Dan Davison selects six British players at random from the Premier League and assesses their performances from the weekend.
#1 Matt Ritchie (Newcastle United)
The least Scottish man ever to represent Scotland produced a poor display against an impressive Chelsea side on Saturday. Ritchie, who appears suffer too from a rare condition that causes him to believe that he can beat the best goalkeepers in the world from 80 yards out, was dominated by the Chelsea midfield for most of the match and struggled to whip in some of his usual dangerous crosses. A proud Scot, it’s possible that Ritchie may have still been suffering from the effects of a post-St Andrew’s Day hangover, having spent the day with his family in his famously Scottish home-town Gosport. Perhaps this is what caused the ex-Bournemouth man to be at fault for two of Chelsea’ three goals, giving away a penalty and a severely misplaced pass into Chelsea’s path for their second.
#2 Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Trent Alexander-Arnold could well not be eligible for this column, as his three first names and supreme footballing ability at the tender age of nineteen have me convinced he is, in fact, Brazilian – surely he can’t be this good and English. But English he is, and the academy graduate looked supreme as one of Liverpool’s two wing-backs in their 5-1 thrashing of Brighton and No-Hope Albion on Saturday. With fellow youngster, Andrew Robertson bombing down the other flank, Brighton’s full-backs were given a torrid time. Along with the extremely impressive Roberto Firmino, Alexander-Arnold ran rings round Albion left-back Gaetan Bong – although Bong may well have been high at the time.
#3 Joe Allen (Stoke City)
Joe Allen put in a stellar performance against his old club Swansea City on Saturday. Allen chose to leave the Swans back in 2012 to be an extremely disappointing waste of space at Liverpool for a few years. Not popular with Swans fans since that decision, maybe that was all the incentive the Wales international needed to run the show in midfield on Saturday for his new club Stoke City. Or maybe Swansea are just very bad. Next to Scotland captain Darren Fletcher in midfield, it was Allen that looked the more assured on the ball in an impressive display. As for Swansea and Paul Clement, I’d advise the Swans manager to hold off on buying Christmas gifts for a while…..
#4 Jesse Lingard (Manchester Utd)
Despite some more God-awful celebrations, Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard was brilliant in their 3-1 win at the Emirates in Saturday’s late kick-off. Scoring two of United’s three goals, Lingard linked flawlessly with France Internationals and fellow ambassadors of terrible celebrations Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial. Not always favoured by Jose Mourinho, Lingard will be hoping to cement his place in the starting line-up on the back of that stellar display. Just please stop the celebrations. Please Jesse.
#5 Tom Cleverley (Watford)
After maintaining an impressive 100% record of being terrible for Manchester Utd, terrible for Everton and terrible for England; Tom Cleverly appears to have finally found a club where he can play something approaching football. Against a strong Spurs side, Cleverley looked assured in midfield and provided a great corner in the 13th minute for Christian Kabasele to nod in. Cleverley’s renaissance at Watford provides further evidence that manager Marco Silva may be something approaching Jesus. Everton fans must be extremely glad that their club decided that he wasn’t worth the compensation fee and instead opted for ex-Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce. Money is tight in the Premier League after all.
#6 Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth)
He’s been around forever. He’s got a taste for Big Brother contestants. He thought Toronto was in America. That’s right, it’s your boy Jermain! Sunday’s match against Southampton wasn’t one of Defoe’s better performances – the ex-Spurs man was ineffective against a good Saints defence. Needing some space to run in behind, he was denied that by Southampton’s wantaway defender Virgil Van Dijk – who produced another stellar performance. After almost 70 frustrating minutes, Defoe was brought off to be replaced by an equally unimpressive Callum Wilson. With Benik Afobe not brought on until injury time, Bournemouth certainly have some decent attacking options to choose from. Defoe still doesn’t know he was living in Canada by the way. I won’t tell him If you don’t.