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Premier League Team of the Week

The Premier League’s weekend action saw Southampton stun Manchester City at St Mary’s, whilst neighbours Manchester United continued their fine form with an entertaining victory over struggling Bournemouth.

Elsewhere Jamie Vardy reached the fabled Premier League 100 club with a brace in Leicester’s win over Crystal Palace, whilst newly crowned champions Liverpool continued their 100% home record despite labouring to victory over a stubborn Aston Villa.

It’s that time of the week where we compile our dream XI from the weekend’s action, here is the Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week:

Goalkeeper: Alex McCarthy – Southampton

Thou shalt not pass was the mantra for Alex McCarthy and the Southampton defence this weekend, repelling Manchester City time and time again to seal an upset victory on the South Coast.

McCarthy made a series of impressive stops including denying both Gabriel Jesus and David Silva from close range, the 30-year-old making six saves in total and a key component of a resolute Saints defence on Sunday.

The goalkeeper has come in for criticism on occasion this season, but produced a performance to silence those doubters as Southampton secured a win that keeps alive their faint hopes of reaching Europe.

Centre-back: Jack Stephens – Southampton

Each of Southampton’s backline deserved consideration for this side following the club’s win over Manchester City at St Mary’s, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s game-plan working perfectly as the Saints rode their luck to secure three points.

Jack Stephens returned to the side from suspension and was a huge presence alongside Jan Bednarek in the centre of defence, the duo standing tall and throwing themselves in front of everything to deny a City side who dominated possession.

Stephens has progressed significantly this season and his leadership was important to the club’s victory, whilst teammate Kyle Walker-Peters – excellent throughout in nullifying the threat of Raheem Sterling – deserves a mention despite being squeezed out due to our back three formation here.

Centre-back: Jan Bednarek – Southampton

Alongside Stephens in our back three is his central defensive partner, the towering Poland international producing a battling display as Southampton soaked up the pressure to secure victory over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at St Mary’s.

The duo made a huge 26 clearances, 10 blocks and five tackles between them to deny the dominant visitors, the Saints remarkably keeping a clean sheet despite facing 25 shots – the same total Leicester managed during their record 9-0 victory over Southampton earlier this season.

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Centre-back: Jonny Evans – Leicester

Leicester’s struggles since the Premier League’s restart had seen the Foxes begin to look nervously over their shoulders, their hopes of Champions League qualification in danger as the chasing pack close the gap.

Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace was a welcome boost to Brendan Rodgers’ side and their top four hopes, a switch to a back three paying dividends with Jonny Evans marshalling a new-look defensive line superbly.

The experienced Northern Irishman dealt admirably with the physical threat of Christian Benteke, and made a brilliant block to deny Jordan Ayew and preserve a clean sheet for Leicester. The Midlands side have done some excellent business in the transfer market in recent years, but the £3.5m capture of Evans from relegated West Brom must rank amongst their very best.

Midfield: Tomas Soucek – West Ham

Four points from two difficult-looking fixtures has eased West Ham’s relegation fears, the Hammers following their dramatic mid-week win over Chelsea with an entertaining draw at in-form Newcastle.

Central to the side’s success has been the form of midfielder Soucek, who scored for the second successive game with a crisp finish at St James’ Park. The Czech Republic international arrived on-loan during the January transfer window and is beginning to add a goal threat to his physical presence and industrious work-rate, his battling qualities likely to be vital to the Hammers’ bid to beat the drop.

Midfield: Ross Barkley – Chelsea

Chelsea remain frontrunners to secure a top four finish and Champions League qualification after a routine victory over Watford at Stamford Bridge, the Blues bouncing back from their mid-week disappointment at West Ham to remain two points clear of nearest challengers Manchester United.

Ross Barkley enjoyed an impressive afternoon for Frank Lampard’s side and providing the first goal for Olivier Giroud with a clever pass into the Frenchman’s path, before ending a 20-month goal drought in league football with his first Premier League goal of the season, a rifled finish into the top corner to seal a 3-0 victory late on.

Barkley’s Chelsea career is yet to truly take off and he still needs to move the ball quicker in possession, but this was an encouraging display as he starred alongside the equally impressive Mason Mount.

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Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United

Manchester United seems an enjoyable place to play your football once more and a key reason behind the club’s renaissance has been the arrival of Bruno Fernandes.

The winter window signing has been the catalyst for an unbeaten run which was extended to 16 games against Bournemouth, providing two assists and scoring a superb free-kick in another display of his creative capabilities.

Fernandes has now scored seven goals and provided six assists in just 13 starts since signing from Sporting Lisbon, the Portugal international having made an instant impact and quickly establishing himself as one of the finest footballers in English football.

Right-wing: Mason Greenwood – Manchester United

It’s frightening to think that Mason Greenwood is still just 18-years-old, the teenager an absolute natural at this level and amongst the stand-out stars of another impressive Manchester United display.

Greenwood took his season’s tally to 15 goals in all competitions against Bournemouth this weekend, executing two powerful finishes and demonstrating a strength on either foot that is likely to give top-flight defenders a headache for season’s to come.

The youngster’s 15 goals and five assists means he now has more goal contributions than any other teenager in Europe’s top five leagues this season, whilst he is the first teenager since Wayne Rooney in 2004/05 to score 15 goals in a season for United.

Talk of a call up to the England squad looks less premature with each passing week.

Left-wing: Christian Pulisic – Chelsea

It’s a second successive inclusion in our Team of the Week for Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, the winger a livewire presence in the Blues’ attack throughout their victory over Watford this weekend.

The US international has starred since making his return from injury following the Premier League’s restart, drawing comparisons to former fans’ favourite Eden Hazard for his ability to create and influence from the left-hand side.

His pace and low centre of gravity caused problems throughout for the struggling Hornets, and resulted in the 21-year-old winning a penalty which was converted by Willian.

Forward: Anthony Martial – Manchester United

Anthony Martial has found his groove as the focal point of a swashbuckling Manchester United attack, the Frenchman thriving as part of an exciting forward line including the aforementioned Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, the trio supplied superbly by the talents of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.

Martial reached 20 goals in all competitions for the first time in his career with a stunning effort against Bournemouth at Old Trafford, cutting in from the left-hand side before unleashing a curling finish into the far top corner.

United continue to be linked with the signing of a new centre-forward, but on the evidence of recent weeks their focus in the transfer market should be elsewhere.

Forward: Danny Ings – Southampton

It’s not often we include a striker who failed to score in our Team of the Week, but the selfless display of Danny Ings during Southampton’s 1-0 win over Manchester City earns him inclusion here.

Jamie Vardy’s entry to the Premier League goal may have taken the headlines, but it is another English forward in contention for the Golden Boot who delivered the most impressive performance of the weekend.

Ings – as he has done for much of the season – ran himself into the ground as the first line of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s defence, pressing the City backline with relentless intensity and even providing his own heroic moment with a goal-line clearance.

Read – Premier League Weekly Awards: Ageless Vardy, fabulous Fernandes, and Adams off the mark

Read Also – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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