Team of the Week is back to bring you the best eleven players from Gameweek 17. This week’s best XI features Sunderland’s star 22-year old goalkeeper, four Tottenham Hotspur players, this season’s standout defensive midfielder and one famous football legend. Let’s get right into the action.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Concentration, timing, position, reflexes, everything about Jordan Pickford’s game is on-point. Pickford is so enthusiastic about the game and has so much belief in himself and with good reason too as he is an incredible goalkeeper. The 22-year old has been exceptional for Sunderland this season and had another fine afternoon this weekend against Watford. Pickford made 4 saves and successfully claimed or punched 100% of the crosses that came his way. On top of that, his distribution was also excellent, reaching 52 metres in average length for his kicks. Pickford was exceptional again for Sunderland, helping them win their fourth game of the season and helping himself to a second clean sheet. Rating: 9/10.
Right Back: Kyle Walker
Always looking to go forward and create chances for his side, Kyle Walker was integral to Totteham’s 2-1 win and earned himself a third Team of the Week appearance of the season this weekend. Walker’s standout statistic weekend was that he created 5 chances for his teammates to score, assisting Dele Alli’s 27th minute goal. On top of that Walker also completed 3 dribbles, won 4 duels in the air and made 5 clearances to help his side claim a second successive victory. Kyle Walker has been an essential part to Tottenham’s back line for years now and so far this season has arguably been the standout right fullback in the entire league. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Back: Cesar Azpilicueta
Since Chelsea moved to a 3-4-3, Cesar Azpilicueta has arguably been the best centre back in the league. The Spanish defender has never played centre back until this season but has been revolutionized again by Antonio Conte into one of the most mature defenders in the Premier League. Azpilicueta’s distribution has been phenomenal this season and against Crystal Palace the Spaniard delivered more long ball passes than any other Chelsea outfielder yet still completed 87% of his passes. One of those long balls was an excellent cross field ball into the box which was headed in by Diego Costa, giving Azpilicueta his first assist of the season and Chelsea the 1-0 win. The Spaniard was also magnificent in defense as he has been all season, making 7 clearances, 2 interceptions and winning 4 duels in the air. Cesar Azpilicueta has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League this season and had another fantastic performance this weekend against Crystal Palace. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Back: Jan Vertonghen
Tottenham Hotspur’s standout performer against Burnley wasn’t Dele Alli or game-winning goal-getter Danny Rose but instead Jan Vertonghen who was magnificent at the back for the Spurs, leading his side to victory. Vetonghen was always in exactly the right place at the right time and his fantastic defensive awareness in this match and this season proves just how mature he’s become at the back for Tottenham since he first arrived. The 29-year old made a stunning 22 clearances against Burnley, the most in the league this weekend. He also contributed with 5 interceptions, won all of the tackles he attempted and won a stunning eleven duels in the air out of twelve. Jan Vertoghen just bossed this game at the back, completely dominating over Burnley’s attackers and is definitely this weekend’s standout defender. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Back: Danny Rose
Completing the defense is Danny Rose, who had a magnificent performance against Burnley at the back for Spurs and popped up with the game winning goal late on. Like Kyle Walker, Danny Rose was a driving force for Spurs going forward and was someone that a) Tottenham were always looking to feed and b) someone that Burnley just could not cope with. Rose created 4 chances in the match, delivered 10 crosses and scored the game winning goal to help his side claim another victory and keep their title hopes alive. Rose also completed 2 interceptions, 4 dribbles and nearly 87% of his passes. Danny Rose is a wonderful defender and with performances like his one against Burnley, continues to prove why he may be the best left-back in this league. Rating: 9/10.
