Team of the Week – gameweek 23

Team of the Week – gameweek 23

02/02/2017Sport

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Another week of the Premier League season – another week in which Chelsea strengthened their grip on the title.

Antonio Conte’s side didn’t even win, yet they still extended their lead at the top to nine points with a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

Manchester City thrashed West Ham 4-0 at a near-empty London Stadium to become the only top-six side to complete a midweek victory.

Elsewhere, Hull held Manchester United to a stalemate, Watford sprung a surprise on Arsenal with a 2-1 win and Burnley picked up yet another home win.

Here are the stand-out performers from gameweek 23.

Defence: Eldin Jakupovic; Harry Maguire, David Luiz, Michael Keane

Jakupovic is a nomadic footballer: aged 32 he’s played in Switzerland, Russia and Greece, as well as on loan at Leyton Orient. It’s fair to say he’s enjoying his best moments now though. The Slovenian goalkeeper made excellent saves from Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to ensure Marco Silva’s Hull side took a point from Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Jakupovic was ably supported by centre-back Maguire, whose reputation is growing every week. The 23-year-old was heavily involved, helping keep chances down despite United’s 67% possession.

In the centre of defence is Chelsea’s Luiz, who has gone from jester to leader at the back. The Brazilian brought out his favourite party trick – the dipping free-kick – to open the scoring at Anfield before defending intelligently to earn his side a point.

Another young English defender turning heads is Burnley’s Keane, who won 10 aerial duels as the Clarets picked up yet more points at home against Leicester. Sean Dyche may struggle to hold onto him in the summer transfer window.

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Morgan Schneiderlin, N’Golo Kante, Etienne Capoue, Leroy Sane

City’s win over West Ham was extremely impressive as Pep Guardiola’s attacking line-up clicked into gear in style. De Bruyne was typically brilliant, conducting things alongside David Silva, probing the Hammers’ defence, sliding through-balls for the quick forward line and bagging the opening goal from a slick one-two.

Schneiderlin made his full debut for Everton following his £24 million move from United and showed just why Ronald Koeman signed him. Full of energy, he flew about the pitch during their 1-1 draw with Stoke.

His French compatriot is the centre-midfielder to aim for though; Kante was simply ridiculous in the second half against Liverpool. He got through a preposterous amount of work, mopping up countless counter-attacks.

Capoue started the season like a train, with four goals in his first five league appearances, but he’d gone quiet until this week. He rampaged around the Emirates turf, creating chances and winning the ball back frequently as the Hornets stunned with two first-half goals.

One of the most impressive showings came from Sane, who reminded fans of his immense talent against West Ham. The 21-year-old German joined for £37 million in the summer but you would have been forgiven for forgetting just how good he is after a slow start. Against the Hammers he was electric, with his pace and final ball spot on – as evidenced by the run and cross for Silva’s goal.

Forwards: Gabriel Jesus, Peter Crouch

The real star of the show in Stratford was Jesus, whose January arrival has injected some verve and excitement into City. The 19-year-old Brazilian striker looked every bit the key player as he tore the opposition apart, putting his side 3-0 up before the break from Raheem Sterling’s pass. Sergio Aguero looked worried on the bench, and you can’t blame him.

Completing the little and very large combination striker partnership is Crouch. The Stoke striker became the 26th player to reach 100 Premier League goals just after his 36th birthday. Although it didn’t come from a header – as you might expect – his well-taken sliding finish and following robot celebration was the moment of midweek.  

Write-up by Felix Keith for Squawka.com