Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho top 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: Were it not for David De Gea's excellent performance, then Tottenham would have scored far more than the two goals they managed in beating Manchester United. The Spaniard showed exactly how crucial he is for Jose Mourinho and this was a point not lost on the Team of the Weekend panel. Paul Mariner says "Spurs would have been out of sight but for De Gea," while Steve Nicol adds: "He kept the score down."
Centre-back: Three-man defence, four-man defence, five-man defence -- it doesn't matter. Cesar Azpilicueta hasn't missed a Premier League game for Chelsea yet this season, and his consistency at the back is a major factor in the newly crowned champions' success. As such, it's no surprise that everyone on the panel wants him in the XI, with Gabriele Marcotti pointing out: "On this occasion he didn't just excel in defence, he also set up the goal that won Chelsea the title."
Centre-back: Jurgen Klopp doesn't have a player of Azpilicueta's class in his defence, but Liverpool always look better with Joel Matip in the team. That was again the case in a 4-0 win against West Ham that edged them closer to a top-four finish. "Maybe he's not the long-term solution at the back," Marcotti said, "but in games like these he can boss the match and leave you wondering what might have been if he'd been there all season long."
Centre-back: Completing a fashionable three-man defence is another player that provided a match-winning assist. Phil Jagielka makes the cut after impressing Nicol and Mariner in Everton's 1-0 win against Watford on Friday, with the latter proclaiming: "He's still got it, a superb display," and the former saying: "Jagielka showed the value of experience."
Right wing: Alexis Sanchez was at his mouthwatering best as Arsenal ran riot at Stoke to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive. He set up the second goal to reach double figures for assists in the Premier League this season and scored his 21st of the campaign soon after. Everyone is in agreement that Sanchez earned a place in the team, with Nicol saying: "Arsenal must keep this guy!" Marcotti agreed, adding: "He reminded everyone just what they'll miss if Arsenal let him go."
Central midfield: Crystal Palace ended a run of three defeats and secured Premier League survival with an emphatic 4-0 win against Hull. Luka Milivojevic stood out for Nicol, who asked: "Was there a better signing in the January transfer window?" The 26-year-old Serbian scored Palace's third goal from the penalty spot but Mariner praised his "fantastic protection of the two centre-halves."
Defensive midfield: Victor Wanyama put in an all-action display for Tottenham, scoring an important early goal to settle the nerves in the final game at White Hart Lane before breaking up plenty of Manchester United's counterattacks. Marcotti called him "a bruising, dynamic presence" but admitted he was "perhaps lucky not to get sent off."
Central midfield: There's room for more than one creative genius in this team. Our panel unanimously waves through Philippe Coutinho after his two goals and an assist in Liverpool's straightforward victory at the Olympic Stadium. "Although West Ham made it easy for him, he delivered a masterclass," Marcotti said, while Mariner labelled the Brazilian: "A magician."
Left wing: There are set to be big changes at Manchester City this summer, but in terms of their attack, things look to be in safe hands. Especially with Leroy Sane in the kind of form that will give Leicester's defenders sleepless nights. In the opening 45 minutes, Sane set up David Silva for the opener and won the penalty that Gabriel Jesus scored to make it 2-0. "He loves to attack," Nicol enthused, while Mariner added: "Now that he's settled in, he looks a fantastic player."
Striker: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. A few weeks ago it looked bleak for Swansea, but thanks in no small part to the form of Fernando Llorente, they are now safe after taking 10 points from a possible 12. The Spaniard has scored three goals in that time to take his tally for the season to 14 in 32 Premier League appearances, and his ninth-minute opener in the 2-0 win against Sunderland is described by Nicol as "probably the most important goal he will ever score."
Striker: Southampton travelled to already relegated Middlesbrough without a goal in three games and winless in five. They clearly needed inspiration and found it in the form of Jay Rodriguez, who scored the opener and set up Nathan Redmond for the second in a 2-1 win that lifted the pressure on manager Claude Puel. Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke are other options put forward by the panel, but Mariner is right to highlight Rodriguez's "match-winning role."
Manager: It looks like Arsenal's traditional late-season run of form may come too late this year, but Mariner and Nicol single Arsene Wenger out for praise nonetheless after a 4-1 win at Stoke. "He got his tactics spot-on in a difficult game," Mariner said.