In the Premier League this week, Leicester City renewed their bid for the title, edging out Tottenham Hotspur to go joint-top of the table with leaders Arsenal, who lost out on the chance to open up their own lead following an entertaining 3-3 draw away to Liverpool.
Elsewhere, third-place Manchester City’s stuttering bid for the title suffered another setback as they were held 0-0 by Everton. Manchester United came away with just a point following a 3-3 draw at St. James’ Park, one that manager Louis van Gaal said felt like a defeat.
Here’s HT’s EPL Team of the Week
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City):
Leicester stay perched close to the top of the table thanks to Schmeichel denying Tottenham the chance to score. He made five saves in Leicester’s 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane. His most important save was a reflex swipe of the hand to turn the ball onto the crossbar as he rushed off his line to close down Harry Kane in a one-on-one situation.
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal): The German had an excellent shift in Arsenal’s defence. While they did concede three goals, there might have been a few more if it wasn’t for Mertesacker making a goalline clearance early in the second half and an excellent last ditch tackle as the pressure piled on Arsenal’s goal towards the end of the game.
Robert Huth (Leicester City)
The Foxes are still within touching distance of the Premier League trophy and give Huth credit for getting them all three points in this game week. The German got the all-important winning goal as he peeled away from his marker to head the ball into the roof of the Tottenham goal from a late corner-kick which helped Leicester level on points with Arsenal at the top of the table.
Joleon Lescott (Aston Villa)
Villa continues to stay stuck at the bottom of the table and have a mountain to climb if they intend to stay in the Premier League next season. Lescott may have been lucky to have got help from a goalkeeping error but irrespective of how it went in, it was his goal that got Villa the precious three points as they defeated Crystal Palace.
Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland)
Van Aanholt has been going from strength to strength in Sunderland’s defence and his performance against Swansea was another example. Van Aanholt scored the equaliser for Sunderland with a thunderous left-footed strike. He also assisted one of Jermain Defoe’s goals.
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool): The Brazilian seems to be adapting well to Jurgen Klopp’s False 9 formation. Firmino scored two goals in Liverpool’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal. His first goal stemmed from attentiveness as he capitalised on a saved shot to net the opener. His second goal was a collector’s item as he targeted the top corner perfectly and curled the ball in from outside the box to leave the fully-stretched Petr Cech with no chance of a save.
André Ayew (Swansea City):
Ayew recently finished third in the race to be the African Player of the Year 2015. He wasn’t able to get a result for his Swansea side but showed glimpses of his quality as he took on three Sunderland defenders by himself to score Swansea’s second goal right after his team had a player sent off. He was quite positive throughout the game, even winning the penalty that led to Swansea’s first goal.
Dimitri Payet (West Ham United): Making a first Premier League start in over two months, Payet showed West Ham exactly what they were missing when he was injured. The Frenchman scored with an unstoppable free-kick that snuck into the goal after glancing the underside of the crossbar. Later he set up Enner Valencia to give the Hammers the lead and the eventual 3-1 win over Bournemouth.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United): Rooney seems to be getting back to the old form he was once known for. United’s captain scored the opener with a penalty, set up his team’s second goal and scored United’s third goal with a superb finish into the top corner from outside the box.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal): In an absolute thriller, Giroud was on hand to score a brace for Arsenal to level the scores and then give the Gunners the lead. He might have had a hattrick but was unlucky to not connect cleanly with a low cross in the first half when all he had to do was deflect the ball into an empty net.
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland):
All of Sunderland’s hopes of getting out of the relegation zone are currently down to Defoe performing exceptionally well. The Englishman got a hattrick to help Sunderland beat Swansea 4-2 in terrible weather conditions. Defoe has now scored five goals in his last two Premier League games.