It’s finally over. Chelsea’s incredible 13 game winning streak has finally come to an end at the hands of Mauricio Pochettino and Dele Alli’s brilliance as Tottenham Hotspur claimed to a 2-0 victory. That incredible result was just one of many entertaining matches this weekend though and through all the incredible moments there were some standout players certainly worth noting. Below are the best eleven players for Gameweek 20 in the English Premier League.
Goalkeeper: Vito Mannone
Jordan Pickford has done brilliantly well all season well at Sunderland to keep Vito Mannone out of the side but now that the British goalkeeper is injured, Mannonne was given his chance to play for the Black Cats again and was magnificent against Liverpool, almost making himself appear unlucky to lose his place at the start of the season. Perhaps all the time spent on the sidelines allowed the Italian to hit the gym more as he just looked so strong against the Reds on Monday. Vito Mannone was integral to Sunderland’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool, making a stunning tally of 10 saves. None of the saves were particularly amazing, but his ability to be in the right place at the right time and never make a mistake was certainly impressive. He also claimed 3/3 crosses that came his way. The Italian goalkeeper may have conceded 2 goals that he was never going to be able to save but stopping the Reds times is just unreal and is really a massive reason why the Black Cats were able to claim a surprise 2-2 draw against title challengers Liverpool. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Back: Charlie Daniels
Bournemouth left-back Charlie Daniels come into this week’s Team of the Week at right back, his second appearance of the season, for his brilliant performance against Arsenal as he earned his side a surprise 3-3 draw. Daniels had a hand in two of the Cherries’ three goals, scoring one and assisting the other as he nearly led them to victory. He completely controlled youngster Alex Iwobi defensively as the 20-year old Nigerian never found his feet in the match. Daniels made 2 tackles, 4 clearances and 3 interceptions while also winning 71% of his duels. On top of that he was brilliant going forward, scoring from his only shot on goal, assisting another and completing 3 dribbles. Charlie Daniels is one of the best attack-minded fullbacks in the league and illustrated that perfectly on Tuesday night against Arsenal. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Nicholas Otamendi
Nicholas Otamendi was a beast in the air against Burnley, a side that is usually so strong and physical. He was the best player on the pitch by far, winning 13 aerial duels and completely dominating over centre forwards who have been in good form as of late in Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes. His 73 touches were more than any other player on the pitch as was his tally of 14 clearances! Otamendi also completed 3 interceptions, won 2 tackles, and made a clearance off the line to help the Citizines beat the Clarets and win his third team of the week appearance of the season, a second appearance against Burnley. Nicholas Otamendi has been criticized on several occasions this season for his off-the ball defensive awareness but his on-the-ball prowess has always been fantastic and he proved that once again this monday as Manchester City narrowly beat Sean Dyche’s Burnley by a score of 2-1. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Ryan Shawcross
Ryan Shawcross has had a bit of a torrid time to start this season and is nowhere near as consistent as he once was for Stoke City under Tony Pulis’ regime. However, the British defender had his best performance of the season against Watford this week as he helped his side claim a deserved 2-0 victory. Shawcross dominated in both penalty areas. He scored Stoke’s first goal of the game with an uncharacteristically stellar left-footed volley and was also brilliant at the other end of the pitch in organizing his defense and leading them to a clean sheet. The 29-year old centre back made more clearances than anyone on the pitch with, 12 and won six aerial duels (only Peter Crouch won more). Ryan Shawcross is a very good defender and just has not shown it at all this season. If he can continue this kind of form, Stoke should be able to roll over their opposition on several more occasions this season as they look to finish in the top ten for the fourth straight season. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Back: Leighton Baines
Coming in at left-back this week is ex-England international Leighton Baines who picks up his second Team of the Week appearance of the season. Baines has looked a lot more comfortable again for the Toffees in recent matches and has been a key part of their recent resurgence in form. His best performance of the season so far also came this Monday against Southampton. Baines scored the second goal of the game from the spot and played a role in the Toffees’ attacking prowess throughout the match, creating 2 chances and delivering 3 crosses. But he was also Everton’s key man in defense, completing 7 tackles and 2 clearances as Everton kept a clean sheet. Leighton Baines had a great performance against Southampton and is one of this week’s standout defenders. Rating: 9/10.
