There was movement at the top of the Premier League this weekend as Liverpool took over from Manchester City at the summit following Chelsea’s crucial victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge.
It means the title race is well and truly on.
At the bottom, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first game as Southampton manager ended in defeat as they lost 1-0 at Cardiff, but Burnley won for the first time since September with a 1-0 home victory over Brighton which lifted them out of the relegation zone.
But which players shone to make it into my team of the week?
Goalkeeper – Alisson (Liverpool)
It’s not often I struggle to find a goalkeeper who has had an outstanding weekend. Burnley’s Joe Hart and Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris both kept clean sheets, but their teams are not top of the league. So if I’m looking for some rationale to justify my selection, I’m going for Alisson. It’s no coincidence the Reds find themselves top. Jurgen Klopp has invested wisely in one of the best young keepers around, and it has helped them become serious title contenders.
Did you know? Alisson has the best unbeaten run from the start of a Premier League career for any Liverpool player (16 games).
Defenders – Diogo Dalot (Manchester United), David Luiz (Chelsea), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Diogo Dalot: This is a young full-back who knows how to cross a ball and exactly where to put it at the same time. This 19-year-old Portuguese kid looks like he could be the real deal. He’s definitely with the right team. I’m not entirely sure he’s with the right manager.
Did you know? Manchester United had five successful crosses against Fulham, four of which were provided by Dalot.
David Luiz: Some managers can be too clever for their own good sometimes. Picking Raheem Sterling up front instead of Gabriel Jesus, a specialist in that position, failed miserably for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and worked perfectly for Chelsea defender David Luiz. The extremely grateful Luiz took complete advantage of the situation, and it contributed to a sparkling performance by the Brazil defender. I’ve got a lot of time for Guardiola but there is no doubt in my mind he got his starting line-up wrong, it cost his team the match, and he should have admitted it.
Did you know? No Chelsea player made more recoveries (seven) or clearances (seven) against Manchester City than Luiz.
Ashley Young: His goal against Fulham was his first for Manchester United for nearly a year – and the rejuvenated Ashley Young is experiencing the most extraordinary renaissance. The United captain, who has taken the armband from the recently expelled Antonio Valencia, finds himself in a fascinating position. A player who struggled to hold down a place in the team two years ago has become the most influential person in it. It’s a funny game, football.
Did you know? Young scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time since April 2015.
Midfielders – Dele Alli (Tottenham), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Felipe Anderson (West Ham)
Dele Alli: When Dele Alli is in this mood, he looks tremendous. The problem is we’ve not seen him play with the same swagger and authority as he showed against Leicester for some time. With Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane left out of the Spurs starting line-up, in readiness for their make-or-break fixture against Barcelona, it was Alli who played like a grown-up and, dare I say it, on this performance looked a future captain in the making.
Did you know? Alli scored his 50th goal in all competitions for Tottenham.
N’Golo Kante: Manchester City had their passes whizzing around a helpless Chelsea for much of the first half, but what is the point if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net? You don’t get points for passes. N’Golo Kante, on the other hand, may not be as sophisticated as David Silva but he can be just as effective and so it proved against an overindulgent City. Kante got his reward in the end with a well-taken goal. As for City, I have never seen a top-class side have so much of the ball and do so little with it.
Did you know? Kante scored with his only shot against Manchester City, and no Chelsea player created more chances than him (two).
Lucas Torreira: I had the pleasure of being in the company of David Miliband recently, and sadly was forced to spend some of the evening having to talk about Arsenal. He wanted to know about Lucas Torreira. I told the former foreign secretary that Torreira was the difference between Arsenal and Spurs in the recent derby and has the drive and influence of an Emmanuel Petit. Torreira’s performance against Huddersfield was once again in that class. I got the feeling that the CEO of the International Rescue Committee quite enjoyed pointing out to a former Spurs player that he was actually an Arsenal supporter.
Did you know? Torreira has the best passing accuracy of any Arsenal player in the Premier League this season (89.4%).
Felipe Anderson: Felipe Anderson is playing out of his skin at the moment. Apart from his undoubted technical ability, the Brazilian has developed a taste for goals. Five in six games tells its own story, but what West Ham fans will enjoy most is the player’s brand of football. This lad can play. Anderson does not possess the volatile explosions of Paolo di Canio or the temperament of Dimitri Payet, but he’s in that class, which rather suggests this could be the beginning of a rather beautiful friendship with the Hammers.
Did you know? Anderson is West Ham’s top Premier League scorer this season with six.
Forwards – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Mohamed Salah: The Egyptian gods are smiling on Mohamed Salah again. The striker went three games without scoring, so he rattled three past Bournemouth in quick succession. He hasn’t been in the blistering form he was last season but Liverpool seem a more complete team than they did last season. In the meantime, the Egyptian upper house – the Shura Council – can call off their emergency session now the country’s top player is scoring again!
Did you know? Salah has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than any other player this season (seven).
Marcus Rashford: After picking out two assists last week against Southampton, he casually rolled the ball to Juan Mata to help himself to Manchester United’s second goal against a Fulham side way out of their depth. I suggested last week that if Jose Mourinho doesn’t commit to building United around Marcus Rashford then the striker should stick two fingers up to his manager and walk out of Old Trafford at the earliest opportunity. Rashford’s performance against Fulham only served to emphasise that point.
Did you know? Rashford was involved in three goals in a Premier League match for the first time since February 2016 against Arsenal – his debut in the competition.
Son Heung-min: This lad is back on top of his game. He scored a fabulous goal against Leicester before putting Tottenham’s second goal on a plate for Dele Alli. When Son plays, his pace gives Tottenham a dimension they lack without him. Two seasons ago he was the most improved Premier League player. Now he’s the most improved Premier League finisher.
Did you know? Son was directly involved in six of Spurs’ seven shots against Leicester (four shots, two chances created)
Now it’s your turn
You’ve seen my picks this week. But who would you go for?
Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.
The Crooks of the matter
When that knucklehead threw that banana skin on the pitch last week during the north London derby, I prayed it wasn’t a Spurs fan. Of course, when my first fears were confirmed, my heart sank. Did this dunderhead know nothing of the club’s history? Didn’t he have any respect for players in his own team like Dele Alli or Moussa Sissoko? Clearly not.
He then claims his actions were not racist. Really? What were they? A term of endearment? The last time a fan threw a banana at me was 35 years ago and I ate it. What did he expect me to do with it? Last Sunday the supporter didn’t even have the decency to leave the banana in the skin. At least Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could have got something out of the insult.
On Saturday, Raheem Sterling was subjected to alleged racist abuse by Chelsea fans. Who do these people think they are? What gives them the right to abuse others? The beautiful game belongs to those who appreciate its participants. Not you.