The first midweek gameweek of the 2016-17 Premier League season was full of goals, entertaining fixtures and standout performers. This is The Mastermind’s Team of the Week for Gameweek 16 in England’s top flight.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Despite all of Chelsea’s incredible dominance in their 1-0 win over Sunderland on Wednesday, the Blues could have easily ended up tieing the match had it not been for the brilliance of Thibaut Courtois late on. At the death of the match, Patrick Van Aanholt smashed a volley from outside of the box that flew towards the top corner only to be denied by the strong hand of the Belgian goalkeeper. That was just one of three of Courtois’ excellent saves in the match as he played a massive role in helping Chelsea claim another victory and extend their winning streak to 10 games. Courtois also claimed 100% of the crosses that came his way and earned himself his ninth clean sheet of the season, the most in the league by two. After a shaky start to the season, Thibaut Courtois is having an excellent season again and may be on his way to a first PFA Team of the Year selection. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Back: Nathaniel Clyne
I have been a little critical of Nathaniel Clyne in recent times but truth be told he has had an excellent season so far in 2016-17 with Jurgen Klopp. Clyne has quietly gone about his business, has played every single minute of Liverpool’s campaign so far and hasn’t made a single error that has led to a goal this season. He has also made the sixth most amount of tackles in the league with 34 and has won 67% of those that he has attempted, the highest percentage of any player to play more than half of the games so far this season. All this proves that Nathaniel Clyne has actually been one of the best right backs in the league so far this season despite not actually receiving any recognition for it and for all his impressive displays so far Wednesday night’s encounter against Middlesbrough was the tip of the iceberg. Against Boro Clyne created two chances, assisted Liverpool’s first goal of the evening and completed a stunning 96% of his passes with 55% of his 70 passes going forwards. Clyne also won 3 tackles, won 2 out of 2 duels in the air and delivered 3 crosses into the box. Nathaniel Clyne had an excellent performance against Liverpool and is finally getting the recognition he deserves from The Mastermind. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Steve Cook
Steve Cook was magnificent at the back for the Cherries as he has been all season, proving to be Eddie Howe’s most important player in his side’s 1-0 win over Leicester City. If it had not been for Cook Bournemouth may not have won this match as the British defender made 2 essential blocks to deny Leicester in two clear goal scoring opportunities. The 25-year old also added 2 interceptions and 12 clearances to his name, tied for the most this week in the clearance department. Cook was also dominant in the air in winning 4 duels, had 85 touches on the ball, completed 87% of his passes and was always in the right place at the right time to stop Leicester from creating a chance or scoring a goal. Steve Cook is a very good defender and could someday be set for far greater things if he continues to carry on like this. Rating: 9/10.
Left Back: Leighton Baines
Leighton Baines hasn’t enjoyed the best of times so far this season and has really been in decline ever since rupturing his ankle before the start of last season. However, Tuesday night was a glimpse of Baines’ old self again as the British defender was excellent in helping his side come to a surprising 2-1 victory over Arsenal. Baines assisted Everton’s first goal of the game with a fantastic cross to the head of Seamus Coleman and then popped up late in the game with a crucial clearance on the line to keep the score at 2-1. His fantastic assist for Coleman’s goal was just one of his three clear-cut chances he created in the match. Baines also made 4 clearances, was good in possession as he completed 87% of his passes and never allowed Theo Walcott to get into the match. Leighton Baines had an excellent performance against Arsenal and if he can use that performance to kickstart his career again he could be back on the right path towards the England National Team. Rating: 9/10.
