Team of the Week: Newcastle’s defence keeps Premier League survival dream alive and Sadio Mane threatens Manchester City’s Champions League hopes
Benjamin Wills elects his latest best eleven as the Premier League continues its gripping run-in.
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Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow (Newcastle United)
Newcastle have been threatened by relegation all season and really looked consigned to it when both Tim Krul and Rob Elliot picked up injuries, but third choice goalkeeper Karl Darlow is keeping hope alive.
Darlow was one of the heroes for the Magpies in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at St. James’ Park as the 25-year-old saved a penalty from returning ex-Newcastle player Yohan Cabaye.
He was also on hand to claim any crosses that came into his box and made another two saves, one from a stinging Yannick Bolasie shot.
Right-back: Paul Dummett (Newcastle United)
Crystal Palace may have been “on the beach” for large periods at Newcastle on Saturday but the Geordie side still had to defend well and Paul Dummett did just that.
The full back kept any threat from Alan Pardew’s side to a minimum and played a role in starting attacks for the home side.
Centre back: Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United)
Jamaal Lascelles only started three games under Newcastle’s last manager, Steve McClaren, but has become one of the key performers since Rafael Benitez took charge.
Lascelles made a key challenge to stop Connor Wickham in his tracks, won most if not all of his headers, distributed the ball well, and organised his defence by showing maturity well beyond his experience.
Left-back: Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
Arsenal fans staged multiples protests against either manager Arsene Wenger, the board, or both during their 1-0 win over Norwich, but one man they are universally happy with is Nacho Monreal.
The Spanish left-back showed with a good defensive display why he was named in the PFA Team of the Season last week.
Right midfielder: Sadio Mane (Southampton)
Southampton’s 4-2 overcoming of Manchester City was arguably the most surprising result of the weekend and Sadio Mane was the uncontested hero.
Mane bagged a hat-trick as the Saints went marching in. Two were remarkably similar, with the Senegalese forward darting in between the Man City defence before slotting in past a hapless Joe Hart.
Sadio Mane is only the second player to score a hat-trick past Hart, after Gabriel Agbonlahor first managed it in 2008, although Cristiano Ronaldo may fancy his chances in midweek now.
Centre midfielder: Mark Noble (West Ham United)
West Ham fans often clamour, rightly or wrongly, for Mark Noble to get an England cap. Two goals away at West Brom will only make those shouts louder.
“Mr. West Ham” made it 2-0 and 3-0 to the Hammers at the Hawthorns with two close-range finishes either side of half-time.
Noble now has six goals this season and that’s one more than his last two season’s tallies combined.
Centre midfielder: Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United)
Like Noble, fellow West Ham centre midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate was key for West Ham as the charge for a Europa League spot continued.
Kouyate scored one goal and assisted another in the 3-0 win as the Irons extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to ten games.
He headed in Dimitri Payet’s cross to open the scoring then set up Noble with a low cross to win the game for Slaven Bilic’s side before half-time.
Centre midfielder: Tom Cleverley (Everton)
Everton started the match paying tribute to the Hillsborough families that finally got justice after 27 years and finished it winners, largely thanks to Tom Cleverley.
It was the Toffees’ first win since March 1 and, maybe due to anti-Roberto Martinez protests, they started the game quickly with Cleverley giving them the lead after just seven minutes.
Bournemouth levelled soon after but Everton came back again. Cleverley was on assist duty this time with an unplanned but vital touch as Leighton Baines was the man who secured a vital three points.
Left midfielder: Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Mane stole the show in Southampton in terms of goals; however the winger on the other side, Dusan Tadic, assisted three of the four goals scored by the Saints.
Two of Mane’s goals came about thanks to a pass from the Serbian, as did Shane Long’s 100th goal in English football.
Tadic became just the fourth player to register three assists or more in a single Premier League game, on more than one occasion too. Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Eyal Berkovic are the other three.
Striker: Andre Ayew (Swansea City)
Swansea’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool was somewhat of a dead rubber, as outlined by the Reds fielding a number of young players, but Andre Ayew’s brace still deserves its credit.
Ayew, who arrived in Wales on a free transfer last summer, headed in from a corner to open the scoring and later capitalised on terrible Liverpool defending to end the match as a contest.
The Swans have now won their last four home matches, which is their best run of such in the Premier League.
Striker: Troy Deeney (Watford)
It looked for all the world that Watford would surprisingly get beat by an already relegated Aston Villa at home – until captain Troy Deeney showed up.
Deeney scored both of his two goals in second-half stoppage time as Watford went from 2-1 down to 3-2 up in the space of a few minutes to break Villa hearts even more than they are already.
His first was a guided header past Mark Bunn as a result of Steven Berghuis’ cross and the dramatic winner was a composed shot into the bottom corner.
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