The Premier League is well and truly heating up. The relegation battle is as tight as can be with Swansea’s 2-0 win against Leicester really dragging the Foxes into dangerous territory. The race for the top four is also alive and zestful as Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all picked up crucial results this week. Gameweek 25 was certainly full of intrigue and also had some fantastic performers that we cannot neglect. These are the Premier League’s best 11 players from Matchday 25.
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero
Calls for Pep Guardiola to drop Claudio Bravo had been ongoing since his first appearance for the club and the Spanish manager finally did it after their horrible 4-0 defeat to Everton. Since then the Sky Blues have gone five games unbeaten and Caballero has always played his part. The Argentinean goalkeeper was superb on Monday against Bournemouth, making 2 impressive saves and one very impressive tackle (pictured above) to help City keep their third clean sheet in their last four matches. Caballero is 35 and is not the long-term solution for Manchester City (Joe Hart clearly is) but he had an excellent performance on Gameweek 25 and proved that when needed, he can be an excellent option for Guardiola to use in goal. Rating: 8/10.
Right Back: Martin Olsson
He’s actually a left-back but Martin Olsson put in such a good performance against Leicester City that he could not be ommitted from the team of the week and sees a position change as a result. The Swedish defender has been quite brilliant since arriving from Norwich in January and had a massive role in their crushing 2-0 victory over the Foxes. Olsson’s goal was superbly taken and he was also key in defense, making 8 clearances. In addition, Olsson was a constant presence down that left-hand side for Swansea and a constant thorn in the side of Leicester, getting forward to deliver 5 crosses and create 2 chances. Right now Martin Olsson is looking like one of the best signings of the January transfer window and is playing a massive role in Swansea’s quest to survive this season. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Back: Alfie Mawson
Swansea’s most dominant performer in their crucial 2-0 win over the Foxes. Alfie Mawson has been one of Swansea’s best players this season and has been critical to Paul Clement’s success so far at the club. On Sunday, Mawson put in a brilliant shift against Leicester, leading his side to victory with his incredible defensive attributes and sublime goal. It was Mawson that opened the scoring when his thunderous volley found the back of the net in the 36th minute and from that moment on, Swansea were able to sit back and defend, to which they did magnificently. The Swansea man dominated in defense, making 9 clearances and winning 5 duels in the air and was also excellent in possession, completing 87% of his passes and 8 of the 11 long ball passes he attempted. Alfie Mawson has been crucial to Swansea’s success this season and after being a relatively unknown entity in the Premier League until this season he might be one of Clement’s most important players in Swansea’s quest to survive this season. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly had no difficulty at all against Watford and was up to the task every single time he was called upon. The Ivory Coast defender might only be 22 but with a calm persona and swagger in possession of the ball looks like he’s been in the game for years. The former Villarreal man completely dominated over Troy Deeney and in fact any of Mazzarri’s attacking outlets, making 5 tackles and 9 clearances to help his side ease their way to a clean sheet. The United man also stepped into midfield to complete 2 dribbles and force 2 fouls and was just a very solid performer in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Watford. His performances at the back with Chris Smalling in the last two matches might have just solidified their place in Mourinho’s back-line for the rest of the season. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Back: Ryan Bertrand
Ryan Bertrand was fantastic in both attack and defense for Southampton as they romped over the Black Cats to a 4-0 victory. The British defender was one of the key reasons why the Saints were able to cruise through this match and was defensively solid all game long, completing 2 tackles, 5 interceptions and 2 clearances. But Bertrand was even better in attack, getting forward to whip in 9 crosses and create 3 chances, one of which was converted for an assist. The Southampton defender also completed 88% of his passes and had 84 touches on the ball, contributing to his all-around fantastic performance against David Moyes’ Sunderland. Ryan Bertrand is one of the best left-backs in the league and illustrated exactly why on Matchday 25. Rating: 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera has become one of The Mastermind‘s favourite players this season due to his phenomenal performances in the heart of the Manchester United midfield. The Spanish midfielder currently leads the league in interceptions and made a massive mark in United’s game against Watford this time out with his fantastic ability in the tackle. Herrera made a stunning tally of 7 tackles against the Hornets, constantly winning possession back for his team, while he also added a further 2 interceptions and 2 clearances to his name, just acting as a pivotal cog in defense for Jose Mourinho’s team. But Herrera was also an orchestrater to Manchester United’s brilliant attacking symphony on Saturday, dictating the tempo of the performance with 81 passes, 2 chances created, a 90% pass accuracy and 101 touches on the ball. Ander Herrera is so good in all areas of the game and completely dominated the midfield once again in Manchester United’s 2-0 win against Watford. The Spanish midfielder is quickly turning into one of the best midfielders in the league and wins his fourth Team of the Week appearance of the season.
