• Kieran Horn

PREM TOTW: COULD THIS STAR-STUDDED SQUAD WIN THE LEAGUE? IT DEFINITELY WON THE WEEKEND!


The return of fans certainly spurred on many Premier League players to put in tremendous performances in the most recent round of fixtures.


Compared with last week which saw many players who are probably not considered in the upper echelon of top-flight players, with Manchester City, Spurs, Chelsea and Liverpool players all featuring with a little bit of Crystal Palace in there as well.


Here is GW11’S PL team of the week:


Goalkeeper


Nick Pope

Although his clean sheet was snatched away by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Nick Pope made some crucial second-half saves to earn Burnley a valuable point.


The Clarets shot-stopper has had a slightly inconsistent start to the season but he stepped up late on against Everton, first denying James Rodriguez with a finger-tip save.


And then even later in the contest, his outstretched right leg prevented Gylfi Sigurdsson from netting a last-gasp winner.


Pope certainly helped Burnley on their way to another point which takes them even closer to escaping the bottom three.


Defenders


Kurt Zouma

Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all have fewer Premier League goals than Kurt Zouma, and he’s a defender.


After goals against Brighton, Crystal Palace and Burnley, Zouma added to his tally with a powerful header against Leeds.


Not only is the Frenchman thriving in Chelsea’s new-look defence, but he’s also proving to a major goal-threat from set-pieces.


His physical presence in both boxes is proving to be a huge asset for Frank Lampard’s team and after finding himself on the fringes of the first team last season, he has ensured his starting place with his performances in this campaign.


Toby Alderweireld

It looked as though Toby Alderweireld would be facing a significant spell on the side-lines following his injury against Manchester City, but the Belgian returned to the starting team for the Arsenal game and was absolutely superb.


The Spurs back four defended resolutely throughout and, alongside Eric Dier, he epitomised a disciplined defensive performance.


Alderweireld’s highlight was making a crucial block following a rasping shot from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which looked destined for the back of the net.


Under Mourinho, it seems that Alderweireld is back at his very best and Spurs fans are seeing performances reminiscent of his displays when partnering fellow national teammate Jan Vertonghen.


Joel Matip

Not many have really noticed the absence of Virgil Van Dijk in Liverpool’s defence, mainly because of how impressive Joel Matip has been and he was at it again when the Reds took on Wolves.


With not much strenuous defending to do, Matip saw a lot of the ball and moved the play on nicely and with precision.


Mohammed Salah sent in a teasing cross which was headed home by Matip from close-range for Liverpool’s third.


As well as Van Dijk, Joe Gomez is missing through injury, making Matip the main centre-back for Liverpool and he is certainly delivering thus far.


Midfielders


Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I am really sorry.


It may just be my heavy Spurs bias but how can anyone not think that Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is an absolute beast.


The tenacious holding midfielder marshalled in front of the backline superbly in the North London Derby win over Arsenal.


He was calm when he needed to be and aggressive when he had to be and stats simply don’t do his performance justice, but I’ll bring them up anyway because they’re fantastic: Six ground duels won, eight clearances, eight ball recoveries and two interceptions.


Spurs don’t win that game setting up how they did without Hojbjerg, he is and will continue to be a huge part of Jose Mourinho’s title-challenging Spurs.


Kevin De Bruyne

There are many players who can claim to be the best footballer in the Premier League, but for me Kevin De Bruyne is far away at the top.


After winning the ball in midfield, De Bruyne drove at the Fulham defence before his pin-point pass released Raheem Sterling to net the opener.


The 29-year-old then kept his composure from 12-yards to double City’s lead.


There is just something about the way De Bruyne plays that is just so entertaining to watch and he continues to be pivotal to Pep Guardiola’s squad.


Georginio Wijnaldum

Liverpool may be struggling with injuries at the moment, as Jurgen Klopp may have mentioned, but one player who has remained consistent throughout all the chaos is Georginio Wijnaldum.


For his country the Dutchmen plays in a more attacking role and from his end-product in the win over Wolves, you can see why.


Wijnaldum drifted forward early in the second half, taking the ball down exquisitely before guiding an effort past Rui Patricio.


Something Klopp can always rely on from his Dutch midfielder is work ethic, if he can add more goals to his game, he will be an even more valuable asset for the reigning English champions.


Bruno Fernandes

Even when he only plays for 45 minutes, Bruno Fernandes is once again the best player in a Manchester United game.


The test to see if United can thrive without the Portuguese midfielder went about as well as their pursuit of Jadon Sancho in the summer.


Immediately from coming on, Fernandes changed the game and went on to create eight chances, comfortably more than anyone else in the Olympic Stadium and he only played half of the game.


Clearly, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a chance that heavily backfired against West Ham, but luckily Fernandes was on the bench to save his blushes, just imagine how much United would struggle if Fernandes picks up an injury.


Attackers


Wilfred Zaha

My god didn’t Palace half-miss Wilfred Zaha.


On his return to the team following a COVID-19 positive result, Zaha showed that bit of quality going forward to inspire Roy Hodgson’s side to a dominant 5-1 win over West Brom.


Yes, they were massively helped by the idiocy of Matheus Pereira for kicking out at Patrick Van Aanholt, albeit a harsh decision, but Zaha took full advantage.


The Ivorian forward fired past Sam Johnstone twice, one of which was an empathic effort which nestled in the top corner, to help Palace to their first victory since early November.


Harry Kane

Yet again Harry Kane decided to play in just about every position possible against Arsenal, and he still managed to find the back of the net.


In the first half, Spurs soaked up the Gunners pressure and then broke at pace on the counter-attack.


Kane’s invaluable hold-up play released Son Heung-Min to fire in the opener and the South Korean returned the favour right before half-time allowing Kane to smash home via the underside of the bar.


Amazingly in the second half, the England captain had more touches in the Spurs penalty area than the Arsenal one, further showcasing that every player, no matter their attacking quality, is buying into Jose Mourinho’s methods.


Christian Benteke

The way the attackers are going in these teams, with Joelinton last week, Roy Hodgson will soon find a way to get on the scoresheet, but against West Brom it was his Belgian forward Christian Benteke who was on target.


Before the fixture at The Hawthorns, Benteke had three goals from 52 appearances, which is a pretty terrible record for a striker, but in The Midlands, he turned on the style.


For Palace’s third he got on the end of Van Aanholt’s low cross and then decided to channel his inner Bergkamp to spin away from Semi Ajayi and Filip Krivinovic before arrowing a shot into the bottom corner.


Jordan Ayew and Michy Batshuayi have been deployed to partner the dangerous Zaha, with both options failing, and based on this display from Benteke he should be comfortably starting for the next few Palace games.


Manager


Frank Lampard

Following his goal-fest in Spain, Frank Lampard made the decision to start Olivier Giroud for the game against Leeds, a decision that, like many others, he made before and during the game, proved to be right.


Hakim Ziyech was withdrawn early in the game clutching at his hamstring with Lampard making the decision to bring on Christian Pulisic who scored late on to round off the win.


Not only were his in-match and team decisions spot on, but his game-plan was as well and Chelsea were able to out-work Leeds, which is not an easy feat.


Briefly, Chelsea went top of the table and if they keep producing these performances with Lampard at the helm, surely it’s just a matter of time before they end a round of fixtures at the very summit.

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