Premier League Team of the Week: Lallana, Rooney and Shaw Impress
A reduced programme for the Premier League this weekend—as a result of the FA Cup quarter-finals taking place—meant we had only five games to choose our players from for the team of the week.
Even so, a number of good performances from key individuals saw the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Cardiff City pick up vital wins.
After an international week where the likes of Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw were given the chance to impress for England, they came back to their clubs to put in another assured performance each to show why they were called up in the first place.
Here's our team of the week for Saturday's Premier League fixtures, with no further games to come on Sunday.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea
There were not too many great goalkeeping performances over the weekend, but David de Gea kept another clean sheet for Manchester United at West Bromwich Albion and dealt well with the infrequent threats sent his way in the 3-0 win.
West Brom only managed three shots on target, but de Gea was calm and confident for the most part and again showed his continual evolution as a very good young goalkeeper.
One of United's big attacking threats on the day came from the forward runs from Rafael, who did well in opening space and stretching the play even on the instances he didn't receive the ball.
In possession, though, he was similarly effective, getting two shots away and claiming an assist as United won 3-0.
Rafael also won seven tackles and made eight clearances in a good all-round performance.
Centre-Back: Steven Caulker
Goals aren't the be-all and end-all of a good performance, but they can be a critical difference between a point and three—making the scorer an important match-winner for their team.
Steven Caulker netted twice for Cardiff against Fulham in the relegation battle on Saturday, a 3-1 victory which resulted in three vital points for the Welsh side.
He also made 11 clearances and two interceptions during the game, performing well in his usual defensive capacity.
Centre-Back: Gary Cahill
We're getting to the point when we need to be talking about Gary Cahill as not just the best English centre-back—he certainly has been that this season—but indeed one of the best in the Premier League.
Another exemplary performance against Spurs saw him limit the away side to a handful of chances in this 4-0 victory, as he won two tackles, made five clearances, won two aerial duels and completed a full 90 percent of his passes.
Cahill is very much a candidate for the league's defender of the season.
Left-Back: Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw has been receiving plenty of praise over the last few months, with his England showing in midweek another indication of his quality and growth.
He continued that with a good performance against Crystal Palace for Southampton, making two tackles and seven clearances in his defensive capacity as Saints kept a clean sheet. Shaw was also a force in an attacking sense, with two shots on target during the 1-0 win and his runs on the ball a constant feature.
Central Midfield: Nemanja Matic
Another Chelsea man who is becoming a regular amongst the most impressive performers, Nemanja Matic has quickly shown a great ability to run games from deep areas by restricting the opposition.
Matic put more tackles in than anybody else during the game, with six in total, while his 86 touches of the ball were also more than any other player on the pitch—highlighting his importance to Chelsea.
His strength and awareness make him a formidable opponent, but his technique of passing is also impressive, as emphasised by his 14 long passes finding their target 11 times.
Central Midfield: Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini had perhaps one of his most impressive games for Manchester United since arriving at the club in the summer, with a dominant midfield showing against West Brom.
The Belgian was strong and quick in the challenge, bullying West Brom's centre of the park with four tackles, five interceptions and eight clearances—no team-mate managed a higher combined total than his key defensive contributions.
Fellaini also completed 90 percent of his passes in the middle, crafting two chances along the way.
Right Midfield: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard continued his good form of late with a dangerous attacking display against Tottenham. He created two chances for his team, outdone only by Spurs defence, which gifted all four goals for Chelsea.
Hazard netted the contentious penalty which gave his side a two-goal lead but was also involved in much of his side's best buildup play in the first half while the game was goal-less.
Attacking Midfield: Adam Lallana
Adam Lallana continued his excellent campaign with another good showing for Saints against Crystal Palace.
He was the real creative force on the pitch, making five chances for his victorious side, with no other player managing more than two. As usual, his excellent technique and close control in dribbling were big features of his game, with his appreciation and use of space giving Palace big problems.
Lallana made more passes during the game than anyone else and also had the highest pass-completion percentage, 90, out of all those who played the entire game.
Left Midfield: Robert Snodgrass
Norwich City will feel they should have beaten 10-man Stoke City on Saturday, but a second-half penalty conceded cost them two points.
Robert Snodgrass was one of the best players on the pitch during the 1-1 draw, showing good pace and a willingness to run with or without the ball to try to open up the Stoke defence. His good delivery from set pieces also led to Norwich's goal, a corner which Bradley Johnson headed home.
He created two chances for his team, though it could have been more had his delivery from wide in open play been a little better at times.
Forward: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney looked somewhere back to his best level against West Brom, playing just off Robin van Persie to great effect and making plenty of runs past his striking team-mate to trouble the Baggies' back line.
Rooney scored one, created another and made four chances for his team all told, showing good work-rate off the ball and plenty of quality on it.
It was a straight-forward win for United in the end, and Rooney was central to much of it.
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