Matchday 27 has officially come to a close with a bundle of big wins and far too many star performers to count. It seems crazy that there are only 10 games left now in the 2016-17 Premier League season. It seems to have flown by without warning and with the way these past couple of weeks have gone, I don’t think anyone wants it to end anytime soon. Chelsea won again and even if they are running away with the title, the race for the top four is still as entertaining as ever. Liverpool claimed a massive victory to propel them up to third, Tottenham kept the pressure on Chelsea for a short little while with their victory against Everton and Manchester United missed a massive opportunity to get into the top five. But with so many star performers on show, only three players from teams mentioned above managed to make the Team of the Week. So let’s see who they are and who makes up the rest of the best 11 from Matchday 27 in the Premier League.
Goalkeeper: Artur Boruc
The last time I head sportscasters discuss Artur Boruc they said that there was no way he would be a Premier League player next year because he is no longer playing to that quality. But Boruc’s performance against Manchester United on Saturday proved that to be entirely untrue as the Polish goalkeeper made some stunning saves to help Bournemouth claim a surprise 1-1 draw. The 37-year old made six saves against the Red Devils, including one crucial penalty save against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a smart stop early on against Paul Pogba. Impressively, Boruc also made 10 successful claims, 100% of those that he came for, and was reliable defensively in making 3 clearances for his side. With a handful of nice saves and a crucial penalty stop, Artur Boruc was far and away the best player on the pitch in Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United and was the most vital reason why the Cherries were able to pick up their first ever point at Old Trafford. Rating: 10/10.
Right Back: Antonio Valencia
Antonio Valencia’s career at Manchester United seemed all but over until Louis Van Gaal came along and turned him into an established right-back. Now all of a sudden, he’s one of the best at that position in the entire league. Valencia has flourished under Mourinho this season and has been at times there best player. The Ecuadorian was often heavily criticized in the past for over-complicating things, being rash and at times even being deemed selfish, but none of those words could be used to describe the current Valencia who just seems to have a much cooler head about him this season. The United defender had a great game against Bournemouth and was just about United’s only good player in a 1-1 draw. The Ecuadorian was a key factor down that right wing, whipping in 4 crosses, creating 2 chances and assisting the game’s first goal. He was also on top of his defensive duties, making 2 tackles. It seems almost crazy to say it, but Antonio Valencia is one of the best right-back’s in the league right now and continues to be one of Jose Mourinho’s most important players at Manchester United this season. Rating: 8/10.
Centre Back: Aleksandar Kolarov
Both John Stones and Nicholas Otamendi have received a tremendous amount of criticism for their lackluster defending this year, but this weekend Aleksandar Kolarov came into the team and did an excellent job at the back for Pep Guardiola’s team. Kolarov was significant at both ends of the pitch and all areas of the game, particularly in possession of the ball where he had 114 touches and made 95 passes, more than any other player on the pitch. In total Kolarov completed 87% of the passes he attempted, created 1 chance and even impressed with his dribbling, forcing three fouls and completing three take-on’s. But that’s not all, the Serbian international also impressed in defense, making 4 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 clearances and blocking 2 shots; proving to be a sturdy option at the back for Manchester City. Aleksandar Kolarov is unlikely to hold down a permanent place in the XI but until Vincent Kompany is fully fit, the Serbian has proven that he can be a very capable option for Guardiola at centre back.
Left Back: Martin Olsson
Martin Olsson has been one of the very best signings of the January transfer window. At just £4m, the Swedish international has proven to be an amazingly astute acquisition by Paul Clement. Olsson has possibly even been the best left-back in the league since the start of the year and the influence he has had on the Swans has just been immense! After winning his first Team of the Week appearance against Leicester City on Matchday 25, Olsson now picks up his second this week after being Swansea’s best player in a 3-2 victory against the Clarets. His influence on the side was just incredible, particularly in attack where he delivered 8 crosses, created 2 chances, and had 4 shots, 3 of which were on target! Olsson also had 103 touches on the ball, 10 more than any other player on the pitch, highlighting his importance in this match. Martin Olsson made an incredible stamp on this match, has been key to Swansea’s recent run of form and will continue to be key as the Swans continue to steer clear of the relegation zone. Rating: 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Georginio Wijnaldum
Georginio Wijandlum always seems to come up big at the end of matches. Not that he wasn’t brilliant throughout the 90 minutes against the Gunners, but when everyone else was tired and fading out of the game, Wijnaldum as he always does, still had the energy to make a darting run into the box and score a late goal. The Dutchman has been one of the keys to Liverpool’s success this season and has slotted into Jurgen Klopp’s midfield three magnificently well. Incredible stamina, incredible tactical know-how and a brilliant ability to read the game are just a few of his best attributes, all of which were on show on Saturday night. Wijnaldum was brilliant against Arsenal, acting as a crucial cog in Liverpool’s stern midfield that completely shut the Gunners out. He was excellent with the ball at his feet, completing nearly 94% of his passes and creating 1 chance. He was a non-stop running machine in the heart of that midfield and also had 2 of his three shots in the match on target, one of which found the back of the net. Georginio Wijnaldum has been phenomenal for Liverpool this season and with top quality performances continues his trajectory towards becoming one of the league’s most established midfielders. