Gameweek 22 in the Premier League was incredibly interesting. Out of the top six teams, Chelsea and Arsenal were the only two to claim victories and the Gunners’ late goal against Burnley shouldn’t have even counted. Pep Guardiola’s side dominated over Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur after City’s 4-0 loss last week but still couldn’t get a victory thanks to Heung-Min Son’s late goal, while Liverpool lost to Swansea and Manchester United slipped up at Stoke. The Premier League title race really is heating up at the moment but if Chelsea continue to play the way they are it is going to be all but over very, very soon. It was also a week of broken records as Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney finally ended his Premier League goal drought to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s record for most goals in a Manchester United shirt. Although United wouldn’t have even secured a draw without the United great, it wasn’t enough for the national team captain to earn a spot on this week’s Team of the Week. Instead, these are the best eleven players from Gameweek 22 in England’s top flight.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Although always up to the task when called upon, Thibaut Courtois has been relatively untroubled this season with his incredible defense in front of him doing all the dirty work before anything can even find its way to him. But the Blues’ Sunday encounter against Hull City was a different story as Courtois was called upon and tested on several occasions, making 4 excellent saves to keep the Tigers out. One ferocious strike from Harry Maguire in particular looked destined for the net until Courtois palmed it wide, while Oumar Niasse also had a fine effort from up close that was turned away by the Belgian. In addition, Courtois claimed 100% of the crosses that he was asked to and held on to keep his thirteenth clean sheet of the season. Although he’s undeniably been tested less than any other starting goalkeeper in the league this season, Thibaut Courtois has arguably been the best goalkeeper in the league this season and may be on his way to finally knocking David De Gea out of the PFA Team of the Year. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Back: Seamus Coleman
In a league full of excellent fulbacks, Seamus Coleman sometimes goes a little bit under the radar for Everton. The Irishman has been superb this season for Ronald Koeman’s men and one could even argue the case that he, over Walker, Valencia, Moses and all else, has been the best right back in the league this season. Coleman was Everton’s key man in their match against Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace on Saturday as the Eagles looked all but set to secure a 0-0 draw until Coleman burst into the box and found the back of the net with a fine right footed finish. That goal gave his side the 1-0 win but Coleman was also just a constant presence for the Toffees down that right-hand side, creating 2 chances, taking 2 shots and delivering 8 crosses into the box. On top of his game winning goal and brilliant supply down the right side, Coleman also held his defensive position well, never giving Palace new-boy Jeff Schlupp a route into the match. Seamus Coleman is one of the best defenders in the Premier League and Everton are very, very lucky to still have him in their side. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Gary Cahill
It has been Cezar Azpilicueta and David Luiz who have received all of the plaudits for their performances as part of Chelsea’s strong and sturdy back three, but Gary Cahill is having an excellent season as well and has been the leader, the captain of the team in Chelsea’s incredible run of form. Cahill has however found Team of the Week appearances hard to come by this season but after his solid display against Hull City on Sunday, finally earns his first appearance of the season. Cahill was Chelsea’s best defensive player against the Tigers as he ushered and organized his defence, magically made Abel Hernandez absolutely disappear and then popped up with a late goal to give his side a 2-0 win. Chelsea were up to their usual tricks in the first half of the match but come the second half the Tigers came out a different side and took control of the game. But Marco Silva’s side still could not break down Chelsea’s sturdy and resilient defense in which Cahill was a massive part of. Just when his Chelsea career seemed to be on the decline, Gary Cahill has had a magnificent past few months and right now looks set to captain his side to a 2016-17 Premier League title.
