Welcome to Team of the Weekend, something that is normally pretty easy to write but thanks to the Premier League becoming very binary on Saturday, incidents were at a premium and it leaves hopeful columnists scratching around for witty anecdotes. You can be the judge of how successful this particular writer is in putting lipstick on a pig.
Eldin Jakupovic – It might not have been the best penalty save you’ll ever see but it might be up there for importance. He earned Hull a vital point with a stoppage time stop from Dusan Tadic and with rumours of other clubs circling like vultures, you fancy he will be playing in the Premier League next season regardless of whether Hull stay up or not.
Luke Shaw – When you come off with an injury, you’d expect a degree of sympathy from your manager. When your manager is Jose Mourinho, you can forget that. Mourinho basically said “it better be serious” for Shaw to be coming off after nine minutes. Charming.
Gary Cahill – Cahill’s set a real captain’s example by scoring twice in a week but his goal on Sunday was almost laughable. When the goalkeeper spills a free kick and it hits you and it goes in, you know it’s your day. Unfortunately for Cahill, he’s going to have to watch John Terry lift the trophy in a few weeks, despite having done most of the hard work.
Harry Maguire – Like Jakupovic, Harry Maguire is earning a few admirers. It must drive managers mad when pundits make a point of showing how well a player has played, and Maguire got the full treatment on Match of the Day. He was throwing himself in the way of everything at St Mary’s on Saturday and if he plays in the Premier League next season, I’m going to put my neck on the line and say he’ll get an England cap. If he plays out the remainder of his career in League Two, I apologise.
Ben Gibson – A few of his teammates owe their skipper a pint/bottle of healthy athlete fluid after the way he stopped them committing GBH on referee Kevin Friend. It wasn’t a penalty in a million years, but to have players getting in the referee’s face it probably isn’t going to change his decision. Gibson had to pretty much manhandle Fabio to get him to shut up, whilst De Roon’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. All part of a skipper’s job, apparently.
Josh King – King’s having the season of his life but at least now he can fall back on a career as a plumber if he fancies a change. On Saturday, King flushed the unflushable and had the honour of finally ending Sunderland’s Premier League stay. If nothing else it meant the headline “Joshua Lands Knockout Blow” could be used for two different sporting events, and we love sporting symmetry.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – Now now, you know the rules. Score a free kick, welcome aboard. A fine effort from Iceland’s greatest export (Bjork was a close second, but her set piece delivery is lacking).
Pedro – The game is drifting and the star man is being marked out of the game again. How do you help the situation? Well, you obviously cut in onto your supposedly weaker foot and unleash a thunderbolt into the top corner. Top work Mr Pedro.
Leroy Sane – If you feel the slightest bit of contact, go down. When that doesn’t arrive, throw yourself into Marten de Roon and you’ll get a penalty. Disgraceful really from the young man but worse that the referee allows these things to happen.
Ashley Barnes – You’ve worked on it all week in training and so when it comes off on a match day, it must feel like an absolute delight. No, not that set piece routine but the “let’s all pretend to sit in a boat and mime rowing it” celebration. It’s a shame the ref gave a handball otherwise it would have looked awesome lads. That’s liquid sarcasm.
Alvaro Negredo – Don’t you just love a player with a point to prove? Negredo faced his former side on Sunday and put in one of his best displays of the season. I don’t think Negredo can argue that he should still be at City, and it’s not the point that the manager has changed since his time in Manchester, but he had some extra fire in his belly as he continues his one-man drive to keep Middlesbrough up. Sadly for them, they will be down next week but Steve Agnew can always say he got a point against Pep. That’s going right at the top of his CV.