The weekend’s Premier League action saw Manchester United claim local bragging rights with a derby victory over City at Old Trafford, though the club remain three points adrift of the top four courtesy of Chelsea’s thrashing of Everton.
Elsewhere, leaders Liverpool are now just two wins away from the title after beating Bournemouth, whilst Crystal Palace’s fine form continued with a third successive victory and clean sheet at home to Watford.
It’s that time of the week again where we compile our dream XI from the weekend’s action, here is the Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson – Sheffield United
Henderson continues to win admirers during another impressive loan spell at Bramall Lane, the goalkeeper now surely in contention for a first senior England cap ahead of this month’s friendly fixtures against Italy and Denmark.
The 22-year-old is an ever reliable presence when called upon and despite rarely being tested during the 1-0 win over Norwich, provided a superb piece of goalkeeping to maintain his side’s clean sheet and secure another precious three points for the Blades.
His triple save to deny the Canaries was straight out of the top drawer, Henderson securing his tenth clean sheet of the season and continuing to state his case for inclusion ahead of Euro 2020.
World Class, Deano, World Class. 🤯
Dean Henderson 👏 pic.twitter.com/yY6nycPiBG
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 7, 2020
Right-back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Manchester United
Raheem Sterling must dread playing against the Manchester United man, the City star having been nullified for the second successive Premier League derby fixture by the ever impressive Wan-Bissaka.
The 22-year-old’s attacking play may still require improvement but he thrives on this sort of occasion, relishing the one-on-one battle against even the most skilful of opposition wingers.
Wan-Bissaka confined Sterling to a spectating role for much of United’s derby win at Old Trafford, his timing of challenge superb in a fine defensive display from the youngster.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the first half vs. Man City:
❍ 6/6 successful tackles made
❍ 3/3 take ons completed
Spider-Wan at his very best. 🕸 pic.twitter.com/5b6dDRYhBL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 8, 2020
Centre-back: Scott Dann – Crystal Palace
It’s now three consecutive clean sheets and three successive victories for Crystal Palace, Roy Hodgson’s side producing a fine run of form to lift themselves away from the bottom three to sit just outside of the top half on goal difference.
The Eagles defensive resilience has been key to their run of form, with a pair of veterans at the heart of the defence key to their success. Scott Dann has made an unlikely return to the side in recent weeks and impressed alongside Gary Cahill, the 33-year-old bringing leadership and authority to the Palace backline.
Saturday’s win over Watford was another example of Dann at his best, offering a calm and assured presence to help the club to a third 1-0 victory in a row.
Centre-back: Gary Cahill – Crystal Palace
Cahill makes it into our Team of the Week for a second successive gameweek after another outstanding display for Crystal Palace, the veteran continuing to prove himself as one of the shrewdest signings of the season.
The 34-year-old used all of his experience to frustrate a Watford side buoyed by their victory over league leaders Liverpool last time out, calm and composed as usual to record another vital shut-out.
Left-back: James Milner – Liverpool
The absence of Jordan Henderson and James Milner has been used as a reason for Liverpool’s recent wobbles, a lack of leadership evident during disappointing defeats to Watford and Chelsea over the past week.
Milner returned to the side in his auxiliary left-back role this weekend and the presence of one of Jurgen Klopp’s most trusted lieutenants was vital to a come-from-behind victory at Anfield, the veteran driving the side forward against Bournemouth and producing a brilliant goal-line clearance to deny Ryan Fraser.
Milner’s unwavering dedication and professionalism is a huge influence over the Reds dressing room as they close in on a long-awaited league title, his role captured by the cameras on Merseyside with a pre-match rallying cry.
James Milner's game by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
100% aerials won
84 passes attempted
73 passes completed
3 fouls won
1 shot on target
And one unforgettable goal-line clearance. 🦸♂️ pic.twitter.com/pidvBwJTJR
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2020
Midfield: Billy Gilmour – Chelsea
Teenage talent Gilmour was handed another opportunity from the start for Chelsea following his starring FA Cup display against Liverpool, and produced another performance that defied his tender years as Frank Lampard’s side secured a vital victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge.
