The weekend’s Premier League action saw champions Manchester City overcome Leicester in the huge battle at the top on Saturday evening, whilst Chelsea and Frank Lampard boosted their top-four hopes by beating former manager Jose Mourinho and Tottenham in a London derby that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons.
Elsewhere, Southampton secured a fine win at Aston Villa in a relegation six-pointer, whilst Watford shocked Manchester United to earn their first home win of the season.
Here in an attacking 3-5-2 formation is the Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week for gameweek 18…
Goalkeeper: Ben Foster – Watford
Watford gave their hopes of survival a huge boost by earning a shock victory over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side at Vicarage Road. The hosts outfought and out-battled a United side who gifted a grateful Watford victory courtesy of two howlers, though goalkeeper Foster’s clean sheet was vital to their success.
The veteran saved each of the eight shots on target he faced, including making crucial saves to deny Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford late on.
Centre-back: Antonio Rudiger – Chelsea
The return to fitness of the Germany international is a huge boost to Chelsea’s hopes of success this season, the towering defender’s presence adding experience to a youthful backline for Frank Lampard’s side.
Against Tottenham this weekend Rudiger stood tall as the Blues secured a huge away victory, helping his side to a clean sheet and dealing admirably with the threat posed by the in-form Son Heung-Min playing on the right of a back three.
The alleged racist abuse received by the defender marred the result somewhat and the incident must now be dealt with strongly by the authorities, though aside from the disgusting behaviour of idiots somehow still allowed into Premier League grounds, it was an otherwise pleasing afternoon for the 26-year-old.
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) December 22, 2019
Centre-back: Fabian Schar – Newcastle
Has Steve Bruce won over the Newcastle fans? The Magpies have quietly climbed into the top half of the Premier League following their impressive recent form, currently sitting ninth in the division and just three points behind the widely praised Sheffield United in fifth.
Another fine display earned Bruce’s side a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace this weekend, the club’s use of a back three once again bringing solidity and providing the platform to secure success.
Key to their spine Swiss international Schar, who combines defensive nous with an ability to play out from the back and build attacks. The 28-year-old shackled the threat of Wilfried Zaha and makes his third appearance in our Team of the Week this season, his £3m signing from Deportivo La Coruna in 2018 amongst the club’s best pieces of business in recent years.
Centre-back: Fikayo Tomori – Chelsea
The second of Chelsea‘s back three to make our team, Tomori enjoyed an impressive start to life in the Premier League in the opening weeks of the season before finding himself sidelined in recent weeks, only to return against Spurs with another display of maturity beyond his years.
The 22-year-old formed part of a Chelsea defence that limited the hosts to just one shot on target throughout the contest, winning 100% of his aerial duels and tackles.
Tomori’s positional play still needs some improvement, though he possesses all the attributes to be a leading Premier League defender in the coming years.
Fikayo Tomori’s game by numbers vs. Spurs:
100% aerial duels won
100% tackles won
86% pass accuracy
4 ball recoveries
0 goals conceded
0 fouls committed
One of the breakout stars of the season so far. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/z5zGOjapWd
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 22, 2019
Midfield: John Lundstram – Sheffield United
Sheffield United’s hugely impressive first season back in the Premier League continues, a win at Brighton their third victory in succession and moving Chris Wilder’s high-flying side back up to fifth in the division.
Well organised, committed and coached superbly, the Blades are greater than the sum of their parts and continue to flourish at top-flight level, with each player contributing significantly to the cause.
Their stand-out star from a 1-0 victory at the Amex Stadium, however, was midfielder Lundstram, who has thrived this season alongside so many of his teammates playing regular Premier League football for the first time.
The former Everton youngster brings energy and drive to the midfield, and was at the heartbeat of yet another success for the Yorkshire outfit this weekend.
Midfield: Kevin de Bruyne – Manchester City
Another week, another inclusion in this feature for the Man City star who has produced his finest form over the past couple of weeks, carrying his side to crucial victories over Arsenal and Leicester.
The Belgian midfielder is amongst the very best players in world football on this type of showing, the 28-year-old driving the champions on against the second-placed Foxes this weekend to keep his side’s faint title hopes alive.
