Five-a-side TOTW: May 16th 2017

Picking an eleven is hard; picking just five is even harder.

The top and bottom of the Premier League has been decided! Michy Batshuayi ended the title race with his second Premier League goal of the season. At the other end of the table Hull City fell apart against Crystal Palace giving their fans a very disappointing end to a spirited survival fight. A huge win for Liverpool away to West Ham means they are now just one home victory away from a return to Champions League football. Here’s our penultimate five-a-side team of the week. We finally got Sanchez and Coutinho on the same pitch…

Goalkeeper – Lukasz Fabianski

Despite a slump during March and early April, Swansea would be comfortably in the top ten based on their results under Paul Clement. He eventually found a way to remedy their woeful defensive record and Fabianski has upped his game in recent weeks. As dreadful as Sunderland are, they were still able to test the Pole last weekend only to find he had all the answers. Swansea have confirmed their place in the Premier League for another year and Fabianski should keep his job as their number one.

The Anchor – Cesar Azpilicueta

Roll up, roll up, pick your favourite Chelsea defender. Azpilicueta has been very effective this season and a revelation at centre back. He is comfortable on the ball and wonderfully versatile. His key contribution against West Brom on Friday came in the final third when he got round the back to steer a ball into the waiting Batshuayi; a worthy TOTW call-up for one of the league’s best defenders.

The Playmaker – Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool have won ten of the twelve games where Philippe Coutinho has scored or assisted a goal. Simply put, when the Brazilian performs Liverpool usually win. They ran away with it on Sunday dispatching West Ham 4-0 at the Olympic Stadium – a result which will have a huge impact on their pursuit of the top four. The Reds have struggled away to West Ham recently and would have been glad to see the back of the Boelyn Ground. The little Brazilian seemed to benefit from the presence of a recalled Daniel Sturridge and you wonder where Liverpool would be if the two had played together on more occasions this season. If only, if only…

The Talisman – Alexis Sanchez

You can also wonder where Arsenal would be without Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean’s shown himself to be a curious character at times this season but his performances on the pitch have never wavered. My own, unpopular, opinion is that Sanchez is the best footballer in the Premier League. He certainly looked it when dragging Arsenal through back-to-back wins against Stoke (last weekend) and Sunderland (last night). His finishing is electric and he’s now just one behind Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot. The two will share a pitch this Sunday…

The Finisher – Shinji Okazaki

Last May Leicester were celebrating a miracle. This time around they can at least applaud a stunning goal by the often overlooked Okazaki. They made a game of it against Manchester City proving they really are far too good to go down. The second half was an unpleasant watch for Pep Guardiola after the Japanese international had had fired an acrobatic volley past Claudio Bravo. He rounds off our team this week.


 

Five-a-side TOTW: September 27th 2016

Picking an eleven is hard; picking just five is even harder.

Over 30 Premier League goals scored for the third week running. Arsenal’s 3-0 drubbing of Chelsea almost tempted me to include an entire 5TOTW of Arsenal players. Alas, I’ve limited it to just two Gunners this week. Elsewhere, Manchester City made it six wins out of six, Tottenham maintained their unbeaten record and Manchester United were back to winning ways against Leicester. But who made it into the 5-a-side team of the week?

Goalkeeper – Artur Boruc

Is it me or are clean sheets increasingly becoming a thing of the past? Only four keepers kept clean sheets during match week six with the Bournemouth stopper being the pick of the bunch. His save to deny Romelu Lukaku’s downward header is the best I’ve seen in the Premier League this season. The ex-Celtic man was brilliant last season too but perhaps didn’t get the credit his performances deserved. He more than merits his place in our team.

The Stopper – Chris Smalling

In my opinion he is England’s best central defender. I was worried when he was left out of Mourinho’s first few games in charge. That omission cost him his England place too, yet despite the early disappointments the former non-league defender has recovered and regained his place in the United side. Captain for the day and scorer of the opener, Smalling and United were excellent as they thrashed last seasons surprise champions 4-1.

The Playmaker – Mesut Özil

WOW! This guy was simply magnificent all match. Özil was a key factor in Arsenal’s win against Chelsea, their first league victory against their London rivals in five seasons. He destroyed Chelsea and made the usually very reliable N’Golo Kanté look nothing more than ordinary. The way Özil span away from the Frenchmen prior to scoring the third goal was a thing of beauty. The finish itself was a bit fortunate but the turn was majestic and that alone warrants a place in our team.

Free Role – Alexis Sánchez

An assist and a goal. You can’t ask for much more than that can you? His goal was all of his own doing as he put pressure on an increasingly vulnerable Gary Cahill before clipping the deftest of finishes into the left-hand corner. The Arsenal No.7’s assist wasn’t too shabby either; a beautifully flighted cross for his fellow 5TOTW companion, Özil, to scuff into the back of the net.

The Finisher – Son Heung-min

He’s only played three Premier League games this season but the South Korea international has already matched last terms goal return. Two goals against Stoke were followed up by another brace against Middlesbrough. He opened the scoring with a smart run and finish before brilliantly doubling Spurs’ advantage with a wonderful curling effort. During the summer there were noises coming out of White Hart Lane suggesting he was heading back to Germany. Now with Harry Kane out for several weeks and new signing Vincent Janssen yet to hit top form, the former Bayer Leverkusen man could provide a much needed goal threat.