Premier League fans were treated to just four fixtures this weekend as the FA Cup’s quarter-finals took place, though there was some excellent viewing including a pulsating 3-3 derby draw between West Ham and Arsenal.
Elsewhere Newcastle’s relegation fears reached new heights as the Magpies were thrashed by fellow strugglers Brighton, whilst Leeds won at Fulham and Tottenham returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa.
It’s that time of the week again where we compile our dream side from the weekend’s action, here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier – Leeds
Leeds remain in the hunt for a top 10 finish and ended a run of three games without a win at Fulham, securing a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage courtesy of goals from Patrick Bamford and Raphinha.
Key to their success was the performance of Illan Meslier at the opposite end, however, who produced a string of saves to deny Fulham in the first half, including a wonderful reaction stop from Josh Maja.
Meslier was quieter in the second period but remained alert when called upon, the 21-year-old goalkeeper having given a good account of himself during a challenging maiden season in the Premier League.
Right-back: Pascal Gross
Featuring in the unfamiliar right wing-back role he ended the clash with Southampton in, Gross showcased his versatility as Brighton secured a huge 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Newcastle.
The German got forward well and produced a number of dangerous deliveries, including the assist for Neil Maupay to score Brighton’s third after a smart Cruyff-turn out wide.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) March 21, 2021
Centre-back: Joe Rodon – Tottenham
Tottenham returned to winning ways at Aston Villa following the disappointment of their Europa League exit in midweek, Jose Mourinho ringing the changes including a makeshift back four.
Japhet Tanganga and Joe Rodon came into the side with both impressing to keep a clean sheet, the latter producing a confident and composed performance alongside Davinson Sanchez at centre-back.
The Wales international made a strong block early in the second half and was central to Spurs’ shut-out of the home side, Rodon winning praise from his manager post-match as he continues to establish himself as a Premier League player.
Centre-back: Joel Veltman – Brighton
Utilised as one of three centre-backs for Brighton and, in truth, rarely troubled by a lacklustre Newcastle side heading towards relegation on current form.
Veltman dealt with a toothless Magpies attack in second gear and provided the assist for the opener with a long pass into Leandro Trossard, the Dutchman enjoying himself in a vital victory for the Seagulls’ survival bid.
Signed for just £900,000 from Ajax last summer, you will be hard pushed to find better value for money this season than the versatile Netherlands international.
Brighton may have struggled for consistent results this season, but have a manager with a clear identity and the bravery to hand his side the confidence to play entertaining football.
That statement can not be said of this weekend’s beaten opponents, whose long-suffering fans have been subjected to a side few can identify with by a much-maligned ownership.
Left-back: Jakub Moder – Brighton
Another of Brighton’s backline who revelled in the freedom provided by Graham Potter this weekend, Jakub Moder rampaged forward from left wing-back to cause Newcastle problems all evening at the Amex Stadium.
The Poland international could hardly have wished for a better debut as he broke forward confidently against a lacklustre Magpies side, twice finding himself in shooting positions and testing Martin Dubravka with an effort from inside the box.
The 21-year-old’s energy was a fine addition to the side and Potter will no doubt have been pleased with the youngster’s contribution on his first Premier League start.
Midfield: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – Tottenham
Hojbjerg’s signing has been the best piece of business of Mourinho’s reign so far, the midfielder’s £15m arrival from Southampton having provided Spurs with character and leadership.
The suspended Denmark international was sorely missed as the north London side crashed out of the Europa League in dire circumstances in midweek, though ensured he did all he could to get his side back on track in the win at Aston Villa.
Hojbjerg led by example and was the voice of his side, the midfielder – alongside the effervescent Lucas Moura – the key to a three points which keeps Spurs top-four hopes alive.
Midfield: Jesse Lingard – West Ham
What a difference Jesse Lingard makes to this West Ham side, the midfielder’s fine form since joining on loan from Manchester United continuing with another all-action performance.
Lingard was unavailable against his parent club last weekend and showed his importance upon his return to the side against Arsenal, opening the scoring with a sublime half-volley before providing an assist for Jarrod Bowen with some quick-thinking at a free-kick.
