Team of the Weekend

With the countdown to Santa’s arrival down to single figures, you know we are right in the middle of the Premier League’s busiest time. Selecting a Team of the Week can sometimes appear to be a survival of the fittest. With all 20 teams in action, there were some excellent goals mixed with some howlers. Who shone amidst the aching limbs and rotation? Who is getting coal for Christmas?

Goalkeeper

Vicente Guaita – An eventful debut for Crystal Palace’s latest custodian. Thrust into the action for the injured Hennessey, Guatia survived dawdling on the ball and a hungry Jamie Vardy to take home a clean sheet. It wasn’t without good fortune, a late Vardy shot was expertly tipped onto the post before the rebound was claimed by Guatia. His thankful tap on the post said it all.

Defenders

Jose Holebas – I think we call this a cultured left foot. Watford scored some ridiculous goals on Saturday but I have picked out Holebas because I’m a sucker for a first time shot with your instep. A beautiful finish but not the goal of the game. More on that later…

Charlie Daniels – Bournemouth aren’t having a great time of it at the moment. They really shot themselves in the foot on Saturday though, Charlie Daniels earning his spot here thanks to a hopelessly wayward cross-field pass that ultimately lead to Wolves’ opener. One of those left backs who is better at attacking, although his pass here would suggest otherwise.

Laurent Koscielny – Arsenal were going great guns under Unai Emery but their unbeaten run came to a grinding halt on Koscielny’s return to the league side. Granted he was appearing out of necessity after a mix of bad fortune and stupidity cost them their other defenders but he was well off the pace. Look on the bright side…Mustafi is back next week.

Midfielders

Junior Hoilett – As far as consolation goals go, this was incredible. Very similar to his goal against Wolves, Hoilett scored the goal of the game in what turned out to be a game of great goals. Except for Cardiff’s second goal which was every bit as Warnocky as it gets.

Luka Milivojevic – Saturday was a day for good goals and Milivojevic may well have scored the best of the lot. A lot has been made of Crystal Palace not being able to win without Zaha but that was put to bed thanks to this stunning hit from distance. I questioned Roy Hodgson a few weeks ago but his team fight for him and if Zaha finds form on his return, they will ease away from danger.

Eden Hazard – A good day for Hazard as his league goal drought ended and he added an assist for good measure. Chelsea’s win at Brighton backs up their result last weekend and they are coming back strong after a wobble. Hazard finding top form again will inevitably help matters.

Xherdan Shaqiri – Super sub! Liverpool were hitting a brick wall after an hour of shooting from 30 yards but Shaqiri arrived from the bench to change it all. Two deflected efforts later and Liverpool are top of the table again. Simple game, sometimes.

Forwards

Gabriel Jesus – The man with the most festive of names really turned up on Saturday having been missing for a few months. I suppose it is almost inevitable and a headline writers dream that Gabriel Jesus would be a match winner this close to Christmas but with Sergio Aguero edging his way back, the rotation game from Pep is going to be in full swing.

Michail Antonio – Mr Versatile! Antonio was playing right back a few weeks ago but he was deployed in the nuisance forward position this weekend. He was rewarded with a goal as West Ham made it four wins on the spin. It was a very neat finish too, aided by some woeful defending, but when it’s going for you, you can nutmeg the goalkeeper with your weaker foot and say no more about it.

Danny Ings – Headers! Ings has looked like the only useful bright spot for Southampton at times this season and his injury absence must have been a concern. His two excellent headers against Arsenal underlined his worth and Hasenhüttl will be hoping he continues this form.

Manager

Nuno Esporito Santo – Maybe Nuno is the special one? Wolves fans will certainly think so as they’ve won 3 on the spin in the top flight for the first time since 1980. They look well placed to battle for that coveted 7th spot in the new year and who knows how much they could spend in January.

That’s all for another week but I’ll be back next week with the last one before Christmas. Bye for now.