It’s Monday so that means Team of the Weekend time. A typically crazy Premier League weekend has come and gone and it’s left to me to pick out eleven contenders to make our headline team. As ever it’s a mix of the good and the bad with a manager to keep an eye on them.
Jordan Pickford – In generous terms, Pickford’s afternoon was described as “erratic.” I prefer to choose “error-strewn” though he did save a penalty amidst the madness to secure a spot in our team. Dropping a straight forward cross, rugby tackling a man to the ground, patting down a shot into the danger area…the list goes on. Pickford got too involved in trying to wind up the Newcastle fans and forgot how to be a goalkeeper. Frankly, England’s number one needs to grow up.
James Tomkins – Probably should have headed that, James. Roy chose to take the Jurgen Klopp defence of blaming the wind but I’m not so sure. A long ball should be bread and butter for a centre back but Tomkins got only a glance on the ball and it turned into an assist for Glenn Murray. Silly James.
Chris Mepham – I’m not saying he’s the answer to all of Bournemouth’s problems but January signing Mepham deputising for Steve Cook, the Cherries kept an away clean sheet. Draw your own conclusions.
Charlie Taylor – It certainly wasn’t his fault Burnley lost. Every wonderful challenge he made the ball seemed to fall to another Liverpool player who did the rest. I guess the moral here is: never try.
Anthony Knockaert – Great goal, horrible tackle. He got Milivojevic right in the Luka’s in the first 30 seconds and escaped with a yellow card. To rub salt in the wound (now there’s an image we could do without) he then popped up with a wonderful strike towards the end of the game to steal the three points for Brighton. Smash and grab comes to mind.
James Ward-Prowse – For the second week in a row, JWP takes advantage of the rule. If you score a free kick, you’re in the team. Last week I said Beckham-esque and I’m going to stand by that. Another perfectly executed dead ball situation and a vital win for Southampton.
Raheem Sterling – Hat trick! We’re obviously not going to overlook the hat trick hero but that first goal. What an awful decision. How that isn’t interfering with play, I’ll never know. Also, it’s become a bit of a trademark for Sterling to score from about one yard with nobody anywhere near him.
Eden Hazard – Hazard is pretty much carrying the Chelsea attack this season and that was further evidenced with a late, late equaliser against Wolves. The Belgian had been denied space throughout but was foolishly left unattended in stoppage time as he stroked home a brilliant goal. Chelsea were stuck in neutral for most of the day and the top 6 scrap is very real.
Granit Xhaka – We all know Xhaka loves a shot from distance but he cleverly used a series of mirrors to confuse David De Gea. The Spaniard saved everything in this game last season so it was a cunning new tactic to send him the wrong way with a shot that swerved a little but surely warranted more of a reaction from the goalkeeper.
Jamie Vardy – Back to his best? Brendan Rodgers seems to have realised the importance of Vardy and a little bit of love goes a long way. Vardy scored twice and showed a real act of generosity in rolling Tielemans in for the opening goal. It might be a good end to the season for Leicester if Vardy is in form.
Ayoze Perez – One of the more ridiculous games of the weekend was settled by Ayoze Perez’s double as Newcastle came from 2-0 down. We’ve already spoken of Pickford’s incompetence but Perez scored two and set up the other to claim a place in the team. His work rate never dipped despite all that was going on and he was duly rewarded.
Unai Emery – There were some ridiculous things said on Thursday after Arsenal’s European humbling. Emery seemed to take a lot of the flack but he bounced back with a fine display on Sunday as Arsenal defeated Man Utd. To inflict the first domestic defeat on Solskjaer is a noteworthy achievement these days and the Gunners all of a sudden find themselves in a really strong position as their rivals falter.
That’s all from me this week but I’ll be back next weekend with a combined Premier League & FA Cup team of the weekend. Toodles for now.