Premier League Team of the Week with Ross Barkley, Edin Dzeko and Ashley Cole
Welcome to our latest Premier League team of the week roundup, as we take a look at the biggest and best individual displays from the weekend's action.
Sunderland and Norwich City earned big points at the bottom, while Manchester City made a strong case for their title bid thanks to a 3-2 win over Everton. Ryan Giggs suffered his first defeat as a manager, Stoke City scored four goals in a game and even Newcastle United remembered how to win a league match for once.
Here's our starting XI—leave your thoughts of who should have been involved below. We line up this week in a 4-4-2.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris, Tottenham Hotspur
Despite being defeated and conceding two goals, Hugo Lloris was the one Spurs player who could arguably say he had tried hard and played well against West Ham.
His outfield team-mates were shocking in their disorganisation, lack of work rate and application, leading to Lloris being far busier than he needed to be. He did well in the air and made plenty of saves, but he could do little about the second goal after Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor created a large gap in the wall for a free-kick to fly through.
Little wonder that he might be considering his future.
Right-Back: Mathieu Debuchy, Newcastle United
Newcastle's Mathieu Debuchy has enjoyed a largely impressive all-round season at right-back, and he was one of his team's star performers in a rare win at the weekend.
Debuchy was solid in defence, making a game-high six tackles, while he also offered a good threat and outlet going forward down the Newcastle right.
A succession of dangerous crosses and one chance created for his team marked him out as one of his side's weapons in attack.
Centre-Back: John O'Shea, Sunderland
Sunderland picked up a vital three points in their relegation fight thanks to a 1-0 win at Manchester United, with a resolute defensive performance contributing significantly to that.
John O'Shea was the captain and organiser at the back, keeping not only his back line intact and in shape, but also ordering those ahead of him to keep protecting the spaces in front of the defence. He made countless interceptions when United tried to play through the middle and completed eight clearances too.
That United only managed two shots on target at home speaks volumes for Sunderland's defensive performance.
Centre-Back: Ryan Bennett, Norwich City
Just like Sunderland, Norwich City kept an unlikely clean sheet against top-half opposition as they held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Ryan Bennett was an excellent and consistent force at the back, repelling everything Chelsea threw his way, stopping first Demba Ba and later Fernando Torres with some fine interceptions and clearances.
Bennett made a couple of important blocks on shots as well, and alongside Michael Turner, he ensured Chelsea didn't have many clear sights of goal.
Left-Back: Ashley Cole, Chelsea
Ashley Cole hasn't played too much this year, but he put in an excellent display for Chelsea against Norwich.
He was particularly excellent in the first half, when his rampaging runs down the left flank were a constant outlet for this side, allowing them to switch and stretch play rapidly and keep width while Andre Schurrle cut infield.
His link-up play was strong, and he sent over a number of crosses to tempt his forwards into attacking. Though Norwich denied him as much space in the second half, it was still an impressive performance over the 90 minutes.
Right Wing: Stewart Downing, West Ham United
Once in a while, Stewart Downing pulls out a performance to make people remember why he used to be a regular for England squads. One such game came against Tottenham over the weekend as Spurs afforded him countless opportunities to run down the flanks, cut infield and enjoy the space afforded to him.
The winger set up five chances for his team-mates to get shots away as a result of his dead-ball delivery and his passes in the final third, again due in no small part to the time he had on the ball.
Downing also scored the second goal of the game with a direct free-kick.
Central Midfield: Alex Tettey, Norwich City
Another Norwich City player now—midfielder Alex Tettey. The Ghanaian-born Norway international is an odd sort of player: great physicality, stamina and skill mixed at times with misplaced aggression, woeful first touches and mis-hit simple passes.
Against Chelsea, though, all those defensive attributes of his came to the fore as he constantly pressed and harassed the home midfield, winning the ball back a number of times and aiding quick transitions by looking to break ahead of the ball when he had the chance.
His work rate was key in shutting down David Luiz and Willian in the second half, denying them space or time to pick passes through the Norwich defence.
Central Midfield: Ross Barkley, Everton
Everton midfielder Ross Barkley played a role against Manchester City where he alternately took up positions at the head of midfield and cutting in from the left, but it was centrally where he consistently showed his best work.
The youngster opened the scoring with a scorching, curling effort from distance, while his drives forward through the centre of midfield with the ball at his feet enabled Everton to carry the ball out of defence and into attack within seconds.
He was good in possession, created chances, worked hard and was adventurous in looking forward in an excellent display.
Left Wing: Oussama Assaidi, Stoke City
Stoke put four past Fulham, who were relegated in the process, with both wide attackers key to the victory. Marko Arnautovic played from the right, Oussama Assaidi played from the left and the Moroccan probably just edged it in terms of impact and quality.
His pace was a nightmare for Fulham to deal with, as was his direct running and willingness to beat a man.
Assaidi cut in to shoot on several occasions, scoring one and always being a big threat for Stoke in their impressive win.
Striker: Edin Dzeko, Manchester City
Edin Dzeko scored twice for Manchester City, just either side of half-time, to put them in the driver's seat for the Premier League title with two games to play.
His first was an excellent header, and his second was a controlled close-range finish, but his movement for both was the key point to note, sidling in between defenders in the penalty box to create space for himself and a target for the crosses, one high, one low.
Dzeko's good work rate, link-up play and willingness to drop into midfield at times off the ball was a feature of the game, and all were reasons for City's win.
Striker: Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Olivier Giroud scored a simple, powerful header to give Arsenal victory over West Brom, but his all-around performance was what left a lasting impression.
He didn't receive too much supply for further chances on goal, but Giroud linked well with Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, played in his team-mates with smart headers for them to close in on goal and dragged defenders out of shape to create space for others.
Giroud worked hard and was one of the real standouts for his team in an otherwise low-key game.