Defensive Midfield: Jordan Henderson
It was another calm and composed performance for Jordan Henderson at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield as he captained Liverpool to a famous victory over Everton. Jordan Henderson has been brilliant this season and has been this season’s standout defensive midfielder in possibly all of European football. The midfielder just looks so mature this season and had another brilliant performance against Everton, never allowing any of his midfield opposition any time at all to get into the game. Henderson had 100 touches and more passes than any other player on the pitch with 81 against the Toffees. He was also superb when called upon in defense, successfully making 4 tackles, 2 interceptions and 3 clearances. Also his distribution from deep was magnificent yet again, completing 9 out of the 11 long ball passes he attempted. Jordan Henderson just seems to dominate over any other midfielder he comes up against and had another brilliant performance on Monday as Liverpool claimed a narrow 1-0 win over their arch-rivals Everton. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Attacking Midfield: Sadio Mane
It’s Sadio Mane again, back on The Mastermind‘s Team of the Week for the sixth time this season, dethroning Philippe Coutinho as Team of the Week appearance leader. We all knew how good Sadio Mane was at Southampton but very few would have expected him to be this good and this integral for Liverpool FC this season as right now the Senegalese midfielder is leading the Reds in their charge for the Premier League title. Sadio Mane as he has been all season was full of energy, running power and unplayable antics against Everton FC as he completely dominated over Leighton Baines and led Liverpool to victory. Of course he’ll go down as the game’s fantastic match winner with his 94th minute goal to give Liverpool all three points, but it was so much more than just the goal from Sadio Mane’s play against Everton. The wing wizard was unstoppable on Monday night, creating 2 chances, completing 3 dribbles and forcing four fouls. He was the liveliest of any Liverpool player, was the only major spark in the game and led Liverpool to what could be a very massive victory for them in their charge for the 2016-17 Premier League title. Sadio Mane was amazing against Everton and his stunning display shows again how crucial he is and will be to Liverpool FC in the future. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Attacking Midfield: Dele Alli
Just when he was starting to come into the firing line, Dele Alli had his best performance of the season and led Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-1 victory over Sean Dyche’s Burnley. Dele Alli was brilliant against Burnley and was Spurs’ main source of attacks as he took 6 shots, created 2 chances and scored a goal to put Pochettino’s side back on level terms. Alli also completed 90% of his passes, hit the woodwork and helped out in defense with 3 interceptions and 1 tackle. Dele Alli is a fine midfielder and although he hasn’t been quite as consistent as he was last season he is still one of Tottenham’s most integral players as they look to challenge for the title. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
It is pretty unbelievable how incredible Zlatan Ibrahimovic still is at the age of 35. The Swedish striker said this week that he believes he can play until the age of 50 and although that is highly unlikely one thing that is for sure is that he is still one of the best strikers on the planet and continues to do what players in their mid-twenties can’t do half as well. Both of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shots against West Bromwich Albion were converted for goals, his tenth and eleventh goals of the season, leading his side to a 2-0 victory. It wasn’t just about the goals though, Ibrahimovic constantly dropped deep to get on the ball and allow others the chance to attack, with two key passes that could have led to goals this weekend. Somehow, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still one of the best strikers in world football and if he continues to score at this rate he could be in the hunt to win his first ever Premier League golden boot and lead Manchester United to much more than what we all thought they might be capable of this season. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Alvaro Negredo
Alvaro Negredo has had a very up and down start to the 2016-17 Premier League season, but this weekend was back on the up again as he bagged two goals to lead Middlesbrough to a 3-0 victory over the in-form Swansea City. With his back away from goal, the Spanish striker volleyed in his first goal of the night from an Adam Clayton cross and then tucked in his second from the spot moments later. But Negredo wasn’t just the fox-in-the-box goal-getting striker that we all know this weekend, he was also a beast in the air, winning a total of 12 aerial duels and dominating over Swansea’s central defenders Jordi Amat and Alfie Mawson. In addition, Negredo also had 51 touches and helped out in defense with 7 clearances. Alvaro Negredo is one of the best natural finishers in the Premier League and if he can continue to find the back of the net on a regular basis for Middlesbrough he could be one of this season’s leading goal scorers. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Jay Rodriguez
Jay Rodriguez was one of the standout players in the 2013/14 season but after rupturing his cruciate knee ligament just months before the 2014 World Cup he has never looked the same again until now. Claude Puel was searching and searching for someone to be the answer up front in Charlie Austin’s absence and the Frenchman may have found his answer in Rodriguez. The Southampton forward was magnificent against Bournemouth, leading the line wonderfully well, linking up greatly with Redmond, Davis and Boufal and of course scoring two great goals to give his side a 3-1 victory over the Cherries. All 3 of Jay Rodriguez’s shots in the match were on goal and two of them hit the back of the net. His first goal was a poacher’s goal, getting on the end of a Steven Davis cross to knock the ball into the back of the net before any Bournemouth defender could react. His second goal was a worldie, striking the ball perfectly into the top corner on the volley from outside of the area. Everyone knows that Jay Rodrgiuez was once upon a time a wonderful player but after getting injured back in 2014 he just hasn’t been able to get any regular playing time or rediscover that same kind of form he showed months before the World Cup. However, should he now be given a long-term run in Claude Puel’s lineup he may find himself back amongst the goals on a regular basis again and start to build his reputation back up again. Rating: 9.5/10.
