Gameweek 19 marked the halfway point in the 2016-17 season and what a first half of the season it has been in the Premier League. Gameweek 19 also saw Antonio Conte’s Chelsea equal the all-time record for most consecutive wins in the Premier League, equalling the record set by Arsenal’s “Invincibiles” in 2001/02. On top of that Liverpool put in their worst performance of the season but still claimed victory over Manchester City and it was a throwback to the Sir Alex Ferguson days for Manchester United as they grabbed two late goals to claim a 2-1 win over Middlesbrough. This is the Premier League’s Team of the Week for Gameweek 19!
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc
It took Artur Boruc 19 games but he finally earns himself a first Team of the Week appearance of the season and what a deserved selection it was from the Polish international. Boruc made 5 saves to stop Swansea City from scoring and win his fifth clean sheet of the season. He also claimed 5/6 crosses and successfully punched away the other one. Swansea weren’t great at all in this match but Boruc certainly played his part in keeping them out and keeping this game at 3-0. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Back: Kieran Trippier
Thanks to Kyle Walker’s robust challenge in the previous match that earned him his fifth yellow card of the season and a one game suspension, Kieran Trippier was given his chance to start this match and did not disappoint. The Tottenham Hotspur right-wing back was a constant presence going forward and assisted two goals from wonderful passes, both scored by Harry Kane before half time. Trippier was on the ball far more than any other player during the match, touching it 106 times compared to the next highest of 89 from Christian Eriksen. Those 106 touches included 4 crosses, 2 assists, and 4 tackles, proving his quality at both ends of the pitch. Kyle Walker will certainly come back into the side for Spurs’ match against Chelsea on Wednesday but with Kieran Trippier’s performance against Watford it is clear that should Walker ever get injured again Spurs will have no problem filling the gap. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Ragnar Klavan
Tough tackling defender Ragnar Klavan has had a bit of stop-start season so far to begin his career as a Liverpool player but was magnificent on Saturday in helping his side secure a 1-0 victory over Manchester City. Did you see Sergio Aguero in the match? Neither did I. That was because Ragnar Klavan totally made him disappear. Klavan and his defensive partner Lovren stuck to the Argentinean like glue and anytime Aguero received the ball at his feet one of the two defenders would immediately dispossess him. More often than not, it was Klavan who was doing the dispossessing, as he made 3 timely tackles, 2 interceptions and 8 clearances to stop Manchester City and Aguero from creating chances and getting high up the field. Now after his incredible display against the Citizens, it is now very clear why Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool wanted to buy the tall big brute of a defender. Very robust, very hard to get past and often in the right place to see out danger, Ragnar Klavan should turn out to be a very good Premier League defender. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Back: James Milner
James Milner is probably the best left-back in the league at the moment and he’s not even a left-back! The retired England international has been instrumental in Liverpool’s success this season and despite playing in defense has managed to score 5 goals with 3 assists so far. However, what was really impressive against Manchester City on Saturday was his incredible defensive resilience, leadership, awareness and ability in helping Liverpool keep a 1-0 clean sheet over Pep Guardiola’s side. Milner made 4 interceptions, 5 clearances and won 2 duels in the air during the match, while also simultaneously stopping Raheem Sterling from playing. He was fantastic in organizing his defence and was vocal throughout in guiding them to that clean sheet. Meanwhile he was never caught out of position and always made the right decision when contemplating when to go forward and when to stay back. James Milner is an incredible footballer. He’ll never be the flashiest but he’ll always be one of the hardest workers in any team and so far this season is having one of his best seasons ever despite playing out of position. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Midfield: Cesc Fabregas
Nemanja Matic was so good alongside N’Golo Kante for the majority of the first half of the season but in the last few games Cesc Fabregas has creeped closer and closer to earning his place back into the side and now after an amazing performance against Stoke, the Spanish midfielder may have finally just won the heart of Antonio Conte once and for all. As long as he’s been in the league, Cesc Fabregas has always been one of the best playmakers and passers of the ball as few players assist as many goals or create as many chances as he does. The 29-year old midfielder demonstrated that on Saturday as he assisted two goals against Stoke, Gary Cahill’s first half header and Willian’s second goal while also being heavily involved in the Brazilian’s first goal of the game. Fabregas could have even had more than just those two assists in the match as he created 5 chances and delivered 5 crosses! The Spanish midfielder is now the fastest ever player to reach 100 assists in the Premier League, an incredible record for him to achieve. It was a vintage performance from Cesc Fabregas on Saturday against Stoke and one that may have just re-solidfied his place in the starting 11. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Midfield: Paul Pogba
Even when Paul Pogba isn’t scoring or assisting goals he is fully affecting football matches. With his calmness in possession of the ball, precise passing and forward thinking gameplay Pogba is always instrumental to Manchester United and quite honestly they could not have won this match without him. The 23-year old French midfielder was just fantastic on Saturday against Middlesbrough and was essential to the Red Devils’ 2-1 win. He dominated in possession with 109 touches on the ball (only Herrera had more) but was so incredibly impressive in attack, creating 4 chances, taking 7 shots, completing 14 long ball passes out of 19 attempted and scoring Manchester United’s game winning goal. Paul Pogba is an absolute animal and at the moment there is just no stopping him. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Wing: Willian