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Wing: Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane is so clinical in front of goal. The Liverpool superstar seems to just come up big in the biggest of games and whenever he is on top of his game, Liverpool are as well. It was Mane who again stole the show for the Reds for just about the tenth time this season as he led Liverpool to a 3-1 win. Mane got the game off and running by using his unstoppable pace and power to charge past Nacho Monreal before delivering the perfect pass into the box, eventually finding the feet of Firmino who slotted it in for 1-0. Throughout the match, no Arsenal player who attempted to grab hold of him could ever came out on top. Xhaka looked lifeless, Monreal’s lack of pace was exposed like Ben Davies’ was for Spurs 2 weeks ago and Francis Coquelin was so poor that he was taken off at half-time. This was all due to the dauntless approach that Mane took to this match as the Senegalese proved to be Liverpool’s star man once again. It wasn’t just an assist for Mane, the right-winger also grabbed a goal 30 minutes later, completed 2 dribbles, forced 2 fouls, won 3 duels in the air and troubled Arsenal all night long with his non-stop running power. Sadio Mane has to be one of the best players in the Premier League right now and when he’s in this kind of form is just absolutely unstoppable. This is the Senegalese winger’s 8th Team of the Week appearance, more than any other player in the Premier League as he continues to lead Liverpool’s charge to finish in the top four. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Marko Arnautovic
Marko Arnautovic has been incredibly inconsistent this season but when the Austrian is in full flow he is just so clinical and so deadly in front of the net. Matchday 27 was one of Arnautovic’s best days of the season as he grabbed a brace to lead Stoke to a 2-0 victory. A key element to the Austrian’s game throughout his career has been his ability to pick and choose exactly the right moment to shoot. His conversion rate is outstanding and when he shoots, he often scores. That was demonstrated perfectly on Saturday against Middlesbrough as the wing wizard scored from both of his shots in the match. The 27-year old was just so prominent down the wing for Stoke, linking up excellently well with Peter Crouch and tailoring his game to the Englishman by whipping in 4 crosses, 3 of which found his teammate’s head. He also created 1 chance and completed 4 take-on’s. Unfortunately the 27-year old has been far too inconsistent this season for Stoke, but winning three Team of the Week appearances after 27 games in no mean feat and Matchday 27 was a reminder to all how clinical Marko Arnautovic can be in front of goal. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Dusan Tadic
Dusan Tadic has been one of Southampton’s greatest players in recent years but this season under Claude Puel the Serbian has not been up to par. But the Southampton playmaker showed his worth on Saturday against Watford, helping to lead his side to a 4-3 victory. Both sides were pretty brutal in defense on the day, particularly Watford who could just not cope with Southampton’s four-man attack led by Tadic. The Serbian midfielder forced 3 fouls and created 5 chances for his teammates to score, running circles around the Hornets on his way to two assists. He also kept all three of his shots on target, one of which was converted for a goal and delivered 7 crosses into the box. Dusan Tadic has the quality to be one of the Premier League’s biggest providers of goals and although this season just hasn’t been his year, he still has an important role to play in Southampton’s 10 remaining fixtures. Rating: 10/10.
Left Wing: Nathan Redmond
Gabbiadini, Tadic and Redmond were all immense for Southampton against Walter Mazzarri’s Watford but it was the Englishman who stood out above the rest and was certainly the man of the match. Redmond led Claude Puel’s men to a 4-3 victory, scoring two goals from three shots, most notably the game winning goal. In addition although the 22-year old didn’t provide an assist, he still created 5 chances for his teammates to score, always coming up big in attacking areas for the Saints. The wing wizard also showed his skill in possession of the ball, completing 5 take-on’s and helped out at the other end of the field with 3 defensive actions. Nathan Redmond certainly has a very bright future ahead of him at Southampton and with performances like that he will certainly be catching the eye of big clubs around the league very soon. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Forward: Roberto Firmino
Industrious, athletic, potent, creative and an eye for goal, Roberto Firmino has it all and is the perfect centre forward for Jurgen Klopp’s team. The Brazilian forward just has a tremendous work rate and like Sadio Mane, comes up clutch in the biggest of Liverpool matches. Firmino was instrumental to the Reds’ 3-1 overtaking of Arsenal, scoring Liverpool’s first goal, assisting the second and leading the line wonderfully well. Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny have not been up to their normal standards in recent weeks and Firmino might have just tainted their confidence levels even greater by making them look like two very average players. On top of his goal and assist, Firmino created 3 chances, won 3 duels in the air, ran non-stop and made 2 tackles. The Brazilian forward has been one of the stars of the 2016-17 Premier League season, was pivotal to Liverpool’s 3-1 smash over Arsenal and with performances like that continues to justify his selection in the team ahead of Daniel Sturridge. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Fernando Llorente
Fernando Llorente always scores in bunches and Burnley were the unfortunate recipient of that on Saturday March 4th as Swansea grabbed a narrow 3-2 win. The 32-year old is just a beast in the air and with Paul Clement’s side now tailoring their tactics toward the Spaniard, goals were always likely to follow. Llorente won 4 duels in the air against the Clarets, which wasn’t his highest tally of the season but still an impressive amount nonetheless, and also bagged two goals from his natural ability to dominate over an opposing defender and power home a header. In fact, his ability in the air is the precise reason that Swansea were able to win this match as without that, two goals would surely not have gone in. Fernando Llorente’s career has seemingly been on the decline for years now but is finding a nice little niche at Swansea City with a side catering their play to him. The 32-year old has now scored 11 goals from 24 matches this season, making it almost confusing as to why a bigger club didn’t go in with an offer for him in the summer. Rating: 9/10.
