English Premier League Team of the Week
Another weekend of Premier League football is over, with some important points having been secured at both ends of the league table. Tottenham and Arsenal boosted their Champions League aspirations with wins, while Wigan Athletic and Southampton tallied victories in their bids to avoid relegation.
Some top team performances caught the eye, as did a number of individual displays.
Here is the team of the week from England's top division, set out in a 3-5-2 system on account of the numbers of players in certain positions who impressed.
Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen
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West Ham United goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was busier than most this weekend, despite his team winning 3-1. He faced 19 shots as they were arguably the second-best club against West Brom for much of the game.
Jaaskelainen made one outstanding save from a free kick and was a major factor in West Brom's difficulty in breaking down their opponents until they won a penalty in the closing stages of the match.
The Hammers had won just twice in the last nine matches, so this was a big three points for Jaaskelainen's side.
Back Three: Pablo Zabaleta, Nemanja Vidic and Jan Vertonghen
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We'll offer up a three-man central defensive system on account of not enough stand-out full-backs taking part this weekend.
Pablo Zabaleta starred on the right side of Manchester City's defence against Newcastle United.
He pressed forward often in the first 45 minutes and linked up well down the channel with his midfield teammates. Zabaleta got himself into the area on a number of occasions and made three tackles while performing his defensive duties.
For rivals Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic put in a big performance at the back to maintain the clean sheet as his club came under pressure from Sunderland during the second half.
Vidic made 16 clearances during the match and put his body on the line to win tackles and block a shot. His aerial presence made it extremely difficult for Sunderland to create anything of note as they sought Danny Graham and Co. in the penalty area with a series of crosses and lofted balls.
Finally, Jan Vertonghen had a stellar match for Spurs against Swansea City.
He opened the scoring with a dribble and finish reminiscent of the great playmaking sweepers of old: bursting forward from defence, exchanging passes and getting into the area to finish calmly.
He later set up the second goal for his team.
Right Midfield: Samir Nasri
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On the right side of our midfield quintet comes a Manchester City man who has come under fire at some points during the season for lacklustre displays and poor attitude.
Against Newcastle United, though, Samir Nasri tormented the defence. He was a big part of the City side tearing into their rivals to dominate most of the match.
Nasri made six key passes in the game, continually ran at the left side of the defence and showed the sort of attacking intent and creativity which made him a big player in a title-winning side last season.
Central Midfield: Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure
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Nasri's teammate at Manchester City, Yaya Toure, had a dominant performance against Newcastle from the centre of the park.
Toure showed his usual tenacity and power to overcome the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko. He also completed 90 percent of almost a century of passes and was a driving force in keeping City pushed forward for most of the first half.
In the second period, Toure rattled in a fourth City goal—later credited as a James Perch own goal—to wrap up an impressive home victory.
On Sunday, Liverpool came from behind to beat Aston Villa 2-1, and Steven Gerrard was a huge factor in the game. While his all-around performance was energetic and impressive, in the second half especially, he made tangible contributions at both ends to help win the three points.
Gerrard first started the move which ended with Henderson equalising, and then he buried the penalty to put his side ahead. Shortly after, Gerrard made a goal-line clearance with a diving header to prevent an equalising goal.
Left Midfield: Gareth Bale
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On the left of the midfield, we go with Spurs' constant provider of goals and assists: Gareth Bale.
The Welshman helped himself to one of each against Swansea, providing the through-pass for Vertonghen's finish early on and then deftly finding the top corner for his own strike from outside the penalty area.
He wasn't at his scintillating best in the second half, but he still remained a threat. Bale was the one player who could really open up Tottenham's approach in the game. There were several times he covered 40 or 50 metres in just a few seconds to stretch the game and create opportunities in the final third.
Attacking Midfield: Santi Cazorla
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Though various attacking midfielders enjoyed excellent performances over the weekend, Santi Cazorla's was possibly the most impressive individual showing.
Cazorla has enjoyed a marvellous season overall, and against Reading he was a standout performer. He scored one, assisted another and generally terrorised the Royals' back line for the entire match, deservedly taking the Man of the Match award.
Six shots, two key passes, 13 crosses and a 90 percent pass completion rate meant he was one of the most heavily involved players in the final third. He also put the work in going the other way, making three tackles and two interceptions.
Strikers: Andy Carroll and Jay Rodriguez
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If you're looking for a forward to take players on, chase down the defence all match, thread clever little passes and be a creative outlet, Andy Carroll probably isn't your man.
However, what he did offer against West Brom was a thoroughly effective performance.
He scored two unstoppable and very well-taken goals to earn his team three points. Carroll is a menace in the air and seems to be getting his fitness and confidence of late.
However, he still has to convince plenty of watchers of his capacity to contribute over an entire campaign at the top.
A bullet header and a volley on the swivel provided two of the best goals of the weekend, though, and that earns him a spot in the team of the week.
Alongside him a man who is finishing the season in fine form: Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez.
Having scored against Liverpool last time out, he added another to his collection with a beautifully worked and finished strike against Chelsea this weekend. This goal capped an all-action (but very technical) display.
Southampton were arguably the better side overall, which was in no small part due to the terrific work rate and link-up play of a front line led by Rodriguez, who now has five league goals for the season.
Stats from WhoScored.com