The business end of the Premier League season is now well and truly upon us. At the end of a rare weekend in which all 20 sides were in action without fixture rescheduling or postponement, Arsenal, Leicester City and Burnley have emerged as perhaps the weekends biggest winners.
Stars in Premier League – Gameweek 28
With an unwelcome and potentially perilous international break looming large on the horizon, we look back at the five individuals who shone the brightest in March’s final full weekend of top-flight fixtures.
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
Chelsea’s top-four bid took a setback with a draw against the ever-plucky Leeds United but managed to claim yet another clean sheet with a 0-0 draw, and still remain unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel.
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy had something of a busy day between the sticks, and played an important role in helping the Blues maintain the clean sheet. The towering goalkeeper made brilliant reaction saves from the likes of Tyler Roberts and Raphinha to keep Leeds at bay, and earn his fourteenth Premier League clean sheet of the campaign.
Another strong performance in what has so far been an excellent debut campaign for Mendy.
Defender: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
Arsenal fought back from a goal down to earn both the bragging rights in North London and their most memorable victory of the season so far.
Once again, the relentless Kieran Tierney led by example to rally the Gunners towards success following a relatively early setback. The Scotland fullback gave Tottenham’s Matt Doherty a torrid time down the left flank, marauding forward at every opportunity and providing the cross from which Martin Odegaard grabbed the equaliser.
His level of performance and popularity seem to grow week after week at the Emirates – a future Arsenal captain?
Midfielder: Dwight McNeil (Burnley)
A rapid start was just what the doctor ordered for Burnley, who battled to an exceptional win away at Everton to put clear daylight between themselves and the bottom three.
Having endured a relatively quiet season, Dwight McNeil showcased his flair and match-winning ability with an electric performance on Burnley’s left flank. The winger provided the cross which fell to Chris Wood to equalise, before cutting inside on the opposite flank and burying a goal of the season contender into the top corner of the Everton net.
McNeil seemingly found the golden touch at just the perfect time, and with this victory he has pushed the Clarets to the brink of Premier League survival.
Forward: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Injuries to key players are often difficult for a squad to navigate through, but to other players waiting in the wings, it can be a blessing in disguise – as has been the case for Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho.
The absence of ever-present attackers Harvey Barnes and James Maddison has given Iheanacho the opportunity to play in a front two, one that he fully grasped with a hat-trick against a hopeless Sheffield United on Sunday. Two poacher’s finishes and a brilliant long range effort sunk the Blades and ensured the match ball went home with the Nigerian striker, who is developing a delightful understanding with fellow forward Jamie Vardy.
With a form like this, it’ll be hard to justify leaving Iheanacho out when others return.
Manager: Sean Dyche (Burnley)
This week’s managerial honour deservedly goes to Burnley’s Sean Dyche, for leading his side to arguably the surprise result of the weekend.
The Burnley boss has achieved some excellent results since the turn of the year, and his brave approach here saw his side wrap up the job early, only needing to maintain their usual shape and discipline to see out the result. What they’ve often lacked in creativity this season, they made up for against Everton in their pressing, individual brilliance, and clinical finishing.
This win couldn’t have come at a better time for Dyche and his men, whose bid to remain in the top flight has very nearly been achieved once more.