Lingard’s forward running and energy provides the perfect link between midfield and attack for the Hammers, who must surely be doing all they can to ensure the 28-year-old’s move is made permanent.
Jesse Lingard just loves playing against Arsenal 🕺 pic.twitter.com/zss9RsMrt9
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 21, 2021
Back in the England squad after an almost two-year absence, there are few players heading into the international break in more confident mood.
Midfield: Leandro Trossard – Brighton
The bright spark of a big, big Brighton win.
Graham Potter’s side moved six points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three to give themselves some breathing space in the battle to beat the drop, Leandro Trossard the inspiration in their 3-0 thrashing of Newcastle.
It was easy to forget that just a point separated the two sides before kick-off, such was the gulf in quality and desire between the teams as Brighton secured an emphatic three points.
Trossard opened the scoring with a fabulous finish from outside the penalty area, before finding Danny Welbeck in space as the forward scored the home side’s second of the evening.
Inventive and dangerous throughout, the Belgium international has impressed in recent weeks and could hold the key to the Seagull’s survival bid.
Midfield: Lucas Moura – Tottenham
Amongst Tottenham’s most impressive performers in recent weeks, it is easy to see why Lucas Moura is a favourite of Jose Mourinho following his latest display at Aston Villa.
The Brazil international was electric in possession and tireless without it, working relentlessly in a creative role behind forward pairing Harry Kane and Carlos Vinicius.
Moura provided the first goal for Vinicius after bursting forward beyond Matty Cash, the Villa full-back given a torrid time as he struggled to pick up the star’s intelligent runs and movement.
The 28-year-old then played the pass that led to Harry Kane winning a second-half penalty, Moura having excelled in recent weeks as the vibrant forward runner of the Spurs attack, his offensive and defensive contribution greatly appreciated by his manager.
Lucas Moura created twice as many chances against Aston Villa as the rest of the entire Spurs squad combined:
◎ 85 touches
◎ 8 ball recoveries
◎ 6 fouls won
◎ 5 take-ons completed
◉ 4 chances created
◎ 4 clearances
◎ 1 assist
Another superb shift. pic.twitter.com/B8Vwn0RlhD
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 21, 2021
Martin Odegaard is the man unfortunate to miss out on selection here, the Arsenal star having showcased his increasing influence with a fine performance as the Gunners came from 3-0 down to draw at West Ham.
Forward: Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal
Central to a comeback few saw coming following a torrid first-half performance at West Ham, Arsenal found themselves three goals down within just 32 minutes in what promised to be a humiliating afternoon for the Gunners.
Lacazette followed his north London derby winner last weekend with an influential role in the fightback, however, his strike deflecting off Tomas Soucek to provide the visitors with hope before the interval.
Craig Dawson’s own goal reduced the deficit further, before Lacazette powered home a header from Nicolas Pepe’s cross to snatch an unlikely point for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Forward: Patrick Bamford – Leeds
Patrick Bamford’s fitness was in question ahead of Leeds’ trip to Fulham on Friday evening, the forward having limped out of the goalless draw with former side Chelsea last weekend.
Even short of full fitness the forward proved he remains invaluable to Marcelo Bielsa’s side, netting his 14th league goal of the campaign with a sharp finish to open the scoring.
The goal continued a remarkable season for the 27-year-old who was unfortunate not to earn a maiden England call ahead of the international break, with only three players – Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane and Bruno Fernandes – having scored more Premier League goals this season.
Five players have been directly involved in 20 Premier League goals this season:
🏴 Harry Kane
🇵🇹 Bruno Fernandes
🇰🇷 Son Heung-min
🇪🇬 Mohamed Salah
🏴 Patrick Bamford 🆕
Four of them have been called up for international duty. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/5sDFy04Xo0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 19, 2021
Bamford’s link-play was evident once more as he then provided the assist for Raphinha’s winner, a fine performance from the forward and a message to Gareth Southgate following his Three Lions’ snub.