Right Wing: Christian Eriksen
Christian Eriksen is the league’s most in-form player right now. The Danish international was magnificent in December for Spurs easily walking into our December Team of the Month with 4 goals and 2 assists in 6 matches and has now carried his form over to January with another two assists this time against league leaders Chelsea. Eriksen was a key reason why Chelsea could never find any form of fluidity in the match as he dropped down from his position of right wing to help out in defense and try and run the show from midfield. He had 4 shots, won 2 duels in the air, made 2 tackles, completed 1 interception and delivered 7 crosses, two of which found the head of Dele Alli. With his performances in recent months, you can no longer ignore the fact that Christian Eriksen is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Dele Alli
Dele Alli has now made four consecutive Team of the Week appearances with his perfect display against Chelsea to help end their unbeaten run. The 20-year old midfielder was everywhere from an attacking point of view for the Spurs, completely dominating over defenders in Victor Moses and Cesar Azplicueta who have been so defensively solid the past few months. Few gave Tottenham a chance against the Blues who seemed certain to break Arsenal’s record for consecutive games won, but Dele Alli ended that streak with two fantastic goals. The British midfielder scored from two of his three shots, won two tackles and was the epitome of this surprise win. Dele Alli might be the best midfielder in the league at the moment as he just can’t stop scoring. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Wing: Matt Phillips
Matt Phillips was all but set to make the Team of the Week in Gameweek 19 until Dele Alli stole the show for Spurs against Watford and knocked him to the subs bench. This time though it is Phillips who flourishes in the side as he continues to lead West Brom to glory. The former QPR man has been in supreme form as of late and dominated over Hull City this monday to lead Tony Pulis’ side to a 3-1 victory. Phillips assisted two of West Brom’s three goals in the match, proving to be their key man in attack. The left-winger also had 54 touches, completed 85% of his passes, had 2 shots and completed 3 take-on’s as he helped the Baggies rise up to 8th place in the table. If he continues on like this, Matt Phillips may soon find himself at one of the Premier League’s elite clubs. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Olivier Giroud
Olivier Giroud was almost unfairly kept out of the side for the entirety of the first half of the season, albeit Alexis Sanchez flourished up top in his absence, but the Frenchman has now worked his way back into the side and had a stunning performance on Tuesday against AFC Bournemouth. Not many of Arsenal’s players were up to par during the match but Giroud was the exception. The 30-year old striker had a hand in all three of Arsenal’s goals, scoring one and assisting the other two and could not have done anything more to try and help the Gunners win. The Frenchman also completed 88% of his passes and won 4 duels in the air and gave Arsenal that focal point up front to look for and try and get goals. Olivier Giroud is a very good striker who often goes overlooked despite almost always having a positive influence on Arsenal’s matches. One thing is for sure, without Giroud this game could have gone very differently. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku was criticized just three days ago for his lacklustre performance against Hull City but responded brilliantly, leading his side to a 3-0 victory over the out-of-form Southampton on Monday. Lukaku was everything that Everton needed him to be on Monday. He was a target man, he linked up well with others, he won his battles in the air and he found the back of the net. The Belgian international grabbed a goal and an assist against the Saints to give Everton that 3-0 victory but did so much more than just that, taking 5 shots, winning 5 duels in the air, forcing 3 fouls and creating 2 chances. When he is on top of his game, Romelu Lukaku is just so difficult to stop and he was certainly on top of his game this week as Ronald Koeman’s side claimed their third win in five matches. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Jermain Defoe
Where would Sunderland be without Jermain Defoe? Quite frankly, they would probably be in the Championship by now. The 34-year old striker has been their best player for years and continues to lead them to better times. Although Sunderland have been dreadful for large parts of this season, Jermain Defoe hasn’t at all and has always looked lively and a threat to score. One of his best performances of the season came this weekend against Liverpool as he netted two goals to earn his side a deserved 2-2 draw. They may have been penalty shots but they are still goals nonetheless and by the way, no goalkeeper in the world would have saved either of his perfectly placed penalties. On top of his two goals, Defoe had 3 other shots in the match and completed 81% of his passes as he was a constant threat to Liverpool’s defence and by far Sunderland’s most spirited performer. Rating: 8.5/10.
Substitutes: Ashley Williams, Alfie Mawson, Ander Herrera, Victor Wanyama, Charlie Adam, Ryan Fraser, Gylfi Sigurdsson
Player of the Week: Dele Alli
This incredible 20-year old footballer ended Chelsea’s dream of breaking Arsenal’s longstanding record for consecutive games won this week with two fantastic finishes. Alli has now scored a brace in each of his last three games for the Spurs and this one might be the most impressive because of the toughness of the opposition. The British midfielder was always involved with everything good from Tottenham in an attacking sense and gave players like Azpilicueta and Moses so much trouble. Dele Alli is an easy decision for this week’s Player of the Week and right now is in the type of form that could solidfy his reputation as one of the best players in the Premier League. If Tottenham are going to have any chance of winning the Premier League title this season then this is the man that is going to get them there.
Manager of the Week: Mauricio Pochettino
Everyone was expecting Chelsea to beat Tottenham Hotspur and extend their fantastic win streak to a record breaking fourteen games. But Mauricio Pochettino got his tactics spot on and rallied his side to a massive 2-0 win that has sent them into the top four. The Argentinean manager matched Chelsea’s formation and made sure that every single one of Conte’s players had a match, someone that was constantly putting pressure on them. By playing Rose and Walker at wing back and forcing Alli and Eriksen to take up a lot of defensive work, Tottenham were never outnumbered in defense and found it easy to tame the likes of Pedro, Hazard and even N’Golo Kante. Meanwhile, Dier, Vertonghen and Alderweireld handled Diego Costa perfectly and ensured that one of the three of them was always putting pressure on the in-form striker, even when he dropped into midfield. Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele also provided an immense amount of support in front of that back three and did such a good job at winning their individual battles against Kante and Matic that it would be hard to see Pochettino steering away from this formation in the near future. Finally, Tottenham were brilliant on the counter-attack and caught Chelsea off guard and out of position to score and head home both of their goals. It was a brilliant result and arguably Pochettino’s most impressive as Tottenham Hotspur manager given what was at stake for his opposition. Now Tottenham Hotspur might be able to go on and put together a serious title charge just like they did last season in 2015/16.