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Premier League Team of the Week – Boxing Day

Premier League football returned on Boxing Day and, as ever, we’ve delved through the action and compiled our divisional Team of the Week from the fixtures’ finest performances.

The division made its much anticipated return after the World Cup break and the Boxing Day fixtures saw Arsenal extend their lead at the top with a comeback win over West Ham.

Newcastle are up to second after a sixth straight win, while there were convincing wins on the road for Liverpool, Fulham, Brighton and a last-gasp debut win for Wolves’ Julen Lopetegui.

Here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper: Alisson – Liverpool

Alisson was an assured presence in goal during Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa. In a game that was frantic and stretched at times, the Brazil international was alert to danger whenever the hosts threatened.

He made two first-half saves from Ollie Watkins, with one a brilliant one-v-one stop even if the offside flag would have ultimately denied the forward. Alisson was confident in his handling and his form has been crucial to Liverpool this season as several others have been below-par for much of the campaign.

He’s been Liverpool’s Player of the Season so far and has prevented more goals than any other goalkeeper in the division.

Right-back: Kieran Trippier – Newcastle

Kieran Trippier’s outstanding season continued as Newcastle picked up where they left off before the break with a big win at Leicester.

It was a brilliant performance from the Magpies who led 3-0 inside 32 minutes at the King Power Stadium, with the win moving Eddie Howe’s team up to second in the Premier League table.

Trippier was central to the club’s first-half blitz and ended the contest with five crosses, four key passes and an assist, his fourth in the Premier League so far this season. Only Andy Robertson (5) has managed more among defenders during the current campaign.

Centre-back: Tim Ream – Fulham

Tim Ream is enjoying quite the Indian summer at Fulham. The veteran defender continued his strong season with an impressive performance in the club’s 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, returning from the World Cup with a composed performance at Selhurst Park.

The 35-year-old won six duels, recorded a 91% pass accuracy, and completed 8/9 long balls, while he wheeled off in celebration after scoring his first ever Premier League goal with Fulham’s second.

Ream has got better and better with age, demonstrating that experience can often be priceless for central defenders. He announced a contract extension with Fulham post-match, completing a fine festive return for the US international.

Centre-back: Sven Botman – Newcastle

Sven Botman enhanced his growing reputation with another faultless defensive display in Newcastle’s 3-0 win at Leicester.

The Dutchman mountain was never troubled despite the pace of Leicester’s forward line and made a vital interception after he got back to recover Patson Daka’s effort from the goal line. Botman was a dominant presence and has now gone three consecutive league games without losing a single ground duel, for a Newcastle team growing in confidence and momentum.

He has made 16 appearances since his summer arrival from Lille and is yet to find himself on the losing side for Newcastle, with 11 wins and nine clean sheets during that run. A superb signing from the Magpies’ recruitment team.

Left-back: Andy Robertson – Liverpool

A fine all-round performance from Robertson, who looked re-charged following his rest during the World Cup break.

The Scotland international produced his usual cocktail of endeavour and output during Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa, as he made the most of the space afforded to him down the left flank. He created two chances inside the opening five minutes, with the second setting up Salah for the opening goal.

It was Robertson’s 54th assist in the Premier League, moving him past Leighton Baines as the defender with the most assists in the division’s history.

Midfield: Bruno Guimaraes – Newcastle

The best player on the pitch as Newcastle racked up a sixth consecutive Premier League win to move second in the table.

Guimaraes was outstanding as the Magpies’ ran riot during the opening 45 minutes at Leicester, recording 100% completion with his take-ons (3) and long passes (5). The Brazilian has fast emerged as a midfielder who can do it all and led his teammates for take-ons, ball recoveries, successful ground duels and passes in the final third at the King Power Stadium.

He also recorded his sixth goal involvement of the campaign, with a weighted pass into the path of the in-form Miguel Almiron to double Newcastle’s lead.

Given the need for midfield reinforcements at several of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ clubs, it is staggering that Guimaraes was largely overlooked before his move from Lyon to Newcastle last winter. The 25-year-old has taken Eddie Howe’s side to a new level and Champions League qualification is a realistic goal.

Midfield: Joelinton – Newcastle

Guimaraes’ partner in crime was back to his bulldozing best for Newcastle, marauding forward to make things happen for the Magpies.

Joelinton created the first at Leicester after winning an early penalty for Chris Wood to convert, before powering above Boubakary Soumaré to thump home a header from Kieran Trippier’s corner for Newcastle’s third.

A marauding presence all afternoon, the Foxes failed to cope with his bullish bursts from midfield. Eddie Howe has spent money improving this team, but his development of existing squad members has been just as important in Newcastle’s success this season. None epitomise that more than Miguel Almiron and Joelinton.

Midfield: Martin Odegaard – Arsenal

An exquisite performance of creative class from Arsenal’s captain, who has not allowed the break in the season to stop the momentum he gained before the pause.

It’s now five goals and assists in his last four Premier League appearances, with Odegaard orchestrating the Gunners’ second-half fightback to beat West Ham 3-1 and move seven points clear at the top of the table.

He created the first goal as his miss-hit shot inadvertently turned into an assist for Bukayo Saka, before finding Eddie Nketiah in the box for Arsenal’s third. Odegaard ended the clash with a 93% pass accuracy, two assists and five key passes, with the Norwegian unplayable at times at the Emirates.

Right-wing: Solly March – Brighton

Solly March was at the centre of Brighton’s 3-1 win at Southampton as the Seagulls recorded an emphatic win at their struggling South Coast rivals.

March was excellent in a lively performance down the right, as he created the opening goal with a floated cross for Adam Lallana to head home. Goals have often been a problem for the wide-man, but March broke his goal drought in stunning style against the Saints.

Drifting in from the flank, he unleashed a thunderous finish for his first Premier League goal since November 2020. It has been a long wait for the 28-year-old, a period of 766 days and 62 shots at goal.

Left-wing: Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal

Martinelli responded to some rough treatment from West Ham in the only way he knows how, producing a performance of relentless running and a desire to drive at defenders.

As ever, his work-rate set the tone for Arsenal in their 3-1 win at the Emirates and Martinelli was rewarded for his persistence with the crucial second goal. Vladimir Coufal failed to get close enough to the Brazilian, who took on the full-back down the outside before sneaking a finish inside Lukasz Fabianski’s near post.

Martinelli’s goal was his sixth in the Premier League this season, already matching his total from the 2021/22 campaign. The 21-year-old is getting better and better in Mikel Arteta’s fearless young side.

Forward: Aleksandar Mitrovic – Fulham

Fulham ensured that Crystal Palace’s ill-discipline was punished with a comfortable 3-0 win over the nine-man Eagles at Selhurst Park.

Aleksandar Mitrovic proved a thorn in the side of a depleted Palace team, who had both Tyrick Mitchell and James Tomkins sent off. The Serbian striker created the first goal with a delightful cross for Bobby Decordova-Reid to head home the opener, before nodding down for Tim Ream to lash in a second.

Palace couldn’t cope with the aerial threat of Mitrovic, who later forced a fine save from Vincente Guiata after meeting Decordova-Reid’s cross. He eventually got the goal his performance deserved after heading in a third from close range. Just four players have been directly involved in more Premier League goals than Mitrovic so far this season.

Read – Five of the greatest Boxing Day Premier League games

Read Also – Five of the best: Premier League Boxing Day goals

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