Substitutes: Christian Fuchs, Dele Alli, Riyad Mahrez, Andros Townsend, David Silva, Andre Gray, Harry Kane
This really was just an anomaly of a week with so many standout attacking midfielders and wingers. Players that were absolutely excellent for their teams like Adam Lallana and Gylfi Sigurdsson couldn’t even make the substitutes bench because of how many stellar stars Matchday 27 brought about. Players like Riyad Mahrez, David Silva and Andros Townsend were all significant in grabbing their team important victories while Christian Fuchs looks back to his best and Dele Alli just can’t stop scoring. Up top Andre Gray bagged two goals against Swansea but couldn’t lead his side to victory while with a brace and another dominating performance for Spurs, Harry Kane certainly deserves to be included in the best eleven but his inclusion would have just made the formation way too wacky. These seven substitutes were excellent on Matchday 27 but just couldn’t do enough to make the Team of the Week!
Player of the Week: Artur Boruc
Single-handedly won his side a point against a Manchester United side that were completely and utterly dominant. Six saves, one crucial penalty stop and 10 successful claims. Boruc’s performance against Manchester United was one of the best goalkeeping performances of the season so far and was enough to earn Bournemouth their first ever point at Old Trafford.
Manager of the Week: Sam Allardyce
This time last month, The Mastermind claimed that Crystal Palace looked destined for relegation. But miraculously, Allardyce has turned things around for the Eagles and this weekend secured an impressive 2-0 victory against a West Brom side that was unbeaten in 5 Premier League matches! With the astute acquisitions of Luka Milivojevic, Patrick Van Aanholt and most crucially Mamadou Sakho in the January Transfer Window, this looks like a Sam Allardyce side now and one that just can’t possibly be relegated, contrary to what we proclaimed a month ago. Allardyce’s men were superb against the Baggies on Saturday and seemingly every single player was at their very best, working their socks off for a manager that they believe in. The match was tight and very defensive in the first half but once the second half began, Palace came to life and produced several goal-scoring opportunities, eventually taking the game 2-0. The most noteworthy inclusion to Sam Allardyce’s lineup has to be that of Andros Towsend, who almost looked like he was on his way out in January but has now turned things around for himself and is flourishing in Allardyce’s team. It was Towsend on the left-wing and Wilfried Zaha on the right-wing who were the two keys to Palace’s success on Saturday as everything went through the two wing-men. The other players constantly played the ball into the feet of the two wingers who in turn would dangle their way through Bromwich’s defense and whip in crosses for Benteke to get on the end of, just playing into their strengths. Allardyce also managed to get the intensity of his players up for this match as for just about the first time this season, the Eagles worked tremendously hard to win the ball back every time they lost it. In short, by playing into Palace’s strengths and a method familiar to him, Sam Allardyce managed to rally a team of misfits who were expelled from previous clubs and who looked destined to go down a month ago to claim an impressive 2-0 victory against Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion. After two crucial wins, Crystal Palace look as though they now have no chance of going down after all, thanks to the great work by Sam Allardyce.
Honurable Mention: Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino is a tactical genius and although Tottenham only ended up claiming a narrow 3-2 win against Everton in the end, the Argentinean’s tactics were absolutely spot on against the Toffees. Everton in fact were lucky to score both of their goals with one coming from a slip from Jan Vertonghen and the other coming just after Spurs scored themselves. Tottenham Hotspur played with a tremendous amount of width on Sunday against the Toffees and played into the strengths of Eriksen, Alli and Kane by constantly trying to create chances. Moreover, they weren’t just keeping possession for the sake of it, all of their possession was meaningful and was for the purpose of trying to score a goal, highlighted by the fact that the majority of it was in Everton’s half. Despite conceding two goals, Tottenham’s defense were also very sturdy and were incredibly effective at playing an offside-trap against the Toffees. But most importantly, with the enforcer-styled play of Victor Wanyama and the calming composure in possession of the ball of Mousa Dembele, Tottenham dominated the midfield, impressively against a team that seemingly had four central midfielders on the field. Paul Clement grabbed a crucial result against Burnley while Eddie Howe somehow managed to grab a 1-1 draw against Manchester United but it is Mauricio Pochettino who is this week’s runner up for Manager of the Week.
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Week for Gameweek 27 in the Premier League. Check out more Team of the Week articles right here -> Team of the Week articles.
See you next time!