Another weekend of Premier League matches drew to a close on Monday night with a fiercely contested and ultimately dramatic derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace. Elsewhere in the league, Leicester and Manchester United won to further display their top-four credentials, Manchester City won game number 13 in a row, and Everton emerged victorious against Liverpool at Anfield for the first time this century in league football.
Unsurprisingly, our weekly quintet of players are drawn from these few matches, with each one making a clear case for being the best player in their respective positions during the last matchday.
Stars in Premier League – Gameweek 25
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Just a few short weeks ago, I suggested that Jordan Pickford’s days at Everton could be numbered following a strong performance by Robin Olsen against Leeds United. However, in Everton’s landmark win at Anfield on Saturday, the England goalkeeper repaid his manager’s faith with a fantastic performance.
Having made some bad errors on this ground in the past, Pickford didn’t put a foot wrong this time around, and made terrific saves from Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah to preserve his side’s lead.
It may only have been one game, but Pickford here demonstrated what he is fully capable of and that he still possesses the ability to be a vital asset for his side when called upon.
Defender: Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Another game, another win, another clean sheet for Manchester City who demonstrated their defensive solidity again with another 1-0 scoreline, the sixth time they’ve achieved that result this season.
The near unbreachable centre back duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias shined again, and it was arguably Dias who was the star of the show. In addition to clocking up another 90 minutes of robust, colossal defending, the Portugal international displayed his range of passing by launching an excellent ball to Riyad Mahrez, which led to Sterling’s early winning goal.
Once again, it really is hard to overstate how big his impact has been on this relentless Manchester City side.
Midfielder: Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)
With the absence of Jack Grealish taking all the headlines in the pre-match build-up to Aston Villa’s match against Leicester City, the Foxes took full advantage against an unsettled Villa Side to win 2-1, with wide midfielder Harvey Barnes putting in another excellent performance.
Barnes rolled a simple pass into the path of James Maddison for Leicester’s opening goal, before bagging a goal for himself with a poacher’s finish at the end of a fast move.
With Barnes on-song and growing week after week into Leicester’s dynamic front four, the Foxes’ chances of Champions League qualification seem to be increasing with each passing match.
Forward: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Manchester United remained neck and neck with top four rivals Leicester by achieving an impressive win of their own over an uninspiring Newcastle side. Having blown hot and cold in recent weeks, this was a game where striker Marcus Rashford shined brilliantly.
The forward scored a brilliant solo goal after cutting in from the left-hand side and beating Karl Darlow at his near post, before winning the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes sealed the win.
Regardless of what happens, it seems the Red Devils’ attacking talents will not be going down without a fight in the coming weeks, and much like Leicester, their top four spot is gradually looking more and more assured.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti (Everton)
Choosing managers who have won at Anfield seems to have been a running theme of recent Stars of the Week articles, but once again a coach who won on Liverpool’s home turf is the clear candidate for the accolade.
This week it was Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, who not only led his side brilliantly to a 2-0 victory over the Reds, but also became the first Everton manager to beat the Toffees’ Merseyside rivals in over a decade and the first to win at Anfield since 1999.
Even factoring in Liverpool’s shockingly poor form, this felt like a monumental barrier that had been cleared by this Everton side, and stands out as Ancelotti’s finest hour so far in his relatively short tenure at Goodison Park. Could a late charge for the top four still be on the cards?