That was a very binary looking set of fixtures wasn’t it? This set of midweek games was supposed to be a treat but it fell rather flat. Unless you’re Man City, in which case it was the usual goal glut on their way to breaking yet another record. Regardless, it is my job to pick 11 standout performers, good or bad, and appoint someone to look after them. Let’s get to it with a 3-5-2 this week.
Karl Darlow – Fresh from a mistake on Saturday that cost a goal against Leicester, Darlow was at it again on Wednesday night, spilling a header from Aaron Lennon of all people and allowing Wayne Rooney to score his 7,000th goal against Newcastle. They are mistakes Newcastle can ill-afford right now and I suspect he will pay for it with his place in the starting 11.
James Tarkowski – I’ll admit it, when I saw Burnley were starting the season with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski as their starting centre halves, I feared relegation for the Clarets. How wrong was I?! Even with Mee out injured, Tarkowski has remained a tower of strength and he was influential on Tuesday as Burnley defeated Stoke 1-0.
Serge Aurier – In some sports, if a player benefits from an enormous piece of luck, it is tradition to not celebrate it. Tell that to Serge Aurier. His mis-hit cross looped in and he celebrated like it was something he’d practiced for months. Don’t even try and claim you meant it Serge, I’m not having it.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Double barreled fun from Arsene as he reignited his academy dreams by playing young Ainsley at left back at the London Stadium. The young lad came away with a clean sheet but he wins the prize for the most upper class name in the Premier League…possibly ever.
Willian – The Brazilian has been unfortunate to not hold down a more regular place in the Chelsea lineup, for my money everytime he plays he makes a difference. At Huddersfield on Tuesday, he scored a header and added a couple of assists to mean he’ll be knocking on Conte’s door that little bit louder next time he is left out.
James McArthur – Last minute winner alert! Crystal Palace just won’t lie down, and their latest chapter of scoring last minute goals extended to netting twice in injury time through the unlikely figures of Bakary Sako and James McArthur. Incredible scenes at Selhurst as they were briefly outside of the relegation zone – rest assured they are back in there now.
David Silva – It would be rude not to include him after yet another master class from the midfield maestro. I am running out of superlatives but I think he must be odds on to win player of the year, and Man City have basically won the league. He’s just rather good, isn’t he?
Jonjo Shelvey – Stop doing stupid things! Rafa’s side are really struggling at the moment and the last thing they need is a two game ban for Shelvey, although on recent form maybe it won’t hurt. The lunge for his second yellow was in the final seconds of a game that was already lost. Stupidity at it’s finest.
Scott McTominay – In a world where transfer fees are getting higher, it is nice to see an academy player getting a start at one of the country’s top clubs. He probably won’t replace Paul Pogba very often in his career but he can enjoy this in the here and now.
Troy Deeney – What a miss! Not one Troy will want to see again, especially as it turned out to be pivotal in the end result, but an atrocious miss nevertheless. Watford are a strange team, not one I can figure out.
Shinji Okazaki – The Japanese forward is usually the unsung hero of Leicester City, but he grabbed headlines of his own on Wednesday by scoring twice against Southampton. He was a constant menace to the Saints backline and judging from the highlights, Southampton were lucky to get away with conceding just 4. Leicester are in great form right now – more on that in a moment.
Claude Puel – It is a great footballing irony that Southampton wanted rid of Puel for being boring and not scoring enough goals. 5 months later he turns up with Leicester and sticks 4 past his former employers and has the last laugh. That’s 4 wins on the spin for Leicester who are going great guns again.
That’s it from me this week but I’ll be back as normal on Monday with the team of the weekend. Tatty-bye.