Welcome along to a special midweek edition of team of the week. It might turn out to be a pivotal week in the Premier League season but who caught our eye? As ever, our team is made up of heroes and zeros so selecting just 11 is a challenge. In one of the craziest weeks of the season, here’s our standout performers and a manager to keep them company.
Hugo Lloris – Another rare Lloris error. It didn’t cost Tottenham in the end but these lapses are becoming more frequent. It wasn’t quite at the levels of the World Cup final mistake but a moment of indecision gave Watford the lead. It’s the last thing Pochettino needs as his attacking players continue to get injured at an alarming rate.
Victor Lindelof – Solskjaer has done a lot of good things since arriving back at Man Utd. It is perhaps overlooked that amongst the attacking improvements that Lindelof now looks useful again. His injury time goal is of course a bonus but it kept the unbeaten run going and saved some blushes after what is known as a “Mourinho” of an evening.
Sead Kolasinac – If you look up the phrase “bull in a china shop” you’ll find a picture of Sead Kolasinac. In a good way. I think. Unai Emery has generally got the best out of Kolasinac as a rampant, attacking wing back. This was evident when winning the penalty that set Arsenal on their way against Cardiff. I often wonder what it would be like if Arsenal played him further forward, able to cause as much mischief as necessary without those boring old defensive responsibilities. Possibly a better option than Ozil at the very least.
Lucas Digne – The former Barcelona man isn’t exactly having a good time of it at the moment. This was the perfect red card, if that makes sense. Having said that, Huddersfield forwards generally don’t score so maybe he should have taken a chance. Anyway, his red card preserved a probable goal and as his team mates maintained the clean sheet, it all worked out well for Lucas. AND he can have the weekend off now. Result.
Sean Longstaff – Give this boy the keys to the city. Thrust into the Newcastle lineup due to injuries and the Asia Cup, Longstaff has made the most of his opportunity in 2019. He’s now played against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City and got better with every appearance. He came up against De Bruyne, David Silva and Fernandinho on Tuesday night and capped off a great January by winning the penalty that ultimately gave Newcastle the three points. Pep keeps talking about finding the next Fernandinho…I’ll stop. No doubt Mr Ashley is already rubbing his hands together.
Joao Moutinho – Wolves absolutely battered West Ham on Tuesday night. 3-0 didn’t flatter them in the slightest and it could arguably have been more. Jimenez may have scored two of the goals but I’ve opted for Moutinho in our team. Two excellent set-piece deliveries resulted in the first two goals and he played a big part in the third, too. I was sceptical about Moutinho coming to the Premier League at this stage of his career but Nuno has used him perfectly, showing once and for all that Nuno knows more about football than I do.
David Brooks – Bournemouth’s annihilation of Chelsea was very impressive. Although Josh King was excellent up front, David Brooks was the antithesis of that performance. He took his goal well but his all-round play is impressive. £12m looks an absolute steal in today’s market – how much would they get for him tomorrow? Double that? Thankfully for Bournemouth they don’t need to worry about that, they’re a club on the up.
Wilfried Zaha – Ah, the old sarcastic applause. Zaha had begun the evening in fine fettle, opening the scoring down at St Mary’s. But with Southampton levelling, Zaha lost his cool and can look forward to a weekend off. It’s such a stupid way to get sent off and no doubt Zaha will have something to complain about. He usually does. What you definitely should do though is continue to sarcastically applaud after the red card has come out. That’ll help.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – Two goals and an assist is as much of a man of the match performance as you are likely to see. At 2-0 down, the Championship writing was on the wall for Fulham. Whether Claudio Ranieri promised pizza at half time or not is unconfirmed but the change in Fulham after the break was frightening. Brighton’s centre half pairing are usually so dominant in the air but they couldn’t get near Mitrovic and he dragged Fulham to three points. If they can just find a way to get him going away from home then relegation might yet be off the cards.
Marko Arnautovic – He’s going to China, he’s not going to China. He was never going to China. He wasn’t even for sale. He’s actually signed a new contract. He’s gone off injured and now he’s on crutches. Quite a month for Marko Arnautovic but what’s important is, he was always committed to West Ham no matter what anybody tells you. Right? I swear Arnautovic has come off injured in about 80% of the games he’s played this season so no doubt he’ll be fine.
Fernando Llorente – So rarely has a player fluctuated from Sunday league to world beater. I don’t mean from game to game, I pretty much mean from minute to minute. Against Watford, he managed to miss two sitters before winning the game in the closing minutes. As is so often the case, it’s the hardest chance that gets put away. I’m not going to pretend to understand the life and times of a Premier League centre forward but kneeing the ball over the crossbar from a few yards is the classic “striker out of form” moment that used to make a Christmas VHS.
Claude Puel – Poor old Claude seems to be constantly in limbo and I feel it’s a bit unfair. The point at Anfield goes alongside the win at Stamford Bridge and the home win over Manchester City. Throw in the away win at Everton and really everybody is just getting upset because they lost at home to Cardiff. Now, Neil Warnock isn’t everybody’s cup of team but it’s a bit of an overreaction. The way he sets up is perfect to play on the counter which will be why he has had success against clubs who typically attack and it’s a different ball game when he’s expected to make the running at home. Sort that out and Leicester might yet play in Europe next season.
That’s all for this week but I’ll be back on Monday to review the weekend’s action.