Each week we bring you some of the finest performers from the Premier League’s weekend, with the latest action including wins for Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, alongside a first Tottenham hat-trick in almost nine years for Gareth Bale.
Elsewhere Brighton all but assured their place in the Premier League for another season after beating Leeds in impressive fashion, whilst Aston Villa dented Everton’s hopes of reaching Europe after taking three points at Goodison Park.
Here are seven Premier League players who shone this weekend.
Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham was greeted with much fanfare last summer, but found himself underused by former manager Jose Mourinho for much of the season.
Bale has started just eight league games for the north Londoners since signing on loan from Real Madrid, scoring nine goals following a brilliant hat-trick against already-relegated Sheffield United this weekend.
This was a reminder of what the 31-year-old is capable of when at his unplayable best, his treble of the highest order as he showcased power, precision and poise.
Bale raced onto Serge Aurier’s clipped pass to open the scoring with a lobbed finish beyond Aaron Ramsdale, before firing home emphatically after racing clear on the counter-attack shortly after the interval.
The Welshman lashed home a third from outside the area to complete a first Spurs hat-trick since December 2012, with interim manager Ryan Mason rewarded for his expansive approach in fielding the winger alongside both Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane.
Victory for Spurs kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League a five-point margin remaining to fourth-placed Chelsea, a gap you feel may have been less had Bale given more opportunities to showcase his talents.
Ollie Watkins has enjoyed a brilliant first season at Premier League level since becoming Aston Villa’s record signing last summer, the former Brentford forward netting his 13th league goal of the campaign against Everton this weekend.
Watkins has provided the perfect focal point for Dean Smith’s side so far this season, the 24-year-old a player capable of occupying backlines almost singlehandedly with his endless energy, speed and skill.
Watkins pressed relentlessly from the front in a performance which has quickly become his signature, the star rewarded for his tireless tenacity after robbing Mason Holgate of possession before opening the scoring.
It was a goal the forward deserved for his selfless approach from the front and will no doubt have won him admiration from watching England manager Gareth Southgate, who handed Watkins a goalscoring international debut against San Marino in March.
Here Southgate was presented with a duel between Watkins and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the latter having emerged as England’s first-choice deputy to Harry Kane.
Both players scored and demonstrated just what they can offer ahead of this summer’s European Championship and Southgate could now be tempted to include both amongst his attacking options, with squads having been expanded to 26 players.
Southampton’s second half of the season has been one to forget following a torrid run of results, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side – who briefly topped the Premier League for the first time in their history in November – sliding towards the bottom three.
The Saints had lost 12 of their previous 15 games ahead of the visits of Leicester this weekend, their hopes of improving that poor record hindered further after Jannick Vestergaard’s 10th-minute dismissal.
Up against it against a side that inflicted the Premier League’s biggest ever home defeat upon them last season, Southampton battled valiantly with Walker-Peters amongst their better performers.
The full-back had an early goal ruled out for offside and was bright and busy throughout the contest, defending the right flank superbly and making a vital late intervention to deny Jamie Vardy.
Brighton gambled on the services of Danny Welbeck last summer following Watford’s relegation, signing the 30-year-old on a free transfer to bolster their attacking options.
Welbeck’s quality has rarely been in doubt but the forward has struggled with injuries throughout his career, his latter seasons with Arsenal decimated as he made just 28 league starts across his final four seasons at the Emirates.
Welbeck has been handed an extended run in the Brighton side in recent weeks and has started each of the Seagulls’ last seven games, scoring three goals and providing two assists in that time to boost the club’s relegation fight.
His latest intervention this weekend was his most crucial to date, scoring one and winning a penalty as Brighton all but assured their place in the Premier League for another season with a 2-0 win over Leeds.
Welbeck’s goal to seal the game was straight out of the top-drawer, controlling a dropping ball with a brilliant Cruyff turn before lashing the ball beyond Illan Meslier.
Kai Havertz’s Chelsea career is yet to truly catch fire but there have been more frequent glimpses of his quality over the second half of the campaign, including his match-winning brace as Fulham were beaten in the west London derby this weekend.
Havertz operated as a false nine at Stamford Bridge and was the star of an important victory, dovetailing with the likes of Mason Mount and Timo Werner and providing two fine finishes.
His first came following a superb assist from Mount, rolling his effort beyond Alphonse Areola before controlling Ben Chilwell’s long pass and combining with Werner to net his second of the afternoon.
Havertz’s best position perhaps remains unclear, but he no doubt adds a fluidity to the forward line when operating as a central forward and showed his intelligent movement and finishing ability to push the visiting Cottagers closer to the drop.
Injury has largely prevented Gabriel Martinelli from building on an excellent first season with Arsenal, though the forward’s return to fitness has added a new dimension to the Gunners’ attacking options.
Martinelli was handed just his sixth league start of the campaign against Newcastle this weekend and responded with an encouraging performance, the teenager proving a handful for the Magpies’ defence with his energy down Arsenal’s left flank.
The 19-year-old provided the assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal with a superb first-time delivery on his weaker left side, the ball bending behind the Newcastle defence to allow the Arsenal captain to tap home a simple finish.
Martinelli finished the clash with five chances created and his infectious intensity makes the north Londoners a better side, with Mikel Arteta surely now convinced to start the Brazilian in the club’s Europa League semi-final against Villarreal in midweek.
Arsenal’s senior stars have flattered to deceive this season and perhaps now is the time for Arteta to invest fully in the youthful exuberance which have offered rare bright sparks in a disappointing domestic campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s runaway league leaders move closer to their coronation after beating Crystal Palace this weekend, a heavily rotated side making light work of the Eagles to move within one win of the title.
Guardiola rotated his Manchester City squad with a Champions League semi-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain to come this week, with one of the club’s old-guard coming in and excelling at the base of the midfield.
Fernandinho remains as reliable as they come even into the twilight of a storied Etihad career, performances of this calibre raising the question as to why his future has not been sorted beyond the end of the campaign.
Even at 35-years-old the midfielder is capable of stepping in and performing admirably, the Brazilian dropping in to make a back three on occasion at Selhurst Park and keeping City ticking with his passing play.
The all-action energy of his younger years may have faded slightly, but he is more than capable of playing a prominent role in the squad beyond this summer.
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