On a day where the Potters piled pressure on LVG, Liverpool outfoxed Leicester and the Saints well and truly gave Arsenal a baptism of fire, Deputy Head of Sport Jack Fantham fills the void left by Burn FM’s own Garth Crooks with his Boxing Day team of gameweek 18.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Boxing Day birthday-boy Hugo Lloris is this editions ‘keeper, notching up consecutive clean sheets and appearances in Mr Bernard’s fabled team of the week. The Spurs skipper had to weather an early 15 minute storm from the Canaries, saving impressively from Vadis Odjidja before delivering a delightful double save late on to deny Cameron Jerome and Dieumerci Mbokani.
Defender: Cuco Martina (Southampton)
Forgotten man Cuco Martina hammered home a potential of goal of the season in the Saints 4-0 thumping of dismal Arsenal – a hit Roberto Carlos would have been proud of with the outside of the foot. A clean sheet also strengthened his spot in the team of the week.
Defender: Jose Fonte (Southampton)
Koeman’s inspirational skipper takes up the 2nd of 3 places in this weeks defence – leading by example and chipping in with a bullet header. Serious credit is due for handling the physicality of Giroud, whilst also keeping his back four alert enough to prevent Walcott or Campbell being played in behind.
Defender: Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Welsh left back has largely played second fiddle to Danny Rose this season, however has more than filled the void left by the English international’s absence. Two consecutive starts and the subsequent two consecutive clean sheets speaks for itself, however the simplicity with which Davies goes about his defensive is refreshing. The likes of Redmond and Brady, who frequently swapped wings during the match, had no luck past the promising defender.
Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
A class performance from a very classy player sees the mercurial Belgian slot once more into our team of the week. Two assists in the game and a deserved goal (if slightly fortuitous) saw him tear apart a fragile Sunderland team, providing some great energy in what can sometimes be a lethargic City side. His eye for a pass, exceptional link up play and goal scoring ability will leave many Chelsea fans wondering why he was ever allowed to leave so early.
Midfielder: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
The infectious energy of Alli when coupled with his truly exceptional skill blew away Norwich’s midfield enforcers of Tettey and Mulumbu; and his unerring ability to link up with Harry Kane means Alli is an ever-present threat for the whole 90 minutes. The desire shown by the 19-year-old to run at the Norwich defence and take on a defender not only opened up space for Kane to lash home his second of the game, but also means the youngster is an absolute treat to watch.
Midfielder: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s consistent skipper turned in a stellar midfield performance, penetrating the Leicester midfield with incisive passes (41 in the opposition half – more than any other player) and also covering a lot of ground in defence. His absence has been seriously felt by Liverpool, however Klopp’s side should definitely be able to push on now this integral part of their spine has been restored.
Midfielder: Marko Arnautovic (Stoke)
An Andy Gray-esque “what a hit son” would have just about done the Austrian’s goal justice this weekend, but the reason Arnautovic makes the team of the week is so much more than just about that exceptional finish. Having had Jose Mourinho and Steve McClaren question the forward’s attitude (who I have rather ambitiously snuck into this week’s team as a midfielder), the former Inter and Bremen man displays an excellent work ethic on the pitch, consistently tracking back and helping ease the burden on Erik Pieters.
Forward: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Tottenham’s prolific striker bagged two against Norwich this weekend, breaking a Spurs record in the process of most Premier League goals in a calendar year (previously help by Teddy Sheringham, 26 goals). The ruthless manner in which Kane dispatched the second goal will surely tempt Roy Hodgson into making him England’s no. 9 at the Euros. Again, clinical finishing was coupled with excellent defensive pressure so characteristic of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Forward: Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Not a particularly popular man within the Chelsea supporter’s ranks over the past few weeks, the Spaniard will have certainly silenced his critics with rather blue-collar performance typical of last season’s hitman. His hustle, bustle, and some clinical finishing spared Chelsea’s blushes against Watford, with chants of “Diego” once more ringing out around the Bridge.
Forward: Shane Long (Southampton)
Last, but by absolutely no means least, is the former West Brom and current Ireland international. Long absolutely terrorised Arsenal’s defence, with Mertesacker (who this season has largely been bailed out by the pace of Koscielny) well and truly exposed for, in my opinion, the poor defender he is. Whilst Southampton executed their game plan to perfection, Long certainly stood out as a catalyst in Arsenal’s demise on the day.