Premier League Team of the Week with Chelsea Defensive Masters, Rooney and Toure
Welcome folks to our latest Premier League team of the week slideshow, as we honour those who put in top-class performances over the weekend.
Ryan Giggs got off to a winning start as Manchester United's interim boss, Chelsea beat Liverpool in a top-of-the-table clash and Sunderland picked up a vital win at the bottom, with some excellent performers in all of those fixtures.
Of course, it so happens that some players in similar positions had good games; we've tried to include as many of them as we can, setting up in a 3-5-2 formation to accommodate most of the best, though one or two impressive displays still have to miss out.
Goalkeeper: Mark Schwarzer, Chelsea
Mark Schwarzer was handed a rare start in goal for Chelsea as a result of Petr Cech's injury, and it is likely the veteran Australian will remain in goal for the rest of the season.
After being a sub most of the year, he's now involved in a race for both the Premier League title and the Champions League trophy.
Schwarzer made two very good saves against Liverpool from Joe Allen and Luis Suarez in the second half, took the ball well from a series of corners and crosses and generally provided a sound and solid last line of defence for the team.
Centre-Back: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea
It won't come as a surprise to too many to see Chelsea's back line feature heavily; they repelled everything the league leaders threw at them and kept a clean sheet.
Branislav Ivanovic moved into the centre of defence for the match, was strong aerially and held the line well alongside an inexperienced partner.
The Serbian defender was excellent all game long and was not at all fazed by the wealth of attacking talent he faced.
Centre-Back: Michael Dawson, Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur ground out a 1-0 win at Stoke City, despite coming under intense pressure after Stoke went down to 10 men.
In fact, Spurs rather fell apart against reduced opposition, giving up a series of chances to their opponents and losing the ball with startling regularity.
In the face of such mediocrity ahead of him, Michael Dawson put in a determined shift to keep Peter Odemwingie and Co. at bay and preserve Tottenham's clean sheet, and thus the three points, though he also owed a debt of gratitude to some wayward finishing.
Centre-Back: Tomas Kalas, Chelsea
Alongside Ivanovic, Tomas Kalas came in and put in a near-faultless display for Chelsea.
One nervy first-half moment aside, the Czech Republic defender didn't put a foot wrong, making a number of clearances and sweeping up behind the rest of the back line.
His passing was, in the main, reduced to hitting the ball long or merely clearing his lines, but that was a consequence of his team's approach rather than his lack of ability on the ball. It was a very good league debut, all told.
Wing-Back: Nathaniel Clyne, Southampton
On one flank we're going with Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne, a raiding presence down his team's right side in their 2-0 win over Everton.
Clyne was heavily involved in an impressive first half for the South Coast team, making a number of runs on the ball to create crossing opportunities and also working back well in defence when needed.
The right-back actually made nine tackles in the match, a huge total, while also creating two shooting chances for his team.
Wing-Back: Aleksander Kolarov, Manchester City
Any of Manchester City's defensive players could really have been included after their comprehensive win over Crystal Palace, but Aleks Kolarov was certainly a standout on the left.
He was frequently an outlet down his flank, got involved in buildup play and defended stoutly when called upon, making six tackles and two interceptions in total.
Kolarov also created one chance at the other end and managed one shot.
Central Midfield: Yaya Toure, Manchester City
Our second Manchester City player is goalscorer Yaya Toure, who put in another impressive performance in the heart of midfield.
In just over an hour of play, the Ivorian both scored and assisted on a goal for City and was the general spark for his team to raise the tempo and the quality in the final third.
His athleticism, drive from deep areas and technique on the ball were ultimately too much for Palace to deal with.
Central Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Chelsea
Our final Chelsea star is Nemanja Matic, who sat in front of his defence to protect the back four, but also was one of the only central midfield players to break forward and attempt to win the ball higher up the pitch and run into space when his side was in possession.
Matic's passing wasn't at it's usual high level, but again, that was at least in part due to the team setup; there was rarely an out-ball beyond going long to the forward.
In turn, though, that contributed to Matic's increased willingness to drive forward and run with the ball at his feet to relieve pressure, something he did very well at times.
Attacking Midfield: Jonjo Shelvey, Swansea City
Jonjo Shelvey scored one of the goals of the season against Aston Villa, but he also put in one of those all-round performances which have long made him a standout amongst young midfielders.
The problem at times has been that this kind of display doesn't come often enough from the Swansea man—but Aston Villa felt the full force of his talents on Saturday in the 4-1 win.
Shelvey scored one and also set up two more in an imperious showing, working hard between both penalty boxes and generally overrunning Villa's midfield with his good movement and range of one-touch or long-range passing.
Forward: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Wayne Rooney scored the first goals for Manchester United with Giggs in charge of first-team affairs, netting a well-struck penalty and a curled effort from range.
His goals were rewards for an enterprising and creative performance, full of movement off the ball and dropping into space to receive passes around the penalty area.
Rooney also had a hand in Juan Mata's goals as he troubled Norwich City for most of the second half.
Forward: Wilfried Bony, Swansea City
Swansea City striker Wilfried Bony has been in good form since the turn of the year, and he put in another impressive display against Villa, scoring twice from four shots in the 4-1 win.
Bony finished well early on before netting a late penalty, taking his tally for the season to 15 in the Premier League.
Villa didn't deal well enough with his hold-up play or his threat inside the box, though they're not the first side to struggle with his qualities either.
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