This week the Premier League was a little bit strange as normally a “Gameweek” or “Matchday” only lasts the weekend but this time it started Saturday and ended Thursday. So if you were wondering why the usual Team of the Week didn’t arrive this past Monday as it usually might, that is the reason. Another reason for it being a bit of a strange week was that some teams played once, some teams played twice and then West Brom and Sunderland didn’t play at all! Nonetheless, through all the craziness The Mastermind has picked out a best eleven for Gameweek 34 in the Premier League and these are the players that have made the cut. This is the Team of the Week!
Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan
Brad Guzan had a really tough time last season with Aston Villa and this campaign has been almost equally as tough for the American as he has had to bide his time from the bench and watch Victor Valdes. But this week thanks to an injury to the former Barcelona keeper, Guzan was given his chance to shine and shine he did! Guzan made a couple of excellent saves to keep Sunderland out, 4 in total to help preserve a clean sheet. Impressively, this also came just 4 days after letting in 4 at Bournemouth so it was a much improved performance and a great way for Guzan to bounce back. This might be Brad Guzan’s last chance in the Premier League so it is good that at the very least, he is making the most of it. Rating: 8/10.
Right Back: Ashley Young
Ashley Young is by no means Manchester United’s long-term option at right or left back but he has adapted to the position well over the years and it seems as though every game he plays at fullback, the defensive side of his game looks much improved. Jose Mourinho has praised the Englishman’s attitude throughout their time together, even when he was sitting him every game on the bench. Although attitude is not the most attractive quality a footballer can have, it has certainly helped Young get into the team on a semi-regular basis where he has gone on to have some more than decent performances for United this season. United’s 2-0 win against Burnley might even have been Ashley Young’s best performance of the season as he never put a foot wrong and was lively in both defense and attack. From a defensive side of things, the British winger made 2 interceptions, 1 block and 3 clearances, while from an attacking side of things he had 87 touches on the ball, created 1 chance and completed 4 take-on’s. Any other week this might not have been enough for him to make the team of the week. But with two solid performances, Ashley Young crept his way into the best 11 this week to win his first TOTW appearance of the Premier League season. Rating: 8/10.
Centre Back: Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly was a defensive beast against Burnley, hardly putting a foot wrong and somehow managing to always be in the right place at the right time to see away any kind of danger Burnley proposed. With his performances as of late he is really starting to make a claim for Mourinho’s side for the long-term and Burnley might just have been his best performance of the season. The man from the Ivory Coast completely stopped Andre Gray from playing while every single cross that found its way into the box was immediately booted way by the 23-year old. Bailly made 2 immaculate tackles, but more impressively 4 interceptions, 7 clearances and 2 superb blocked shots. He was just absolutely essential to Manchester United’s 2-0 win against Burnley this past weekend and for that reason earns an unquestionable place inside of this week’s best XI. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Daley Blind
Daley Blind was excellent in both of Manchester United’s matches this week, almost calling into question why his solid centre back pairing with Eric Bailly hasn’t been Mourinho’s first choice all along! The Dutch defender is just so assured and so defensively sound and it seems as though Bailly is the perfect partner for him at the back. Blind was arguably United’s best player against Manchester City in helping preserve that 0-0 draw and he was equally excellent against Burnley as the Red Devils cruised to a 2-0 win. The Dutchman blocked 2 shots, made 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and 9 clearances against City and that was already after impressing with 4 tackles, 5 interceptions and 7 clearances against Burnley. He might not be the long-term option for United at centre half, but Daley Blind is a very good defender who often does not get the credit he deserves. Rating: 9.5/10.
Left Back: Charlie Daniels
Critical to Bournemouth’s 4-0 win at the weekend, Middlesbrough just could not contain Charlie Daniels. The left-back was a limewire for the Cherries all game long, racing down that left hand side and linking up with Marc Pugh to together deliver some fantastic crosses into the box. With 107 touches on the ball, 72 passes and 4 crosses, Boro just could not keep hold of him and when Ramirez was sent off the defender had even more room to roam. That extra space gave him his chance to grab his 4th goal of the season, a highly impressive tally for a 30-year old defender. Although he didn’t have much to do on the defensive side of things, he still made 2 tackles and 2 interceptions, while his role in Bournemouth’s impressive attack can not be understated. Rating: 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Harry Arter
For my money, Harry Arter has been Bournemouth’s key man this season. Joshua King has come alive as of late while Steve Cook looked incredibly solid at the back in the first half of the season, but it’s been the Cherries’ midfield general who has consistently led them through some tough matches. That being said, through 34 matches he hadn’t made a single Team of the Week appearance. The best he managed was in Gameweek 19 when he did enough to make the subs bench. So the English midfielder fully deserves to finally earn his place inside of a best XI. The Bournemouth tactician in the centre of the park was brilliant in all areas of the pitch, helping Eddie Howe’s side annihilate Middlesbrough. Michael Carrick-esque in his play, Arter had 123 touches on the ball and completed 93% of his passes for a total of 99 passes! 14 of his 15 long-ball passes also turned out accurately, and he created 3 chances, highlighting his stellar play in possession of the ball. He was also incredible defensively, notching 7 tackles! Harry Arter is Bournemouth’s key man and with this incredible 4-0 win, the Cherries surely are staying up now. Rating: 10/10.