So much quality, technique, pace and natural finishing ability, Willian Borges da Silva is a truly special player. The Brazilian winger had to go through a little bit of a spell where he was spending a little bit of time on the bench while Pedro prospered in the starting 11 but he responded brilliantly and has now worked his way back into the side. The Chelsea man was Antonio Conte’s key player on Saturday as they claimed a 4-2 win over Mark Hughes’ Stoke City and Willian scored two fantastic goals. It wasn’t just about the goals though, Willian did it all against the Potters, running back to win 2 tackles, surging forward with the ball to combine with players like Hazard and Costa throughout and always looking to strike the ball at goal, scoring with two of his five shots. What’s even more is that Pedro was brilliant in the match before against AFC Bournemouth and now that Willian has been even better against tougher opposition, Antonio Conte really does have a selection headache of him for his next match but based on that performance should probably go with the Brazilian! The wide flanks have been incredibly key to Chelsea’s amazing run of form since October and Willian continued that trend on Saturday afternoon when he completely dominated over Stoke City. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Dele Alli
After a pretty inconsistent start to this season, Dele Alli has found his best form again and is grabbing all the attention again. The British midfielder was excellent on Sunday against Watford, knowing exactly when to go forward, timing his runs to perfection and scoring two fantastic goals with two fine finishes. He showed great instincts on both goals as on the first he capitalized on a mistake from Younes Kaboul to slot home Tottenham’s third goal of the game and then shortly after half time made a darting run forward into space before finishing supremely well again into the bottom corner for the club’s fourth. The midfielder wasn’t fantastic in possession of the ball on the day, but his movement, work ethic and finishing ability were incredible contributing massively to Tottenham’s comfortable win over the Hornets. Rating: 9/10.
Left Wing: Anthony Martial
It took half the season but Anthony Martial finally found the type of form he showed last year and on Saturday put in by far his best performance of this season so far. Calum Chambers just could not handle the Frenchman on Saturday but to be fair to the Arsenal loanee, no defender in the league would have been able to cope with Martial in this kind of form. The 20-year old was just truly unbeatable in the match against Middlesbrough, always getting on the ball, driving it forward and then looking to play teammates in, put balls into the box and strike at goal himself. The Manchester United man completed 7 dribbles, was fouled four times, created 2 chances and had 3 of his 4 shots on target, including one shot that found the back of the net to give Mourinho’s side their equalizer. Anthony Martial has not had a good season at all so far but maybe this performance is the start of something new. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Andre Gray
Andre Gray tripled his Premier League goal scoring tally on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick against a struggling Sunderland side. The Black Cats had a lot of the possession in the match but every single time Sean Dyche’s men would win the ball back they were looking up and trying to find their goal scoring talisman Gray. 3 of Gray’s 7 shots in the match found the back of the net and all three of his goals were as a result of some fantastic movement, dribbling, pace and power. After leading the Championship in goals in 2015/16, the British striker has had a very slow start to this season, partially because of a ban for comments made on Twitter, but he is now back amongst the goals and one that you should also definitely consider getting in your Fantasy Premier League team. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Harry Kane
Harry Kane was magnificent in Spurs’ 4-1 win over Watford this Sunday. As time went on in the match Pochettino continued to take important players off but left Kane on until the last fifteen minutes of the game because of how incredible he was playing. Kane had 4 shots in the match, 3 of which were on target and two of which were converted wonderfully for goals. The British striker also created a further 3 chances for his teammates to score, one of which found Dele Alli for the fourth goal of the game. He also won 2 dribbles and delivered 3 crosses, proving to just be essential to every attack Spurs had. Watford were dreadful in this Sunday encounter but Tottenham and Harry Kane exploited all of their weaknesses magnificently. Rating: 10/10.
Substitutes: Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Harry Arter, Matt Phillips, Alexis Sanchez, Hal Robson-Kanu, Ashley Barnes
Player of the Week: Andre Gray
He wasn’t involved in much of the build up play and he was actually hardly on the ball during the match, but when he was he took full advantage of it and scored three wonderful goals to give his side a 4-1 win. Without Gray this could have been a very different story and the striker’s natural finishing ability has now surely cemented his place back into the side for the long-term. Andre Gray is this week’s Player of the Week for his match winning performance against Sunderland.
Manager of the Week: Sean Dyche
Counter attacking football at its finest, Sean Dyche’s Burnley were brilliant against Sunderland and fully deserved their 4-1 victory. Every single time the Clarets won the ball they were looking to attack straight away, contributing to their massive tally of 16 shots and 4 goals. Dyche focused on winning individual battles in this match as every single player had a man that they were tasked to mark and each player never allowed their opponent any room to roam. Burnley’s players won 21 tackles in the match, compared to Sunderland’s 12, while had Jermain Defoe not been such a clinical finisher Burnley were certainly organized enough to win a clean sheet. Dyche also made a couple of changes for the match and they all paid off as George Boyd and Scott Arfield were excellent down the flanks and Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes combined excellently well up top for all four of Burnley’s goals. After this massive 4-1 win the Clarets now sit in 11th place on 23 points and if they continue to play like this against the teams that sit next to them in the table they will have no difficulty at all at staying up this season.
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Week for Gameweek 19 in the Barclays Premier League. This marks the halfway point in the season so make sure to stay tuned for The Team of the Season Halfway Through coming soon! Bye for now!