Action packed is a good phrase to describe the Premier League’s latest weekend. We saw perhaps the two biggest underachievers in the league play to a 2 all draw at Anfield. We saw the champions make a statement at home without their captain and their superstar. We saw Radamel Falcao score his second league goal, which ultimately wasn’t enough to beat Aston Villa. We saw West Ham continue to impress, Leicester continue to despair, and we saw just how good of a player Charlie Austin is.
In this article, we’ll be giving you our Premier League team, goal, and player of the weekend, as well as get you pumped for the January transfer window by suggesting one big name for each major club to reel in. How about a world class striker in Manchester, a potential saving grace at Anfield, dominant midfielders at United, Spurs, and Arsenal, and one of the world’s best wingers to bolster what is already the Premier League’s best team.
First, the weekends scores:
Manchester City 3, Crystal Palace 0- No Aguero/ Kompany, no problem. David Silva netted twice, and Yaya Tour’e added a third as the Champions gained a share of the lead for a few days.
West Ham 2, Leicester City 0- Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing scored for the Hammers, who remain in the Top 4 for Christmas.
Tottenham 2, Burnley 1- Erik Lamela’s first ever Premier league goal proved to be the winner at White Hart Lane. Harry Kane and Ashley Barnes also scored.
Hull City 0, Swansea City 1- Ki Sung Yeung scored a first half winner for the Swans, who are in the Top 10 going into Christmas. Hull are in the relegation zone as we approach the holidays.
Aston Villa 1, Manchester United 1- The Red Devil’s win streak was halted at 6. Christian Benteke scored a beauty in the first half, but Radamel Falcao scored his first league goal in 10 weeks to draw United level. Brad Guzan made 8 saves for the hosts.
QPR 3, West Brom 2- Charlie Austin bagged a hattrick for QPR, who erased a two goal deficit to win 3-2. Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela scored for the Baggies.
Southampton 3, Everton 0- The Saints won their first game in nearly a month against a struggling Everton. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring with an own goal, before Graziano Pelle and Maya Yoshida tallied for Southampton.
Newcastle 0, Sunderland 1- Adam Johnson scored in the 90th minute, as Sunderland won their 54h straight Tyne Wear derby for the first time ever. Johnson, a boyhood Newcastle fan, scored at St. James’ park for the third consecutive season.
Liverpool 2, Arsenal 2- Martin Skrtl scored in the 97th minute to salvage a point for the hosts at Anfield. Phillippe Coutinho opened the scoring, before the French duo of Mattieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud scored for Arsenal.
Stoke City 0, Chelsea 2- The leaders remained 3 points clear at the top of the table with a 2-0 away win at the Britannia. Skipper John Terry opened the scoring, and Cesc Fabregas added a second to seal the points.
XI Of the Week
GK: Costel Pantilimon, Sunderland: With no disrespect to Brad Guzan, who was masterful in Aston Villa’s draw with Manchester United, it was Sunderland’s shot stopper who stood tallest amongst EPL keepers. Pantilimon recorded eight saves in the all-important Tyne Wear derby against Newcastle, and he did what Guzan could not: keep a clean sheet. Throw in the fact that he was on the road and it was in a big rivalry game, and the Romanian keeper’s performance was second to none.
DF: Jose Fonte, Southampton: The Saint’s captain had a howling error two weeks ago against United, when he gave away the ball to Robin van Persie in front of his own net, who promptly smashed the Red Devils in front. He more than made up for it against Everton, and as a result, Southampton won for the first time in six tries. 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 4 interceptions, and 3 blocks helped shut out Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, and Co., and return Ronald Koeman’s side to winning ways.
DF: Winston Reid, West Ham United: Winston Reid dominated defensively, shutting down Leicester completely. He won 11 ariel duels, had 14 clearances, 3 interceptions, and successfully made both of his attempted tackles. He even made a key pass offensively in the Hammer’s 2-0 victory, which kept them firmly in the Top 4.
DF: Pablo Zabaleta, Manchester City: The Argentine was active all game long against Crystal Palace, marauding down the field time after time, ripping Joel Ward to shreds. Zabaleta nearly scored himself, making a brilliant run down the right hand side and chipping the goalkeeper Speroni, but his shot was inches wide. In the 49th minute, he ripped through the defense, and assisted David Silva’s opener. In total, he created 3 chances, had 4 interceptions, made 3 clearances, 2 tackles, and 2 blocks.
MF: Yaya Tour’e, Manchester City: Where wasn’t Yaya Tour’e on Saturday? The powerful Ivorian scored, completed 91% of his passes, created four chances, won eight ariel duels, recorded 3 tackles, and had 5 interceptions and 6 clearances. Tour’e did everything, essentially, from offense to defense, and led City to a commanding 3-0 win over Palace. He also wore the captain’s armband in Vincent Kompany’s absence.
MF: David Silva, Manchester City: The Spaniard was dominant against Palace, and continues to state his case as the league’s best player. Silva scored the opening two goals of the match, and had 9 shots in total. He created two chances and completed 88% of his passes. In the absence of Aguero, someone on City needed to step up with goals, and in this case it was David Silva.
MF: Ki Sung- Yeung, Swansea City: Ki scored the only goal of the match for either team on 15 minutes, and also created 3 chances, made 3 interceptions, 3 clearances, and 3 blocks. Simply put, he impacted the game in every facet.
