Premier League Team of the Week

It was a weekend where Sunderland struck a potentially crucial blow in the Barclays Premier League title race.

Football News: Sebastian Larsson.
Marcus Chhan

By Marcus Chhan

The Black Cats' 3-3 draw with Manchester City over the weekend paved the way for Manchester United to open up a five point lead at the top of the Premier League on Monday.

Another 'big result' from weekend saw Liverpool slump to their worst league run in 59 years with a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle.

And finally, there's a special mention for a footballer whose real battle has only just begun.

The formation this week is 4-4-2.

Other Teams of the Week:

Italian Serie A Team of the Week

German Bundesliga Team of the Week

Singapore League Team of the Week

GK: David De Gea (Manchester United)
Before Monday's 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers, Sir Alex Ferguson said rookie Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea had "stood up as a man" to early season criticism of his abilities. It was a perfectly timed compliment.

The last time Rovers played United, De Gea was the culprit in a 3-2 loss. On Monday, he was one of the key reasons for the United win. He made a succession of excellent saves with the game deadlocked at 0-0 before team-mate Antonio Valencia scored to send United on their way to a potential title deciding three points.

RB: Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea)

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has been one of the consistent highs in what has been a topsy-turvy season for the Blues. On Saturday, the Serbian turned from defensive stalwart to goal scoring hero as he struck twice to seal a 4-2 win for the Blues over a very motivated Aston Villa side.

The win kept Chelsea in the hunt for fourth place in the Barclays Premier League.

LB: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
The Barclays Premier League title race is still alive thanks to Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov's fine strike in the 85th minute of the team's 3-3 draw with Sunderland at the weekend. Roberto Mancini's men were just 5 minutes away from a catastrophic loss to Sunderland until substitute David Pizarro rolled the ball wide for Kolarov to smash home.

It was not just the goal which earns Kolarov a spot on our Team of the Week - he had a very good outing against the Black Cats from an attacking point of view and created plenty of chances for his team-mates from the left flank.

CB: Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan)
Wigan secured a massive result over Stoke at the weekend thanks to a combination of resolute defending and attacking flair.

Wigan's defence has been pretty frail at times this season and they have usually had to rely on goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi to keep a clean sheet. Not on Saturday though. Wigan defender Antolin Alcaraz was a rock for his team against Stoke and with that confidence flowing in his veins he poured forward to open the scoring as the Latics went on to win 2-0.

CB: Mike Williamson (Newcastle)
The emergence of Mike Williamson this season as a Barclays Premier League quality centre-back has been vital for Newcastle's ability to challenge for a top six place. Sure, we all love to talk about the goals that Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse have brought to the Magpies but defensive stability in the face of Steven Taylor's absence has been just as important.

Williamson was superb against Liverpool's Andy Carroll and frustrated the striker to the point of an F-word rant directed at Reds manager Kenny Dalglish when he was finally hauled off midway through the second half.

RM: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

It will be interesting to see who the Manchester United players vote as their player of the season should Antonio Valencia continue to impress in the remaining games of the current campaign - and if United actually go on to win the Barclays Premier League title.

The Ecuadorian winger has been in scintillating form since coming back from injury and powered United past Blackburn 2-0 on Monday from his position on the right flank. He was a constant threat throughout the game and he fully deserved his goal on 80 minutes after he made a run into the box before drilling a shot past Rovers keeper Paul Robinson.

LM: Adel Taarabt (QPR)
Overall it has been a very poor campaign from QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt. After scoring in double figures to help lead QPR to promotion to the Barclays Premier League last season, much was expected of the midfielder this season.

The Moroccan had actually failed to score this term until getting the opener in Saturday's surprise 2-1 win over Arsenal.

However, timing is everything in football and if he reproduces the type of display he put in against Arsenal over the weekend then his hero status at Loftus Road will be secure for another season.

He has the ability. His goal against the Gunners showed that. Taarabt collected a pass from the halfway line, before turning Thomas Vermaelen on the edge of the penalty area and striking the ball into the bottom corner.

CM: Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland)
Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson was simply awesome to watch against Manchester City on Saturday. For an hour of Sunderland's 3-3 draw with City, he was unplayable and finished the game with two goals to his name.

His first goal came in the 30th minute and was a clever finish from outside the box to give the Black Cats the lead before scoring again around 25 minute later with real goal poacher's effort at the back-post.

CM: Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland)
If Sebastian Larsson makes into our Team of the Week then his Sunderland team-mate Stephane Sessegnon has to as well. Both of them ran Manchester City ragged in the midfield department and in the process they perhaps exposed the myth that Roberto Mancini's side have the most dynamic midfield in the league.

We'll go out on a limb and say there will be plenty of interest in Sessegnon in the summer transfer market and Martin O'Neill will do well to keep him at the Black Cats for next season.

ST: Papiss Cisse (Newcastle)

In the aftermath of Liverpool's 2-0 defeat at Newcastle, our match report opened with: "Papiss Cisse showed £35million man Andy Carroll how to do it as Newcastle increased their advantage over Liverpool to 11 points."

That one line summed up the match perfectly. Cisse's two goals - he had an excellent game even without the goals it must be said - may have put an end to a terrible spell at Liverpool for Carroll ever since his controversial move to Anfield over a year ago. Carroll's foul mouthed rant at manager Kenny Dalglish for subbing him in the second half was no way to repay the faith of a man who convinced Liverpool to shell out £35million for you in the first place and who also stood by you through many goalless months.

ST: Adebayor (Tottenham)
Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice on Sunday to inspire Tottenham to their first Barclays Premier League victory in six attempts as they overcame a battling Swansea side 3-1 on Sunday. Adebayor is on a season long loan at White Hart Lane from Manchester City but if his goals can secure UEFA Champions League football for Spurs next season, he could become Harry Redknapp's first signing in the summer.

Special Mention: Stan

Opinion in football is often divided so it was great to see clubs like Aston Villa, Celtic and Chelsea united in their support for Stiliyan Petrov, who last week was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

Those three clubs are not alone in their messages of support for the midfielder - nicknamed Stan - and we would also like to say that our thoughts and prayers are with Petrov and his family at this difficult time.

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