The days between Matchweeks are shrinking and the action is intensifying – both fitting reminders as we enter December that the busiest period in the football calendar will soon be upon us.
With the hazardous weather retreating, for the time being, we were back to a full round of ten matches for the first midweek Premier League fixtures of the season. The pre-picked headline fixtures certainly didn’t disappoint in Matchweek 14, with the irrepressible Liverpool hammering local rivals Everton in yet another goal fest for the Reds, and Manchester United narrowly prevailing in a thrilling contest with Arsenal.
Elsewhere, Tottenham claimed an impressive win over Brentford, a much-changed Chelsea squeezed past Watford, and Leeds snatched a dramatic late win over Crystal Palace. Here are our Stars of the Week for Matchweek 14.
Stars of the Matchweek 14
Goalkeeper: Alvaro Fernandez (Brentford)
It’s unusual that we would choose a goalkeeper from a losing side to be in our Stars of the Week, and even more unusual to pick one who conceded two goals. However, in Brentford’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham on Thursday night, Alvaro Fernandez certainly made a name for himself.
Throughout the 90 minutes, the stand-in goalkeeper made fine saves from the likes of Lucas Moura, Son Heung-Min, Ben Davies, and a 1-on-1 from Harry Kane, as his defenders left him badly exposed for the vast majority of the match.
Although Fernandez was unlucky to concede an unfortunate own goal and an unsaveable tap-in from Son, it shouldn’t overshadow his excellent performance, as he helped to limit Brentford’s blushes. Things looked tough for the Bees after losing first-choice keeper David Raya to injury, but on this evidence, Fernandez is a more than capable deputy.
Defender: Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Another win arrived for Manchester City on Wednesday night, driven by another typically exceptional performance from Ruben Dias, although this time for different reasons to normal.
With the scores level at 0-0, the centre back latched onto Raheem Sterling’s cutback outside the penalty area and surprised everyone by hammering a first-time shot into the corner on his weaker left side.
Aside from his goal, he was commanding as always at the back, blocking shots and breaking up the Villa threat. His performance deserved a clean sheet, something that City were unable to achieve after being caught out by a very cleverly worked corner by the hosts.
Is there anything he can’t do?
Midfielder: Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Table-toppers Chelsea endured a challenging and unpleasant 90-minutes against Watford on Wednesday night, in which a heavily rotated side struggled to find their rhythm but still just about prevailed with a 2-1 victory.
Whilst Chelsea eventually made it to the finish line unscathed against the Hornets, they might not have done so without the contributions of Mason Mount in the middle of the park.
After striking the post early on in the contest, the England midfielder got his goal when he dispatched Kai Havertz’ pass into the bottom corner of the net. Mount turned provider in the second half, sliding a perfectly weighted ball across the box from which Hakim Ziyech slammed home the winner.
Only a substitute in the clash against Manchester United last weekend, Mount really seized his chance back in the starting XI tonight, reminding everyone of his true quality and value to this team.
Forward: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Another appearance for Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – who would’ve thought it?
The beating heart of Liverpool’s goal machine this season, it was unsurprisingly Salah who secured the points – and local bragging rights – once again for the Reds by striking twice in the Merseyside Derby. In a dominant 4-1 win at Goodison Park, the Egyptian put his side 2-0 up with an exquisite finish from a tight angle following a signature counter-attack.
With Everton back in the game at 2-1, Salah pounced on a mistake by Seamus Coleman in the second half and sprinted half the length of the field before producing another fine finish across Jordan Pickford to put Liverpool back in total control.
Salah’s numbers have been simply sensational this season, and it’s not hard to see why his total number of goal contributions is miles ahead of anybody else. Already, you have to say it’s difficult to envisage anyone else winning the PFA Player of the Season award.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
When attacking brilliance is near-constant, the driving force behind it can sometimes be overlooked.
So it’s time we gave some deserved recognition to Jurgen Klopp. Whilst Liverpool remain in 3rd place, they sit just two points off the top of the league, having scored ten goals more than anybody else.
Although the Reds were hot favourites for this clash with Everton given the latter’s poor recent form, the memories of a rare derby defeat for Liverpool back in the spring had the potential to boost Everton’s confidence for this match. Instead, Liverpool blew them away, and Klopp’s increasingly potent duo of Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota brought the Reds another four goals on the road.
Liverpool’s relentless goalscoring form has been somewhat normalised now, but when you think back to their struggles last season, you realise just how good a job Klopp is doing in revitalising this team once more.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.