It was a week of surprises in the English Premier League as Manchester City and Arsenal suffered embarrassing defeats, while minnows Leicester City went top of the table.
Liverpool produced one of the best performances of the season to defeat Manchester City 4-1, thanks to brilliant performances from Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho. In the other big upset of the week, a well-crafted goal from James Morrison and a Mikel Arteta own goal handed title aspirants Arsenal a 1-2 shock defeat away to West Bromwich Albion.
Leicester City and their in-form striker Jamie Vardy continued their impressive run as they defeated a hapless Newcastle United 3-0 with goals from Jamie Vardy (who scored for the 10th consecutive match in the Premier League), Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki. The victory meant that Leicester finished the week at the top of the standings with 28 points - one ahead of second placed Manchester United.
It’s no surprise then that Coutinho, Firmino and Vardy feature in HT’s EPL Team of the Week, with a 3-4-3 formation.
Tim Howard (Everton): The American shot-stopper was very attentive to the few attacks Aston Villa mounted as he kept his clean sheet by making three saves. He snuffed out a possible game-changing moment early in the second half rushing out to challenge Jordan Veretout after an under-hit backpass opened up an opportunity for the Aston Villa midfielder.
Seamus Coleman (Everton): Coleman teamed up well with Gerard Deulofeu on the right. The defender gave Kieran Richardson a torrid time with his forward runs, even managing an assist to Everton’s second goal.
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur): Belgian defender Alderweireld put in one of the best defensive performances in the league this weekend. His aerial presence was effective on both ends of the pitch as he snuffed out West Ham United’s crosses into Spurs’ box and also got on the scoresheet with a headed goal.
Martin Skrtel (Liverpool): The Slovakian hammered the final nail in Manchester City’s coffin as he thundered the ball into the roof of the net after it fell kindly to his feet from a corner. His late goal capped off a very good performance which included keeping the highly potent City attack at bay for most of the match.
Ross Barkley (Everton): Barkley scored two goals and got one assist. While both his goals were more or less tap-ins as he scored into empty nets, Barkley has to be credited for being in the right place at the right time as he reaped the benefits of his late runs into the box. His involvement in Everton’s fourth goal was vital as he set up Romelu Lukakau with a well cushioned one-touch pass.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool): The Brazilian playmaker was forced off the pitch when he picked up an injury in the 67th minute against Manchester City but had already done the damage on the former table toppers. He was pivotal in Liverpool’s first three goals as he recovered possession for the first goal, scored the second and provided the assist for the third.
Andre Ayew (Swansea City): Ayew was on top of his game as he helped Swansea spare the blushes of a home defeat. The attack-minded midfielder improvised well with his back to goal as he back heeled the ball into the net to kick off Swansea’s first-half comeback. He also threaded a few good passes to the attackers and won a penalty which lead to Swansea drawing level.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool): Firmino had an exceptional outing in Liverpool’s convincing 4-1 victory against Manchester City. He had a role to play in the first three goals as he caused the own goal, set up compatriot Philippe Coutinho for the second and scored the third one himself. He might have scored a few more goals if it wasn’t for Joe Hart in the City goal.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City): Leicester City’s rise to the top of the table can be directly attributed to Vardy’s stunning form. Vardy equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record for most number of consecutive matches scored in as he claimed his 10th goal in 10 matches. The England striker got the beating of the Newcastle United defence on the day and might have had a second goal in the match but was denied by the crossbar.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton): The Belgian striker scored two goals to claim his 50th and 51st Premier League strikes against Aston Villa. With his first goal of the match, Lukaku became the fifth player to score 50 Premier League goals before the age of 23, a feat previously achieved by Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur): Kane seems to be ready to replicate his superb goalscoring form from last season as he has been back among the goals over the past few weeks. The Englishman struck twice to make sure Spurs had no problem dispatching West Ham United at home.