The 2016-17 Premier League season is coming to a close but there is still so much to play for. Hull City, Swansea City, Burnley and Bournemouth all earned impressive results that could help their quest to stay up while Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal all slipped up in their quests for the top four. Through all the entertainment, there were many standout performers and these are the best 11 of them. This is The Mastermind‘s Team of the Week for Gameweek 35.
Goalkeeper: Eldin Jakupovic
This weekend Eldin Jakupovic came up with one of the most important saves of the Premier League this season, denying Dusan Tadic from the penalty spot in the 91st minute to secure his side a 0-0 draw and a crucial away point. This now keeps Hull in the hunt to avoid relegation and could prove to be a save worth millions of dollars. On top of that save, Jakupovic also made 2 others, claimed 3 crosses and made 1 clearance, but it is that penalty stop that earns him his rightful place on this week’s Team of the Week above anything else. Rating: 10/10.
Right Back: Simon Francis
An underrated performer in Bournemouth’s team, Simon Francis had a massive hand in the Cherries’ 1-0 win this weekend. The 32-year old defender showed his experience and composure and was a cool head in the back-line, forcing Defoe to go a 6th game without scoring. With 13 clearances, 4 interceptions, 1 tackle and 2 blocked shots, Francis ended up making 20 defensive actions against the Black Cats, double that of any other player on his way to helping Eddie Howe’s side earn a second successive clean sheet. He hasn’t been the Cherries’ standout star this season but Simon Francis is a very good Premier League player and their back-line is far less strong without him. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Michael Keane
Just when Burnely were starting to slide down the table, they come up with a massive result against the Mamadou Sakho-less version of Crystal Palace. Crucial to that 2-0 win was Michael Keane, who continues to catch the eye of all of England’s big clubs. Keane’s presence in Burnley’s back-line only further highlighted how much Palace missed their fantastic French defender as he was just sensational for Burnley. Nobody could get past him and he helped aid a player who has hardly played this season in James Tarkowski to look amazing. The normally so dominant Christian Benteke this time was out-muscled in the air as Keane won 6 aerial duels and the Big Belgian only won 5, while he also made 1 interception and 1 blocked shot. But that’s not all, the 24-year old’s lackluster pass accuracy was completely made up for in his ability to put his body in the way and be in the right place at the right time, making 2 tackles and clearing the ball a total of 14 times! Michael Keane is a seriously impressive defender and this now takes him up to 5 Team of the Week appearances for the season, the most of any centre back in the Premier League. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Back: Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill was just immaculate against Everton, coming up with his best performance of the season in the Blues’ 3-0 win this weekend. Cahill was incredible defensively, making several stellar plays and racking up the numbers in clearances. If he’s remembered for anything at all from this game it will probably be his goal but Cahill came up with the goods at the other end of the pitch very early on in the game, denying Lukaku with an insane block from close range. That would have made the game 1-0 for Everton at the time and could have made this a completely different game, but luckily Cahill was in the way to save the day and clear it away. The British defender also tamed Lukaku in the air, winning 5 aerial duels, only committed one foul and of course scored Chelsea’s second goal of the game. Rating: 10/10.
Left Back: Jan Vertonghen
For me, Jan Vertonghen is one of the most underrated players in Tottenham Hotspur’s lineup. The Belgian defender has been one of their best players this season, possibly even their most consistent defender and hardly gets the credit he deserves. Arsenal just could not break the brick wall that was Spurs’ sturdy defense on Sunday and it was in large part down to the organization and the example set by Vertonghen. He stuck himself to Giroud and frustrated the Frenchman so much that he had to move over to Alderweireld where he had an equal amount of poor fortune. Fantastic in possession of the ball, the 30-year old was never afraid to carry it forward, completing 3 take-on’s, 89% of his passes and taking 70 touches. He was also a beast when called upon in defense, only committing one foul and completing 4 clearances, while he also had both of his shots in the match on target. Jan Vertonghen is a great defender and the skills that he brings to Spurs’ back-line go far beyond just defending. Tottenham might not win the league this season but with the quality of their back-line and the improvement of Jan Vertonghen this season, next year might be theirs for the taking. Rating: 9/10.
Defensive Midfield: Wilfred Ndidi
Wilfred Ndidi has been so important to Leicester City since Craig Shakespeare took control of this team and he continues to come up with impressive displays in every single game. The Nigerian midfielder is still only 20 years old and this is still just his first few months in the Premier League, but he already looks like he’s been around for a very long time, settling so well alongside Danny Drinkwater in Leicester’s midfield. West Brom were pretty poor on the day all things considered, but the Foxes were totally dominant and it was Ndidi who was helping to lead the charge. His most impressive contributions were all in defense, as Kante-esque he won 7 tackles made 6 interceptions, 3 clearances and blocked 2 shots! He was also dominant in the air, winning 6 of his aerial duels and won more fouls than he lost. Wilfred Ndidi is now so important to Leicester City’s midfield and being only 20 years old , he could be set for a massive future ahead of him in the Premier League.
