Afternoon all. Following another weekend of Premier League football it's time for this weeks Team of the Weekend selection. Efficiency was the name of the game in this weekends action as both the race for the top four and relegation battle took yet further twists and turns.
Arsenal and Everton's victories compounded Spurs' miseries after the white half of North London suffered defeat to Fulham, blowing the race for Champions League places wide open. Where Everton and Arsenal displayed calm and solidity, Spurs' inability to break through Fulham's stubborn defence could prove decisive come the end of the season.
Villa picked up a vital win against QPR, thanks to a few excellent individual performances whilst relegation rivals Southampton and Wigan both grabbed superb victories over two very in form teams, Liverpool and Newcastle respectively.
All in all it hasn't been the most exciting weekend of Premier League football, though few could question the impact the results could have on final platings. Anyway enough talking, here is the team of the weekend.
GK: Brad Guzan - If Guzan can continue to produce performances like this, it could just prove the difference in the fight for relegation. Up against a vibrant and rejuvenated QPR side, Guzan needed to have his wits about him to keep Villa in the game as Rangers looked to be dominating heavily in the first half. A number of saves from Christopher Samba were particularly outstanding and finally the most underrated goalkeeper in the league is attracting some deserved respect.
Unlucky to miss out: Jussi Jaaskelainen
RB: Seamus Coleman - His left hand compatriot, Leighton Baines, has received all the plaudits this year but against City Coleman took his opportunity to shine with an excellent all round full back display. Comfortable defensively against the attacking threat of Kolorov, he also found time to bomb forward effectively time and time again causing mayhem. Fast becoming an essential component of a solid Toffee's back line.
Unlucky to miss out: Russell Martin
CB: Brede Hangeland - It's not easy to shut out Tottenham for 90 minutes but Fulham did just that and largely thanks to the colossal master of the defence, Hangeland. Helped slightly in his task of marking Adebayor by the Togo international's desire to drift out to the wing, however whoever slipped into the striking slot was never afforded the time or space to cause damage. Aerially superb too.
Unlucky to miss out: Michael Turner
CB: Jonny Heitinga - He's received a lot of flak recently for mediocre performances in an Everton shirt but praise where it's due for the Dutchman who contained City's attacking threat excellently alongside his centre back partner Sylvain Distin. Tasked with marking Dzeko, the Bosnian barely got a sniff, whilst City were reduced largely to speculative shots due to the efficiency of the Everton back line. Classy performance.
Unlucky to miss out: Adrian Mariappa
LB: Luke Shaw - The youngster keeps on getting better and better. Against Liverpool the 17 year old academy graduate looked like he'd been playing for years as Liverpool struggled to get past him offensively and contain him going forward. Comparisons will be drawn with Gareth Bale for Shaw's ability to get up and down the left hand side and it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see him hitting similar heights in years t come.
Unlucky to miss out: Nacho Monreal
WG: Santi Cazorla - Inconsistency has riddled the Spaniard's game in recent times and as a result Arsenal have looked half the side when he's not firing on all cylinders. Fortunately Cazorla was very much back on his A game against Swansea on Saturday as he controlled the midfield with a display you've come to expect from a Spaniard: Fluid passing, classy movement and an understanding of everything going on around him. Best player on the pitch.
Unlucky to miss out: Jean Beausejour
CM: Morgan Schneiderlin - Whilst Lambert, Lallana, Ramirez and co. have been picking up the plaudits for the Saints, Schneiderlin has been quietly performing to an excellent standard in the centre of midfield providing the platform for the afore mentioned trio to build from. Against Liverpool, Schneiderlin controlled the midfield throughout ensuring Rodgers men lacked the time on the ball to do damage. Also grabbed a fully deserved goal.
Unlucky to miss out: Claudio Yacob
CM: Leon Osman - Not just for his fine strike but for a generally impressive all round performance. Osman lead from the front, unfazed by the imposing task of gaining the upper hand on City's strong midfield and showed excellent control of the game as well as commitment to his sides cause. If Everton still hold any desires for a Champions League spot, the performances of the criminally underrated Osman could be highly influential.
Unlucky to miss out: Giorgios Karagounis
WG: Eden Hazard - Like Cazorla, at times Hazard has been inconsistent in his debut season in the Premier League however. Again like Cazorla though he's always capable of producing that touch of class so often the difference. Reape havoc across the West Ham defence with his trickery and link up play and grabbed a deserved goal for his afternoons efforts.
Unlucky to miss out: Andros Townsend
AM: Juan Mata - Not for the first time Juan Mata has worked his way into the team of the weekend with yet another elegant display at West Ham. The manner in which Mata drifts across the pitch, floating around with comfort is a joy to behold at times and West Ham won't be the first team to have suffered at the hands of the Spaniard's abilities. Chelsea now look set to finish in the top three after months of questionable results and Mata deserves much of the praise for carrying the side at times.
Unlucky to miss out: Shaun Maloney
ST: Andreas Weimann - If Brad Guzan has been Villa's unsung hero this season then Weimann has been their most obvious. The performances of the Austrian this season have been one of the few shining lights in a poor campaign for Villa and against QPR again he put in a fine shift. Energy in abundance and sharp footballing skills proved the undoing of the QPR defence. In Benteke and Weimann, Villa have the ammunition to survive.
Unlucky to miss out: Jay Rodriguez
What do you think of the selections?
image: © Ben Sutherland