Manchester United and Wolves both recorded 3-0 victories on Sunday in the Premier League to bolster their respective of chances of beating Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the race for Champions League football.
With several top performances to dissect from the weekend’s action, here is Football FanCast’s Team of the Week.
Leicester City may have lost 1-0 against Manchester City on Saturday evening, but that was through no fault of the Denmark international. The 33-year-old was a rock between the sticks for Brendan Rodgers’ men, making six saves, one of which was a penalty from Sergio Aguero. His team were unable to get anything from the match but a draw was the least his performance deserved.
Jordan Ayew, Crystal Palace’s striker, had seven shots at goal on Saturday, but failed to score with any of them. Fortunately, van Aanholt was on hand to show him exactly how it is done by netting the only goal of the game in the Eagles’ 1-0 victory over Newcastle. His free-kick was beautifully hit, with him wrong-footing Martin Dubravka in the process.
The 29-year-old was a creative force for his side, managing six key passes – four more than any other player on the pitch. Roy Hodgson said after the match that Palace “think of him highly“. Showings like this one indicate that may be an understatement.
It has been a good week for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Premier League, with his Manchester United side keeping two clean sheets. Maguire scored in the victory against Chelsea last Monday and, although he wasn’t on target on Sunday in the 3-0 triumph against Watford, his display was still memorable.
He led be example, winning both of his ground duels and eight of his 11 in the air, whilst also managing to make five interceptions. He is starting to look every bit of the player United parted £80m with to bring him to Old Trafford.
The Europa League can often be a hindrance to Premier League clubs, but it hasn’t been for Wolves in the last week. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side kept a clean sheet in their 4-0 victory against Espanyol on Thursday, before doing the same as they brushed Norwich aside 3-0, and Morocco international Saiss was in the starting XI for both of them. His four clearances, two tackles and one assist will have given his boss plenty to be happy about and, with Willy Boly returning to the team following an injury, the Portuguese manager may now have one of the most formidable defences in the top tier – they have not conceded in their last three matches.
It goes to show how good Wolves were that they have three representatives in this Team of the Week, and Doherty is the second of that trio to make it. Both going forward – he had one assist and three key passes – and defensively – he made five tackles and won seven from nine ground duels – he stood out, and only Diogo Jota had a higher SofaScore rating than his eight.
With the Midlands outfit chasing Europa League glory and his country, the Republic of Ireland, in with a chance of qualification for Euro 2020, more displays of this ilk will be needed from the 28-year-old.
There were rumours in January that the Serbia international could be out of the door – he even admitted so himself – but his display against Watford shows that he still has an important role to play for Solskjaer this term.
With three interceptions and three tackles, he was at his usual best in the defensive midfield role, but it was going forward where he shone – he made five key passes, which was more than anyone on the pitch. With Scott McTominay now back in the squad after injury, the 31-year-old may soon be forced into a more peripheral role, but this performance certainly gives his boss food for thought.
Ralph Hasenhuttl deserves credit for the way he has turned around his team’s fortunes since losing 9-0 against Leicester, but so do some of his players – Armstrong is one of those. The former Celtic man has scored three in his last five league matches, and is starting to return the faith of his boss.
This term, he has averaged just 0.6 key passes per match, but in this clash he led the way with five. The Saints were in the bottom three after that heavy defeat to the Foxes, but now they are just six points off the Europa League spots. The change in their displays is there for all to see.
Bournemouth will certainly feel hard done by against the Clarets as VAR once again reared its ugly head, but the Cherries’ supporters must admit that McNeil caused them plenty of problems in their 3-0 defeat to Burnley.
For the first time in his career, the 20-year-old scored and assisted in the same game in the top flight, and now only 10 players have assisted more strikes at a younger age since 1992. Plenty of top tier sides have been linked with the youngster, including Tottenham and Manchester United – with performances like this, McNeil wouldn’t be out of his place in either of those teams.
United’s pursuit of Fernandes during the January transfer window was something of a soap opera, as it often seems to be with the Red Devils’ transfer dealings. Clearly, though, they were desperate to sign him, and expectations were high following his initial £47m move from Sporting Lisbon.
After two solid matches against Wolves and Chelsea, he announced himself to the Premier League against Watford. The 25-year-old scored and assisted against the Hornets, whilst also managing four key passes and three dribbles. United may have taken their time in getting their man but based on this match he was well worth the wait.
Following Arsenal’s 3-2 victory against Everton, Mikel Arteta said Aubameyang was his most important player, and it is hard to disagree. Without his brace – which came from his only two shots in the match – the Gunners would not have prevailed, and it now takes his season tally to 19 strikes in all competitions.
With less than 18 months left on his current deal, the north London outfit’s boss said they must convince him to stay – from Arsenal’s perspective, the sooner the better.
Less than a week ago, Jota’s season goal tally stood at nine – now, he has 14 to his name.
He followed up his hat-trick against Espanyol in the Europa League with a brace against Norwich. He played just 64 minutes in that second match, but that was more than enough for him to make a huge impact.
The Daily Express recently reported that Manchester United were readying a £50m bid for the 23-year-old. This performance shows exactly why.