Good day to you, welcome to Team of the Weekend where we analyse the best and worst of the weekend’s action. With some beginning to dream of that beach holiday, we had a great mix of games that were excruciatingly dull or hilariously lopsided. Could anybody shine in the April showers?
Alex McCarthy – I’m not sure there will be a more important set of saves than Alex McCarthy’s in stoppage time at St Mary’s on Saturday. Southampton were desperate for the points and after doing the hard bit of getting in front, the Bournemouth onslaught nearly cost the Saints 2 points if it wasn’t for McCarthy’s heroics. He’s been very patient in waiting for his chance but he has held the gloves since Fraser Forster finally ran out of chances and he looks set to keep hold of them – but will Hughes’ men escape?
Marc Albrighton – He’s just not a right back. Putting him up against Zaha was never going to end well and in fact, it ended half an hour early after the former Villa man was left hopelessly exposed up against the jet-heeled Ivorian.
Craig Dawson – As I watched Newcastle pump in cross after cross on Saturday afternoon, I came to the astute observation that Craig Dawson will probably be the best defender in the Championship next season. He might earn a move elsewhere of course, in fact I’m going to say Burnley should sign him.
Aaron Cresswell – Direct free-kick klaxon! A perfectly executed left foot curler from Cresswell but give a big assist to Mark Noble for nudging Gabriel Jesus out of the end of the wall, leaving a ball shaped gap for Creswell to exploit. Obviously it was all in vain as the Man City train steamed through yet another opponent.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – I could have included most of the Palace team to be quite honest but I’ve gone for Loftus-Cheek because I want you to let your minds drift back to November. Loftus-Cheek played well for England and he was heralded as the man to win the World Cup this summer. Then he got injured. He’s back now though and if he plays like this, he might yet be in the squad this summer afterall.
Dusan Tadic – Calmness personified! Two excellent goals from the inconsistent midfielder, firstly clinically finishing a counter-attack before a wonderful left-footed finish from the edge of the box secured Southampton a vital win. Three big games left for the Saints and they could do with another weekend like this one.
Cesc Fabregas – You never lose it. This was a woeful game of football, somewhat of a theme on Saturday, but Fabregas’ early left foot finish was worthy of winning any game. His best days are behind him but he’s still got a lot to offer and it’ll be interesting to see if he has a part to play next season for whoever is in charge.
Marouane Fellaini – It’s been a while since Mourinho pulled his trump card but with Lukaku off injured, it was time once again to hit the big man. It spoiled what had been a very ammicable contest between Mourinho and Wenger but as is customary in these battles, Mourinho had the last laugh.
Cenk Tosun – Quietly, this guy is looking like a very good signing for Big Sam. A slow start perhaps after his arrival in January but he has shown in recent games that he is an excellent finisher, epitomised by his goal at Huddersfield on Saturday. Whether Sam stays or not, I think he could do really well next season.
Christian Benteke – If I was a multi-million pound footballer being paid probably in the region of £100k a week I would feel a bit rubbish if I had two goals all season, especially when I play up front. Luckily for Benteke, he has team-mates who forgive him and despite spending the whole season being a pillock and even missing a last-minute penalty, they look past that and let him take a last-minute penalty to help him build some bridges. It’s not the point that he slipped and very nearly missed, I’m not sure he could have come back from that.
Islam Slimani – What an idiot. Fighting for a permanent transfer to St James’ Park, Slimani’s loan spell has been interrupted by injury and not being able to play against his former club, but despite showing some promise in a few substitute appearances his latest audition looks like it will be his last. A petulant kick out at Craig Dawson was missed by the referee but not by the TV cameras so he can expect a 3-match ban coming his way. A one way ticket back to Leicester will follow shortly afterwards.
Claude Puel – I was once told something very wise, which was something along the lines of never ignoring the opinions of a fanbase who have had to put up with a manager for any great length of time. Puel was removed by Southampton at the end of last season more or less on the back of fan opinion and as the Saints struggled this season, Puel was made to look a genius. Likewise, eyebrows were raised when Puel replaced Craig Shakespeare at Leicester, but when you consider how much Leicester have spent on their squad it doesn’t take a genius to realise they should be higher than 15th. Under Puel they soared to a high of 8th but have seemingly plateaued and I imagine Puel will be removed in the summer. The manner of their 5-0 defeat at Crystal Palace was alarming though the performances recently have been well below par. Maybe Southampton fans were right all along?
That’s all for me this week but I’ll be back soon with more stupidity.