• Kieran Horn

NOT ALL TIER'S ARE BAD: TIERNEY LIGHTS UP THE LEAGUE AS THE NEW YEAR BRINGS MORE GOALS


The new year is finally upon us and the Premier League certainly brought the fireworks for the first set of fixtures in 2021.


Arsenal continued their recent resurgence with the youngsters shining again, Manchester City were rampant in the first 45 minutes at Stamford Bridge despite their COVID-19 problems and Spurs secured their first win in five PL games with the usual suspects starring.


Here is the PL’S GW17 Team of the week:


Goalkeeper


Emiliano Martinez

This may seem like an odd choice as plenty of keepers brought in the New Year with a clean sheet, but Emiliano Martinez made multiple saves that kept Aston Villa alive on New Year’s Eve.


Manchester United may have won the game thanks to a Bruno Fernandes penalty, of course. However, Martinez did deny the Portuguese midfielder with a superb fingertip save later in the game.


And when the bout was at a stalemate the former Arsenal shot-stopper produced a strong hand to Anthony Martial’s fierce strike.


Defenders


Toby Alderweireld

Spurs are joint-third in the table for most-clean sheets this season and they were at it again ensuring the exciting Leeds drew a blank at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and Toby Alderweireld was key at both ends.


The big Belgian centre-back kept the lively Patrick Bamford quiet for the whole 90 and further showed his dominance against the Leeds front men for his goal.


Heung-Min Son sent in a whipping corner and Alderweireld was simply too strong for Bamford shoving him out of the way and sending a header which eventually bundled over the line despite Illan Meslier’s best efforts.


Kieran Tierney

Despite absolutely despising Arsenal, I’ve always been a big fan of Kieran Tierney and his performance against West Brom was something to behold.


West Brom are by no means Atletico Madrid when it comes to defending, but Tierney exploited the Baggies backline more times than I care to count.


The Scottish full-back sent Darnell Furlong back to Luton several times before unleashing a trademark Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strike with his right foot which flew past Sam Johnstone.


With the Gunners in cruise control, Tierney was practically playing as a left-winger in the second half and he grabbed an assist to add to his goal, sending a cross straight to Alexandre Lacazette who grabbed Arsenal’s fourth.


Aaron Creswell

In modern-day football, it’s becoming quite the reoccurrence that a full-back can adapt their game and play in a back three, some fail, some succeed, and Aaron Creswell can certainly put himself in the bracket of the latter.


With usual left-wing-back Arthur Masuaku facing a lengthy spell on the side-lines, David Moyes has reverted to a back four.


And if you had the misfortune of watching Everton take on West Ham like I did then you would know it was a dull 90 minutes, so dull that Creswell was actually the most dangerous player in the game.


The 31-year-old tested Jordan Pickford from a free-kick and sent a whipping cross right past everyone and just beyond Pickford’s far post.


Eventually though on 86 minutes, Creswell sent in another one of those driven crosses and luckily this time Thomas Soucek was there to guide the ball home.


Midfielders


Heung-Min Son

Surely when a team plays against Spurs their aim is to stop Harry Kane going deep to pick up the ball, and if they can’t do that, don’t allow Heung-Min Son to make a run beyond your defensive line. But maybe the pair are just that good you can’t prevent it.


The tantalising duo combined for the 13th time in the Premier League this season against Leeds on Saturday, and this goal was picture book Son and Kane.


The England captain was able to skip away from the challenge of Pascal Strujik, take one glance up and send a perfectly weighted pass into the path of Son who deftly guided the ball past Meslier.


In the second 45, the South Korean then turned provider when his whipping corner was met by Alderweireld to seal the points.

Ilkay Gundogan

Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t quite showcased their free flowing attacking football as much as they normally do, but the Spaniard has seemingly found an unlikely source for some goals, in Ilkay Gundogan.


Even with Chelsea’s problems at the moment I don’t think many people expected a depleted Manchester City to rock up to Stamford Bridge and blow the Blues away within 45 minutes.