MF: Phillippe Coutinho, Liverpool: The Brazilian midfielder scored the opening goal at Anfield, and completed 80% of his passes. He was by far the best player on the pitch for either side in what was an ugly, lackluster game.
MF: Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea: The Blue’s brilliant Spanish midfielder created four chances on Monday, and finished off one as well. Throw in 5 crosses and a multitude of completed passes and you see just how impactful the former Arsenal and Barcelona player was.
FW: Erik Lamela, Tottenham Hotspur: Lamela scored the goal of the weekend against Burnley, but arguably turned in his finest performance in a Spurs shirt. He created three chances, had two successful take ons, and completed 78% of his passes. Overall, life at Spurs has been difficult for the Argentine, but performances like this will continue to boost his stock.
FW: Charlie Austin, Queens Park Rangers: QPR’s main man for goals bagged a hattrick at Loftus Road Saturday, as the hosts erased a 2-0 deficit to West Bromwich Albion to win 3-2. Austin has already single-handedly won some games for Harry Redknapp, but his latest performance was his most impressive. Austin now has 11 league goals, which is third in the league, behind City’s Sergio Aguero (14) and Chelsea’s Diego Costa (12).
Player of the Week: Charlie Austin. A hat trick and an incredibly important three points to keep QPR’s chances of surviving in the top flight garners the striker player of the week honors.
Goal of the Week: Erik Lamela. An absolute belter of a goal. With the score level, the Argentine cut onto his right foot and snuck a curler from outside the box past the keeper. It was Lamela’s first ever Premier League goal, and it was a beauty.
And now, onto the transfers. Here is one player for each big club that would dramatically improve their squad, and their chances of winning the title/ finishing in the top 4.
Chelsea- Marco Reus: Chelsea almost have a perfect starting XI. The combination of Cortious, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Oscar, Hazard, Willian, and Diego Costa have been used countless times, and have garnered big results for the Blues. The one real weakness is at right wing, where Willian has been solid but not spectacular. If Chelsea were able to acquire Reus, they’d be getting one of the worlds best wingers. He does have lingering injury issues, but at full fitness, he’s one of the Europe’s finest players. Insert Reus into an attack with Hazard, Costa, and Fabregas, and you not only have the best side in England, but arguably one of the greatest in Europe as well.
Manchester City- Edison Cavani: Criminally misused at Paris Saint-Germain, Edison Cavani would be a brilliant acquisition for the Citizens. With the injury problems of Aguero and Stevan Jovetic, Manuel Pelligrini is often forced to use a false 9 instead of a true striker. Cavani would change all that. The Uruguayan international is a dynamic scorer who would terrorize Premier League defenses. The only issue? Without in turn selling a big name, City won’t be allowed to sign such a big name, per FIFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. But we can dream, right?
Arsenal- Sami Khedira: The Gunners haven’t had an anchor midfielder since Patrick Viera, but Khedira can change that. The German international has a winning pedigree– he won the Champions League and the World Cup in the same season, becoming only the 10th player to ever do that, and the first since Roberto Carlos in 2002. Khedira is a brilliant passer, a defensive wall, and plays at a very high level every match. He has struggled with fitness recently, and has had difficulty getting into Carlo Ancelotti’s XI at Real Madrid. At Arsenal, he’d be the second name on the team sheet every night (Alexis Sanchez being the first). Khedira has been linked with the North London club for a while now, and this January it could finally come to fruition.
Manchester United- Ezequiel Garay: United’s biggest need is a dominant center half, and Garay can be just that. While other names, such as World Cup winner Mats Hummels and La Liga winner Diego Godin, are being linked to Old Trafford, Garay makes the most sense. Louis van Gaal knows Garay well– it was Garay who spearheaded the Argentine defense that shut out van Gaal’s dynamic Dutch offense for 120 minutes in this summer’s World Cup semifinal, and it was Garay who smashed one of Argentina’s four penalties past Jasper Cillissen in the same match to send the South Americans to the Final. The Zenit defender would also form an all-Argentinian center back pairing, joining compatriot Marcos Rojo in the center of the Red Devil’s defense. While United could also go for Arturo Vidal and Kevin Strootman, their most pressing need remains a center back.
Liverpool- Christian Benteke: When I was writing this article on Saturday morning at around 10:15 am, I was thinking, what striker would best suit Liverpool? 2 minutes later, Villa’s Christian Benteke scored an absolute stunner against Manchester United, and I had no choice but to take notice. Benteke is a powerful, ruthless forward who has more speed and strength than the other contender for this spot, West Brom’s Saido Berahino. With Benteke and a healthy Daniel Sturridge up front, Liverpool’s striking problems would be massively improved. Benteke is no Luis Suarez, but he’s a better option at the moment than Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli.
Tottenham Hotspur- Morgan Schneiderlin: Arsenal are rumored to be interested in Southampton’s anchor defensive midfielder, but Spur’s would benefit greatly with him in the squad. Harry Kane’s run of good form means that Spur’s need for a defensive midfielder is heightened. Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, and Paulinho aren’t good enough to hold the best Premier league teams, which is why you see so many drubbings at the hands of big clubs. Schneiderlin can change all of that, and at 25, can be a staple at the club for years to come.