Team of the Week: Leicester’s Leo Ulloa is fine replacement for Jamie Vardy, Wayne Rooney stars in Man United’s FA Cup win, and Vito Mannone keeps out Arsenal

Benjamin Wills picks his best performers from an exciting weekend of Premier League and FA Cup action.
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Goalkeeper: Vito Mannone (Sunderland)

Sunderland’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal was by no means a thriller, and any attempt they did have going forward was snuffed out by former Gunners goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Mannone made five saves against his old employers and kept a clean sheet as Arsenal’s frustrating season continued, dropping points for the third time from their last four matches.

The best saves of the afternoon denied Mesut Özil’s free-kick and then Alex Iwobi’s follow up from the rebound.

Right-back: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

The form of Manchester City fan favourite Pablo Zabaleta has dipped in recent times, but he was back to the player his supporters know and love on Saturday lunchtime.

He was accustomed and accomplished down City’s right-hand side and also made a contribution at the other end of the pitch.

Kelechi Iheanacho’s first came about as a result of a pass by the Argentine as the Citizens swept Stoke away to keep the heat on and remain in the top three.

Centre back: Lamine Koné (Sunderland)

Since Lamine Koné’s arrival in January, Sunderland have looked a lot more organised at the back, with Sunday’s draw with Arsenal showing the Ivorian at his best.

Koné made a massive 15 clearances – 12 more than any other player – and won seven out of nine aerial duels to ensure a clean sheet that saw the Black Cats move out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Left-back: Jeff Schlupp (Leicester City)

Thanks to a bizarre season, we are now perfectly used to Leicester winning. What we are less accustomed to, however, is them dismantling a side like the Foxes did to a lack-lustre Swansea.

Jeff Schlupp provided the ball that Leonardo Ulloa bundled in to make it 3-0 to Leicester in the second half, and he was also assured in tracking back to help the league leaders to yet another clean sheet.

Right midfielder: Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Even though it is not new information, it still sounds strange when you say that before this weekend, last year’s PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard had not scored a league goal this season.

As the old cliché goes, however: goals are like buses – you wait ages for one and then two come along at once.

The same applied for Hazard. The Belgian’s first league goal of the season was a long-ranger that beat Artur Boruc, and Chelsea’s number ten doubled his tally from close range to seal the points.

Centre midfielder: Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea)

Not many players from Chelsea this season could be considered to have had a good season in 2015/16 – however, Cesc Fàbregas is one of them.

The ex-Arsenal man ran the show from midfield in Blues’ 4-1 thrashing of Bournemouth, and contributed assists to three of the four goals.

Pedro’s opener, Hazard’s first goal, and Willian’s dinked finish all came about as a result of Fàbregas’ passes.

Centre midfielder: Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa)

Aston Villa have had pretty much nothing to be joyful about this season, and that continued at Villa Park this weekend as they lost 4-2 to Southampton, but Ashley Westwood played well to give the home side a tiny bit of credit.

Westwood scored his first and second goal for over two years in the closing stages of both halves, with finishes coming in the 45th and 85th minute respectively.

The first was a half-volley that crept into Fraser Forster’s net, and Westwood’s consolation goal flew in despite the penalty area being filled with ripped up banners.

Centre midfielder: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

England manager Roy Hodgson would have been given food for thought as a result of Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final win over Everton as his captain Wayne Rooney excelled in midfield.

It has often been debated whether Rooney should play deeper, and the 30-year-old proved he can do it at Wembley at the weekend.

Rooney sprayed his passes beautifully and worked well both offensively and defensively, the latter when he headed a goal-bound effort from Romelu Lukaku off the line.

Left midfielder: Dušan Tadić (Southampton)

Southampton’s 4-2 win over Aston Villa was fairly routine despite the fact the Saints conceded twice, and Dušan Tadić was among their star men.

Tadić made it 2-0 when he tapped in a Shane Long pass to compound the misery on Aston Villa and their fans.

It was 3-1 to Southampton with his second of the match, which was an equally as composed finish as he beat Brad Guzan from the edge of the area with a controlled, but unstoppable shot.

Striker: Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)

Manchester City are often criticised for not blending more youth academy members into the first team. With talents like Kelechi Iheanacho, though, that could all soon change.

Iheanacho was given a rare start in the 4-0 demolition of Stoke on Saturday, and he showed why as the Nigerian scored two and won a penalty that Sergio Agüero converted.

His first goal was a tap-in following a neat cut-back, but his second was far from easy, although he did make it look simple, as he rounded the Stoke goalkeeper before tucking in City’s fourth.

Striker: Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester City)

Jamie Vardy? Vardy who? Worries that the wheels might come off at Leicester when their star striker got suspended were relinquished this weekend, with stand-in Leo Ulloa scoring two goals to put the Foxes within touching distance of the title.

After Riyad Mahrez opened the scoring with just 10 minutes on the clock, Ulloa then doubled their lead before Leicester’s record signing later scrambled in his second to make it 3-0 to send fans at the King Power stadium into raptures.

Read more from Ben Wills here.
Follow Ben at @_BenWills

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About lakirk41 (93 Articles)
24, Cambridge grad, Arsenal fan, unfortunate hair colour

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