The weekend’s Premier League action saw Chelsea take a huge step towards a top four finish, Frank Lampard’s side ensuring Jose Mourinho enjoyed a miserable return to Stamford Bridge with a vital London derby victory over Tottenham.
Elsewhere Manchester United, Wolves and Arsenal kept up their respective pushes towards Europe, but it was a poor weekend for the teams battling relegation with each of the bottom five teams suffering defeat.
It’s that time of the week again when we put together our dream XI from the weekend’s action, here is the Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week…
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel – Leicester
Unfortunate to be on the losing side this weekend, Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel kept the Foxes in the contest for long periods against Manchester City, making six saves throughout the club’s 1-0 defeat including a brilliant stop to deny Sergio Aguero from the penalty spot.
Rarely is a goalkeeper from a losing side placed into this feature, however, the Danish international’s performance almost secured his side a valuable point against the champions, though he could do nothing about Gabriel Jesus’ late winner.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Liverpool just keep finding a way to win as their march towards the Premier League title continues, though the club were given a huge scare by relegation-threatened West Ham after falling behind at Anfield.
Luckily for Jurgen Klopp he has a potent weapon for when his front three are failing to fire, their assist-king living up to his title with two perfect crosses to provide goals for Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane.
Alexander-Arnold’s brace of assists took him to 12 for the season, equalling his own record for most by a defender in a single Premier League campaign.
Centre-back: James Tarkowski – Burnley
It wasn’t so long ago that Burnley were considered to be in trouble, but a five-game unbeaten run including four victories in that time has lifted Sean Dyche’s outfit into the top half and within just four points of fifth-placed Manchester United.
The Clarets continued their impressive recent form with a 3-0 victory over Bournemouth at Turf Moor, keeping their third clean sheet during that run with defender Tarkowski central to their success.
The England international has proven to be one of Dyche’s most inspired signings since signing from Brentford four years ago, and lined up alongside centre-back teammate Ben Mee for the 51st consecutive game this weekend.
Tarkowski and Mee may not be the most fashionable defensive duo, but they often stand tall when it matters most and continue to be one of the most reliable centre-back partnerships in the Premier League.
Centre-back: Romain Saiss – Wolves
Wolves have proven to be a tough nut to crack of late, Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Norwich stretching the club’s unbeaten run to four games in all competitions without a single goal conceded in that time.
Key to their defensive solidity has been Nuno Espirito Santo’s back three system, with Moroccan international Saiss having provided a reliable presence alongside captain Conor Coady and the returning Willy Boly.
The 29-year-old played his part in a fourth consecutive clean sheet this weekend, whilst also providing a threat at the opposite end of the field – laying on a perfect assist for Diego Jota to double Wolves’ lead against the Canaries.
Left-back: Patrick van Aanholt – Crystal Palace
Could this be the result that saves Crystal Palace’s season? Roy Hodgson’s side had gone eight games without a win in all competitions ahead of the visit of Newcastle this weekend, the Eagles beginning to look nervously over their shoulders at the Premier League’s drop zone.
The club have struggled to score goals this season and are the joint-lowest scorers in the division, and looked set for another frustrating afternoon as Jordan Ayew was continually denied in front of goal.
Thankfully Hodgson’s side had Van Aanholt to thank for producing a piece of magic to seal a vital three points, the Dutch international firing home a fine free-kick for the only goal of the game.
Midfield: Mateo Kovacic
Chelsea’s hopes of returning to the Champions League next season were given a huge boost with victory over Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime, Frank Lampard’s side beating their top four rivals 2-1 at Stamford Bridge courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso.
The west London side dominated for much of the contest and carved out several opportunities, though it was their midfield three of Kovacic, Jorginho and Ross Barkley who were the stars of the show.
Croatian international Kovacic was particularly impressive, producing an all-action display that included making the most passes and recoveries of any player on the pitch, in addition to finishing the game having completed 95% of his passes.
Mateo Kovačić completed every single take-on he attempted, completed 95% of his passes, completed the most passes, and made more recoveries than any other play on the pitch vs. Spurs.
What a player. What a display. 👏 pic.twitter.com/lsLiJEbPnr
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 22, 2020
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes
Is Bruno Fernandes the spark that Manchester United have been so desperately in need of?
The club’s latest signing has shown glimpses of his talent since making the move from Sporting Lisbon last month, though he would announce himself as a Premier League player with a stand-out showing against Watford this weekend.
The Portuguese international showed just why he was so highly coveted during a comfortable 3-0 victory over the struggling Hornets, playing a part in all three goals and opening his account with a confidently taken penalty after being brought down in the penalty area.
The 25-year-old also provided the assist for Mason Greenwood to score the third, and his creativity could prove crucial as Ole Gunna Solskjaer’s side seek to secure a top four finish.
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Leicester know all about the talents of Riyad Mahrez, though could do little to prevent their former player running the show for Manchester City upon his return to the King Power Stadium.
The Algerian starred during the reverse fixture at the Etihad and was once again a thorn in the Foxes’ side with a display of dazzling feet and creativity, leading City for key passes, shots, crosses and fouls won.
Pep Guardiola’s side would find it difficult to find a way through Kasper Schmeichel in the opposing goal, though a trademark driving run from Mahrez drew several defenders before he slipped in Gabriel Jesus to fire a late winner and claim his eighth Premier League assist of the season – only teammate Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold have more.
Left-wing: Dwight McNeil – Burnley
The second Burnley player to feature in our weekly XI, McNeil provided a reminder of just why he is regarded amongst the most promising young English talents in the Premier League this weekend.
VAR may have reared its ugly head and dominated the headlines once more but McNeil starred during the Claret’s victory over Bournemouth, playing a part in all three goals and scoring a stunning effort from distance to seal the win.
The 20-year-old has been linked with a move to some of the division’s bigger sides in recent months, and should the youngster continue to perform like this, Burnley will struggle to keep hold of their prized asset.
10 – Dwight McNeil (20 years, 92 days) is the youngest player reach 10 Premier League assists since Raheem Sterling (19 years, 335 days) in November 2014. Talent. pic.twitter.com/HUIL4VvX9D
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 22, 2020
Forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal
Gary Neville this week questioned whether Aubameyang was under-appreciated by Premier League fans, labelling the Arsenal captain as ‘world class‘ following his latest star showing against Everton.
The Gabon international scored twice as Mikel Arteta’s side claimed a vital 3-2 win over the Toffees at the Emirates, taking his tally to 17 Premier League goals for the season – moving the forward level with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy as he bids to secure a second successive Golden Boot.
Only Mohamed Salah has scored more goals than the 30-year-old since his arrival from Borussia Dortmund two years ago, whilst his first goal was reminiscent of a certain Thierry Henry in his Gunner’s pomp.
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 23, 2020
Forward: Diogo Jota – Wolves
What a week it has been for Diogo Jota and Wolves, the club thrashing Espanyol in the Europa League before comfortably dispatching of Premier League strugglers Norwich this weekend.
10 – Diogo Jota has scored 10 goals in his last 12 appearances in all competitions – he has only scored in four of those games, netting more than once on each occasion (two braces, two hat-tricks). Buses. pic.twitter.com/tp5lBQUNbM
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 23, 2020
After scoring a hat-trick in midweek, the Portuguese international scored twice more against the Canaries at Molineux this weekend, taking his tally to 14 goals for the season in all competitions.
The 23-year-old seems to be hitting his best form at just the right time, as he bids to help Wolves secure European qualification next season and secure his place in the national squad ahead of Euro 2020.