De Gea Spurs v Man United
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Premier League Weekend: Heroes and Villains

Hero: Declan Rice

Not a bad way to usher in your birthday, for Declan Rice. The 19-year-old put in a real Roy of the Rovers display as West Ham got the better of Arsenal on Saturday. His first senior goal capped off a classic number six shift for the Rep of Ireland international.  He is showing real maturity and quality for The Hammers this season, and is flourishing in a talented midfield set up under Manuel Pellegrini.

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Villain: Pascal Gross

If you look up “dodgy striker’s challenge” online, you’ll likely get a clip of Brighton’s Pascal Gross tussling with Mo Salah.

Unfortunately for Brighton fans, their midfielder tried to piggy back on to the Egyptian striker, whilst at the same tripping him inside his own box to give away a penalty. It was a real messy bit of defending which cost his side dearly, in an otherwise gritty display from The Seagulls.

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Hero: Shane Long

Southampton fans wouldn’t exactly have been jumping for joy when they saw Shane Long named at the head of their attacking line at Leicester. It was a case of last man standing for The Saints though, after a glut of injuries left them with nobody else. A miserable run of just one goal in seemingly 200 games – or last April to be exact – had left the Irishman the butt of many a cruel joke.

He must have felt more than just relief then, as his tidy finish, from a tight angle found the back of the net, to give Southampton a two-goal advantage right at half-time at the King Power. Long had also been fouled for his sides opener from the penalty spot, with the Saints eventually securing a much needed three points with a 2-1 win.

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Villain: Yan Valery

The French youngster endured a woeful afternoon, well 45 minutes of one anyway. After clashing with Ben Chilwell who rightfully accused the defender of amateur theatrics to try and win his side a penalty, Valery clearly allowed the incident to affect his game.

Not long after he was lucky to get away with a yellow after going in hard and with studs up on the Leicester defender, with Chilwell lucky to avoid injury. A few minutes later and he was heading for an early bath, having clumsily committed yet another sloppy challenge. All in a day’s work for the youngster, who will need to grow up fast in this league.

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Hero: David De Gea

Where, oh where, would Manchester United have been in the post Fergie era without their goalie? David De Gea has been bailing out defenders left, right and centre for close to a decade now, and he was at it again during his side’s 0-1 away win at Spurs.

The Spaniard was a one man Trump style wall, as he stubbornly denied Harry Kane (a few times), Dele Ali and Toby Alderweireld, to keep his side in front. He saved expertly with his legs on several occasions as Spurs bombarded the United goal in the second half. They could still be playing now and not get past De Gea in that kind of form.

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Villain – Nampalys Mendy

A display which needs to be filed under, U for useless, from the French defensive midfielder against Southampton. Mendy’s first-half shift pretty much summed up his side’s form this season. There was something almost casual about the former Nice midfielder’s abject performance, as he lazily and clumsily upended Shane Long to give away a penalty after just over ten minutes. It was a shoddy bit of defending that will have infuriated the home support.

To compound the issue though, Mendy also lost Shane Long again, for the second goal as the Irish international, who’s not exactly at Messi’s level, ghosted in behind him to make it two nil. Perhaps he’d been better off left on the bench for this one, or in bed, after all he did play like was half asleep.

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