Capable of influencing the play across the pitch, De Bruyne added yet another assist to his collection by surging into the box and finding Gabriel Jesus, his tenth of the season so far and he looks well placed to break the individual record for most goals provided in a single season.
Kevin De Bruyne has created 69 chances in the Premier League so far this season, at least 17 more than any other player.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 21, 2019
Midfield: Mason Mount – Chelsea
The midfielder’s best game in a Chelsea shirt so far?
Mount has impressed this season since being handed his opportunity by Frank Lampard and showcased his vast potential with a stand-out showing in the club’s win at London rivals Tottenham.
The 20-year-old buzzed around in a supporting role alongside match-winner Willian, joining lone forward Tammy Abraham in attacking and providing endless energy and link-up play.
Mount’s pressing and work-rate helped set the tempo for his side, whilst he also showed a willingness to make big challenges in a fierce contest that often seemed on the verge of spilling over.
Arguably the break-out star of the campaign so far despite recent criticism, it was the latest impressive showing from a youngster who continues to improve.
The qualities of star man @masonmount_10. He is always on the move. Available to receive the ball at any time. Looks forward to see what the best attacking move is before he plays safe. Thinks a step ahead that makes him faster. Only 20yr old. #mmlove #cfc pic.twitter.com/N3IWUHAc5P
— Mario Melchiot (@MarioMelchiot) December 22, 2019
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Ben Chilwell must be having nightmares about his former teammate following this weekend’s huge clash at the Etihad, Mahrez giving the England international a torrid time throughout a huge victory for the champions.
There are many who feel the Algerian is yet to truly establish himself as a key figure for Pep Guardiola’s side, though he produced one of his finest performances since moving to Manchester to haunt former club Leicester this weekend.
Mahrez was a constant threat throughout with his dazzling feet and flawless first touch, running at Chilwell time and again and creating a host of opportunities for his side.
The 28-year-old had ten shots on goal against the Foxes, scoring the equaliser with a deflected effort, though the slice of fortune was a just reward for a brilliant performance from the winger.
Left-wing: Willian – Chelsea
Stationed on the left of our side is Chelsea’s Willian, who operated in a narrower position than normal as Frank Lampard opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation during the club’s win at Spurs.
Alongside Mason Mount, the Brazilian was key to linking Chelsea’s attack and would prove to be the match-winner, scoring a superb opener after working a quickly taken corner with Mateo Kovacic, before stepping up to convert from the spot following a foul on Marcos Alonso.
The 31-year-old can be a divisive figure amongst the Blues’ fanbase but once again showed his quality this weekend, the victory putting Chelsea six points ahead of their opponents in the race for a top-four finish, in what could prove to be the out-of-contract star’s final season at Stamford Bridge.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 22, 2019
Forward: Troy Deeney – Watford
Perhaps not a vintage performance from Deeney, who may not quite be the same player of old, though there can be no denying the return of the Watford captain has helped galvanise his teammates.
The 31-year-old embodied the club’s battling display to secure victory over Manchester United, outfighting their opponents during each contest and leading the line combatively.
Deeney would step up to handle the pressure of converting from the spot, emphatically firing home to give Watford a two-goal cushion that they would not relinquish to secure their first win of the season.
Nigel Pearson’s side face a huge task to survive this season, and Deeney’s leadership will be crucial to their hopes.
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) December 22, 2019
Forward: Danny Ings – Southampton
What a season it is turning out to be for Danny Ings, the Southampton forward seemingly on a one-man mission to keep Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side in the Premier League.
It’s now 11 league goals for the season for the 27-year-old, with only Leicester’s Jamie Vardy having scored more than Ings so far.
It is a remarkable tally for a player playing in a relegation-threatened side, though his confidence is sky-high at present and a double against a hapless Aston Villa defence secured a precious victory against their fellow strugglers.
Ings’ goals helped the Saints to a 3-1 victory at Villa Park, lifting the club above their opponents and out of the drop zone in what could prove a huge result for their survival chances.
Premier League goals this season:
Danny Ings – 11
Marcus Rashford – 10
Sergio Aguero – 9
Harry Kane – 9
Sadio Mane – 9
On fire for the Saints 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/A9IhVes6nz
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) December 21, 2019