Check out our latest Team of the Week and then let us know your top XI using the story comment facility at the bottom of the article.
TEAMtalk’s Top Men (4-3-3): Howard, Bellerin, Jagielka, Dann, Van Aanholt, Cambiasso, Herrera, Hazard, Gomis, Murray, Rooney.
Everton welcomed the Saints after what has been an indifferent season for Roberto Martinez’s men so far, but the team will have a lot to thank Howard for after his outstanding save helped the Toffees to three points. Southampton striker Graziano Pelle looked to have got the better of the American stopper with a looping effort but the excellent reflexes of Howard helped him pull off one of the saves of the season and keep a crucial clean sheet.
The Arsenal youngster has emerged as one of the surprise packages of the season and since Mathieu Debuchy’s injury troubles, the 20-year-old has made the position his own. Saturday’s match against Liverpool was expected to be a tough test for the Gunners and the Spaniard in particular. But despite being at fault for the Liverpool penalty, Bellerin’s main contribution to the game was a slaloming run through the poor Reds defence and excellent finish to open the floodgates for the home side who went on to win 4-1.
A tough season has raised question marks about the England defender, however, Jagielka was the difference in the Toffees win against the Saints. A resolute performance at the back saw the side claim a rare clean sheet, with the former Sheffield United man scoring an equally unlikely winner. Everton fans will now be hoping that the 32-year-old can find some form to go with this performance and skipper the side to a strong Premier League finish.
Crystal Palace’s 2-1 victory against Manchester City all but ended Manuel Pellegrini’s chances of recapturing the title for a successive season. The Eagles’ resolute display was typified by Dann, who has been a key figure in Alan Pardew’s outfit. Keeping Sergio Aguero quiet for 90 minutes is a tough job for the most experienced of defenders, but the former Blackburn man was more than capable in dealing with his threatening movement.
Patrick van Aanholt
Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby saw a moment of absolute wonder as Jermain Defoe’s spectacular volley secured a 1-0 win for the Black Cats, but it was Van Aanholt who stood out for Dick Advocaat’s side. A constant threat down the left, the flying Dutchman proved to be too much to handle for Ryan Taylor who was given a torrid time tracking the energetic full-back.
After plying his trade for the likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan, Nigel Pearson and Leicester have done some great business in getting Cambiasso to the King Power Stadium. The Argentine has adapted well to the league and the Foxes are starting to see some moments of brilliance. Saturday’s massive 2-1 win against West Ham showed exactly why the 34-year-old has been at the top for so long with a brilliant all-round display and the opening goal.
While Louis van Gaal tinkered with the Manchester United line-up while in the midst of a crisis, Herrera remained out of the side. However, a change of formation has reignited Herrera, and fellow Spaniard, Juan Mata. While the latter has stolen the limelight in recent weeks, the former was in exceptional form for United who brushed aside Aston Villa 3-1 on Saturday. The midfielder’s brace was key to the Red Devils’ third-straight victory in all competitions and will have also made it extremely difficult for Van Gaal to return him back to benchwarming duties.
Chelsea’s standout player all season and another outstanding weekend show sees Hazard make Team of the Week. While the Blues have been far from vintage, the Belgian has continued to flourish and this weekend was no exception as he dragged his side to victory against Stoke. Scoring from the penalty spot and assisting Loic Remy for the winning goal, Hazard has become Jose Mourinho’s most prized possession, and while Diego Costa remains on the sidelines, the 24-year-old will most likely be the one who guides Chelsea to the title.
Finding someone to replace Wilfried Bony’s goals would be a huge task for anyone next in line to follow in the big Ivorian’s footsteps, but Gomis is showing how accomplished he is in his own right. Grabbing a brace for the Swans, his first an acrobatic volley and second a delightful dink over Hull goalkeeper Alan McGregor, the former Lyon ace is starting to rediscover his goalscoring touch.
One of the reasons for the Eagles’ rise under Pardew, Murray has now struck five times in nine league games since his return to Selhurst Park after a loan stint at Reading. The 31-year-old has become an expert in leading the line on his own and his performance against Manchester City was key to Palace’s success – battering defenders Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis into submission. The striker was also rewarded for his hard work when a borderline offside decision went his way gifting him the opening goal.
Asked to play out of position in midfield for large parts of the season, a return to the front has been fruitful for the United captain. His latest outing saw him skipper his side to a comfortable 3-1 victory, as well as scoring a superb 12th Premier League goal for the season. The England forward’s tenacious all-round performance was epitomised by his desire to win an ‘old fashioned’ drop ball that led to United’s third goal.