Sports Mole selects its Premier League team of the week for gameweek 34, including Lucas Moura, Kevin De Bruyne and Virgil van Dijk.
The 2018-19 Premier League season edged one more game towards its conclusion this weekend, with Liverpool still leading a title race which looks set to go down to the wire.
Manchester City momentarily returned to the top of the table with a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday, but the Reds responded by beating Chelsea 2-0 at Anfield to move two points clear – albeit having played a game more than the champions.
Chelsea’s defeat at Anfield saw their top-four hopes take a blow as Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal all won, with Spurs among the biggest victors of the weekend courtesy of their 4-0 triumph over relegated Huddersfield Town.
Here, Sports Mole selects its Premier League team of the week for gameweek 34.
Newcastle kicked the weekend off by ending Leicester City‘s fine run of form on Friday night, and goalkeeper Martin Dubravka earns the gloves in our team for his performance at the King Power Stadium, making five saves to keep the Foxes at bay.
The level of competition in defence means that we need three central defenders, and Dubravka’s teammate – and Newcastle’s match-winner – Fabian Schar is among the players unlucky to miss out along with the likes of Adam Smith, Nathan Ake, Steve Cook, Vincent Kompany, Tim Ream and Matt Ritchie.
Willy Boly is perhaps a controversial choice ahead of those options considering he was part of a Wolverhampton Wanderers side which shipped three goals, but it could have been a lot worse for the beaten FA Cup semi-finalists had the centre-back not made five tackles, won eight aerial duels and scored Wolves’ goal.
Tottenham’s Juan Foyth was almost as influential in his side’s rout of Huddersfield, winning six aerial duels to make it into the back three alongside Virgil van Dijk, who was typically authoritative in Liverpool’s win over Chelsea.
The fact that Van Dijk is the only Liverpool representative from that triumph speaks volumes for the level of competition for almost every place in this team, and that is particularly true in midfield where Jordan Henderson is just one of the players who narrowly miss out on a place.
Kevin De Bruyne‘s brace of assists against Crystal Palace earns him a central midfield role ahead of the likes of Victor Wanyama, Paul Pogba, Tom Cairney, Dwight McNeil and David Brooks, the latter of whom is particularly unlucky to be omitted after his goal and assist against Brighton.
Ryan Fraser matched that tally as Bournemouth inflicted the Seagulls’ heaviest ever home Premier League defeat, but he does make the XI in right-midfield – as does his clubmate Dan Gosling, who helped himself to a goal and made eight tackles in the five-star rout.
There was stiff competition for the wide places too; Raheem Sterling scored twice, Ryan Babel scored one and created the other in Fulham‘s triumph over Everton and Mohamed Salah blasted Liverpool to a two-goal cushion over Chelsea with a wondergoal which was almost enough to earn him a place in the team by itself.
Nathan Redmond edges all of them to a place on the left flank, though, having scored twice to help Southampton to a crucial win over Wolves – as well as doing his bit defensively with five tackles and eight aerial duels won.
Perhaps the best individual performance of the weekend came from Tottenham’s Lucas Moura, who became the fourth Brazilian in Premier League history to help himself to a hat-trick as Spurs made light of Harry’s Kane absence against Huddersfield.
Bournemouth pip Spurs as the best-represented team in this week’s XI, though, with Callum Wilson making it three Cherries courtesy of his goal and two assists in the resounding win at the Amex.
Burnley’s Chris Wood completes the team up front alongside Wilson having helped himself to both goals against Cardiff City, effectively sealing the Clarets’ safety in the process.
PL Team of the Week – Sterling, Mane, Vardy