Right Midfield: Adam Lallana
Adam Lallana needed no time to settle back into the Liverpool side at all after returning from injury as he has now scored three goals in the last two matches. Against Middlesbrough Lallana scored two of Liverpool’s three goals and assisted the other, directly contributing to all three of Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s goals in their biggest away win of the season so far. On top of that stunning display in front of goal, Lallana was also superb in possession of the football, completing 85% of his passes, 100% of his take-on’s and touching the ball 83 times. The British midfielder also helped out in defense with 3 clearances, a block and a tackle and scored from his only two shots on target. Adam Lallana has been in the best form of his life this season and it is fantastic to see that has recent injury troubles haven’t slowed him down one bit. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Midfield: Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba was majestic in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, living up to his 100m plus price tag more than ever before this season. Yes the central midfielder was trying all sorts of crazily inventive passes that didn’t always come off, but his enthusiasm to always be the one on the ball, making things happen for Manchester United was fantastic to see. Paul Pogba wants to be the main man for Manchester United and lived up to the billing fantastically well on Wednesday night as he was the main man, ran the show and directly contributed to both of Manchester United’s goals. The French midfielder found the net to give United the lead before half-time and after Crystal Palace found an equalizer when everything was looking like it wasn’t going their way again, Pogba found Ibrahimovic with the perfect pass to assist the winning goal of the game. On top of that goal and assist, the Frenchman dominated the midfield with his composure and swagger in possession of the football, completing 93 passes, 4 take-on’s and touching the ball 122 times, almost thirty more than any other player on the pitch. The 23-year old was also a constant driving force for United going forward, creating 4 chances and taking 4 shots. He also helped out magnificently in defense with 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 clearances and 6 duels won in the air, making this one of the best all-around performances of the season so far. Paul Pogba was incredible against Crystal Palace and was by far the best player on the pitch as the Red Devils eased to a narrow 2-1 victory. Rating: 10/10.
Left Midfield: Marc Pugh
Marc Pugh wasn’t just essential in helping Bournemouth win their match against Leicester City by scoring his first goal of the season, he also had a massive role to play in all areas of the pitch including in defense. The English winger was brilliant in doing his defensive duties, making 6 clearances, winning all 7 of his duels in the air and winning 2 tackles. On top of his defensive resilience, Pugh also combined nicely with Charlie Daniels down that left-hand side, completed 4 dribbles and of course scored the winning goal in just his first start this season. With his fantastic all-around performance against Leicester, Marc Pugh may have just given Eddie Howe something serious to think about when selecting his team sheet in the next couple of weeks. Rating: 9/10.
Attacking Midfield: Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen was quite honestly really poor in the first few months of the season but after scoring his first goal of the season against Chelsea a couple of weeks ago has come to life again and is now playing some of his best football ever. The Danish midfielder was fantastic against Hull City, scoring two of Tottenham’s three goals as they waltzed to a 3-0 victory. Eriksen also hit the woodwork, had 4 of his 7 shots on target, and was Tottenham’s most dominant driving force in attack. He was also cool and collected in possession of the football, having 89 touches which was only surpassed by Vertonghen, and he completed 89% of his passes and got forward to whip in six crosses. Christian Eriksen has finally hit full form again and will almost certainly prove to be one of Spurs’ most important players in the upcoming weeks as they look to make a push for top four. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Divock Origi
Since Philippe Coutinho got injured on the 26th of November in Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Sunderland, Divock Origi has come into the side and been absolutely brilliant with the Reds not even missing Coutinho one bit. He has been so good that it almost makes you feel sorry for him not being able to start right from the beginning of the season as he has scored in every single match since. And the best of the bunch for Origi so far this season came away at Middlesbrough on Wednesday night as the Belgian striker starred in Liverpool’s 3-0 win. The goal-grabbing centre forward continued his scoring run with a fine finish after an Adam Lallana pass and then set up his Liverpool teammate for Liverpool’s third and Lallana’s second of the game. On top of that he also delivered 3 crosses and completed 85% of his passes. With the way Origi is going at the moment, Jurgen Klopp is going to have plenty to think about when Philippe Coutinho returns from injury. He has been brilliant in the Brazilian’s absence and had his best game of the season so far this week. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 35-years old but still cannot stop scoring goals at the very highest level. The Manchester United forward added his ninth goal of the season against Crystal Palace, scoring the winning goal of the match to give Manchester United their second straight victory. Ibra was also the assister of Pogba’s opening goal of the game and led the line superbly well for Mourinho once again. Zlatan won 3 duels in the air, had 4 shots, 64 touches on the ball and of course contributed to both of United’s goals as they beat the Eagles by a narrow scoreline of 2-1. Few would have expected Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be this good in his first season in English football at the age of 35 but the Big Swede is almost as good as he’s ever been and is having a wonderful season so far for the Red Devils. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Jose Solomon Rondon
Just when Jose Solomon Rondon was all set to earn a selection to The Mastermind’s Worst Team of the Season Halfway Through, the Venezuelan striker scores a hat-trick to give his side a 3-1 win and climb up to 8th in the table. Although he has been very ineffective at times this season, particularly with the ball at his feet, Rondon has done a decent job at leading the line for the baggies so far and has found the back of the net several times. But Wednesday night’s game against Swansea was arguably the Venezuelan’s best of his Bromwich career so far as he grabbed his first ever hat-trick in English football. Rondon found the net with three fantastic finishes, scoring from half of his total shots in the match. He was also a beast in the air, winning 5 aerial duels, created 1 chance for a teammate to score and helped out briefly in defense with two clearances. It was Rondon’s best performance of his West Bromwich career and his fantastic hat-trick has earned the Venezuelan his first Team of the Week selection of the season. Rating: 10/10.