The 18-year-old oozes confidence and pulled the strings at the heart of the midfield for the west London side, always looking to progress with his passing and possessing an immense self-confidence in his own ability.
Gilmour has been handed his chance due to Chelsea’s midfield injuries and suspensions, and has grasped it with both hands.
🌟 "He backed it up, he makes the game look easy."
Roy Keane impressed by 18-year old Billy Gilmour.pic.twitter.com/sohRm1nJUO
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) March 8, 2020
Midfield: Ross Barkley – Chelsea
The Chelsea midfielder continues to be a divisive figure and has taken his fair share of criticism in recent weeks, not least for a pedestrian performance during the club’s chastening Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
Barkley responded with a stunning goal during the FA Cup victory over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, before starring against former side Everton this weekend as Chelsea edged closer to a top four finish.
The 26-year-old was the senior figure in a midfield containing emerging talents Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount, though produced arguably his finest performance in a Chelsea shirt during the 4-0 victory.
Barkley would finish the afternoon with two assists following a performance in which he imposed himself on the occasion, earning his place in our Team of the Week ahead of the equally impressive Mount.
Ross Barkley outstanding again:
3 – shots
2 – on target
2 – assists
6 – key passes
98.3% – pass accuracy
The highest in every department among the #CFC starters. The most decisive player on the pitch. #CHEEVE
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 8, 2020
Midfield: – Fred – Manchester United
Another impressive derby day showing for Manchester United’s midfield man, Fred once again at his tenacious best to help secure local bragging rights for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
The Brazilian continues his evolution from scapegoat to firm fans’ favourite and seems to thrive in the heat of derby occasions, bringing relentless energy and bite to the Red Devils’ side.
His defensive grit is mixed with purposeful passing, and the 27-year-old has now established himself as a key figure in Solskjaer’s new-look midfield alongside mid-season signing Bruno Fernandes.
Forward: Allan Saint-Maximin
There are few players as exciting to watch in the Premier League at present than Newcastle’s flying winger, Saint-Maximin producing another display this weekend of direct running, pace and sublime dribbling skills.
Dropped for last weekend’s goalless draw with Burnley, the 22-year-old returned to the side this weekend with a point to prove and was a constant menace to the Southampton defence, drawing defenders and skipping past challenges at will.
The Frenchman was rewarded for another effervescent display with the winning goal, closing down Yann Valery to force a mistake before firing home the only goal of the game at St Mary’s to move Newcastle eight points clear of the drop zone.
Saint-Maximin still has plenty to learn, but his showmanship style has made him a favourite amongst the Geordie faithful who often take attacking talents to their hearts.
Allan Saint-Maximin has completed 80 take-ons in the PL this season, more than any other U-23 player in Europe's top five leagues.
Rewarded with his second goal of the season today. pic.twitter.com/NHvPY0cFiJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2020
Forward: Anthony Martial – Manchester United
Anthony Martial’s credentials as Manchester United’s attacking focal point have been questioned on numerous occasions so far this season, but performances such as the one in Sunday’s derby day win over City are evidence of his capabilities to thrive as a number nine.
Martial scored the opening goal of the game in fortuitous circumstance after a well-worked free-kick routine, but it was his overall play that impressed, linking the play and even contributing defensively at set-pieces.
The forward can often appear to look uninterested but he was certainly in the mood in the heat of the Manchester derby, his goal taking the 24-year-old to six goal involvements in his past eight appearances in all competitions.
Anthony Martial is the first Man Utd player to score in both PL Manchester derbies in the same season since Cristiano Ronaldo in 06/07 💪 pic.twitter.com/8RVmrUSmdh
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 8, 2020
Forward: Olivier Giroud – Chelsea
Olivier Giroud’s Chelsea renaissance continued against Everton this weekend, the veteran leading the line in commendable fashion before being rewarded with just his second Premier League goal of the season.
The 33-year-old has been rewarded for his professionalism with an extended run in the team, providing Frank Lampard’s side with a focal point and linking the play with the club’s abundance of attacking midfield talent.
The Frenchman bullied the Everton backline throughout an impressive 4-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, his goal just reward for a tireless showing as the Blues continued their pursuit of Champions League qualification.
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