It has been yet another engrossing and exciting weekend in football. A number of the sport’s key narratives and subplots developed, while a number of its stars reminded the world of their elite abilities and capacity to change the complexion of matches.
This article profiles the top five players from around the world this weekend.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Wilfried Bony since arriving in the Premier League from Holland in the summer.
It was certainly unrealistic to expect the Ivorian forward to replicate his scoring form (he bagged 51 goals in 69 games with Vitesse Arnhem) at Swansea, but even so, his early return had been failing underwhelming.
This has begun to change over the last few weeks, as Bony has begun to contribute regularly, gently easing the Swans’ concerns in front of goal.
He was in explosive form on New Year’s Day, with two goals and a Man of the Match performance in defeat against Manchester City. He scored a late winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford and also found the net against Tottenham.
Against Birmingham, in the FA Cup, Bony also proved himself to be a game changer.
The powerful forward entered the fray at half time, replacing Pablo Hernandez, and altered the complexion of the match. His quick brace—scoring in the 67th and 69th minutes—overturned Lee Novak’s early goal and sent the Jacks on their way to victory.
AS Monaco could be forgiven for sinking into a deep depression following the devastating injury suffered by their star striker Radamel Falcao last week. Few clubs could continue to embark so vivaciously on a title challenge after losing a £50 million player for the remainder of the campaign. For Monaco, at a specific stage of their development, it ought to be impossible.
Step forth Emmanuel Riviere.
The young forward has been a revelation since the season’s beginning. He was signed in the shadow of Falcao but had an immediate impact on the Riviera.
He scored on his debut against Bordeaux and followed that up with four goals and a Man of the Match performance in his next three games.
The goals haven’t come quite as frequently since then, but the former-Toulouse man found his scoring boots again this weekend with a goal in the 2-0 win over Marseille.
The victory is an important one in both a real and symbolic sense, and Riviere not only contributed significantly, he has also given the club hope for a post-Falcao season.
News, reports and coverage have swirled and swarmed around Chelsea’s stable of attacking midfielders this weekend.
Juan Mata, the club’s player of the year for two consecutive seasons, has been offloaded for a whopping Manchester United. It is a move that has provoked mixed reactions from the club’s fans and has prompted a myriad of different angles, perspectives and commentaries from journalists worldwide.
Almost simultaneously, Mohamed Salah arrived in West London.
The former-Basel winger may require a little refinement, but he is an excellent prospect, one of Africa’s finest and, in some contexts, merits the nickname “The Egyptian Mess.”
In the midst of all this coming and going, Oscar proved that the club’s existing, remaining crop of attacking midfielders aren’t half bad.
Whilst Chelsea blew a number of chances, Oscar showed unflinching precision and admirable imagination with a first-half free-kick that proved to be the difference between the two teams. Oscar, along with Eden Hazard, represent the future of the post-Mata Chelsea. The former ensured that Blues fans didn’t miss their erstwhile inspiration this weekend.
Gervinho’s excellent season continued with a valuable contribution against Hellas Verona.
With Juventus dropping points against Lazio, the weekend’s match was an important opportunity for Roma to close the gap on their title rivals.
The Ivorian winger appeared to be on a one-man mission to guarantee the points for the Giallorossi.
He set up one goal for Adem Ljajic and also bagged a wonder goal, dribbling past several men before firing home from 20 yards.
Having appeared shorn of any confidence and credibility at Arsenal, Gervinho continues to play like a figure reborn in the capital.
A special mention must also go to Francesco Totti, who scored his 232nd goal for Roma—a miraculous achievement.
Like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero is regularly proving to be an outstanding individual within an outstanding team. All three men are one of several excellent players in their club context, but each seems capable of lifting those around him and making great teams superb teams.
Aguero demonstrated this ability once again at the weekend.
Looking sluggish against Watford, City found themselves two goals down after half an hour. Aguero decided to lead a revival.
The Argentine frontman scored a hat-trick to completely shatter the Hornets. His three goals brought his season tally to 25 goals in 24 appearances. If he can keep that ratio going over the coming months, City ought be anticipating a trophy-laden season finale.