Substitutes: Darren Randolph, Nathan Ake, Papy Dijolobdji, Patrick Van Aanholt, Ryan Bertrand, Kevin de Bruyne, Diego Costa
Four of the seven substitutes this week are defenders as it was another weekend of clean sheets and stellar defensive performers. Nathan Ake was sublime at the back again for Bournemouth despite his side’s 3-1 defeat as he scored a goal, blocked two shots and made 8 clearances while in the same match, left-back Ryan Bertrand also scored a goal to help his side claim a 3-1 victory. Sunderland duo Papy Djilobodji and Patrick Van Aanholt also make the bench for helping their side claim a 1-0 victory over Watford. Djilobodji was a beast at the back in making 6 interceptions and 16 clearances for his side while Van Aanholt scored the only goal of the game to give the Black Cats their fourth win of the season. In attack, Kevin de Bruyne was magnificent in creating 5 chances for Manchester City in their 2-1 victory over Arsenal while Diego Costa continued his fine run of form in front of goal, scoring his 13th of the season. Darren Randolph rounds out the bench as he continues to keep Adrian out of the side and with 4 saves, kept his second clean sheet in as many matches.
Player of the Week: Alvaro Negredo
Alvaro Negredo is this week’s player of the week for his two goal display in Middlesbrough’s 3-0 win over Swansea City. The Spaniard netted his fourth and fifth goals of the season with two finishes this weekend and also won 12 duels in the air, completely dominating over the opposition’s defense and helped out in his own penalty area with 7 clearances. Alvaro Negredo hasn’t always found it easy to find the back of the net this season but against Swansea City had his best performance of the season so far.
Manager of the Week: Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp isn’t just one of the best personalities in all of European football but he’s also one of the very best managers in world football and has been for a very long time. Kloppo as he was called back in his Dortmund days had another fine management performance against Everton, leading his side to their eleventh victory of the season. First of all, Jurgen Klopp made the correct decisions all across the board with his lineup for this match and when Origi couldn’t get it done, he threw on Daniel Sturridge at exactly the right time to go on and help him win the match. Although he was relatively untested, Klopp made the correct call in starting Simon Mignolet over Loris Karius who has unfortunately come under a lot of criticism lately. He also made the correct decision in not rushing Emre Can back and instead giving Lallana, Henderson and Wijnaldum more time to grow as a trio with the latter two playing a very important role to the match. Finally and of course, when Everton’s defense were looking as mighty as they had all game, the German manager threw on Daniel Sturridge to go get him a goal and the English forward nearly did, striking the post before Sadio Mane pounced upon the rebound. Jurgen Klopp is a magnificent manager and had another fine performance as his side beat their arch-rivals Everton by a narrow scoreline of 1-0.
Honourable Mention: Slavan Bilic
West Ham have been dreadful to start this season, losing 8 of their opening 14 matches and looming dangerously close to the relegation. However, in the last three matches, Slavan Bilic has managed to turn his side around again as they have now gone on a three-game unbeaten run. That run has included a hard-fought draw against title-challengers Burnley, a defensively resilient 1-0 victory over Burnley and now another 1-0 victory this time against Hull. On top of rallying his poor performing players to simply play better, the main change that has come in the last three matches is the re-introduction of Andy Carroll back into the side after he recovered from injury. This change has allowed Payet and Noble more time on the ball, while also bringing Michail Antonio further forward where he does most of his damage. Andy Carroll is the focal point in the team and brings others into the game so well, allowing the Hammers to go on the front-foot far more frequently. Bilic has also stuck with struggling players like Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini and although neither have shown their true talent in the last three matches they have played a role in all three of West Ham’s recent results. The players all clearly believe that he is the right man for the job and now with three successive positive performances nobody will be arguing with that fact again soon. When his job was looking in more danger than it’s ever been, Slavan Bilic has now turned things around again and gone three games unbeaten which is exactly why he earns an honourable mention for this week’s Manager of the Week award!
So there it is! The Team of the Week for Gameweek 17 in the Premier League! Like what you read? Comment below to join the discussion or click the follow button down below! See you next time!
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