Defensive Midfield: Nemanja Matic
An underrated performer for Chelsea this weekend and probably the entire season for that matter, Nemanja Matic was superb for the Blues against Everton. The Serbian giant just bullied Everton’s midfield around all game long and with Kante by his side, Koeman’s midfield trio were completely dominated over Chelsea’s duo. Matic usually has more to do in defense for the Blues, but this week he actually impressed more with his attacking play. The Serbian completed more dribbles than Eden Hazard with 6, created 2 chances, assisted one goal and completed nearly 88% of his passes! That was on top of his solid defensive play to deny Everton the right to attack along with N’Golo Kante. Nemanja Matic has been so impressive all season for Chelsea and maybe has not been given enough of the credit that he deserves for his role in their practically unbeatable side. Rating: 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Emre Can
Emre Can has come alive towards the end of this season in the absence of Jordan Henderson and had one of his best performances of the season on Monday night, leading Liverpool to a 1-0 victory. It was his insane bicycle kick goal that took the Reds to that 1-0 victory and he was just a constant thorn in the side of the opposition. So confident on the ball, Can was a driving force for Klopp’s men going forward, completing 3 take-on’s and 86% of his passes. He also did his defensive work with 1 interception and 2 clearances and had 3 shots, one of which was converted amazingly well. Emre Can might not be Liverpool’s first choice midfielder right now but if he continues on like this, he will be in no time. Rating: 9/10.
Right Wing: Pedro
He’s been relatively quiet in recent weeks, but Pedro Rodriguez came alive this weekend with a crucial goal in Chelsea’s superb 3-0 victory over Everton. It was a game just waiting for a moment of magic and the Spanish winger provided that moment, blasting his shot from outside of the air all the way into the top corner. In addition to his incredible goal, Pedro was involved in much of Chelsea’s attacking play, completing 3 take-on’s, creating 1 chance and delivering 3 crosses. But this week Pedro really earns his place for that incredible goal that allowed Chelsea to completely go on and dominate the final 30 minutes, making a likely 0-0 draw turn into a massive 3-0 win. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Forward: Sergio Aguero
It wasn’t his best display ever but Sergio Aguero still contributed massively to both of Manchester City’s goals on Sunday to help them avoid embarrassment and get a 2-2 draw against Middlesbrough this weekend. Again, Manchester City really weren’t all that great, but Aguero still managed to step up to the plate and aid them along their way to a result that isn’t totally demoralizing. He was rather wasteful with only 1 of his 5 shots hitting the target but was still more influential than any other centre forward this week. He scored City’s first goal from the spot and then found Gabriel Jesus late on to make the game back on level terms and for that reason, Sergio Aguero earns his fourth Team of the Week appearance in the Premier League this season. Rating: 8/10.
Left Wing: Joshua King
How good has Joshua King been these last few months? He’s completely led Bournemouth to safety in their tough times with injury trouble and totally taken control of the team. With his crucial late goal against Sunderland, the Cherries are certainly safe now and the former Manchester United striker now has an impressive tally of 15 Premier League goals this season. Without even scoring his goal, King was still the best player on the pitch, helping to lead nearly every Bournemouth attack. King had 3 of his 4 shots on target and the one that wasn’t, hit the woodwork! That was in addition to creating 5 chances, more than anyone else in the match, completing 93% of his passes, more than anyone else in the match and making 4 tackles, more than any other Bournemouth player. Joshua King is an amazing striker and he always manages to help out at both ends of the pitch. His role in Bournemouth’s 1-0 win over Sunderland cannot be overstated. Rating: 10/10.
Formation: 4-3-3: Jakupovic, Francis, Keane, Cahill, Vertonghen, Ndidi, Matic, Can, Pedro, Aguero, King
Substitutes: Jack Butland, Harry Maguire, Joel Matip, James Milner, Victor Wanyama, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jamie Vardy
Player of the Week: Gary Cahill
In the end, Gary Cahill takes the cake for Player of the Week for his stunning display against Everton. A defensive beast and he even came up with the goods at the other end of the pitch. He is now starting to look like he deserves that PFA Team of the Year spot after all. Well done Gary!
Manager of the Week: Antonio Conte
There were plenty of impressive results this week in the Premier League, most notably Sean Dyche and Burnley’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough’s securing of a 2-2 draw against Manchester City. But the most impressive result this week, as has often been the case this season, was by Chelsea in their 3-0 win over Everton. Chelsea were just so defensively resilient and organized against the Toffees that even though David Luiz didn’t have his best game, Lukaku and Everton’s other attacking threats hardly had a sniff at goal. They were impossible to break down and they just hung onto the 0-0 scoreline until Everton started to tire. From that moment on they took complete control of the game, coming up with three relatively late goals to make it look like it was a stroll in the park. In reality, Everton had played well and made life incredibly difficult for several of Chelsea’s players, but the phrase ‘stroll in the park’ can still apply because of how much Antonio Conte’s side were able to steamroll Koeman’s. What Conte has managed to do with this Chelsea team is absolutely incredible and the Blues’ 3-0 win against Everton is one of their most impressive of the season.
Honourable Mention: Sean Dyche
So there it is! The Premier League Team of the Week for Gameweek 35. Let me know who you think should have made the team in the comment section below or on Twitter @raadesmo. See you soon!