Premier League Team of the Week: Rashford, Ivanovic, Willian and Mata StarMarch 1, 2016
Premier League Team of the Week: Rashford, Ivanovic, Willian and Mata Star
Roll up, roll up! After a brief but excruciating FA Cup break last weekend, we have returned to normality—and that means Premier League football to feast upon.
Liverpool and Manchester City's Capital One Cup final on Sunday knocked two games off the calendar, but there were still eight juicy fixtures to dig into and analyse.
We've selected the best performers from the thrilling weekend and slotted them into a workable formation—a 4-4-2 on this occasion.
Disagree with our selections? Hit us up in the comments section below to start the conversation.
GK: Lukasz Fabianski, Swansea City
Lukasz Fabianski ended up on the losing side on Sunday and conceded two goals, but he still put in a stunning individual showing for Swansea City.
In fact, his opposite number Hugo Lloris made several incredible saves too, rounding off a strong afternoon of goalkeeping at White Hart Lane.
But it was the sheer number of saves Fabianski made that set him apart from Lloris—even if they were in vain—and allows him to take our Team of the Week berth. He made 12, per WhoScored.com, and some were absolutely brilliant.
For a long time, Tottenham Hotspur fans were concerned it would be "one of those days" where their team dropped vital points in the title race, and Fabianski was the sole reason why.
RB: Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur
Kyle Walker put together a brilliant game as Tottenham beat Swansea 2-1 on Sunday, impacting heavily in the offensive third.
He's instructed to play an extremely aggressive game by Mauricio Pochettino and that suits his skill set, and against the Swans, he marauded forward at will and took up clever positions.
His crossing was a constant thorn in the away team's side, and he even had a goal chalked off.
CB: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea
Branislav Ivanovic's renaissance continues and, for the first time this season, he's earned a spot in our Premier League Team of the Week.
Playing at centre-back, he's shown renewed defensive vigour and his forehead acts as a magnet for balls into the box. He cleared countless crosses in the first half and then headed home the winner in the dying moments, giving the Blues a well-deserved away win.
The Serbian's struggles at right-back will not be forgotten quickly, but if he keeps this form up, B/R's Garry Hayes believes he could indirectly end John Terry's Chelsea career—that's how assured he has been.
CB: Miguel Britos, Watford
It can be quite difficult to keep tabs on a striker like Josh King due to his speed, strength and ability to run the channels. Miguel Britos managed it, though, and that was a key factor in Watford's clean sheet against Bournemouth this weekend.
The Uruguayan is now one of the first names Quique Sanchez Flores calls upon when deciding the team—having firmly relegated Sebastian Prodl to a back-up role—and has emerged as a classier, more assured defender than Craig Cathcart.
He produced some excellent blocks and tackles at key times on Saturday, and he looked slick in possession too.
LB: Danny Rose, Tottenham Hotspur
Danny Rose scored a vital goal on Sunday that could serve as an important marker in Tottenham's season.
With Arsenal busy losing at Old Trafford, paving the way for Spurs to move even further clear of them, Swansea were attempting to serve as chief spoilers for the day.
It looked for long periods as though Mauricio Pochettino's men would be foiled, but Rose's strike broke the resistance and earned the three points.
He was an attacking threat all afternoon, swinging in dangerous crosses, and his aggressive style of attacking caused the Swans all sorts of issues defensively.
Wing: Marko Arnautovic, Stoke City
Marko Arnautovic recently declined a new Stoke City contract but has admitted he'd like to stay at the club, per the Stoke Sentinel. Reading between the lines, it's clear he wants a bit more cash.
Well, performances like the one he delivered against Aston Villa at the weekend can only strengthen his hand.
He netted two, taking his personal tally to nine in the league this season. Remi Garde's men struggled to keep track of his clever runs and decisive movements.
CM: Juan Mata, Manchester United
Juan Mata and Ander Herrera were both superb on Sunday, applying themselves to Louis van Gaal's tactical plan and performing key roles in the victory over Arsenal.
Both pressed incessantly, pushing forward to nullify Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin in possession, and Mata in particular stood out for his work-rate and ability to close off passing options for the away side.
It's always intriguing to see a finesse No. 10 like Mata apply himself to such a different, dogged role, and the Spaniard certainly proved he has more strings to his bow than previously believed.
CM: Willian, Chelsea
Willian was the best player on the pitch at St. Mary's Stadium on Saturday, jinking and dazzling his way through Southampton's defensive lines on the way to victory.
It was in the second half that he really started to roll, slaloming round players with ease and instigating prolonged periods of pressure for Chelsea.
He switched to the right side late on and picked on poor Matt Targett, then took the corner that Branislav Ivanovic headed home to win it.
Wing: Michail Antonio, West Ham United
Michail Antonio is starting to resemble a truly beastly winger for West Ham United now; like the aforementioned Miguel Britos, he has seized a midseason chance with both hands and taken full advantage of it.
His winning goal against Sunderland was his fifth in seven home games, and his celebration—a homage to Homer Simpson—was one of the best moments of the footballing weekend.
ST: Connor Wickham, Crystal Palace
Craig Gardner was very unfortunate to miss out in central midfield this week, but we do have one representative from a crazy game at the Hawthorns this weekend and that's Connor Wickham.
He was, admittedly, a little quiet in the first half, but he exploded into life in the second period. Two excellent goals led an attempted Crystal Palace comeback that eventually fell short, but Wickham certainly played his part.
One of his goals—a hooked, angled finish that found the top corner—was particularly impressive.
ST: Marcus Rashford, Manchester United
Take a bow, Marcus Rashford. This is the way to make your Premier League debut.
Fresh off a surprising brace in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, the 18-year-old led the line against Arsenal on Sunday and scored another two goals before adding an assist.
Predatory instincts, good movement, top-end speed and attacking awareness were all shown as the boyhood United fan won the hearts and minds of Old Trafford. Can he keep this up?
GK: Heurelho Gomes, Watford
FB: Guillermo Varela, Manchester United
CB: Virgil van Dijk, Southampton
CM: Craig Gardner, West Bromwich Albion
AM: Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Wing: Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke City
ST: Shane Long, Southampton