensive midfielder: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
N’Golo Kante’s £5.6 million switch from Caen to Leicester in the summer went largely ignored by anyone who does not support Claudio Ranieri’s side – but no one is ignoring him now.
Leicester’s midfield enforcer battled down Stoke and controlled the middle of the park all game to earn him the Man of the Match award.
Kante made five tackles, five interceptions, won possession back 11 times, and ran 11.24 kilometres in a typically tireless display.
Centre midfielder: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Goal of the season? Maybe. Place in the England squad for Euro 2016? Maybe. Bright future? Most certainly.
Dele Alli’s remarkable season, taking to Premier League football like a duck to water, just keeps on going, much to the delight, surprise, intrigue and excite of any Tottenham and England supporter.
Alli scored a world class goal; he took a touch in the air, flicked the ball over Mile Jedinak and volleyed into the bottom corner to send the travelling Tottenham supporters and the Twittersphere delirious. The 19-year-old also teed up Nacer Chadli, who scored an impressive goal of his own.
Centre midfielder: Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City)
There are many surprising names touted for a spot in the England squad for Euro 2016, but Danny Drinkwater is probably the stand out.
The ex-Manchester United reject was sensational again in Leicester’s 3-0 win over Stoke City, scoring one and assisting another.
Drinkwater made it 1-0 with a fine effort from just inside the area, and then he sent Jamie Vardy on his way part-way through the second-half to all but secure the three points for the Foxes.
Striker: Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Diego Costa vs Arsenal. A match made in heaven – if you support Chelsea. There is something about this match-up that Costa just gets, and it tends to end up in three points for the side who occupy the west side of London.
Costa’s goal in the first half to win Chelsea the match was his second against the Gunners in his third league match against them, but as ever with Costa, the story of his game was not just his goal.
The Brazilian-turned-Spaniard was also fouled by Per Mertesacker when through on goal, which led to the German being sent off, similar to when Costa got Gabriel sent off in the reverse fixture.
Striker: Enner Valencia (West Ham United)
West Ham’s admirable record against the so-called ‘top sides’ extended with a credible 2-2 draw at home to title challengers Manchester City, and Enner Valencia was the most impressive man on the pitch.
Valencia gave the Hammers the lead inside the first minute of the match with a well-executed goal in the six-yard box.
It was a poacher’s instinct that led to his second of the evening too, as he lost Nicolas Otamendi from a long throw-in into the box and tapped past Joe Hart to restore the home side’s lead after Sergio Aguero’s penalty.
Striker: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
One of Jurgen Klopp’s first manoeuvres as Liverpool manager has been to convert an initially struggling Roberto Firmino from a number ten to a striker, and it has immediately paid dividends.
Firmino has played five games in the ‘false nine’ role for the Reds, scoring five goals and assisting another four. The Brazilian scored two and set-up one in the breathtaking heart-stopping 5-4 win at Norwich City.
He gave Liverpool the lead with a deft finish after beating the offside trap, provided a cheeky flick which Jordan Henderson volleyed in to get Klopp’s men back into the game at 3-2, and then Firmino found the back of the net again with a cool finish to drag the Merseysiders level.
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