In a season of oddity, delay and fixture congestion, we find ourselves in the strange position where Matchweek 19 of this season’s Premier League has actually concluded before Matchweek 18, the second half of which will be concluded in the coming days.
Of the nine fixtures played this weekend –once again without a Covid-stricken Aston Villa– We witnessed a rare occasion where some of the movement at the bottom of the table actually seemed to be more interesting than what took place at the top; entertainment was aplenty as the League technically reached its halfway point of the season, albeit with some teams still lagging a few games behind.
Stars in Premier League – Gameweek 19
Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool)
For all of the thrilling football we saw this weekend, the headline fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool was underwhelming, to say the least, like a number of big matches we’ve witnessed this season. However, after a poor team performance, Liverpool have their goalkeeper Alisson to thank for keeping their now-68 game unbeaten home run intact.
The Brazilian goalkeeper made a number of key saves, including a close range stop from Paul Pogba late on, as the team in front of him failed to click. Once again, Liverpool’s star keeper demonstrated his value superbly.
Defender: John Stones (Manchester City)
How about that for ending a goal drought? John Stones’ road to redemption at Manchester City reached a new high against Crystal Palace on Sunday as the defender scored his first, and then his second, Premier League goals for the Sky Blues.
The defender’s two fine finishes set City on their way to a comprehensive and stylish 4-0 win over their opponents, and perhaps more importantly Stones continued to display the type of Rolls-Royce defending that has seen his side secure seven clean sheets from the last nine.
The Stones-Dias defensive partnership is in full swing now and has shown no signs of fluctuating in this fine run of form.
Midfielder: Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
It’s always enjoyable when two teams go head-to-head for 90 minutes in an entertaining fashion where both sides fight their hardest for the win. This attitude came in abundance during Leicester City’s clash with Southampton on Saturday, with the deciding factor in Leicester’s victory being the brilliance of Youri Tielemans.
Deployed as a deep lying playmaker, the Belgian midfielder shone for the Foxes, giving a masterclass in passing that was rounded off with two assists to help fend off a potentially tricky opponent.
Leicester are very much in this title race, and on this evidence the quality of Tielemans will be vital to the midlands side keeping pace with the leaders.
Forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)
It’s been a long, difficult and frustrating season so far for Arsenal talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who finally hit gold on Monday night by finding the net twice against a struggling Newcastle United.
Undeterred by an early miss, the Arsenal striker opened the scoring with a clinical finish in the second half before scoring a simple tap-in to round off an impressive 3-0 victory.
Arsenal and Aubameyang seem to be on the mend following a terrible run of form in November and December, and now the return to form of the Gunners captain could prove crucial if the North London side are to continue heading in the right direction.
Manager: Graham Potter (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Brighton and Hove Albion have endured a tough time in the first half of this season, and their victory over Leeds United couldn’t have come at a better time to help the seasiders shuffle away from the relegation zone for the time being.
Manager Graham Potter deserves a lot of credit for sticking with his bold style of play during a difficult run of results. There was no such trouble here, as his Brighton side turned in a controlled and professional performance that was capped with a sublime team goal to snatch victory.
Still under considerable pressure, this result will be welcome respite for the Brighton boss, but he’ll know that his team will really have to kick on from here to stay out of trouble.