Dan Davison selects six British players at random from the Premier League and assesses their performance from the weekend.
#1 Conor Goldson (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Conor Goldson is in need of a name change. Judging by his performance on Saturday against Chelsea at the Amex, Conor ‘Woodenspoonson’ would be apter. Or Conor ‘Struggleswitheventhemostbasicpriniciplesofdefending-son’. I could go on. It was just a second top-flight appearance for the ex-Shrewsbury man and was certainly a baptism of fire against the champions, but it would be better for Albion to invest in a new centre-back before the window shuts rather than have to rely on Goldson again.
#2 Joe Allen (Stoke City)
Joe Allen is fantastic. The long hair, the skill at retaining possession, the total failure at Liverpool. There’s nothing not to admire about the man. And after his compatriot Mark Hughes was sacked as manager following The Potters embarrassing early exit from the FA Cup, you could forgive Allen if he decided on a show of solidarity in a series of dire performances. But no, Allen was the best player on the pitch for new manager Paul Lambert in Saturday’s victory over Huddersfield. Allowed more license to roam forwards with the Scottish pair of Darren Fletcher and Charlie Adam holding behind him, Allen was instrumental in linking defence to attack and vice versa – looking great alongside Eric Choupo-Moting.
#3 Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United)
For the second time, Hayden makes the column due to a terrible performance on his part. Yes, Newcastle were facing Manchester City – comfortably the best team in the league. But with defenders like Hayden and Javi Manquillo to play against, most League One strikers would stand a chance of scoring a hat-trick as City’s Sergio Aguero did on Saturday. Displaying an incredible ability to forget to pick up the deadliest striker in the league, Hayden again displayed why he is not suited to playing in defence. One of many Newcastle players who can afford to tread water though, as tightwad owner Mike Ashley continues to be reluctant to let manager Rafa Benitez play with any of his money.
#4 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Another returnee to this column, it’s everyone favourite tribute to that guy you met in Ibiza who said he could get you 3 pills for a fiver. Jamie Vardy. Yes, he might look like someone who would try and catch a moving dart with his teeth ‘for the bants, but Jamie Vardy is actually more of a danger to Premier League defences than he is to himself. After scoring a penalty to put the Foxes ahead in the first half, Vardy continued to terrorise Watford’s defence for the entire match before being replaced by Adrien Silva with one minute left on the clock. The defeat led to Hornets boss Marco Silva’s sacking, a dismissal that was richly deserved as Watford have a long history of being a top-four club to maintain after all.
#5 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
The man who started his career in League Two with MK Dons looked every bit a lower league player in Sunday’s only game against Southampton. Blessed with incredible ability and talent, Alli at times cuts a frustrated figure when things are not going his way, with the face of a seven-year-old who has just been told by his mother that he’s not quite old enough to play Call of Duty. With Christian Eriksen out alongside captain Hugo Lloris with a mysterious illness, Alli played further forward in the number ten role and showed himself to have vastly inferior football intelligence to the Denmark international he was replacing. Still, at least he’ll always have his secret handshakes.
#6 Jack Stephens (Southampton)
If there’s one thing that came out of the incredibly tedious long-winded Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool transfer saga, it’s that academy graduate Jack Stephens has been given a real chance to cement his place in the heart of the Saints defence. Although he does not quite have the ball-playing ability going forward that Van Dijk had, or the beautiful springy hair, Stephens showed with his performance against an extremely potent Tottenham Hotspur side on Sunday that he is the real deal.