What a weekend of action it was in the Premier League. Two of the league’s largest strugglers picked up massive wins, Hull City against Liverpool and Sunderland against Crystal Palace, while Chelsea extended their magnificent lead at the top of the table. Some of this weekend’s standout players included Gabriel Jesus who stole the show for Manchester City against Swansea and four goal Romelu Lukaku ran the show for Everton against AFC Bournemouth. But those are just two of the names so let’s bring you the rest. These are the best 11 players from Matchday 24 along with The Mastermind’s Player and Manager of the Week.
Goalkeeper: Vito Mannone
Vito Mannone hasn’t missed a beat since coming back into the Sunderland side and just when everyone was talking about Jordan Pickford being the next big thing, the Italian has proven to be a highly effective goalkeeper again. Sunderland were magnificent against Crystal Palace in the first half but in the second half found themselves far too open at times, allowing several shots to find their way towards Mannnone. But the Italian was up to the task every single time and made some stunning saves in the process of maintaining his clean sheet. The 28-year old made 7 saves to keep the Eagles out, more than any other keeper this weekend by quite some margin. Whoever remains in goal for the rest of the season will be so crucial to Sunderland’s bid for survival as both Pickford or Mannone have proven to be so capable in goal this season. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Back: Lamine Kone
After a season full of struggle, Lamine Kone picks up his first Team of the Week appearance in Sunderland’s best performance of 2016-17 so far. The French defender has been one of Sunderland’s only decent performers throughout the season and certainly stepped up to the plate in a massive way in helping his side demolish Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace this weekend. Kone was defensively solid in all aspects of the game, making 9 clearances, making 3 interceptions, winning 4 duels in the air and winning 100% of the tackles he attempted. The Frenchman was also superb in attack, winning 3 dribbles and finding the target with 100% of his shots, including Sunderland’s opening goal of the game. Lamine Kone had a brilliant performance against Crystal Palace, impressed in both penalty areas and is one of this week’s standout players. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Back: Andrea Ranocchia
I can’t believe that Inter Milan let this lad go. But what a singing it was from Marco Silva to get Andrea Ranocchia on loan for the rest of the season. The ex-Inter captain will certainly play a massive role in Hull City’s bid to survive this season and had a role of the utmost importance in the Tigers’ 2-0 win over Liverpool. The Italian made a stunning 19 clearances, the second most of any other player this weekend and on top of that, also won 2 duels in the air and made 2 blocks to help the Tigers keep their second clean sheet in a row. He also had a role to play in attack, assisting Oumar Niasse’s goal for 2-0. Andrea Ranocchia is a fantastic defender and will certainly be someone to keep your eye on for the rest of the season. With him in this kind of form Hull City’s defense instantly and dramatically improves. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly were so fantastic against Leicester City that perhaps Rojo and Jones will find it hard to steal that spot back in the side. The United defender made an incredible 20 clearances against the Foxes, more than any other player this weekend as the Red Devils swept all three points in a 3-0 victory. Smalling also won 86% of his duels, including 10/11 duels in the air, a fantastic achievement. The British defender also completed 91% of his passes and even assisted a goal to help United cruise to victory. It was a fantastic performance from Chris Smalling on Matchday 24 and one that certainly calls into question why it has taken him so long to get back into the side even despite the solid efforts of Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones at the back for Mourinho’s side. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Midfield: Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley has had a rollercoaster ride of a season so far but in Everton’s colossal transformation in the past few months has been playing some of his best football again. Matchday 24 was perhaps Ross Barkley’s best ever game in an Everton shirt. The British midfielder combined brilliantly with Romelu Lukaku to steal the show in the Toffees’ 6-3 win over the Cherries, scoring and assisting a goal each. He was fantastic in attack all game long, creating 3 chances, taking 2 shots and completing 3 take-on’s. But what was even more impressive was how crucial he was in constantly winning possession back for his side. The 23-year old midfielder made 5 tackles, 2 interceptions and 4 clearances, proving that he’s more than capable in both aspects of the game. Barkley created 3 chances in the match, struck two shots at goal and completed 3 take-on’s. If he continues to play like he did this past weekend against Bournemouth, Ross Barkley will definitely soon earn a recall to Gareth Southgate’s England squad. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Midfield: Pedro Obiang
I don’t think the West Ham fans would have thought too much of Pedro Obiang in his time at West Ham so far, but after his amazing performance against Southampton they’ll be absolutely loving him. The 24-year old midfielder commanded West Ham’s midfield against the Saints and was magnificent in both attack and defense. Obiang contributed to 2 of the Hammers’ 3 goals, assisting one and scoring the other and also made 3 tackles and interceptions each, contributing massively to the game. West Ham have had a brilliant past few results and now look set to finish at least within the top ten again if not even better. Pedro Obiang could now be very important to the rest of their season. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Wing: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
After a slow start to the season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is firing on all cylinders and is turning into Manchester United’s key man. The Armenian midfielder had an exceptional performance against Leicester City and was the standout star of a team of standout Manchester United performers. Mkhitaryan was a non-stop running machine against the Foxes and with all of his skills and tricks on full display his passing, movement and creativity were absolutely hypnotizing. The former Dortmund man scored United’s opening goal to get the game going and then assisted Juan Mata’s with a beautiful pass. With 78 touches, 3 chances created, 3 duels won in the air and 4 shots during the match Mkhitaryan just put a constant amount of pressure on Leicester’s defense. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of the best midfielders in the world and now that he is finally getting a run of games in he is showing it on full display again. Rating: 10/10.
