EPL Week 17 Predictions: Players Sure to Land in All-EPL Team for Week's Clash
Last week's Manchester derby fully lived up to expectations, but there are not matchups set for this weekend with similarly exciting storylines. It will be up to the individual players to keep English Premier League fans entertained, and several stars will be up to the task.
With a last-minute victory courtesy of a timely Robin van Persie free kick (and a lazy block attempt from Samir Nasri), Manchester United holds a six-point lead at the top of the table.
The rest of the Premiership is playing catch-up, and the battles for points this weekend will be fierce.
Here are the players who will shine brightest.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea, Manchester United
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Clean sheets have been rare for Manchester United this season, but the supporters at Old Trafford will finally be treated to a fine defensive performance from their beloved team.
Nemanja Vidic's return will be a massive boost for the United back line. While the skipper will likely still be rusty, his leadership will allow the the defense to be more organized and confident than it has been in the past couple months.
Goalkeeper David De Gea will benefit from Vidic's return as much as any of the back-line players. Coming off of an admirable performance against Manchester City, the young Spaniard will continue his form.
With a reliable group of backs in front of him, De Gea will come through with a handful of key saves to shut out a sub-par Sunderland attack.
Left-Back: Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
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Tony Pulis may look at MLS stars as possible transfer targets more often as Geoff Cameron looks like a better signing every week.
The 27-year-old American has moved around the pitch this season, with Pulis playing him as a holding midfielder, as a right-back and most recently as a left-back. At each new spot, Cameron has continued to excel.
He has the size and strength to play Stoke's physical and direct style and his consistent play has helped the Potters immensely this season.
While keeping a potent Everton attack out of the net will be difficult, Stoke has conceded just two goals while playing at Britannia Stadium. Fans at the Potteries will be pleased this weekend as Cameron helps their club continues its fantastic defensive record at home.
Centre-Back: Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City
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While Geoff Cameron's play has been admirable, Ryan Shawcross has been at the heart of Stoke City's defensive success.
The Potters have the stingiest back line in the Premiership after conceding just 12 goals in 16 games. Shawcross' inspired defending and leadership as the team's captain have been a key factor in this accomplishment.
Against Everton, Shawcross will show that he has the discipline to mark a player as clever as Nikica Jelavic, but also has the strength and toughness to challenge a physical player like Marouane Fellaini.
With yet another quality match from both Shawcross and Cameron, Stoke will have another clean sheet at home.
Centre-Back: Brede Hangeland, Fulham
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Fulham's back line has not been its strength this season, but Brede Hangeland has played reliably.
The giant centre-back has stepped admirably into the captaincy this year. He has helped lead Fulham through rough patches in its up-and-down season.
The Cottagers will head to Loftus Road this weekend for a London derby against Queens Park Rangers, and this will provide them with an opportunity to build confidence and momentum against a struggling side.
Hangeland will ensure that his team remains focused, and he will not allow the Rangers to grab a lucky goal.
Right-Back: Glen Johnson, Liverpool
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Glen Johnson has been tasked with playing both outside back positions this season, and he has performed admirably wherever Brendan Rodgers has put him.
His speed and stamina allow him to contribute on both ends of the pitch, and unlike many of his Liverpool teammates, he has performed consistently during this campaign.
When going against Aston Villa's dreadful attack this weekend, Johnson's defensive duties will not be all that challenging. This will allow him multiple opportunities to score for a second consecutive match.
With a fine performance from its right-back, Liverpool will continue climbing up the table.
Left Midfielder: Clint Dempsey, Tottenham Hotspurs
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While The Daily Mail's John Edwards has reported that Gareth Bale may make an early return from a hamstring injury, it is unlikely that the star winger will be able to play a full 90 minutes.
Whether Clint Dempsey is included in the starting 11 or brought on as a substitute, Andre Villas-Boas will not keep the American off the pitch after he scored the team's lone goal against Everton.
Dempsey fell seamlessly back into his role on the wing alongside Moussa Dembele, who he played with at Fulham. Putting these two on the pitch together against Swansea this weekend will achieve similar results.
With the former Cottagers starring against the Swans, Spurs will keep the pressure on Everton and push towards the top four.
Central Midfielder: Moussa Dembele, Tottenham
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Clint Dempsey's play on the wing has benefited Moussa Dembele, just as the Belgian's return from injury has helped out his American teammate.
Swansea's defense was porous in a 4-3 loss to Norwich this past weekend, and the team will have more moments of carelessness against Spurs.
Dempsey and Dembele form an extremely dangerous partnership, and the clever former Cottagers will cause problems for the Swans back line.
These two players will open up space for their teammates and be the driving force behind Tottenham's attack in this match.
Central Midfielder: Claudio Yacob, West Bromwich Albion
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Despite a recent drop off, West Bromwich Albion still sits sixth in the Premier League table and is this season's biggest surprise.
A rotating cast of attacking talent led by Shane Long has grabbed many of the Baggies' headlines, but the tireless work of Claudio Yacob and Youssuf Mulumbu to support the team's forwards has played a large part in the team's attack.
While both holding midfielders have been impressive, Yacob's energy and defensive contribution will be on full display against West Ham.
The Hammers will struggle to maintain any sort of consistent position with the 25-year-old snatching up every poor touch, and West Brom will get back to its winning ways.
Right Midfielder: Robert Snodgrass, Norwich City
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Norwich City has been on a fantastic run in the Premier League, and Robert Snodgrass' performances have spurred the team's positive results.
His relentless effort on the right flank produced an incredible performance this past weekend when the Scot had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 victory over Swansea.
Snodgrass has been flying up and down the wing with confidence, and this will continue when the Canaries host a struggling Wigan side.
Chris Hughton will have more reasons to smile this weekend as his team earns three points on the back of another excellent match from Snodgrass.
Striker: Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
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Reading's vulnerability at the back has been painfully evident in recent weeks, and Arsene Wenger will be able to pick apart Brian McDermott's defense.
Olivier Giroud will be Arsenal's target man in this match, and he will have plenty of opportunities to add to his goal total for this season.
With clever movement and passing, the Gunners will keep the Royals constantly guessing, and Giroud will be the beneficiary of key passes from players like Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta.
Despite all the commotion over Arsenal's poor start, the team is just two points outside of the top four. Another victory led by a potent attack will keep the club in contention for a Champions League spot.
Striker: Carlos Tevez, Manchester City
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After a hugely disappointing defeat at the hands of their arch rivals, Manchester City will be looking to attack aggressively and make a statement against Newcastle.
Alan Pardew's side has been ravaged by injuries and it has shown on the pitch. The Magpies have lost five of their last six league matches.
Carlos Tevez will spearhead City's attack and he will torment Newcastle's back line.
The Argentine has seven goals and five assists in league matches already, and he will continue to perform at a high level as the Citizens keep the pressure on Manchester United.