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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League
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Discipline is key for Hull City

Hull City
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 By Chris Murphy

Ashley Young, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney in TOTW

After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully selects 11 star performers, along with a manager.

Do you agree or disagree? You can have your say on those picked or overlooked in the comments section at the foot of the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's ESPN FC show (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.

TOTW_Jan2-3
ESPN FC's Team of the Weekend.

Goalkeeper: With two votes to Artur Boruc's one, Petr Cech wins. Matches like Arsenal's 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday prove what an astute signing he has been, though it'll worry Arsene Wenger that a side like Newcastle troubled him so much. Cech's saves were vital -- the difference between three points and none, according to Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner, who united to deny Gab Marcotti's choice of Bournemouth's Boruc.

Full-backs: Both Mariner and Nicol have plumped for Manchester United's Ashley Young and Sunderland's Patrick van Aanholt, which means another snub for Marcotti and his selections of Sunderland's Billy Jones and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta. Young was "up and down the field like a yo-yo," according to Nicol, and set up Antony Martial for his goal, as pointed out by Mariner. And as for Van Aanholt, both agree his huge opening goal in the 3-1 win over Sunderland was reward for a quality display.

Centre-back: Arsenal's match-winner against Newcastle, Laurent Koscielny, gets the nod. It wasn't a pretty win, but a valuable clean sheet was procured. "Arsenal didn't play well at all, but he did a job defensively and popped up with a huge winning goal," says Marcotti.

Centre-back: Alongside the Frenchman is a Welshman. West Ham's James Collins edges out his defensive partner, Angelo Ogbonna, as the Mariner/Nicol combo again outvotes Marcotti. The 32-year-old played a full part in keeping Liverpool quiet as the Hammers won 2-0 on Saturday. Collins is "all heart," says Nicol, while Mariner expands that theme further: "He was a tower of strength for the Hammers and won everything in the air. He made Christian Benteke look ordinary."

Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny scored a crucial goal in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Newcastle.

Right-midfield: Willian proved why he has been Chelsea's player of the season in the comfortable 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, one that hinted the champions might be on the rise. Quite apart from his thunderbolt for the second goal and his assist for the third from Diego Costa, he was exemplary in pretty much everything he did. Nicol calls Willian's goal a "Hollywood strike," while Mariner says the Brazilian has been the best Chelsea player of a rather troubling season. He edges out Marcotti's choice of Oscar.

Willian has been Chelsea's standout performer this season.

Centre-midfield: Thankfully, we have a unanimous decision at the base of our midfield in the shape of West Ham's Mark Noble. The reasoning is simple if you listen to Nicol, who said: "He made one and cleared one off the line, that equals two goals in my book." The goal he made was the decisive second for Andy Carroll, while Mariner added: "He was magnificent in protecting the back four, breaking up attacks and being simple and effective with the ball." Marcotti agrees.

Left-midfield: Rounding off our three-man midfield is Manchester United's Anthony Martial, who provided the attacking spark Louis van Gaal needed in the 2-1 win over Swansea. A goal and an assist was fitting reward for a man who "terrorised Swansea," according to Nicol. Marcotti added: "He took his goal well and provided the perfect assist for Wayne Rooney's finish." Mariner said: "He was a threat all day with his pace on the ball and his movement."

Anthony Martial
Anthony Martial has enjoyed a fine debut campaign in England and netted in the win over Swansea.

Right-forward: Here is where Gab gets his payback. The others have overlooked Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, despite his deft winner against Swansea, but Marcotti wins this time. Not only did Rooney move past Andy Cole into second on the all-time Premier League scorers' list, he also did the same for his club courtesy of that winner against Swansea. "It takes creativity and presence of mind -- more than skill -- to do what he did. May this be a harbinger for better times ahead," Marcotti said.

Centre-forward: We have three votes for Chelsea's Diego Costa. Marcotti has a full briefing on why he deserves a place: "This is when he's at his best, powering his way through the opposing defence, rather than getting tangled up in individual wrestling bouts. He scored one and showed unselfishness in cutting the ball back for Willian's opener." Mariner said Costa was "back to his mobile best," while Nicol rounds it off: "Movement, hold up play and a goal. Yes please."

Left-forward: Was this the game that removed all doubt about Aston Villa's relegation? If so, Sunderland can blame Jermain Defoe. The Sunderland striker's second-half double ensured a big win for Sam Allardyce's men and proved he's still got what it takes to score at the top level. "When his struggling side needed goals he supplied them," exclaims Mariner, while Nicol adds simply: "His display was the art of goal scoring."

Manager: Gab wants Slaven Bilic to lead our TOTW troops, for leapfrogging Liverpool into the top six. While Nicol and Mariner put Guus Hiddink's case forward, it's hard to look past Bilic for sealing a fine league double over Liverpool with a vibrant, attacking West Ham side.

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