By Neil Leverett and Niall Clarke
- Liverpool and Chelsea take the plaudits this week, as the Reds thrash Arsenal at Anfield, whilst Chelsea edge Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road
- Manchester City stop the rot with 3-1 win at Southampton, as Spurs are stunned by Wolves
- Cardiff likewise spring surprise result away to Leicester City, with Manchester United winning third game on bounce
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – It’s the final team of the week of 2018, with some familiar names and other lesser well knowns to round off the footballing year.
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Goalkeeper & Defenders
Neil Etheridge (GK) – Cardiff continue to defy their doubters by picking up points in their fight for survival, and in their 1-0 win over Leicester City Etheridge was the star. The Cardiff number one made seven saves in total against the Foxes, the most crucial of them denying James Maddison’s penalty. If not for that save things could have gone very different at the King Power Stadium.
David Luiz (CB) – The Brazilian can have his off days, but when he is on point he is up there wit the best centre backs in the league. Luiz’s effectiveness on the ball makes him stand out from the crowd and he provided the pass that allowed N’Golo Kante to score the winner in Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.
Willy Boly (CB) – Wolves provided the shock of the weekend with a 3-1 win at Tottenham on Saturday, and Boly played a huge part in overturning that deficit. The Frenchman scored the equaliser at Wembley with a powerful header, and his defensive contributions kept Spurs at bay as they pushed for a second goal.
Lewis Dunk (CB) – Another positive defensively display by Dunk has earned him a place in our team of the week not for the first time this campaign. The Brighton defender was solid at the back in Brighton’s 1-0 win over Everton, limiting the likes of Richarlison from creating many chances.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – They said that Salah was not living up to his performances of last season, but his regular inclusion in our team of the week suggests otherwise. Salah earned and converted a penalty to put Liverpool out of sight against Arsenal on Saturday before calmly setting up Sadio Mane’s goal with a sublime touch. Salah can not avoid being in the goals at the moment and he has ended a great year on a positive note.
N’Golo Kante (CM) – Kante has been playing an more advanced role under Maurizio Sarri, and the Frenchman underlined his newly-acquired offensive responsibilities with the winning goal at Crystal Palace. Many have before said that Kante could become the complete midfielder with more goals to his name and it now appears the former Leicester City man could be molding into just that.
Paul Pogba (CM) – It would be fair to say that Jose Mourinho and Pogba never say eye to eye, but after netting five goals and adding four assist in just three games, the mercurial Frenchman is back to his very best – albeit against arguably lesser opposition. Pogba put in yet another match-winning performance against the Cherries and together with his brace and sublime assist for Romelu Lukaku, made six key passes, four interception and three tackles. There is surely more to come from Pogba.
Dwight McNeil (CM) – Given a rare opportunity to shine amongst rotation for Burnley, McNeil led the Clarets to a much needed win at home to West Ham, to lift the pressure lid slightly on boss Sean Dyche. The English teenager had impressed in pockets last season and having netted against the Irons, together taking four more shot and providing five crosses, McNeil could be the answer to Burnley’s problems.
David Silva (LW) – With Manchester City in dire need of three points on the south coast, it was the Citizens’ majestic Spaniard who weaved his Silva lining against the Saints and kick-started their afternoon victory with a fine finish. Making a further four key passes also, the midfielder was instrumental in some much needed Christmas cheer for City boss Pep Guardiola.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – Our star man of the Premier League week was unquestionably Liverpool’s Brazilian marksman. Firmino may have not enjoyed his most prolific first half of the season, but after netting a hat-trick against the Gunners in another Anfield romp, Firmino could now find the net on a more consistent basis – his confidence sky high – as Jurgen Klopp plots to defend Liverpool’s seven-point league advantage into 2019.
Marcus Rashford (ST) – Only marginally eclipsed by Pogba, Rashford is another man who has thrived having been let off the Mourinho leash under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The England forward was masterful in skipping past Nathan Ake for Pogba’s first goal, before netting United’s third at Old Trafford against Bournemouth. Rashford – like Silva – also made four key passes to complete another impressive showing that should keep Lukaku on the bench.
Do you agree with our picks?
Premier League Gameweek 21 sees a new year cracker and potential title decider, as leaders Liverpool travel to Manchester City on Thursday January 3 in Game of the Week.
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