Goalkeeper: Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland)
The big Romanian hasn’t had the best of seasons so far but in the last two games he has proved vital in helping Allardyce turn Sunderland’s fortunes around; keeping two clean sheets in the process.
With the scores level at 0-0 Pantilimon made a game-changing save when Walters looked certain to score. If Stoke had gone ahead in this match Sunderland would have struggled to get back in the game – making the save all the more important.
Defender: Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland)
I suspect that a Sunderland defender will rarely feature in my weekly team of the week, but van Aanholt played an absolute stormer as Sunderland defeated Stoke to move themselves out of the dreaded drop zone.
Van Aanholt looked calm and concrete at the back for Sunderland, who have too often this season been far too weak and shaky. Van Aanholt scored the opening goal of the game in the 82nd minute after a sweet strike following a well-worked freekick. It was always going to take something special to beat the in-form Jack Butland and Van Aanholt came up with the goods.
Van Aanholt’s goal ended Stoke’s impressive run of four clean sheets away from home
Defender: Adam Smith (Bournemouth)
Before Saturday I doubt many would have heard of the 24-year-old right back. H
His thunderous strike against Everton kick-started Bournemouth’s impressive come back.
Having come on as a sub at half-time, Smith had a massive impact on the game. Not only did he score a contender for goal-of-the-month, he also started the move that led to Stanislas’ 95th minute equaliser. He looked very assured on the ball and has surely done enough to break into the first-team with this excellent performance.
Defender: Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Chelsea fans have had very little to cheer about this season as their team languishes dangerously close to the relegation zone. One positive has been the rapid maturity of their young French defender Kurt Zouma.
Physically Zouma is perfectly suited for the Premiership. Against Spurs he was ominous in the air and pacey on the ground. He effectively marked the in-form striker of Harry Kane out of the game. Chelsea have far too often conceded too many goals this season, Zouma looks like he could be the answer ahead of the ageing Terry.
In each of Chelsea’s four clean sheets, Zouma has played the entire match
Defender: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Manchester United somehow, despite all the wonderful attacking flair they possess in their ranks, continue to create very little. Louis Van Gaal will have been pleased with the efforts of Chris Smalling , however, against the surprising league-leaders in Leicester City. Without Smalling at the heart of the defence Jamie Vardy would have added even more to this record-breaking tally.
I suspect that Van Gaal will be given to the end of the season to improve the style of football otherwise I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new face at the helm in September. It’s just wrong that Manchester United are playing such negative football.
Smalling has currently made the most clearances in the Premiership this season.
Midfielder: Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace)
On his day Bolasie is simply unplayable. Unfortunately for the Newcastle fans, Saturday was one of those days. From start to finish the Congolese winger caused havoc amongst the Newcastle defence. Bolasie’s main attribute is his unpredictability, so much so that I often wonder if he even knows what he’s about to do, giving the defender absolutely no chance of reading his play.
Since Pardew arrived at Selhurst Park Bolasie has been allowed, and more importantly encouraged, to display his quick footwork and trickery. Bolasie’s man of the match performance was rewarded with two very well taken goals, suggesting that he has developed his finishing to aid his flamboyant playing style.
Midfielder: Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Questions were asked when Man City splashed a massive £50 million on securing the services of the Belgian from Wolfsburg in the summer, with pundits questioning whether he was worth the astronomical fee. De Bruyne has proved his critics wrong already, and I would go as far as saying that he has been the best player in the league this season.
De Bruyne had a hand in all three goals against Southampton; scoring one and assisting, in great style, the other two. With David Silva injured, de Bruyne has stepped up to the plate,
Since the start of last season, de Bruyne has the most assists in Europe’s top five leagues
Midfielder: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Ozil has finally started regularly performing at the high standard we knew he had from his Real Madrid days, to the delight of the Gunners’s fans. We all knew he was an immense talent and he is finally showing this consistently. He played another great game against the Canaries. Everything good Arsenal are doing at the moment seems to be heavily involving Ozil, a sign that he is back to his best.
Arsenal should have won this game easily and with Alexis Sanchez adding to their ever growing injury list, Arsenal will rely on Ozil even more to carry them throughout the Christmas period.
Ozil has been involved in 13 goals in his last 12 appearances for the Gunners
Midfielder: Emre Can (Liverpool)
Klopp is getting the best out of the German by playing him in the midfield – his natural position –begging the question why Rodgers ever insisted on transforming him into a defender.
He looked a class act on the ball, while also showing a certain maturity about his game off it. Can’s good performance against the struggling Swans demonstrated that he is more than capable of thriving in a holding-midfield role.
Striker: Troy Deeney (Watford)
As a Birmingham boy at heart, so much so that he has the Birmingham crest tattooed on his back, Watford’s Captain would have loved nothing more than to score the winner against Aston Villa at the Holte End. Troy got his wish with a powering headed that gave Guzan no chance.
Deeney was a real thorn for the Villa defence who were powerless to stop the big man from controlling the game. This season has witnessed the striker develop his link up play more. This was evident in the first-half he played a delicious through-ball to Capoue, who really should have done better. In the second-half, Deeney again played a similar pass through the Villa defence that caused Hutton, in pure desperation, to knock the ball into the back of his net.
Striker: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Vardy didn’t have perhaps his best game against Manchester United but he’s only gone and beaten Ruud van Nistelrooy’s incredible record. This fantastic feat is an extraordinary achievement and he fully deserves the party he’ll undoubtedly have after, typically, smashing the ball past De Gea.
Leicester’s counter-attacking style of play is perhaps not the most sophisticated but it worked to great effect against a side brimming with International stars. They were happy to sit back and allow United to pass the ball sideways for a good few minutes before winning it back and hitting them with great pace.