A reduced Premier League programme means we’ve got a team of the weekend comprised of Premier League and FA Cup stars. There were still 15 Premier League teams in action across the two competitions so there was still plenty of incidents in the snow to pick out the best and worst of the weekend.
Christian Walton – Now look, before you start filling up the Tales mailbag with abuse about how I’m only meant to pick Premier League players, let me remind you Walton is on loan at Wigan from Brighton. The latest Walton family member was in great form on Sunday, even saving a Manolo Gabbiadini penalty to secure his spot in this very team. Unfortunately for him, Wigan were beaten just like his parent club, so no Wembley all round for Walton. Unless Wigan end up in the play-off final, but let’s not split hairs.
James Tomkins – Two in a row! His sideburns are still magnificent but rather than his goal-line clearance heroics last weekend, Tomkins showed his worth in the opposition’s penalty area by scoring the opener and being unlucky not to add a second later on. It’s an opportune time for Tomkins to find some form as most of his colleagues have picked up injuries in recent weeks and Palace will hope he can continue to keep them out whilst the returning Zaha sets them up at the other end.
Jonny Evans – When it looked like Jonny Evans would leave West Brom in January there was a feeling that West Brom would struggle without him. Well, I am really curious to see how much worse the final 5 months of the season would have been for them on this evidence, as they couldn’t even last 20 minutes here. No sooner had Evans limped off had Bournemouth equalised before it got even worse later on. There’ll be no shortage of suitors for the Northern Irishman this summer.
Andrew Robertson – Although Mo Salah will take all the headlines, and rightly so, you can’t overlook Robertson’s contribution against Watford. There’s not many occasions where a ball in is so good even I am confident I could put it away, but I’m going to say it: Even I could have put that chance away. A wonderful ball in, the stuff of dreams for a terrible striker let alone a man who turns anything he touches into goals. Bravo.
Luke Shaw – Another 45 minute run out for Shaw resulted in a barracking from his manager. This latest round of public criticism seems to have been a step too far for Shaw who is now supposedly looking to leave in the summer. “Not being able to follow instructions” seems to be the gist of Mourinho’s gripes, which presumably means not passing half way and only passing sideways or backwards. Too soon? Still, at least Ashley Young is a decent full-back…
Christian Eriksen – Just another sublime performance from the Danish midfielder, two fantastic goals helping Spurs on their way to what is effectively a home semi-final. Considering Swansea tried to soak up Spurs pressure by playing just about everyone behind the ball, Eriksen was able to find room with relative ease. A comfortable afternoon for Tottenham.
Charlie Adam – Paul Lambert has shown a lot of faith in Charlie Adam, and he has been rewarded with a last-minute penalty miss and now a red card. Good going Charlie. How the referee could see this was a red card I have no idea, but we now know Charlie Adam can’t do it on a cold winter’s day in Stoke. In March.
Junior Stanislas – Score a free kick to guarantee your place in team of the weekend. To be honest, if you score an 89th-minute winner against an Alan Pardew team you have pretty much secured your place anyway. Well done Junior, supplying another nail in the West Brom coffin.
Nemanja Matic – Do they have the term “Teacher’s Pet” in Serbia? If not, they might have to soon as Mourinho’s praise for Matic knows no bounds. Obviously, a goal and an assist helps a great deal along with the general incompetence of his colleagues but when you’re singled out for praise and your colleagues are being lambasted it must be pretty awkward.
Cenk Tosun – It’s been a slow start to Tosun’s life on Merseyside, but that’s 4 in 3 now for the big money January signing. He certainly seems capable of scoring any type of goal, with a tap-in accompanied by a stooping header at the Bet365 stadium on Saturday. He could prove a shrewd bit of business for big Sam, now that he has a pressure free environment to continue adapting to life in England. One to watch next season perhaps.
Mohammed Salah – What more can you say? The league’s top scorer netted just the four times on Saturday evening against Watford, including one where most of the Watford team surrounded him and he still found the corner. Liverpool were sublime, Watford were awful. Salah is on another level though, I’m really looking forward to that Liverpool vs Man City Champions League tie.
Mark Hughes – Welcome back to the party, Mark. I have good news and bad news for you. The good – well, not many managers take a club to Wembley with their first game, so that’s something to cling on to. The bad news is that technically the Saints dropped into the bottom 3 this weekend so that’s on your watch. This wouldn’t have happened under Pellegrino (ignoring the times it did). The hard work starts now though, Hobjerg and Cedric aren’t going to score every week.
I’ll be back in a few weeks after the International break, try not to miss football too much whilst I’m gone.