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Premier League Team of the Week – Matchday 21 (2)

Just four games to choose from in the Premier League as part of the division’s winter break, with Arsenal and Liverpool the big winners from the weekend’s games.

Here is our Premier League Team of the Week from this weekend’s fixtures.

Spoiler: There’s been some serious shoehorning required for this XI.

Goalkeeper: David Raya – Arsenal

An improved outing from the Arsenal goalkeeper, who showcased the quality of his distribution against Crystal Palace. Raya atoned instantly for one poor clearance with a smart save from Jefferson Lerma’s sweet hit and set Arsenal away on the break in the build-up to Leandro Trossard’s goal.

Raya’s quick-thinking and arrowed throw unleashed Gabriel Jesus on the counter-attack, with the Brazilian squaring for Trossard to turn home.

Right-back: Conor Bradley – Liverpool

Sometimes it takes circumstance to open up an opportunity for young talent and Conor Bradley is taking his chance at Liverpool. The right-back made his Premier League debut at Bournemouth in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and battled well against the difficult challenge of keeping Luis Sinisterra quiet.

The 20-year-old – who spent last season on loan at third-tier Bolton – followed impressive cup performances with a solid showing on his league bow, while recording an assist in the Reds’ 4-0 success at the Vitality Stadium.

Centre-back: Ibrahima Konate – Liverpool

Ibrahima Konate’s fantastic form continued as Liverpool impressed after half-time to beat Bournemouth 4-0.

The France international was dominant in the air, winning 8/10 duels, made nine clearances and set Liverpool on the front foot with some raking long passes. Konate’s domineering defending alongside Virgil van Dijk allows Liverpool the safety net to commit multiple men forward, with the Reds overwhelming Bournemouth in the second half.

Centre-back: Ben Mee – Brentford

Buoyed by the return of Ivan Toney from suspension, Brentford ended their losing streak with an entertaining 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest in West London.

Ben Mee was an influential presence at both ends of the pitch for the Bees, winning 9/13 duels, completing six long passes, and making five clearances. The experienced defender scored the second for Thomas Frank’s side with a thumping header from a set-piece.

Left-back: Gabriel Magalhaes – Arsenal

Our unsung hero of the Arsenal side this season, Gabriel put himself in the headlines with an outstanding performance in the club’s 5-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace. The Eagles could not live with the Brazilian at set-pieces, as Gabriel climbed above his marker to head in the opener at the back post.

The 26-year-old was unfortunate to have a second taken off him for an own goal after meeting Bukayo Saka’s corner to double Arsenal’s lead. His threat in the air was the highlight of a strong overall performance from the defender, as the North Londoners returned to winning ways in style at the Emirates.

Each ‘Big Six’ side’s unsung hero this season

Midfield: Alexis Mac Allister – Liverpool

Alexis Mac Allister proved he has the graft to complement the craft in a Jurgen Klopp midfield this weekend, with the World Cup winner excellent in and out of possession against Bournemouth.

The Argentine led the game for possession won (15), duels won (14), tackles (9), chances created (4), interceptions (3) and fouls won (3) in an all-action outing. In the absence of several key figures, he took control of the game.

Midfield: Danny Ings – West Ham

Danny Ings has had a fairly stinking time as a West Ham player, but the forward shone on only his second start of the season at Sheffield United. David Moyes moved Ings to a deeper role in support of Jarrod Bowen and the 31-year-old was involved throughout, helping create both goals in a chaotic draw at Bramall Lane.

Ings’ shot deflected into the path of Maxwel Cornet to score the opener for West Ham, before the forward’s smart turn and drive into the penalty box resulted in a spot-kick for James Ward-Prowse to slam home. A great display to build upon after a torrid time at the London Stadium.

Winger: Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal

We raised our concerns with Gabriel Martinelli’s recent form for Arsenal pre-Premier League weekend and the Brazilian started on the substitute’s bench for the win over Crystal Palace.

Martinelli had scored just twice in 18 league games this season but doubled his haul for the season with a brilliant brace off the bench. This was vintage Martinelli as he made bursts behind the Palace defence to score and, dare we say it, there was a hint of Thierry Henry about his finishes.

The 22-year-old was Arsenal’s joint-leading scorer last season and a return to form for Martinelli is a major positive for Mikel Arteta’s side.

Winger: Darwin Nunez – Liverpool

Darwin Nunez has not always got the rewards for his performances of late, but the Uruguayan helped himself to a brace in Liverpool’s rout of Bournemouth. Back in a wide role with Diogo Jota through the centre, the forward’s energy and speed always looked threatening when allowed space to gallop into.

Though he’s been criticised for wastefulness this season, Nunez took both goals with aplomb. His first was a calm finish from a well-worked team goal, before connecting with Joe Gomez’s cross to expertly steer in a second.

He’s the first Premier League player to reach 10+ goals and 10+ assists in all competitions his season.

Forward: Diogo Jota

In Mohamed Salah’s absence, Diogo Jota is the most natural finisher in Liverpool’s squad and has found form at a crucial time for the Reds.

The Portugal international extended his record to three goals and three assists in his last three Premier League appearances with a double at Bournemouth, setting up Darwin Nunez for the opener before bagging a clinical brace of his own.

Jota’s first was rifled into the bottom corner before he reacted quickest to his own miscue to lash in a second and seal the win. Back through the middle, he always looked the likeliest avenue to goal for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Forward: Ivan Toney – Brentford

He’s back.

Brentford’s pre-game fanfare for Ivan Toney’s return might have made rival sides cringe, but there’s little doubting the importance of the forward to this team.

Toney made his long-awaited return from suspension against Nottingham Forest and was instrumental to a much-needed win for the Bees, scoring the equaliser with a free-kick.

The 27-year-old offers far more than goals for Brentford, providing a focal point that has been lacking in his absence, and his teammates with a lift of confidence. He can be the difference in Brentford’s battle to survive this season.

Read – Premier League Awards: Toney’s back, Maupay magic

See more – Premier League weekend: Five things we learned

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