Five-a-side TOTW: April 11th 2017

We’re well into April signalling the start of the “business end” of the season. While no business is actually taking place, teams are beginning to make their final push before the season ends. This weekend saw Sunderland crushed 3-0 at home to Manchester United, a result that all but ended any hopes of another great escape. Leaders Chelsea overcame a tricky looking visit to Bournemouth. Marcos Alonso scored the pick of the goals in a 3-1 victory. Crystal Palace won again at home as they comfortably beat Arsenal 3-0. Tottenham strolled to a 4-0 home win over Watford with Dele Alli adding a couple more million to his name with a delightful curled effort. Southampton recorded an impressive victory at West Brom, while Simon Mignolet excelled in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Stoke. But who made it into our team?

Goalkeeper – Fraser Forster

Not many teams win at The Hawthorns. In fact before Southampton’s visit only 4 others had come away with all three points this season. The South coast club owed a lot to their man between the sticks as the ex-Celtic stopper made six saves and caught 100% of his crosses. The Saints have had to field a makeshift defence for much of this season following the sale of José Fonte and the injury to Virgil Van Dijk. The defence, and Forster in particular, have had to step up to the plate on numerous occasions throughout the campaign. Something which they did again on Saturday afternoon.

The Stopper – Mamadou Sakho

Him again. Listen, I promise it’s not bias – he just is in brilliant form. Once again the Liverpool loanee was an absolute monster at the heart of the Palace defence. He won tackles, made blocks and was frighteningly strong in the air throughout the 90 minutes. His future remains in doubt, but there is no chance that the Frenchmen will be playing at Selhurst Park next season. A return to Liverpool remains unlikely unless he and Klopp are able to resolve their differences. Whatever happens, he most definitely won’t be short of suitors.

The Anchor – Yohan Cabaye

He’s not really imposed himself at all this season. In and out of the team and questions regarding his attitude have hardly helped his cause. Nonetheless, the ex-PSG man turned in a first class performance against The Gunners on Monday night. His goal was absolutely brilliant and proved to be the defining moment in the clash. Cabaye will hope to carry his good form into the remaining 7 games of the season and look to ensure that Palace consolidate their Premier League status.

The Playmaker – Philippe Coutinho

He only played the second half but the little maestro changed the whole game. Jürgen Klopp’s experiment had failed in the first half of Liverpool’s visit to Stoke. Trailing 1-0 the German decided to bring on Coutinho and his compatriot Roberto Firmino at half time and the introduction of the two Brazilians completely changed the match. Coutinho’s 70th minute goal sparked Liverpool’s revival. His first time shot was lazor guided into the back of Lee Grant’s net. Two minutes later it was Firmino’s turn, as he expertly guided a powerful strike into the Stoke City goal. The reds held on and in turn moved nine points clear of Arsenal in fifth place.

The Finisher – Son Heung-min

The South Korean has 11 Premier League goals this season. A fantastic return for a player who is still not always a regular in the side. His two goals against a very poor Watford team at White Hart Lane ensured that Spurs maintained their unlikely title challenge. Son has been a revelation this year. For much of last season he flattered to deceive and there were rumours that he would not be a Tottenham player for much longer. Yet the ex-Hamburg and Leverkusen player has turned it all around and established himself as one of the Premier League’s most underrated players.

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.