Ramsey's Rampant Return and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend
When Aaron Ramsey made his last Premier League start, Arsenal were top of the league and looking like realistic title contenders. The Welshman made his first league start of 2014 on Sunday and was instrumental in the Gunners' 3-0 victory over Hull, which suggests he has been sorely missed.
Ramsey leads our list of the top five players from around the world this weekend.
Lukas Podolski was a two-goal hero in Arsenal's 3-0 win at Hull on Sunday, but the best player on the field was almost certainly Aaron Ramsey.
Making his first Premier League start since Boxing Day, the Welshman had a hand in each of the goals. He opened the scoring after 31 minutes with a low drive past Steve Harper. Just before half-time, he chested the ball for Podolski to fire home a superb volley. Ramsey nearly scored the third himself shortly after the break, but his shot was deflected for Poldi to tuck it home.
The 23-year-old was outstanding throughout the game, taking more touches than anyone else on the field (104, according to WhoScored.com) and having more shots than any of his teammates.
Ramsey's magnificent show will have left Gunners fans wondering what could have been this season if he was 100 percent fit.
Liverpool edged slightly closer to their first league title since 1990 with a nervy 3-2 win over Norwich at Carrow Road.
The best player on the pitch was Raheem Sterling, who managed two goals and an assist in yet another sublime performance. The 19-year-old opened the scoring after just four minutes, weaving his way past Bradley Johnson to fire off an unstoppable shot from distance.
Around seven minutes later, Sterling delivered a pinpoint cross to Luis Suarez, who put the ball past John Ruddy for his 30th goal of the season. In the second half, he capped off a perfect afternoon when he poached the ball from Johnson and saw his deflected shot loop over the keeper.
Brendan Rodgers hailed Sterling after the game as "the best young player in European football," per Greg Stobart of Goal.com, which doesn't seem like a huge exaggeration based on recent form.
Thanks to afternoons like this, the precocious youngster's place in Roy Hodgson's starting XI this summer is looking more and more likely.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Adel Taarabt was brought to Milan on loan from Queens Park Rangers in the January window, but thus far the Moroccan has been excelling in Serie A.
He put on another excellent show in the Rossoneri's 3-0 win over Livorno on Saturday and bagged his first goal at the San Siro—and his fourth in 10 games—in the 51st minute.
After the match, Taarabt told Milan Channel (via Football Italia) that he was aiming to "put on a show for the fans." The Milan faithful have endured a season of mixed fortunes, so they certainly would have appreciated the entertainment he provided.
Celta Vigo travelled to relegation-threatened Almeria on Sunday and left with three points and a thrilling 4-2 victory.
The man at the centre of the win was Manuel Agudo Duran, known by most as "Nolito."
The Spanish winger opened the scoring in the 19th minute, set up teammate Charles to give the Celts a 2-1 lead shortly after the break and scored once again in the 71st minute with a low drive that was not too dissimilar to his first.
The Spaniard may have had a memorable afternoon, but the best goal of the day was actually scored by Almeria's Oscar Diaz—take a look at this brilliant half volley.
Swansea managed their second win in the last 10 outings with a 2-1 victory at Newcastle on Saturday, putting six points between them and the relegation zone.
The man responsible for the crucial win was Wilfried Bony, who struck from a corner in first-half injury time and sealed the points deep in second-half injury time from the penalty spot.
The Ivorian was the only Swans player to have shots on target, as per WhoScored.com, and he won five aerial duels in a match in which his physicality gave him the edge.
Newcastle may have given up playing football weeks ago, but Bony's contribution was vital, and he is ably filling the gap left by Michu's absence.