Centre Back: Harry Maguire
Hull City may have lost 2-0 to Chelsea but Harry Maguire was probably the best player on the pitch. Even when Chelsea were absolutely on top of their game, Maguire was still a threat to score at one end and defensively resilient at the other. The 23-year old defender was seemingly always in the right area to snuff out any danger, making 8 interceptions and 7 clearances! On top of that, he actually handled Diego Costa fairly well as the Brazilian born striker took a long time to get into the game. Maguire won 7 of his 8 duels in the air while also making 5 tackles. But the British defender wasn’t just excellent in defense, surprisingly he was also fantastic for Hull in attack and was their most lethal force going forward. Maguire completed all 5 of the take-on’s he attempted in the match, more than Pedro, Hazard and Costa combined, while he also struck two ferocious shots at goal, one that nearly crept its way in. Hull City may have gotten completely outplayed by Chelsea on Sunday but Harry Maguire certainly didn’t and was probably the best player on the pitch. His role in the team will be more important than ever in upcoming weeks if the seemingly injured Curtis Davies has to take any time out with injury. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Back: Chris Brunt
Chris Brunt might have one of the best left foots in the entire Premier League. The man scores and assists goals from left-back like few others can and could easily give your fantasy team an instant boost. The Irishman has been excellent for the Baggies since fully recovering from injury and has been one of the key reasons for their recent run of form. Brunt put in a another good performance against Sunderland this weekend as he scored his side’s second goal of the night to give West Brom a 2-0 win. On top of his goal, the Northern Irishman also did his part in defense, making 4 clearances and 2 tackles and was always looking forwards with his passes, attempting 19 long balls and completing 7 of them. Chris Brunt isn’t by any means the best left back in the league but in terms of his attacking threat is right up there with the best. Rating: 9/10.
Defensive Midfield: Ander Herrera
It was another complete performance from Ander Herrera in the Manchester United midfield as he helped United dominate over the Potters in all central areas. Although United couldn’t grab enough goals to win the match, that was no fault of Herrera’s and the Spaniard was magnificent on the day doing everything Mourinho would have asked of him and filling the Michael Carrick role so well. Herrera was wonderful in attack, taking 4 shots and creating 2 chances but was even better in defense, making 5 interceptions and winning 2 duels in the air. But most importantly of all, Herrera dictated the tempo of the match from midfield, making 110 passes, 93% of those he attempted, completed 9 long balls and had 131 touches on the ball, more than any other player on the pitch across the board. Manchester United might have failed to beat Mark Hughes’ Stoke City this weekend but that was certainly no fault of Herrera’s as he was certainly the best player on the pitch and did everything he could to win his team the match. Rating: 9/10.
Right Wing: Victor Moses
Although it’s kind of cheating to put Victor Moses in his natural position at right wing, it’s also kind of where he found himself most often against Hull City as he played a massive in role in helping Chelsea earn a 2-0 win over Marco Silva’s team. Apart from Diego Costa, Victor Moses’ was Chelsea’s most poignant attacking threat on Sunday as he created 2 chances, forced 2 fouls, completed 2 take-0n’s and assisted the opening goal of the game to help Chelsea cruise to victory. Moses also continued his good form in defense, winning 2 tackles, making 2 interceptions and 3 clearances as the Blues kept their 13th clean sheet of the season. Chelsea are very lucky that Nigeria did not qualify for the African Cup of Nations as Moses has been an integral part to Antonio Conte’s system and played a massive role in their 2-0 win this weekend against Marco Silva’s Hull.
Attacking Midfield: Manuel Lanzini
Since Dimitri Payet declared his wish to leave West Ham United, other players have needed to step up and have done so wonderfully well, making the Hammers almost appear as if they are better off without the Frenchman. This week Manuel Lanzini was the player that filled the void left by Payet as he showed his craft and assisted two goals, his first two assists of the season. The Argentinean midfielder was probably unlucky to assist just the two goals as he created 5 chances in the match, constantly keeping the pressure on Middlesbrough’s defence. Lanzini also had 60 touches on the ball, more than any other Hammer and completed 86% of his passes as West Ham completely annihilated Aitor Karanka’s side. Manuel Lanzini had a fantastic weekend, was instrumental to West Ham’s 3-1 win over Middlesbrough and earns himself his first Team of the Week Appearance in over a year. Rating: 9/10.
