With the festive fixtures having come thick and fast, it’s time for another edition of our Premier League Team of the Week. Here is our best XI from Matchday 19.
Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola – West Ham
The brilliant barrier between Arsenal and the West Ham goal, Alphonse Areola made eight saves – including six from inside he box – as West Ham sprung a surprise with a win at the Emirates.
The Frenchman has been key to two big wins over the festive period for the Hammers, recording shut-outs in victories over Manchester United and Arsenal. Areola got a strong hand to keep out Bukayo Saka’s header in the first half, before a smart stop with his legs to deny Leandro Trossard after the break.
Back in the team and back in form for a West Ham side on the up.
Right-back: Jack Hinshelwood – Brighton
Impressive at both ends of the pitch, the teenager is fast becoming a dependable defensive option for Roberto De Zerbi and Brighton. The 18-year-old continued his breakout season with another strong performance against Spurs, one which saw the right-back rifle in the opening goal.
Hinshelwood’s sharp touch and emphatic finish was another example of his maturity on the pitch, with the academy graduate going from strength to strength with the Seagulls.
Centre-back: Konstantinos Mavropanos – West Ham
The Greek international came back to haunt his former team, with a strong display in both boxes as West Ham earned a 2-0 win at Arsenal. Mavropanos made just eight senior appearances for Arsenal before departing in search of opportunity, but was a thorn in the Gunners’ side on his return to North London.
The 26-year-old made five clearances, won four duels, and scored the second for West Ham with a fantastic header that crashed in off the crossbar.
Konstantinos Mavropanos silences the Emirates!
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 28, 2023
Centre-back: Nathan Ake – Manchester City
A quietly impressive performance from Ake, who was Manchester City’s best defender in their 3-1 win at Everton.
The Dutchman started at full-back and was calm and composed in his defending, while winning the penalty from which Julian Alvarez converted to put City ahead in the game. Ake, who made four clearances and completed 95.9% of his passes against the Toffees, later showed his versatility with a move to centre-back after John Stones’ injury.
The fight continues 💪🏾 pic.twitter.com/CY91yn1wv2
— Nathan Aké (@NathanAke) December 27, 2023
Left-back: Dango Ouattara – Bournemouth
A second successive inclusion for Dango Ouattara, who has found himself a home at left-back for Bournemouth.
The experiment to move the winger into a more defensive role is working well for the Cherries, who thrashed Fulham 3-0 on Boxing Day to continue their improved form under Andoni Iraola. The 21-year-old won three tackles and nine duels in another all-action showing down the left flank.
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) December 27, 2023
He’s been reborn in the new role.
Midfield: Alex Scott – Bournemouth
Bournemouth are yet to see the best of Alex Scott after injury disrupted his debut campaign with the Cherries, but the midfielder provided a reminder of his potential against Fulham this week.
Scott registered his first Premier League assist with a mesmerising solo run, driving forward past four Fulham challenges before teeing up Justin Kluivert to score. The 20-year-old completed 89% of his passes (32/36) and won 6/7 duels in an exciting midfield performance.
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) December 28, 2023
Midfield: Phil Foden – Manchester City
A magnificent performance from the Manchester City midfielder, who passed his audition for a more regular central role with flying colours at Everton. Full of poise and flair in pockets of space, it was Foden’s rasping drive that beat Jordan Pickford at his near post to bring City level at Goodison Park.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 28, 2023
Foden is a wonderful watch in this mood and stepped up when his side needed him in their come-from-behind win. There are many keen to see him handed more minutes in the number ten position.
Winger: Anthony Elanga – Nottingham Forest
Two assists for Anthony Elanga, who cut apart Newcastle on the counter-attack at St James’ Park. The winger selfishly failed to square for Chris Wood early on, but made amends when finding the New Zealand striker from a similar position for Forest’s equaliser.
He added a second assist for Wood with a driving run and threaded passes, taking his total to nine Premier League goal involvements in 13 league starts this season.
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) December 27, 2023
Winger: Alejandro Garnacho – Manchester United
The teenager dragged Manchester United back into the game against Aston Villa, leading from the front with a never-say-die approach at Old Trafford. Boos rang around at half-time as Erik ten Hag’s team trailed 2-0 at the break, but Garnacho’s double helped turn the game around.
Having seen a goal disallowed for a fractional offside, the Argentine scored an almost identical effort to bring the Red Devils back into the game. His second followed soon after, as Garnacho drilled in a deflected second to equalise.
Alejandro at the double ✌️🇦🇷
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 27, 2023
Garnacho’s brace set the stage for Rasmus Hojlund’s winner, in what could be a turning point in the club’s season.
Forward: Hwang Hee-chan – Wolves
A clinical double from the South Korean, who is having the season of his life at Wolves.
Hwang moved to 10 league goals for the season with a brace at Brentford, first accepting a festive gift from Nathan Collins to race onto an under-hit back-pass and round the goalkeeper. The striker’s second arrived before the half hour, as he confidently flicked the ball over Ethan Pinnock’s challenge and fired home.
The 27-year-old will be a big miss when he departs to compete at the Asian Cup next month.
Forward: Chris Wood – Nottingham Forest
Chris Wood came back to haunt his former team this weekend, becoming just the fourth Premier League player to score a hat-trick against his old employers.
The New Zealand international scored all three goals as Nottingham Forest claimed a shock win at Newcastle, producing a centre-forward clinic at St James’ Park.
A tap-in brought the teams level after Alexander Isak’s opener from the penalty spot for Newcastle, before Wood fired Forest ahead with a deft finish that was lifted over Martin Dubravka, after beating Dan Burn inside the box.
On repeat 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/ms5nvGo1sm
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) December 26, 2023
He completed his treble and claimed the match ball with a confident finish after rounding the ‘keeper, with Wood having now averaged a Premier League goal every 91 minutes this season.