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Arteta to Arsenal too much of a leap

 By Nick Ames

Harry Kane and Sadio Mane make Team of the Weekend

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.

ESPN FC's Team of the Weekend.

Goalkeeper: Every title-winning side needs a top-class goalkeeper and it is increasingly evident that Leicester have one. There can be no higher praise for Kasper Schmeichel -- now 29 and entering his peak years -- than to say that he is doing the family name proud. He made some crucial saves as the Foxes grounded out a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. "The Foxes were below their best, but he made at least two big saves to keep the three points coming," said Gabriele Marcotti.

Right-back: Phil Bardsley was a constant menace on the overlap for Stoke and delivered superbly for Jon Walters to open the scoring in their 2-1 win at Watford. It was only his fourth-ever Premier League assist but his energy in getting up and down could have yielded more. "He put some beautiful balls into the box," said an appreciative Steve Nicol.

Centre-back: Timm Klose took a few weeks to settle into Premier League life after his January arrival from Wolfsburg, but Norwich are certainly getting what they paid for now. The giant Swiss centre-back was excellent against Manchester City last week and went one better in their crucial 1-0 win at West Brom -- their first win since Jan. 2. "He took on West Brom's big boys with aplomb as the Canaries recorded a huge win on the road," said Marcotti.

Centre-back: It may have taken 58 games for Federico Fernandez to score his first goal for Swansea, but his winner against Aston Villa was vital. "He was class in both boxes," said Nicol after a decisive performance at both ends. "Often unsung, he's a hero on this day," agrees Marcotti.

Federico Fernandez
Federico Fernandez was imperious in both penalty areas for Swansea against Aston Villa.

Left-back: Aaron Cresswell might be the most unfortunate English player in the Premier League. He has arguably been the division's best left-back this season, but England are so well-stocked in his position that it will take a remarkable turn of events for him to receive the Euro 2016 call that many feel he deserves. Marcotti is a fully paid up member of his fan club and enjoyed his display in West Ham's 2-2 draw against Chelsea. "Hit the woodwork and was an absolute pain in Branislav Ivanovic's backside all afternoon," he said.

Right-midfield: Southampton could have been dead and buried by half-time against Liverpool and it seemed a stretch to believe the introduction of Sadio Mane could reverse a 2-0 deficit. That was certainly the case when his penalty was saved by Simon Mignolet five minutes after coming on, yet he began their comeback with a sharp finish in the 64th minute and then made it 3-2 four minutes from time after some calamitous Liverpool defending. "What an impact he made," said Nicol.

Sadio Mane missed a penalty but managed to turn the game around against Liverpool.

Defensive-midfield: Arsenal's midfield has been ponderous in recent weeks but their display in the 2-0 win at Everton was an impressive return to form. Francis Coquelin, partnering Mohamed Elneny, was at his sharpest for some time -- winning most of his 50-50s and pushing up high to stop Everton constructing moves from deep. "Unlike some of his recent displays, he did it both ways and lasted 90 minutes," said Marcotti. Can the Frenchman, along with the rest of his side, now find the consistency for a late title charge?

Defensive-midfield: "At last!" is Nicol's summary of a double that saw Cesc Fabregas, one of many underachievers at Chelsea this season, rescue a draw in their entertaining London derby with West Ham. His perfect free-kick in first-half stoppage time was a reminder of the days when he made similar contributions so regularly at Arsenal, while his late equaliser from the spot was delivered with admirable composure. "It may be a little too late, but he's hitting his stride," noted Marcotti.

Left-midfield: "He has a bright future," said Nicol of Arsenal's Alex Iwobi, and nobody who saw his starring role at Everton would disagree. Making his first Premier League start, the 19-year-old was a constant menace at Goodison Park and crowned the performance with a smartly taken goal.

Alex Iwobi struck a fine goal on his first Premier League start for Arsenal.

Attacking-midfield: Manuel Lanzini's opener against Chelsea, bending a sublime long-range shot beyond Thibaut Courtois, deserved to win most matches and the Argentinian could certainly feel short-changed that his efforts yielded only a point. His touch and vision were outstanding throughout at Stamford Bridge, opponents rarely getting close to him, and earned fulsome praise from Marcotti. "For once, Dimitri Payet wasn't West Ham's best player. Absolutely delightful to watch and has a mean streak as well," said our man Marcotti.

Striker: Harry Kane's brace for Tottenham in their 3-0 win against Bournemouth on Sunday brought up four goals in two games for the England striker. "World class," eulogised Nicol, with Marcotti concurring on his selection. Kane's quality might just be enough to bring Tottenham the title. He's now on 21 league goals for the season -- so much for all those saying he was a one-season wonder following his exploits last term.

Manager: Our panel have gone for Ronald Koeman after he masterminded Southampton's 3-2 win against Liverpool. "To keep that belief and to squeeze that comeback out of your players when you and they know there is very little left to play for is remarkable," said Marcotti. Southampton are now seventh with a Europa League spot not impossible. Koeman continues to impress and his half-time introductions of Mane and Victor Wanyama paid off spectacularly against Jurgen Klopp's side.

Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.


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