Team of the Weekend – Evans above for West Brom but John’s not made of Stone

Team Of The Weekend

Hello! Welcome to Team of the Weekend, where we look back at the best and worst the Premier League had to offer us. Top flight football returned after a brief FA Cup break, but who made the headlines? Who can I put in charge of these lunatics? Let’s dig in.

Goalkeeper

Petr Cech – I’m afraid Sunday was not a good day for fans of the once great Premier League goalkeeper, making the wrong decision to come for a cross and then letting a well-struck effort go straight through him. It might just be a dip in form but unfortunately Cech, like the rest of this Arsenal teammates, looks decidedly average.

Defenders

Jonny Evans – West Brom’s most saleable asset has been linked with moves to Man City and Arsenal so far this window but back in the here and now, Evans helped his current club to their first win for 20 games. That’s more than half a season, so it’s really quite a miracle that West Brom aren’t more cut adrift at the bottom of the Premier League. Whether Evans get his move or not remains to be seen but if he’s not going to sign a new contract then WBA may well cash in whilst his value is still relatively high.

Ben Chilwell – Leicester surprisingly dominated affairs at Stamford Bridge, at least until young Chilwell collected two yellow cards in 5 mad minutes. The Foxes still got their point but they looked well set to challenge for all three before the red card came out.

John Stones – I know you’ve been injured John but bloody hell, don’t let Firmino just nudge you out of the way. Fair play though. it was a perfect reenactment of a goal Robbie Fowler scored against Man Utd in the 90s where he gently nudged Gary Neville out of the way. To the surprise of nobody, Gary didn’t make that comparison in commentary. Stones compounded his misery by missing a decent chance from a late set piece. A day to forget.

Midfielders

Joe Lolley – To be honest, I didn’t know what a Joe Lolley was until Saturday but after getting dispossessed for West Ham’s opener he scored a quite wonderful equaliser, curling the ball beyond Adrian after cutting in from the right. Not a bad way to make amends or to score your first Premier League goal.

Mo Diame – You know, that was probably handball. Diame’s intervention not only denied Swansea a goal but would also have been deemed red card worthy. There’s an old saying about the luck not going your way when you’re at the bottom and Swansea certainly didn’t get the rub of the green here.

Abdoulaye Doucoure – You know, that was definitely handball. The argument for VAR finds new ways to rear it’s head and this is the latest glaring example, the Watford man slapping the ball beyond Alex McCarthy to earn a stoppage-time point. 1 win in 10 for Watford, I wonder if they ever think about not taking the mega money on offer from Everton for Marco Silva?

Jordon Ibe – For all, it’s great that Jordon Ibe scored his first Bournemouth goal on Sunday, it’s worth remembering two things. Firstly, he’s been there twenty months and cost £15m. Secondly, it is never ok to just have your first name on the back of your shirt unless it is some sort of cool nickname. Understood?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Whilst we’ve had a week of speculation over just who will replace Philippe Coutinho, the Ox put his case forward with a goal and an assist to spark Liverpool into life on their way to ending Man City’s winning run. Since he got out of Arsenal, there’s been a definite improvement in Oxlade-Chamberlain and he looks a more complete player now. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops in 2018.

Forwards

Marko Arnautovic – There were doubts about Arnautovic’s fitness heading into the weekend. Reports that he needed to have his sides stitched up following the sacking of Mark Hughes have so far been unconfirmed, but whatever Moyes said to the lad at half-time certainly worked. A sensational second half from the temperamental Austrian saw him score inside 10 seconds and then lay on a couple of assists in a remarkable 20 minute showing that helped West Ham to a 4-1 win at what used to be a fortress at Huddersfield. And yes, I am short of forwards this week but that’s part of his charm – since Moyes gave him a role further forwards, free of his defensive shackles, he has looked twice the player. Oh, but that celebratory dance was woeful.

Son Heung-min – Spurs were at their best on Saturday night, cutting through Everton at will and coming away with a 4-0 victory. Harry Kane scored twice but the real star of the show for me was Son, who caused young Jonjoe Kenny all sorts of problems down the Spurs left hand side. He opened the scoring, laid on an assist for Harry Kane, hit the post and was denied by Jordan Pickford in a rather busy outing. Obviously the title has gone for Tottenham this season but if they can carry this form into their Champions League campaign, they could go deep into the competition.

Manager

Jurgen Klopp – I have to give dugout duties to Klopp this week, as he’s the first manager to beat Pep Guardiola in domestic competition this season. It took everything they had and it would be typical Liverpool if they were to go on to lose at Swansea next week, but let’s worry about that later. A brilliant attacking display simply blew Man City off the park and it may well be that Pep’s men are still champions by Easter, but it was a reward for pressing high and being brave (which is all well and good when you have the quality of players Liverpool have compared to, say, Newcastle. I’m not getting that argument restarted!)

That’s all from me this week but do join me again next Monday for more of the same. Toodles!