Premier League Team of the Weekend – Apr 22-23

With the FA Cup semifinals featuring four of the Premier League’s top seven, the talent pool for our team of the weekend was seemingly limited, but several players – particular those fighting for EPL survival – stepped up and into our ‘Team of the Weekend’ with stand-out performances.

Eldin Jakupovic (Hull City)
Pulled out a top-drawer performance to help Hull collect three vital points in their battle to avoid the drop. Superbly tipped over an effort from Sebastian Prodl in the first half, and then in the pivotal moment of the match, blocked Etienne Capoue’s point-blank effort just a minute before the Tigers grabbed the all-important first goal. A crucial contribution indeed.

Leighton Baines (Everton)
Another fine display from Everton’s Mr. Reliable. Always willing and ready for the ball, Baines probed along the left flank with his usual array of fine work and quality balls, although nothing quite came off in the attacking half of the field on this occasion.

James Collins (West Ham)
A rock at the back for the Hammers, the Wales veteran was instrumental in ensuring Everton goal machine Romelu Lukaku endured a very quiet afternoon as Everton failed to score for only the second time in 17 Premier League games. Won almost everything in the air and had the most clearances and interceptions of any player on the pitch. Masterclass!

Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
The rangy centre half has been one of the quiet success stories of Jose Mourinho’s time at Old Trafford, despite missing a chunk of the season with injury. Against Burnley he stood out, making several crucial interventions including one great first-half block from the pacy Andre Gray while marshalling the defence well. Getting better with every game.

Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Another player, like Victor Moses and Jesus Navas, who has reinvented himself this year as a wingback. Young put in a good shift against Burnley on the right flank, getting forward in support of United’s attacks and delivering a steady stream of good balls into dangerous areas, particularly on set-pieces. Always blessed with the talent, Young now looks to have developed the temperament to go with it.

Tom Carroll (Swansea)
Bounced back to form in emphatic style as the Swans ended a poor run of results with a crucial win over Stoke. Kept Swansea ticking over in midfield with a busy performance to ensure Stoke never got the chance to settle before popping up with the killer second goal just 60 seconds after Stoke had missed a penalty. Match-winning showing.

Sam Clucas (Hull City)
Another breathless performance from the young Englishman, who has come into his own in his debut Premier League season. Covered every inch of the pitch as he and his teammates worked overtime to close down Watford after Hull were reduced to 10 men on 25 minutes. Helped secure the three points for Marco Silva’s side with a splendid volleyed winner 19 minutes from time.

Marc Pugh (Bournemouth)
Was a constant thorn in the side of the Boro defence with some fine play down the flank. Started well with a nice low cross for Joshua King to get the Cherries off the mark before drawing a foul from Gaston Ramirez that saw Boro reduced to 10 men. Capped his 250th appearance for the south coast club with a wonderful goal in what was a memorable afternoon for the 30-year old.

Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
Stepped up in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic with probably his best performance of a disappointing season. Martial caused Burnley problems from kick off, creating an early chance for Rooney. Showed great pace and desire to score the opener after starting the move in his own half, and then provided the assist for Rooney to score the clincher just before the break. With more performances like this, United will be more than happy to fork out £8.5 million pound that the Frenchman’s goal cost them. (Martial’s 25th goal for United triggered a clause in the contract signed when he moved from Monaco)

Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
How often does a former player who struggled at a club come back to haunt them? The answer is very often, and no one haunts Liverpool more than Christian Benteke, the giant Belgian striker who couldn’t hit a barn door during his time at Anfield. He scored four goals at Anfield while wearing red, one less than he has now scored as a visitor following his brace that including a nice first-time finish to Yohan Cabaye’s high cross and then a stooping header to seal the points. It was a classic centre-forward’s performance, and one that Liverpool could have done with!

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Did his best to lead the Liverpool attack, but received scant support from a front line sorely missing the injured Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane. Scored a corking free-kick to give Jurgen Klopp’s men the lead and almost scored a second after bamboozling former Red Martin Kelly in the box (he probably could have had a penalty if he’d gone down) only to see his shot blocked by James Tompkins. Still, it wasn’t enough as Liverpool slipped to defeat and now look odds on to slip out of the Champions League places.