Right Wing: Marc Pugh
Marc Pugh hasn’t had a lot of playing time this season but when he plays he always seems to do a job and make a positive impact in Bournemouth’s team. The British winger was awesome in Bournemouth’s 4-0 win against Boro this weekend, scoring one goal and assisting another as he was the Cherries’ key man in attack. Always on the ball and always driving forward down the left wing, Pugh was essential in bringing Josh King and Benik Afobe into the game and with 4 crosses and 2 chances created he was unlucky to only end up with one assist. He also completed five dribbles, was fouled three times and completed 85% of his passes. Bournemouth were completely dominant over the relegation-bound Middlesbrough and Marc Pugh was probably their best player. Rating: 10/10.
Left Wing: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard was magnificent yet again this week, helping lead Chelsea to a massively important 4-2 win over Southampton. Hazard missed out on the PFA Player of the Year this week but the Writers’, the League’s and thhe Fans’ Player of the Year awards are still up for grabs and with the way the Belgian is going he might claim all three. Hazard has been awesome all season long and with his goal against the Saints takes his tally up to 15 for the season now in the league alone. The 26-year old was all over Southampton’s defence, linking up with Costa and Fabregas excellently well and doing so much damage with his incisive ability to pick out a pass. Despite not picking up an assist, Hazard created 5 chances, the most of anyone in the match. He also had 3 shots, made 3 defensive actions and completed 83% of his passes. Eden Hazard might have lost out to N’Golo Kante for PFA Player of the Year, but he continues to lead Chelsea’s charge towards the 2016-17 Premier League title. Rating: 9/10.
Striker: Diego Costa
Ever since speculation of a possible move to China arose, Diego Costa has had a torrid time scoring goals in the Premier League. But on Tuesday night, the Spanish striker regained top form and found his scoring boots again, bagging a brace against Southampton. Costa led Chelsea to a 4-2 victory over the Saints, having a hand in three of the four goals. Both of the goals he scored himself were absolutely superb and highlighted how he has a lot more skill and finesse than people might give him credit for, while he also did excellently well to find Hazard for Chelsea’s first goal of the game. In addition to his brace and assist the Brazilian born centre forward also won 4 duels in the air, created 3 chances and had 6 shots. Diego Costa has been quiet for almost the entirety of the second half of the season but now that Chelsea need him most again, he is stepping up to the plate. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Forward: Christian Benteke
Against his old club, leading Crystal Palace to a surprise 2-1 victory that takes them into a prime position to avoid relegation this season, Christian Benteke came alive when it mattered most. He’s actually been insanely good this month and was equally prolific when the Eagles took on Chelsea a few weeks ago. But this might have been his best performance of the season and to do it against his old club, a club he struggled so much to find the back of the net with, and silence his critics was just incredible. Benteke troubled Liverpool’s tall defence with 5 duels won in the air but also created 2 chances, linking up with teammates excellently well. But the big Belgian’s biggest mark on the game was in scoring two comeback goals to give Crystal Palace an impressive 2-1 victory. Benteke has been pretty solid this season but particularly impressive as of late and is now up to 14 goals for the season. Rating: 10/10.
Striker: Anthony Martial
In the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic this weekend, Anthony Martial came straight into the team and took his chance brilliantly. The French striker was massive for United on Sunday, leading Mourinho’s men to a simple 2-0 victory, their first ever win at Turf Moor. The 21-year old was a driving force going forward for the Red Devils, using his pace and power to make life incredibly difficult for the defensive beasts of Ben Mee and Michael Keane. On top of that, everything he tried in attack seemed to come off! He had 2 shots, both of which were on target, he created 2 chances, he won four take-on’s and 2 fouls, and had a hand in both goals, scoring one and assisting the other. Anthony Martial has come under some hard criticism this season but against Burnley on Sunday proved exactly why he still has a very bright future ahead of him for Manchester United. Rating: 10/10.
Formation: 4-3-3: Guzan, Young, Bailly, Blind, Daniels, Arter, Pugh, Hazard, Costa, Benteke, Martial
Substitutes: David De Gea, Nicholas Otamendi, Ben Davies, Ander Herrera, Tom Carroll, Christian Eriksen, Benik Afobe
Player of the Week: Christian Benteke
Two goals against his former club and completing silencing his critics. Benteke was essential to Palace’s 2-1 win over Liverpool this weekend and fully deserves to be named this week’s Player of the Week! Honourable mentions go to Diego Costa and Eric Bailly.
Manager of the Week: Sam Allardyce
Securing a 2-1 win over Liverpool is impressive for any side but it’s all the more impressive when you’re a side battling for relegation. After conceding the early goal, Sam Allardyce’s Palace players were fantastic in bouncing back. They just catered to Benteke’s strengths for the remainder of the game and it paid off as the Belgian bagged a brace and led his side to a 2-1 victory. No tricks, no fancy stuff, just a hard fought win from a team of very organized and resilient players, fighting for their lives in the Premier League. For Sam Allardyce’s fantastic ability to get a team fighting on a day-to-day basis to stay alive in the league this season to beat a top four challenger in Liverpool, he has to be this week’s Manager of the Week!
In other news, Marco Silva continued his insanely impressive unbeaten record at Hull, coming up with a massive result at the weekend against Watford despite playing with then man. If Allardyce’s result hadn’t been slightly more impressive, Silva would have certainly took the prize for Manager of the Week for Gameweek 34.
So there it is! The Team of the Week for this crazy weekend in the Premier League. Like what you read? Be sure to follow here for more! See you soon!