Here is our Premier League Team of the Week for Matchday 17, following another memorable weekend of top-flight football.
Goalkeeper: Dean Henderson – Crystal Palace
A baptism of fire for Dean Henderson on his first Premier League appearance since January, but the goalkeeper responded with a solid showing as Crystal Palace snatched a 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
The ex-Manchester United goalkeeper made a number of good saves to keep the Eagles in the game, including one stop at full stretch from Bernardo Silva. Henderson’s shot-stopping kept the visitors in the game, setting the stage for their late fightback at the Etihad.
— Dean Henderson (@deanhenderson) December 16, 2023
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Liverpool’s goalless draw with Manchester United lacked quality in the final third, but Trent Alexander-Arnold again looked the most imaginative player on the pitch for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The 25-year-old had the most touches (130), key passes (6), expected assists (0.43), and joint-most successful crosses (5), while completing 14 accurate long balls. He made one vital last-ditch challenge on Alejandro Garnacho and came closest to scoring at the other end, with an effort that just fizzed past the post.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 17, 2023
Centre-back: James Tarkowski – Everton
It’s now four consecutive wins and four straight clean sheets for Everton, who have had a remarkable run of form since the club’s 10-point deduction was announced. James Tarkowski has been integral to the club’s upturn, with the centre-back producing arguably the best football of his career right now.
The 31-year-old was a dominant presence against his former team as Everton won 2-0 at Burnley. Tarkowski won eight aerial duels, made four clearances, and won a crucial flick-on in the build up to the second goal. A real leader in this side, the defender was brilliant, as he has largely been in recent weeks.
Centre-back: Raphael Varane – Manchester United
A real reminder of his quality and a performance that makes Erik ten Hag’s recent exclusion of the defender from the side all the more puzzling. Varane was brilliant at Liverpool, defending the 18-yard box superbly and recording a mammoth 15 clearances at Anfield.
Scott McTominay wore the armband, but the Frenchman was the leader of Manchester United’s depleted side from the back. Communicated well with his teammates, organised, and anticipated danger. He’s got to be back in the side on a permanent basis.
Only Ethan Pinnock (17) has made more clearances in a single Premier League game this season than Raphael Varane (15) today.
Resolute performance. 🦾 pic.twitter.com/Tcg52mQdxp
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 17, 2023
Left-back: Ben Davies – Tottenham
We’ve shifted Ben Davies to his more familiar left-back role for the sake of our team, though his inclusion is in recognition of an exemplary performance out of position this weekend.
Ange Postecoglou has insisted Spurs will look to sign a centre-back next month, despite Davies having ensured the club’s injury absences are not being overly felt. The Welshman was immaculate during the 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest, shining again in the centre of the defence.
Davies led the game for touches (118), won 10 duels, made six clearances and completed 92.2% of his passes. The 30-year-old did not put a foot wrong at the City Ground.
Midfield: Bruno Guimaraes – Newcastle
Outstanding. Guimaraes was central to everything good about Newcastle’s performance against Fulham, with the Brazilian stepping up when his injury-hit side needed him. Fulham’s early red card saw Guimaraes thrive amid the added freedom in midfield, and the 26-year-old was involved in all three goals as Newcastle returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory at St James’ Park.
Guimaraes led the contest for touches (137), passes (114), final third passes (61) and distance covered (11.9km), showcasing the best of his tenacity for the opening goal, and wonderful technique for the third. His outside-of-the-boot assist for Dan Burn’s goal was superb.
Bruno Guimarães vs Fulham:
◉ Most touches (137)
◉ Most passes completed (102)
◉ Most chances created (5)
◉ Most fouls won (5)
◉ Most take-ons completed (4)
◉ Joint-most duels won (9)
A complete performance. 💫 pic.twitter.com/56xzhQkNvi
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) December 16, 2023
Midfield: Lucas Paqueta – West Ham
An important response from West Ham after last weekend’s hammering at Fulham, Lucas Paqueta starred as the Hammers bounced back with a 3-0 win over Wolves. The Brazilian claimed a hat-trick of assists and was the heartbeat of an impressive performance from David Moyes’ side, who have moved within two points of the top six.
When West Ham’s big names combine, the Irons will be tough to stop. Paqueta’s encouraging understanding with Mohammed Kudus was evident as he set the summer signing up for the opening two goals, before sending Jarrod Bowen away to score the third with a sharp one-two. He led the game for touches (84), chances created (6) and possession won (13) in a high-octane showing.
3 – Lucas Paquetá is only the second Brazilian to assist three goals in a single Premier League game, after Roberto Firmino (twice for Liverpool). Magic. pic.twitter.com/PNdqYtL2Yo
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 17, 2023
Midfield: Cole Palmer – Chelsea
Chelsea’s match winner and the catalyst behind the club’s best performances this season. Palmer’s growing influence has been a bright point in an otherwise disappointing campaign to date for Chelsea, with the 21-year-old opening the scoring against Sheffield United with his sixth league goal of the season.
The summer signing then turned provider after remaining alert to tee up Nicolas Jackson, his ninth goal involvement in 10 Premier League starts for Chelsea. Palmer always looked the most likely to find a breakthrough for Chelsea, with his second-half showing the driving force behind a much-needed win for the West Londoners.
1+1 – The last three instances of a Chelsea player scoring and assisting in a Premier League game:
Cole Palmer vs Sheffield United
Cole Palmer vs Tottenham
Cole Palmer vs Burnley
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 16, 2023
Forward: Dejan Kulusevski – Tottenham
Dejan Kulusevki continued his impressive recent form with a goal and assist as Spurs won at Nottingham Forest on Friday evening. The Swede set up the opening goal with an inviting delivery in first-half stoppage time, with Kulusevski’s whipped cross headed home by Richarlison.
The winger then put the result beyond doubt with a second for Spurs, capitalising on Matt Turner’s miscue to punish the Forest goalkeeper. Fine footwork and a fierce effort followed, blasting through Turner to seal a 2-0 win. As ever, was full of relentless running to help Spurs combat the loss of Yves Bissouma to a red card.
Forward: Mohammed Kudus – West Ham
Mohammed Kudus is fast becoming a fan favourite at West Ham and continued his excellent start since signing from Ajax last summer.
The 23-year-old hit a brace in the club’s 3-0 win over Wolves at the London Stadium, completing a clinical counter-attack to open the scoring. He raced onto a Lucas Paqueta pass to score the second and make it nine goals in 15 starts across all competitions this season. The Ghanaian is growing in influence for the Irons and will be a big miss when he departs for AFCON in the New Year.
“I just did my thing” ✨
Mohammed Kudus on his magical performance 🪄 pic.twitter.com/os05qiveWF
— West Ham United (@WestHam) December 17, 2023
Forward: Jean-Philippe Mateta – Crystal Palace
Jean-Philippe Mateta had a tough task as the lone forward in a Crystal Palace team starved off the ball at Manchester City, but the Frenchman’s work-rate helped deliver a surprise result for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Mateta turned home from close range to bring the Eagles back into the game, before hustling hard to win the ball back from Bernardo Silva late on, in the build up to Palace’s stoppage-time penalty. Key to the club’s comeback from two goals down against the champions.