Suarez, Rooney, Walcott join City stars in team of the week

Luis Suarez

Plenty of competition for places in this week's XI, but Liverpool and City stars are automatic choices

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 12:08 ON Mon 16 Dec 2013

IT'S getting tight at the top of the Premier League, with four teams now separated by just three points after Arsenal came a spectacular cropper against Manchester City on Saturday, while Liverpool and Chelsea both won.
 
The next round of games could be critical in the title race, as City and Liverpool both face strugglers (Fulham and Cardiff) while Chelsea play Arsenal, and when the dust settles it could mean that the Gunners go from first to fourth in the space of a few days.
 
But looking back at the latest round of games there are some obvious choices for team of the week and a few places where there was plenty of competition.
 
Here's the pick of the experts' picks:

Goalkeeper:

Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham). There were several nominees this week and Cardiff City's David Marshall pulled off the save of the weekend against West Brom, somehow stopping a Shane Long header. But it is the Hammers' gloveman Jaaskelainen who dons the gloves after keeping a clean sheet against Sunderland. He was "immense" according to Bleacher Report and made six fine stops.

Defence:

Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Pablo Zabaleta (Man City). Flanagan scored his first goal for Liverpool and put in a solid shift as the Reds thrashed Spurs 5-0. He was a unanimous choice among the pundits. "Not only did the 20-year-old shackle one of the sharpest wingers in the league in Aaron Lennon, but he also again demonstrated that he carries considerable menace when he bombs forward," notes ESPN. Jones looked good as he finally got to play at centre back for Man United. He was "solid as a rock" according to Garth Crooks of the BBC. As for Wilson, he can play at full-back or in midfield, but "waltzed it" at centre-back during Stoke's 0-0 draw with Hull City, says Bleacher Report. Zabaleta is another unanimous choice after what Goal.com calls a "typical" display for Man City against Arsenal - "solid in defence and a great outlet in attack". 

Midfield:

Fernandinho (Man City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man United), Theo Walcott (Arsenal). Inevitably there is a Man City man pulling the strings in midfield. The "impressive" Fernandinho, who scored twice in the 6-3 thrashing of Arsenal, was The Guardian's man of the match and is a fixture in the pundits' teams of the weeks. It looks as though he has finally arrived in the English game. Alongside him in the middle is Henderson of Liverpool. Garth Crooks notes that he has taken a lot of flak since joining from Sunderland but his display against Spurs proves "he has now made the transition from a raw prodigious talent into the finished article". Rooney took the role of playmaker for Man United against Aston Villa, dropping into midfield to feed Danny Welbeck, and it "worked wonders" says Bleacher Report. Walcott may have been on the losing side as Arsenal were gunned down by City, but he scored twice and managed 13 points in the Premier League fantasy football game. Now fully fit he "showed everyone just what he’s capable of in front of goal", says website Fanatix.

Strikers:

Danny Welbeck (Man United), Luis Suarez (Liverpool). Spare a thought for Sergio Aguero who fails to make the cut this week thanks to the excellence of two other strikers. First up is Welbeck who netted twice against Aston Villa. "He took his first with the kind of predatory instincts that he is not exactly known for, before thundering in a second," says Goal.com. Then there is Suarez, who ran the show against Spurs, scoring twice and notching up three assists to score 22 fantasy points. "It is time for the journalistic fraternity to knock a few heads together and come up with a batch of new superlatives to describe Luis Suarez, for the well is running dry," says ESPN. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.