The last week of Premier League action before the international break saw Chelsea maintain their ten-point lead at the top of the table following Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool.
It was a fantastic game at the Etihad after Tottenham and Manchester United had picked up wins over Middlesbrough and Southampton earlier in the day – which isn’t good reading for Arsenal who succumbed to a 3-1 defeat against West Brom.
We take a look at the top performers from match day 29…
Goalkeeper – Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester)
A no-brainer in between the sticks as Kasper Schmeichel’s heroic display against West Ham gets him the nod. After saving two penalties during Leicester’s Champions League tie against Sevilla, Schmeichel carried his form to the Olympic Stadium. The Danish international made two exceptional stops to deny Andy Carroll to earn his side a 3-2 victory and keep the Foxes’ brilliant run of form under Craig Shakespeare alive.
Defender – Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Manchester United finally moved out of sixth place following their 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. United defender, Antonio Valencia, sealed the win in extra-time following a spill from Victor Valdes. Utilised in a wide wing-back role, the Ecuadorian defender didn’t stop running and gave Fabio a torrid time. His goal put the cherry on the cake following another magnificent performance that presses claims he could be one of the best right-backs in the league.
Defender – John Stones (Manchester City)
Liverpool and Manchester City have both struggled defensively this season but the emphasis was on the attackers at the Etihad Stadium – both sides missing glorious chances. Liverpool might have stolen all three points if not for John Stones. The ex-Everton defender has had his fair share of criticism this season but was fantastic against the Reds; making key blocks to deny Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino. Pep Guardiola will be pleased with the £50m man’s performance against Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Defender – Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
It looked like Stoke would steal a point against Chelsea after Jonathan Walters equalised from the penalty spot following Willian’s opener. Gary Cahill was judged to have fouled Walters which looked set to secure a draw for the Potters. Cahill made up for his mistake snatching a late winner from Cesc Fabregas’ corner sparking wild celebrations and kept the Blues remained ten points clear at the top.
Defender – Craig Dawson (WBA)
West Brom picked up the shock result of the weekend against Arsenal, a 3-1 win piling even more pressure on Arsene Wenger. The Gunners couldn’t handle West Brom’s quality at set-pieces, something which Craig Dawson capitalised on to full effect. He gave the Baggies an early lead before Alexis Sanchez equalised minutes later. Hal Robson-Kanu restored their advantage after coming off the bench before Dawson sealed the win with another goal from a corner with 15 minutes remaining.
Midfield – Emre Can (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane picked up the man of the match award against Manchester City, but I believe Emre Can was the top performer on the day. Can has struggled immensely this season and his performances have come under further scrutiny due to his on-going contract dispute. However, the German was excellent against the Citizens and dominated in the centre of the park. It was a performance Liverpool fans know he is capable of but he hasn’t played to his full potential for the majority of the season.
Midfield – Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Equally as impressive was Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian split the Liverpool defence open multiple times in the first-half, but his team-mates’ final ball led him down. KDB was moved to the right in the second half, and James Milner couldn’t handle the ex-Chelsea man. His superb low ball picked out Sergio Aguero for the equaliser, but he should have got on the scoresheet himself; blasting his shot off the post from just six yards out.
Midfield – Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Despite losing Harry Kane to injury, Tottenham picked up their tenth successive home victory thanks to a match-winning performance from Dele Alli. After Christian Eriksen had given his side the lead with a well-placed drive, Alli netted from the penalty spot after he was downed in the box. Remarkably it was his 17th goal of the season and Tottenham boss, Mauricio Pochettino, was quick to heap praise on his young starlet following the win.
Forward – Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
The goal of the weekend award goes to Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who scored a screamer against ‘Boro. He marked his return to the United starting XI in astonishing fashion with a sparkling display alongside Juan Mata. Lingard capped the display in the 62nd minute, leaving Valdes rooted to his line by firing a lovely effort into the top corner.
Forward – Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
In a stressful week for Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, the Belgian forward responded in the best possible way with two goals against Hull. He signalled his intention to leave the club in the summer but did not let speculation over his future cloud his current performances. After giving Enner Valencia an easy finish, the 23-year-old became the first player since Gary Lineker to score 20 goals in a season with a low shot. He added his second goal in three minutes, exploiting on a horrendous error from Omar Elabdelloui to round the keeper and seal a huge win for the Toffees.
Forward – Benik Afobe (Bournemouth)
Hull’s losing at Everton made Bournemouth’s victory over Swansea even sweeter as the Cherries moved nine points clear of the drop zone – leaving the Swans and the Tigers in serious trouble. Benik Afobe thought he opened the scoring after his powerful drive was inadvertently deflected into the net by Alfie Mawson. He was not to be denied second time around; the ex-Arsenal striker finished well to give Eddie Howe’s men all three points.
Who do you think was the star performer from the weekend’s action? Comment below!