Afternoon, welcome to our look back at the weekend just gone as I try and pick out the best and worst performers and mash them all together in one terrific team. It proved to be a pivotal weekend for some teams but which individuals made the cut? Can any manager tame this lot? Let’s discuss.
Martin Dubravka – It was brave of Newcastle to play without a defence for the first 45 minutes at Vicarage Road and it cost them two goals – but it would have been at least one more were it not for Dubravka’s heroics including the penalty save that gains him automatic entry to this weekend’s team. He’s one of the finer loan signings of recent history and I imagine the first activity of the summer will be to make his move a permanent one.
Allan Nyom – Have you ever had a finger graze your face? Did it cause you to fall down? No, of course, it didn’t. Because you are not Allan Nyom. I actually hate Allan Nyom. There, I said it. Every match I watch he does something stupid and it always results in him being booked. Still, the West Brom survival dream is alive. More on that later…
Maya Yoshida – It’s probably immature to blame one man for a club’s dropping of points but Yoshida’s rash decision to lunge in and get a second yellow card seems pretty stupid now. Mind you, give the assist to Ryan Bertrand for inexplicably keeping the ball in play for Everton. Stick it in the stand.
Zanka – It really annoys me when players have a nickname on their shirt and when lazy columnists can’t be bothered to write out their full name. But I felt it only right to include a member of Huddersfield’s defence, which actually encompasses about 10 players, as they put in the mother of all shifts in the searing heat to keep Man City at bay and inch towards survival.
Xherdan Shaqiri – The rule as always is that if you score a direct free-kick you are an automatic selection in Team of the Weekend. When Shaqiri curled Stoke into a first-half lead, they must have thought everything was going to turn out fine, but an hour later it was heads in hands all around the Bet365 and Stoke are no longer a Premier League club. Whether Shaqiri fancies the Championship or not is doubtful but I’m sure he’ll become a luxury player for somebody else over the summer.
Mark Noble – What a goal! Mr West Ham scoring the goal that keeps his side up seems quite fitting. The Hammers have had a turbulent season, to put it mildly, so I guess they’ll just be pleased to draw a line under it and the Moyes revolution can continue…
Jake Livermore – He’ll be credited with the winner but his interview really touched a chord with me. Obviously, Livermore himself has been through a lot but his interview mentioned everybody from the chef to the backroom staff being effected by the plight of the club. A stark reminder that Premier League status can be the difference between duck a l’orange and beans on toast.
Nathan Redmond – I don’t know what’s happened to Nathan Redmond this season but he’s barely featured since being chatted up by Pep in November. He came off the bench on Saturday and changed the game in the Saints’ favour, heading his side in front before showing some of the speedy footwork that Southampton have been missing all season. It wasn’t enough to get all three points but that wasn’t Redmond’s fault.
Yaya Toure – He didn’t even get on the pitch but he took some beatings during the celebrations, most notably the incident that resulted in the trophy being on the floor. I imagine Toure will go to a league now where there is more money and less effort required but he’s already on a lot of money and has barely had to put any effort in this season, so you do wonder what the point is. Still, we’ll miss the chant (we won’t).
Jordan Ayew – Swansea really needed a result on Saturday and if Jordan Ayew had his boots on the right feet, they might have got it. One chance in particular was well spurned but how costly will his decision not to close down Ryan Fraser be? A big game awaits Swansea on Tuesday and they really need their key men to perform.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Whoever replaces Arsene Wenger at Arsenal is inheriting a fantastic striker who is going to make a huge difference next season. A lot has been made of Arsenal’s poor form since the turn of the year but since about February, it’s been very obvious the focus is on the Europa League. Aubameyang has just “got” the Premier League from the minute he arrived and if they can find a way to get the best out of him and Lacazette, it could be very interesting indeed. Two goals and an assist to keep him ticking over on Sunday and that lands him a place in the team.
Darren Moore – He’s amassed more points in 5 games than Alan Pardew managed in half a season. That’s a massive plus in my book. Somehow West Brom are hanging on, they are odds on to be relegated on Tuesday but surely Moore has done enough to secure the job on a permanent basis. If they somehow stay up, it will be the greatest escape of all time and I hope they build his statue in the pose of him being down on one knee as he was when the goal went in. Mourinho, Klopp, Benitez and Pochettino have all faced Moore without claiming a win, so what more can you say?
That’s it for the penultimate week of the season, I’ll be back next week for the final time before we go World Cup crazy. Have a great week!