FA Women’s Super League striker and Wales international Helen Ward picks her top performing players from the weekend’s Premier League action.
GK – Joe Hart (West Ham)
I have been one of Joe Hart’s fiercest critics recently but he went a long way to proving himself, once again, as a good goalkeeper with a string of excellent stops against Crystal Palace at the weekend. He was rightly aggrieved with his team’s inability to hold onto their lead in the final moments of injury time.
RB – Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
A stalwart of the Chelsea defence and a regular in my Team of the Week so far this season. Not only is he arguably one of the best, if not the best, defenders Chelsea has, he is also a force going forward and chips in with goals an assists. Another good performance against Bournemouth helped his team to a solid clean sheet away from home.
CB -Ryan Shawcross (Stoke)
Unfortunately for me (a Watford fan), Shawcross was unflappable at Vicarage Road this weekend and he is one of the main reasons Stoke came away with a clean sheet in their 1-0 win. Stoke have had a tough start to the season and a lot of that is down to the absence of their captain for many of those games, out with a back problem. He got in the way of everything Watford threw at him and was on the end of virtually every cross that came into his box, clearing the danger every time.
CB – David Luiz (Chelsea)
Love him or hate him, the wild-haired Brazilian has produced some exceptional performances this season and the Bournemouth game on Saturday evening was another one. He made the most interceptions of any Chelsea player.
LB – Sead Kolsinac (Arsenal)
Deployed as a wing-back by Arsene Wenger, the big Bosnian is a force to be reckoned with. He is so strong and against Swansea showed his power at both ends of the pitch as he notched his first Premier League goal of the campaign and his third assist as he set up Aaron Ramsey for the winner.
CM – Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Often overlooked in City’s star-studded midfield but his performances won’t go unnoticed by Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City faithful. He keeps the ball moving and protects his back four, allowing the likes of Kevin DeBruyne and David Silva steal the headlines. But against West Brom it was he who stood out and even got his name on the scoresheet courtesy of a deflected strike past Ben Foster to put City 2-1 ahead.
CM – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
Another good game from the Welshman as he looks to win over the Arsenal fans who so often criticise him. He ran the show in the centre at the Emirates and scored the winner against Swansea to keep the pressure off of his manager a little longer.
10 – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard hasn’t quite hit the heights as regularly as he’d have hoped since his ankle break in the summer but he was on hand to score the winner against Bournemouth and was a constant threat on the South Coast. Antonio Conte will hope that it will spark a good run of form for his talisman as he will surely be vital to the Blues’ title defence this season.
RW – Damarai Gray (Leicester City)
I have often wondered why Gray hasn’t been a more regular feature for the Foxes and Sunday’s performance has done nothing to persuade me otherwise. He has an exceptional work rate and a turn of speed that can threaten any Premier League defence. That was certainly the case against a struggling Everton team. He scored the all-important second goal to kill off the Toffees having played a huge role in Jamie Vardy’s opener with a tremendous run from well inside his own half, leaving half of the Everton side in his wake, as he laid the ball out wide to Mahrez who crossed for Vardy to finish. Surely has to start the next few games.
LW – Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
The darling of Selhurst Park was once again on hand to salvage a point from the jaws of defeat against West Ham with a terrific individual effort that beat the impressive Joe Hart. His return to the team after injury was exactly what Roy Hodgson needed and it has no doubt been a key reason for Palace’s improved results and performances in recent weeks.
FW – Leroy Sane (Manchester City)
My front three would all be very fluid as none of them are really central players but I couldn’t leave any of them out! Sane is another who goes about his business very effectively without getting the headlines as some of his team mates are given. But Sane was almost unplayable against West Brom, scoring the opener, setting up Fernandinho for the second and starting the move that ended with Raheem Sterling scoring what proved to be the winner. Another class act that Pep has at his disposal in what is a truly frightening line-up of attacking players.
Follow Helen on Twitter at @helenwardie10