The German midfielder ran the game in the early stages and opened the scoring with a goal Sergio Aguero would’ve been proud of.


After receiving Phil Foden’s quick pass, Gundogan turned sharply away from Thiago Silva and launched the ball into the bottom corner, and City simply never looked back.


Emile Smith-Rowe

This spot could have quite easily gone to Alexandre Lacazette but without Emile Smith-Rowe turning into prime Xavi, Arsenal may not have been so dominant at The Hawthorns.


Of course, the Xavi comparison is a slight exaggeration but when you go from having Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka as your creative output, Smith-Rowe certainly feels like prime Xavi.


The 20-year-old is playing football with absolutely no fear and this was abundantly clear in the Gunners second goal.


Incisive and penetrating quick passing, Bellerin to Smith-Rowe to Saka to Lacazette back to Smith Rowe into Saka who simply couldn’t miss. A trademark Arsenal goal, reminiscent of Jack Wilshire’s goal against Norwich, you know the one.


Phil Foden

I have absolutely no idea why Phil Foden isn’t starting every game for Manchester City because when he plays, he always seems to have a hand in City’s goals and dare I say by the minute he is starting to look exactly like David Silva.


The young Englishman’s pass to Gundogan allowed him to swivel so wonderfully and score, while his determination and positioning gave him a simple goal for City’s second.


His powerful running is a huge asset for City and he always will provide problems for any backline he encounters.


With so many English creative midfielders vying for a spot in this summer’s Euros, a few will undoubtedly be left out, but Foden has to be an absolute shoe-in.


Bukayo Saka

He is simply a joy to watch play football.


Bukayo Saka is one of the most talented young footballers in the world right now and he is finally thriving once again in an Arsenal shirt.


Dara O’Shea will understandably be having nightmares following the problems Saka caused him at The Hawthorns.


Early in the game, Saka tested the water driving at O’Shea before firing a shot just wide of the target, but he soon had his goal.


Some brilliant build-up play via Lacazette & Smith-Rowe gave Saka the simplest of finishes for two-nil.


Attackers


Kevin De Bruyne

I know what you’re thinking, Kevin De Bruyne is a midfielder, but against Chelsea, Pep Guardiola made the decision to play him as a centre-forward, something he could end up doing again after this performance.


Even though he didn’t quite play as a centre-forward, often dropping deep or drifting wide, Chelsea couldn’t handle him.


His clever anticipation and neck straining header sent Raheem Sterling away and miraculously after running about 70 yards, De Bruyne was the player who finished the move with a simple strike from eight yards.


With Gabriel Jesus absent and Sergio Aguero never match fit anymore, expect to see De Bruyne in that no.9 role more often.


Harry Kane

It may be a new year but clearly, nothing has changed in terms of Harry Kane being in my team of the week, and yeah maybe I’m a tad bias or maybe Kane is just the most complete striker in the world.


Unlike no other season, Kane is out-assisting, if that’s even a word, his goal tally with 11 assists compared to his ten goals.


Against Leeds United, Kane made his usual move to the right-hand side of the pitch which allowed space to open up for Son to score and he also whacked home a penalty for the opener.


With the three points in the bag, Kane was subbed off with three minutes to go, the first time he hasn’t completed 90 minutes in the Premier League since the second game of the season.


Manager


Mikael Arteta

A few weeks ago, we could well have been discussing Mikael Arteta having no job but three wins from three with just one goal conceded tells me that Arsenal are turning things round.


After sticking with his more experienced players, Arteta finally made some big decisions leaving out big players such as Aubameyang and introducing Smith-Rowe and welcoming the return of Gabriel Martinelli.


Alongside this, Lacazette is starting to find the back of the net consistently while Rob Holding and Pablo Mari are performing excellently in the centre of defence.


As oppose to making multiple changes between games, Arteta now has a settled 11 players with a select few who can come and go if they need a rest and the results are starting to show that Arsenal are firing once again.