Benteke and Martial make Premier League 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 #ESPNFCTOTW.
Goalkeeper: It might be a scaled-back Team of the Weekend in terms of the players available for selection, but that doesn't mean the quality is diluted. Eldin Jakupovic put in a performance that any goalkeeper in the Premier League would be proud of as 10-man Hull battled to victory against Watford, and it is no surprise that Steve Nicol, Paul Mariner and Gabriele Marcotti all select him as the man to start between the sticks.
Right-back: Ashley Young has extended his Manchester United career by developing into a versatile and reliable squad player. In United's 2-0 victory against Burnley, the former England winger turned out at full-back and caught the eye of Marcotti, who said: "Young does his job when called upon and doesn't seem to mind if he disappears for weeks at a time." Nicol added: "He looks comfortable playing out of position."
Centre-back: Marcotti makes the case for Andrea Ranocchia, who stood firm in Hull's heroic victory, but it is his central defensive partner, Harry Maguire, who gets the nod from Mariner and Nicol. Maguire has caught the eye under Marco Silva's management and looks to be thriving alongside Ranocchia. He is described as "a giant" by Nicol and "a commanding presence" by Mariner.
Centre-back: Marcotti, who chose Eric Bailly, is again outvoted as a man Nicol nicknamed "The Ginger Baresi" joins Maguire in central defence. West Ham's goalless draw with Everton might not have been pleasing to the eye for fans of entertaining football, but James Collins' efforts in keeping Romelu Lukaku quiet should be applauded. "Rock solid at the back and a danger in the opposition box," says Mariner.
Left-back: Completing the back four is a unanimous choice. Charlie Daniels was instrumental as Bournemouth beat Middlesbrough 4-0 to all but secure Premier League football for a third season, keeping a clean sheet and scoring the final goal. Nicol can't sing Daniels' praises highly enough, calling him a "classic attacking full-back," with Marcotti impressed by his "usual elegance and quality on the front foot."
Midfield: Lazar Markovic is still waiting for the chance to show what he is capable of at Liverpool, but if Jurgen Klopp has been watching him on loan at Hull, he will have been impressed. The panel certainly were as he opened the scoring against Watford, and all three pick him. "So this is what he's capable of," said Nicol. Marcotti added: "Markovic offered width and quality and ran himself into the ground for the cause."
Midfield: Unable to break through at Tottenham, Tom Carroll has thrived at Swansea since joining in January and he was the man who drove Paul Clement's relegation-threatened team on to a crucial victory against Stoke, scoring the second goal. Once again everyone is in agreement about his inclusion. Nicol praised his "composed performance," and Marcotti highlighted his "tidy passing that kept the Swans ticking over."
Midfield: For the most part Bournemouth go about their business quietly, effectively and with little fuss. Marc Pugh is typical of that, but on his 250th appearance for the club he really stood out, setting up one goal and assisting another as Middlesbrough were brushed aside. Nicol liked what he saw and labelled it "a classy showing," and Mariner and Marcotti do not argue.
Midfield: Paul Pogba has improved in recent weeks and his form is noted by Marcotti, but in the eyes of Mariner and Nicol, Sam Clucas edges the Manchester United man out, and it is hard to argue with their logic. Hull's midfield dynamo has an incredible work rate -- he covered almost 12 kilometres on Saturday -- and scored the all-important second goal that secured victory against Watford, a strike Nicol described as "a thunderbolt."
Striker: On his first trip back to Anfield since being sold in the summer, Christian Benteke put a severe dent in Liverpool's hopes of Champions League qualification. The Belgium international scored twice in Crystal Palace's 2-1 win, and earned the praise of the panel. "He has now scored more goals against Liverpool at Anfield than he scored for them there," pointed out Marcotti. "Look what you are missing, Liverpool," added Nicol.
Striker: All the focus was on Marcus Rashford replacing the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of United's trip to Burnley, but Anthony Martial showed he will have a part to play too as he scored one and set up another in a solid outing alongside the returning Wayne Rooney. The panel certainly sat up and took notice. "He's alive," said Nicol, while Marcotti added: "He made the difference for United."
Manager: There can be no room for debate when it comes to the man on the touchline. Marco Silva's efforts at Hull have to be recognised as he led his 10-man side to three massive points in their battle against relegation. "He is working miracles," Nicol said, to which Marcotti added: "To play an hour or so with a man down and then go and win it when you're scrapping for your life is pretty special."