Substitutes: Hugo Lloris, Chris Brunt, Kyle Walker, Pablo Zabaleta, Nathan Ake, Victor Wanyama, Cesc Fabregas
It was a week of fantastic defensive performers as 6 of the 7 substitutes are defensive minded players and a different 6 of the 7 played a massive role in helping their side keep an important clean sheet. Hugo Lloris was key for Tottenham in goal as he made 5 saves, Chris Brunt was significant for West Brom as he assisted two of Rondon’s three goals and Kyle Walker put another wonderful performance at right back for Tottenham in their 3-0 win over Hull. Speaking of fantastic right backs Pablo Zabaleta finally found form again and scored his first goal in over a year and a half as City beat Watford 2-0, while Nathan Ake was excellent alongside Steve Cook at the back for Bournemouth in their fantastic victory. Finally Victor Wanyama found the net for the second time this season and had an amazing part to play defensively as Spurs kept another clean sheet and Cesc Fabregas gave Antonio Conte a selection headache for the near future with his first goal of the Premier League season. These are the seven best of the rest who just couldn’t find a way into the best eleven.
Player of the Week: Adam Lallana
Adam Lallana shouldn’t be playing this well this soon after returning from injury. But somehow he has continued to be one Liverpool’s most important players and has sustained his fine run of form in front of goal, bagging a brace against Boro. Those goals came from his only two shots on target and with an assist to his name as well, the Brit contributed directly to all three of Liverpool’s goals. On top of his two goals and one assist, Lallana also completed 85% of his passes, 100% of his take-on’s and completed 4 defensive actions. Adam Lallana has been superb this season, one of the best players in the league and is now the first player of the season to win two Premier League Player of the Week awards on The Mastermind.
Manager of the Week: Eddie Howe
Want to know how to win at Fantasy Football? Pick up three Bournemouth defenders. Not only are they cheap but they are amazingly resilient and as a collective unit are one of the most organized back fours in the Premier League. Eddie Howe has to be given a tremendous amount of credit for this as even though on paper they are nothing special and are largely made up of players who once upon a time played in the third tier of English football, the combination of Smith, Francis, Cook, Ake and Daniels have made for a better back-line than 90% of defenses in the league so far this season. Eddie Howe’s side were incredible against Leicester City, a side that were coming off of an incredible 4-2 win over Manchester City. Leicester could just not break their defense down and even when they found themselves with a chance inside of the box it was quickly blocked away by one of Bournemouth’s fantastic defenders. Every single player helped out in defense and playing with two defensive minded wide players in Adam Smith and Marc Pugh proved to be the perfect way to stop Albrighton and Mahrez from playing. Arter and Wilshere also made for the perfect partnership in midfield. Arter was almost Michael Carrick like as he was always in the right place at the right time, allowed Wilshere to roam forward due to his brilliant defensive awareness, did the simple things and was a lynchpin to bring others into the game. Wilshere meanwhile was essential for the Cherries in attack and his on-the-ball presence and ability caused Andy King and Daniel Amartey all sorts of problems in midfield. Benfik Afobe, a player who has barely been given a chance to play at all this season, also had a massive role to play up front, leading the line fantastically well and playing a crucial part in the Cherries’ only goal of the game. That goal was also scored by Marc Pugh, a player that Howe gave a chance to start his first Premier League match of the season. Bournemouth were brilliant against Leicester City and their 1-0 win was one of Eddie Howe’s most impressive managerial performances of the season as he is our Manager of the Week for the third time this season!
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Week for Gameweek 16 with the longest Manager of the Week paragraph you’ll ever read. Do you agree? Who would have made your Team of the Week? Comment below to join the discussion and click the follow button for more articles like this every single week! See you next time!