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After a thrilling Premier League weekend it looks as though we might have a title race after all. With the top of the table enlivened and the relegation battle still intriguingly poised, which players helped their teams collect vital points and made it into Names of the Premier League?
Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
A dominant performance from Manchester United saw them pick up a deserved 2-0 win over league leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford. The result keeps alive United’s top four hopes – and keeps Spurs just four points behind Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho produced a surprise team selection. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was amongst those rested, with the Europa League tie with Anderlecht in mind. Mourinho adopted the same tactics he attempted to use for the FA Cup tie against Chelsea earlier in the season. This meant Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard started upfront and both were impressive, linking well throughout the match.
Ander Herrera had a pivotal role in Mourinho’s system with the Spaniard assigned to man-mark Eden Hazard during the game. Herrera often ended up deeper than United’s right back Antonio Valencia due to his marking of Hazard, however the Spaniard did his job superbly. Chelsea’s star man struggled to effect the game.
Herrera was also involved in the two goals. His interception in the 7th minute, admittedly via his arm, allowed him to then play an inch perfect pass through to Rashford. The youngster calmly finished to give United the lead. Chelsea were unable to threaten much going forward and the Blues found themselves two goals behind early in the second half when Herrera’s deflected strike found its way past Asmir Begovic.
Herrera literally not letting Hazard out of his sight. pic.twitter.com/VrZ1bX6nxu
— José (@MourinhoMindset) April 16, 2017
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)
Stoke City ended a run of five games without a win as they claimed a 3-1 home victory over relegation contenders Hull City.
Xherdan Shaqiri showed just what he can do with an assist and a superb goal in a man of the match performance against the Tigers. Hull fans must hate the sight of Shaqiri. The Swiss international’s last Premier League goals came in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 16, 2017
It took just six minutes for Stoke to take the lead. Shaqiri played the ball through to Marko Arnautovic who cut inside and unleashed a thumping strike into the roof of the net. Despite that early goal, it was a fairly open game. Both teams were creating chances in the first half without scoring. Hull drew level through a Harry Maguire strike early in the second half, but then a Peter Crouch header put the home team back in control.
It was left to Shaqiri to seal the victory and in superb style. The wideman picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and lashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the goals of the season. The result should see Stoke comfortably safe on 39 points. Hull, meanwhile, remain just two points clear of the drop.
Ross Barkley (Everton)
Another important win today… 😜 pic.twitter.com/SI8VIE0qDD
— Ross Barkley (@RBarkley20) April 15, 2017
Everton continued their fine home form battling to beat Burnley 3-1 at Goodison Park. It was their eighth home victory in a row in the Premier League.
After a difficult week off the pitch for Ross Barkley, the midfielder let his football do the talking. He had a crucial impact for the Toffees. Barkley was responsible for not one but two goal-line clearances for the home side and had a key role in Everton’s second goal.
An even first half ended goalless. Barkley heading Michael Keane’s effort off the line was the closest the game came to a goal. Everton, though, stepped up their game in the second half. In fact, they took the lead just four minutes into it, from a not-so-surprising source. Phil Jagielka bundled a corner over the line for his third goal in as many games.
Burnley levelled just a couple of minutes later through a Sam Vokes penalty, but Barkley and Everton found themselves back in front after 71 minutes. The England midfielder worked a left-footed shot and his effort deflected first off Keane then Ben Mee before the ball eventually ended up in the back of the net. Romelu Lukaku sealed the win with a powerful turn and finish 15 minutes from time.
Barkley has been subject of constant speculation recently regarding his future at Everton, because he has only a year left on his current deal and is yet to sign a contract extension. Ronald Koeman has stated that if Barkley doesn’t sign a contract he will have to be sold.
It has been suggested that Barkley wants Champions League football but he will have to consider whether he is consistent enough to play regularly for a side at that level. There is no doubting Barkley’s talent but for the time being staying at Everton would be the right decision, and the smart money is on him to stay, say footballbets.tips.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Manchester City remained in the top four with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton. It took the visitors until the second half to break the deadlock but once they did there only ever looked like there was going to be one winner.
It was the return of Vincent Kompany that proved the difference. The Belgian not only opened the scoring but also produced an assured and commanding display at the heart of a previously shaky City defence.
Kompany has only made eight appearances in all competitions this season but showed his fighting character. After 55 minutes when he outmuscled his marker to power a header past Fraser Forster. Pep Guardiola’s side grew in confidence after the opener. They added two more in the final 15 minutes through Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero. Both goals were assisted by Kompany’s Belgium teammate Kevin De Bruyne.
It was Manchester City’s first clean sheet in the league since early March. If Kompany can stay fit he could prove to be a crucial player for the remainder of the season and potentially next season too.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
Arsenal bounced back from their humiliating defeat to Crystal Palace to pick up a hard fought 2-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium. The result keeps Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes alive and leaves their opponents looking destined for the Championship.
Arsene Wenger decided to change his system for the trip to the North East and played with three at the back. Arsenal struggled to adjust for the majority of the first half with neither team threatening the goal. The Gunners though took the lead three minutes before half-time. Alexis Sanchez produced a moment of individual brilliance, curling a superb free kick into the net.
Middlesbrough knew they needed a result. They managed to grab an equaliser after Stewart Downing’s precise cross gave Alvaro Negredo a relatively simple volley from close range. The home side looked to press on after that goal but in doing so they left gaps at the back. Arsenal retook the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Sanchez played the ball through to Aaron Ramsey who showed great awareness to lay the ball off for Mesut Ozil to finish.