Left Wing: Roberto Firmino
Out of all the fantastic performers this weekend, Roberto Firmino might have been the best. The Brazilian was buzzing like a bumblebee against Swansea City, running circles around their defenders, occupying all kinds of positions and scoring both of Liverpool’s goals in a 3-2 defeat. The Brazilian was magnificent in all areas of attack, completing 6 dribbles, forcing 3 fouls, taking 6 shots and even going out wide to deliver 6 crosses. On top of that, Firmino even helped out in defense with 3 tackles and completed a solid 86% of the passes he attempted. Without Roberto Firmino this could have been a very different story for Klopp’s Liverpool as instead of just barely losing the match to a few defensive errors they could have been well and truly beaten by one of the league’s worst teams this season. Luckily, Firmino saved the Reds from embarrassment and although he couldn’t help his team to the win, he couldn’t have done anything more to try and get them there. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Fernando Llorente
Liverpool was probably the better team in Saturday’s early encounter but with a striker as talented as Fernando Llorente Swansea City were able to claim an impressive victory. Llorente was a beast in the air and made Klavan and Lovren look like two of the most incompetent centre backs in the league with his performance. The Spaniard won five aerial duels and with his only two shots, scored two goals. The first was just a little toe poke but the second was an awesome, towering, perfectly placed header. It also might surprise you that Llorente also did his bit in defense this weekend making 3 tackles. Fernando Llorente seems to score in bunches but if Swansea can continue to feed him with balls into the box he should be able to find a consistent run of form and steer clear of the relegation zone. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll is so important to West Ham United. Without him, Slavan Bilic’s side just aren’t the same team and he is proving at the moment that he is even more important to the Hammers than Dimitri Payet. Andy Caroll had a fantastic game against Middlesbrough, netting his first brace of the season as West Ham thumped Aitor Karanka’s men by a score of 3-1. Those two goals were from his only two shots in the match, proving how clinical he is when he gets sight of goal. Carroll was also a beast in the air as he always is, winning 6 duels in the air and forcing Ben Gibson to put in his worst performance of the season. He also helped out in defense with 5 clearances. Andy Carroll just gives West Ham United such a different look and without him this could have been a very different story. Rating: 10/10.
Substitutes: Petr Cech, Cedric Soares, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny, Darren Fletcher, James Ward-Prowse, Diego Costa
Player of the Week: Roberto Firmino
Out of every player this weekend Roberto Firmino was the most influential. Without him, Jurgen Klopp’s men would have had no chance at winning their match against Swansea this weekend as he scored both goals in their 3-2 defeat and was just everywhere on the pitch. The Brazilian raced around like a gazelle, always looking to get on the ball and make things happen for his side, completing 6 dribbles, forcing 3 fouls and scoring 2 goals. Roberto Firmino is one of the best players in the Premier League and if only Liverpool’s defenders had been a little bit sturdier, might have helped his side to a much needed win. Roberto Firmino is this week’s Player of the Week!
Manager of the Week: Paul Clement
Before Swansea City came calling, Paul Clement had only been the head manager of one other side, Derby County, and was sacked (undeservedly) after eight months in charge. But after a spell as the assistant manager at Bayern Munich he is now managing in the big time and is now helping a struggling Swansea side perform to their full potential again. Bob Bradley couldn’t do it, Francesco Guidolin couldn’t do it but Paul Clement has Swansea playing like the Michael Laudrup days again and has managed to turn this Swansea side back into a very organized unit. Swansea made it very tough for Liverpool to break them down at the weekend, matching them with a 4-3-3 and stopping Jordan Henderson from getting his groove on. Henderson’s been arguably Liverpool’s key man this season but against Clement he found it very difficult to have the same kind of effect he has had in other matches this season. The British midfielder was never allowed any time on the ball and was quick in giving the ball away on far too many occasions during the match. Jack Cork and Federico Fernandez also stopped Philippe Coutinho from playing as the Brazilian had arguably his worst performance of the season. Clement wasn’t afraid to get at the Reds and his team were also a lot more calm in possession, frustrating Liverpool as they kept the ball for long periods in the match. The British manager also wasn’t afraid to introduce his new signings even despite the massive scale of this match and both new signings enjoyed a fine afternoon. Martin Olsson looked bright going forward from left-back while the other new signing Tom Carroll was even better and was probably Swansea’s brightest midfielder and delivered an amazing cross for the Welsh side’s second goal of the game. The Swans also capitalized on every mistake Liverpool made and the front three of Sigurdsson, Llorente and Routledge linked up very well. Paul Clement’s side had a brilliant performance against Liverpool and if they can continue to play like that, relegation will not be something they’ll be having to worry about at all.
So there it is! The Premier League’s Team of the Week for Gameweek 22. Who do you think was wrongly left out? Who do you think was this week’s standout player? Comment below to share your thoughts and don’t be afraid to share it with your friends! See you next time!