Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)
Arsenal have a real chance of lifting the Premier League trophy come May. If they achieve this feat they’ll be extremely grateful to the inconsistencies of some of the best teams in the country, namely Chelsea, Manchester United, and more recently Manchester City. They will also have to thank the heroics of Petr Cech, who has showed that he is still a top class keeper since his summer move from archrivals Chelsea.
If Cech hadn’t brilliantly saved a fierce shot from Fabio Borini in the game’s opening exchanges, then Sunderland may have come out of this game with three desperately needed points. Cech is still a world-class keeper; the fact that he could conceivably win the title for Arsene Wenger must be sickening for his nemesis Jose Mourinho.
Defender: Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
Shawcross is widely regarded as one of the toughest and meanest defenders in the league and he showed why with a dominant display over the league’s big spenders. Shawcross bullied the City attackers from start to finish and made them look very average indeed.
City fans will argue that on another day with their spine fully fit, consisting of Kmpnay, Toure and Aguero, they would have come away with the three points. They may be right but with new signings Sterling and de Bruyne on the pitch, amounting to over a £100 million between them, they can have no complaints.
Stoke have not conceded a goal when Shawcross has been in the team since returning from a back injury
Defender: Winston Reid (West Ham)
The days of Man United battering teams with wave after wave of attack are long gone under Louis Van Gaal, whose philosophy appears to be bore the other team to sleep. Yet it isn’t working, partly due to the impressive displays by defenders such as Winston Reid.
Reid led by example, sniffing out any attack United tried to painfully muster. Reid’s heroics means this game will not live long in the memory of those unfortunate enough to have watched it, but it was enough to give the Hammers a very well-earned point. He received a clattering from Schweinsteiger for all his troubles.
Defender: Miguel Britos (Watford)
Britos came to England with a reputation for being short-tempered and extremely feisty. In his last game for Napoli he was sent off for head-butting Morata. Britos failed to help himself after being sent off on his debut for a similar offence in the Capital Cup Third-Round.
Since his return to the team he has looked assured at the centre of Watford’s defence. He successfully prevented the likes of Grabban and Howson from leaving any lasting mark on the game. Watford were by far the better team, regardless of Alex Neil’s misguided interpretations of the game.
He went straight over to manager Quique Sanchez Flores during Deeney’s penalty, showing that he is certainly a leader, while also demonstrating his ever-increasing maturity.
Defender: Steve Cook (Bournemouth)
I said in my feature article last week that I could not see a Bournemouth defender making many of my Team of the Weeks, but they proved me wrong just seven days later with a hugely impressive clean sheet against Chelsea, who we must not forget are the current Premier League Champions.
Cook was instrumental in keeping Chelsea at bay. A vital touch was enough to stop Nemanja Matic from converting a header from just four yards out. Cook also played a role in Glenn Murray’s winner when he intelligently pulled the ball back into the six-yard box.
Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
The most surprising thing about Leicester’s weekend wasn’t the fact that they now sit at the top of the table but rather someone was able to steal the limelight away from Jamie Vardy. Mahrez did just that. The hat-trick man resembles everything Claudio Ranieri has instilled into this team. The direct, uncomplicated football combined delicately with the extraordinary team ethic is so refreshing to see and it is allowing pacey players like Mahrez and Vardy to terrorise teams, and how they are reaping the rewards.
Mahrez was the standout player of the week and fully deserves a place in this Team of the Week. Leicester are sitting pretty at the top of the league and a large aspect in their unlikely rise has been the goals and assists of the Algerian. Jamie Vardy’s incredible scoring record has helped somewhat too.
Mahrez became the first Algerian to score a hat-trick in the Premier League
Midfielder: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)
Against City, Stoke fans finally witnessed the world-class talent they had signed in the summer. He played in numerous through-balls to Arnoutovic and the link up play with Bojan was delicious. City’s defence were completely undone by his inventive box of tricks.
Stoke were deserved winners and the way Shaqiri and his teammates linked up shows just how far they have come under Mark Hughes, who has surely managed to guide Stoke away from the negative football tag they were ladened with during the Pulis-era.
Midfielder: Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle City)
Like many others, I failed to see how Newcastle could possibly cope against the explosive, in-form, Liverpool, who have been galvanized under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp.
Wijnaldum has impressed in his first season-the way he took his second goal suggests that he may be the man to lead Newcastle clear of the relegation zone; Newcastle fans will certainly hope so.
Midfielder: Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
With Arsenal’s star players seemingly dropping like flies, Arsene Wenger will be crossing his fingers, toes and everything else that Ramsey’s return to the team will be permanent. With Ramsey, Ozil, Coquelin and Cazorla fit, Arsenal surely boast the best midfield in the league and that’s without taking into consideration the brilliance of Alexis Sanchez.
Aaron Ramsey looked like his usual goal threat and his hard work was rewarded with a single goal, and was unlucky not to add his tally. Ozil’s assists and Ramsey’s goals could prove to be the catalyst for Arsenal winning the title. They may never get a better chance to win it with other big teams slipping up.
Striker: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City)
Arnautovic was a thorn in the Manchester City’s side all game and deserved his two goals. He had the chance to take home the match ball but he slipped as he went to shoot, slicing the ball onto the post with Hart a helpless bystander.
This was an impressive performance by the Austrian and he deserves all the plaudits he is getting. Stoke’s gameplan to get Arnautovic in behind the lacklustre City backline combined with his tireless energy and willingness to chase every ball worked perfectly.
Arnautovic has now scored 10 goals in 60 Premier League starts
Striker: Odion Ighalo (Watford)
Ighalo has been utterly phenomenal this season for the Hornets. Shortsighted pundits questioned where Watford’s goals would come from and thus assigned them to an inevitable relegation position. These pundits obviously failed to take into account of the formidable partnership of Ighalo and Deeney.
Ighalo was brought down for Deeney’s penalty after being beautifully played in by Deeney himself. Ighalo made Bassong’s afternoon a complete misery before putting the game beyond doubt with a superb individual effort.
Ighalo’s 25th goal of 2015 now means he has more goals this calendar year than any player in the top four tiers of English football