Premier League – Stars of the Week: Matchweek 34

How will it all end?

It may only be four Matchweeks until the end of the season, but the limitless twists and turns of this Premier League campaign means that all of the key questions remain unanswered. Victories from Manchester City and Liverpool mean that the Premier League title race remains as it was, Tottenham’s latest slip-up at Brentford intensifies the North London battle for fourth, and Burnley’s potentially season-defining victory over Wolves spells possible doom for Everton in the relegation battle.

Even in a Matchweek relatively low on goals, this season’s most fascinating storylines still remain fully intact. Here are our five standouts from this most recent round of matches.

Stars of the Week – Matchweek 34

Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier (Leeds United)

Illan Meslier leeds united

Leeds United took to the field for the first time in over two weeks during Monday night’s clash with Crystal Palace, and despite being comfortably second best, the Whites managed to hold out for a 0-0 draw, earning what could be a vital point in their battle against relegation.

As he has so often been this season, Illan Meslier was the hero here for Leeds. The French goalkeeper made seven saves throughout the contest, and came out on top in what became a 1-on-1 battle between him and Wilfried Zaha, even making a stunning double save with his feet to deny the Crystal Palace forward.

Meslier has now made more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper this season, and you’d dread to think where Leeds United would be without him.

Defender: Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)

Andrew Robertson of Liverpool

Liverpool marched on with their ferociously competitive title bid on Sunday following a hard-fought win in the Merseyside derby, despite the huge gulf in class between The Reds and Everton.

For the umpteenth time in his Liverpool career, it was flying fullback Andrew Robertson who made the difference for the Anfield side. With virtually no defending to do against Everton’s misfiring forward line, Robertson patrolled the left-hand side as usual, and made the difference for his side when he stooped to nod in Mohamed Salah’s cross on 62 minutes.

Aside from his goal, the Scotland Captain also had 108 touches and recorded a passing accuracy of 93%, in a typically efficient and dominant performance down Liverpool’s left flank.

Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

It’s been a sticky patch of form for Southampton recently, but despite their troubles, the Saints rubbished accusations that they are already on their holidays with a spirited display at Brighton, battling down from 2-0 down to earn an impressive point.

Southampton’s comeback was largely the work of one man and one man only – the brilliant James Ward-Prowse. With his team struggling, the Saints Captain got them back into the game in trademark fashion with a pinpoint free-kick that went in via the post. Just a few minutes into the second half, Ward-Prowse was at it again, smashing a strike into the bottom corner from Oriol Romeu’s lay-off to haul Southampton level.

Free kick goals are like clockwork for the Southampton midfielder at this point, and it’s surely only a matter of time before he reaches and surpasses David Beckham’s Premier League record.

Forward: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)

Gabriel Jesus - Phone Call Goal Celebration

Erling who?

Manchester City may have spent the vast majority of the season without a recognised striker, but in Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Watford, Gabriel Jesus turned in a magnificent striker’s performance. The Brazilian got on the scoresheet early after finishing off Oleksandr Zinchenko’s pull back, and soon afterwards scored a header from Kevin De Bruyne’s inch-perfect cross, before assisting Rodri later on in the first half.

He wasn’t done there though – after the break, the Brazilian won and scored a penalty, and then netted a fourth goal with another clinical finish from De Bruyne’s pass following a quick counter-attack.

It was the first time all season that a player scored four times in a Premier League game, and with a performance like that, Manchester City may be having second thoughts about supposedly wanting to sell him.

Manager: Mike Jackson (Burnley)

The recent sacking of Sean Dyche at Burnley must surely rank as one of the most shocking managerial casualties in recent Premier League seasons. But even more surprising than that, who expected Mike Jackson to have the start that he’s had in the role of caretaker manager?

Post-Dyche Burnley turned in another exceptional performance against Wolves on the weekend, dominating their much higher-placed visitors with an attacking impetus that certainly didn’t look like that of a team in a relegation fight. The Clarets’ 1-0 victory was fully deserved.

From a position of doom and gloom following Dyche’s dismissal, Burnley now incredibly sit above the relegation zone. Could Jackson do the improbable and lead this team to survival?

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