Left Wing: Eden Hazard
Despite Chelsea’s brilliant performance against Arsenal, Eden Hazard is the only Blue to make the Team of the Week this time as he ran the show and scored one of the best goals of the season thus far. Hazard was magnificent against the Gunners and never gave them any shot at winning the match with his incredible calmness on the ball and incisive attacking play. The Belgian had 71 touches on the ball to which only Nemanja Matic had more and he, as Hazard always does, completed a stunning total of 10 dribbles, more than every other Chelsea player combined (7). He also scored a fantastic goal, one of the best solo goals in Premier League history, to which probably two or three of those dribbles come from. Hazard also made 2 interceptions, created 2 chances and forced Arsenal into making 3 fouls. It seems as though the Premier League title isn’t much of a race anymore as Chelsea seem to have it almost all but sewn up; but perhaps the race to keep an eye on instead is for Player of the Year, which Eden Hazard is certainly at the top of the list for. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus has had an incredible start to life at Manchester City and is the first player this season to earn two back to back Team of the Week Appearances in his first two starts for a club. After scoring inside the first fifteen minutes, Jesus also joined the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Robinho to become one of the very few City players to score in his first two starts for the club, highlighting how much of an impact he is making to Pep Guardiola’s side. When City looked set to tie the match, almost undeservedly, Jesus bailed them out again with a last-minute goal to win them the match in crucial circumstances. The Brazilian also created 3 chances and forced 3 fouls, putting a constant amount of pressure on Paul Clement’s side and linking up with his fellow attacking players brilliantly well. Gabriel Jesus is so exciting to watch and truly could be Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s saviour this season. With him in this kind of form, Sergio Aguero, generally considered one of the greatest Premier League strikers of all time, might have to spend a little while longer biding his time from the bench. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Jermain Defoe
Few players in Premier League history have scored as many goals at a faster rate than Jermain Defoe. It might not seem like it, but the 34-year old is one of the greatest forwards in Premier League history and when he went to Toronto FC three years ago it seemed as though his career was all but over. But in his return to the Premier League with Sunderland he has been magnificent and now with 14 goals in 24 matches, might actually end up scoring more goals this season than in any Premier League season he’s ever been a part of before. The Sunderland striker had all three of his shots on target, two of which were converted for goals to help lead Sunderland to a massive 4-0 win over fellow relegation battlers Crystal Palace. Just give Jermain Defoe the ball and he will find the back of the net. He’s done it throughout his career and continues to defy odds with his goal scoring touch, leading Sunderland slowly out of the relegation zone. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
It is possible that no player has a better performance in a Premier League match this season than Romelu Lukaku did this past weekend in Gameweek 24. Lukaku was involved in nearly all six goals, scoring four and creating one of the other two to lead Everton to a massive 6-3 victory. Those 4 goals came about from just 5 shots, proving how clinical the big Belgian can be in front of goal when he is in full flow. With 5 successful dribbles, 2 duels won in the air, 2 chances created and 53 touches, Lukaku just dominated this game and was completely on top of the opposition all throughout the 90 minutes. Romelu Lukaku was magnificent against Bournemouth and fantastically is now the league’s leading goal scorer with 16 goals in 23 matches. Rating: 10/10.
Substitutes: Thibaut Courtois, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Alonso, Didier Ndong, James McCarthy, Joshua King, M’Baye Niang
Player of the Week: Romelu Lukaku
Who else could it be but Romelu Lukaku this week? There were actually a host of magnificent performers this weekend but none of them could compare to 4-goal Romelu Lukaku. The big Belgian completely dominated over Bournemouth, running the show for Everton from an attacking perspective and scoring 4 goals and creating James McCarthy’s goal as well. He was also good in possession of the ball, winning 5 dribbles and getting on the ball for 53 touches. Romelu Lukaku is one of the best strikers in the Premier League and had his best performance of the season to win this week’s Player of the Week award.
Manager of the Week: David Moyes
If you saw this score at halftime you’d have probably thought it was Crystal Palace who were up 4-0 over Sunderland. But no, David Moyes’ side completely demoralized Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace, calling into question Big Sam’s tactics and highlighting how good of a manager David Moyes can be. With brilliant finishing and individual skill galore, Moyes’ men were absolutely on top of their opposition and the width of Ovideo and Jones completely opened the game up. The former Everton, Man United and Real Sociedad manager is the latest of Premier League managers to try out the 3-at-the-back formation and it worked out perfectly for Moyes’ men on Saturday. Denayer and Kone were brilliant at the back for Moyes while Billy Jones and new signing Bryan Oviedo were fantastic down the flanks. Didier Ndong controlled the midfield for Moyes’ men and it was certainly the right move for the manager to bring him straight back into the team after the African Cup of Nations. Playing Adnan Januzaj as a ten off of Jermain Defoe also proved to be an incredibly smart move as the Belgian assisted two goals and Defoe scored two goals. David Moyes has had a brilliant transfer window and got his tactics all right against Sam Allardyce’s side, leading his team to a 4-0 victory and picking up the Manager of the Week award.
Honourable Mention: Marco Silva
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Week for Gameweek 24! Like what you read? Click the follow button or follow The Mastermind @raadesmo on Twitter for more.
See you next time!