Right Wing: Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling was phenomenal against Bournemouth, leading the charge in Manchester City’s 2-0 win. The City winger kept City’s width magnificently, allowing them to constantly play into a weakness of Bournemouth and put crosses into the box and exploiting the fullbacks down the flanks. Sterling’s footwork was excellent against the Cherries, dancing around the defenders as if they were pylons and completing 4 dribbles in the process. He also of course scored City’s opener and assisted the second, contributing to both goals as Guardiola now remains unbeaten in 5 games since that horrible Everton defeat. Sterling helped out in defense with 2 tackles, was a key provider of chances, whipping in 6 crosses and contributing with two key passes and also had 2 of his 3 shots in the match on target. When he’s in this kind of form he is just so hard to stop and Bournemouth, the side that Sterling always seems to get the most joy out of playing against, found that out once again. He’s been key to Guardiola’s run of form recently and was their best performer by far this weekend in their 2-0 victory. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Wing: Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial’s pace on the counter attack was used to devastating effect on Saturday as Manchester United thumped Watford. Martial contributed to both goals, assisting the first and scoring the second, leading Mourinho’s side to a 2-0 victory over the Hornets. The Frenchman hasn’t had a lot of chances under Mourinho this season and had a really slow start to 2016-17 but has been in phenomenal form when he’s played in the past few weeks and put in one of his best displays of the season so far against Walter Mazzarri’s side. On top of his goal and assist, Martial had 4 shots, completed 3 take-on’s and made 2 tackles, helping Manchester United to always remain in control and on top of the Hornets. This could be the type of performance to kick-start Anthony Martial’s season and make him one of Mourinho’s most important men again. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Striker: Sadio Mane
Within twenty minutes Sadio Mane had already made the team of the week with his fantastic performance against Tottenham Hotspur. The Senegalse forward used his pace and power to exploit Ben Davies and make him look like a very average player, scoring two goals within twenty minutes and leading Liverpool’s fantastic charge at the start of the game. What would Liverpool be without Mane right now? Certainly not in the top four. The pacey winger dominated over Pocchettino’s side, completing 2 dribbles, forcing 2 fouls and hitting the target with all four of his shots. His pace just caused Tottenham’s defense all sorts of problems and was the main reason why Liverpool were able to grab such a strong hold over Spurs in this match. The Reds were under a fair bit of criticism for their lacklustre performances in recent weeks but they have now responded to that criticism brilliantly, putting their title charge back on with a fabulous performance against Tottenham Hotspur. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Forward: Alexis Sanchez
Scorer of both goals against Hull and Arsenal’s hero once again. Where would the Gunners be right now without Alexis Sanchez? Probably nowhere near the top four as he has been the primary source of goals and their leading man throughout all competitions this season. Sanchez was magnificent against the Tigers, a side coming into this match in good form having just beaten Liverpool and drawn Manchester United. The Gunners in fact had no difficulty at all dealing with Marco Silva’s men which was largely due to their star man. The Chilean forward netted two goals from four shots on target, completed four dribbles, created three chances and had 61 touches on the ball, acting as Arsenal’s key man in attack as he has done all season. Alexis Sanchez might be the player of the season so far and is leading Arsenal to better times in a season where they have been absolutely battered for a series of lacklustre performances. Without him they would surely be doomed but with Sanchez in their side, Arsenal’s quest to finish top four will easily be achieved once again in 2016-17. Rating: 10/10.
Left Striker: Manolo Gabbiadini
Manolo Gabbiadini has been Southampton’s savior since joining from Napoli and is showing the kind of form that begs the question as to why Maurizio Sarri ever let him go. The Italian striker was on fire against Sunderland, showing all kinds of tricks and skill and imposing his raw pace and power on his way to score two fantastic goals. Gabbiadini netted those two goals from five shots, leading the line wonderfully well and guiding the Saints to a massive away victory. Gabbiadini didn’t have any other standout statistic on the day but caused Kone and Denayer all sorts of problems, two defenders who were brilliant in the previous matchday, and finished off two chances wonderfully well. Rating: 9/10.
Substitutes: Gareth McAuley, Jack Cork, Oriol Romeu, Juan Mata, Sofiane Feghouli, Manuel Lanzini, Gylfi Sigurdsson
Player of the Week: Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane was on top of his game and on top of his opposition on Saturday, leading Liverpool to a 2-0 win against Tottenham. Showing shades of the day he scored the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick, Mane had the Reds up to 2-0 within 25 minutes with his electrifying pace and clinical finishing to match. The Senegalese winger just caused Ben Davies and Eric Dier all sorts of problems while no one who even made an attempt to tame the beast could reign him under control. When Sadio Mane is in this kind of form he is just inspirational to watch and definitely deserves to pick up his second Player of the Week award of the season.
Manager of the Week: Jurgen Klopp
Watching Liverpool against Tottenham on Saturday was like watching Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side that he took all the way to the UEFA Champions League final. Liverpool pressed Spurs so high up the field that they just did not know how to cope with it and were forced into making a countless number of errors The German manager was excellent in rallying his side to get at Spurs, make life difficult for them and cause chaos in their defensive third. Mane and Firmino’s high press on Liverpool’s defenders made it impossible for Spurs to get out of their own half while every single time the Reds gained back possession they would immediately go on the attack, looking for their silky ball players in Coutinho and Lallana or their skillful sprinters like Firmino and Mane. Georginio Wijnaldum practically ran the show from deep and together with Henderson completely dominated over Wanyama and Dembele for probably the first time ever this season. Lucas Leiva proved to be a key man in this match as well, justifying his selection in the team ahead of Lovren while the aggressive nature of Liverpool in defense, Lucas included, ensured that Tottenham could barely get off a shot. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were just on fire on Saturday and absolutely on top of their game. This was on the back of uninspiring defeats to the likes of Hull City and Swansea, so Klopp’s men responded to their recent losses magnificently. Although Claude Puel was brilliant in leading his side to a 4-0 win over Sunderland and Paul Clement has to be credited for his turnaround at Swansea City, it has to be Jurgen Klopp who wins this week’s Manager of the Week award.
Honourable Mentions: Paul Clement, Claude Puel
So there it is! The Team of the Week for Gameweek 25 in the Premier League. Things are heating up, the race for top four is well and truly on and the relegation battle is even tighter. This certainly will be an intriguing final 13 matches in the league and The Mastermind can’t wait to bring you more every single week. See you next time!
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