Suarez leads Johnson, Januzaj and Hazard in Team of the Week
Title chasers Chelsea and Man City provide the spine with help from high-flying Everton
TITLE chasers Man City and Chelsea leapfrogged Arsenal at the top of the Premier League this weekend, but with the Gunners in action against Aston Villa tonight they could return to the summit.
However, Arsene Wenger would do well to take note of the performances from his two rivals. Both put in solid displays, and as a result this week's Team of the Week contains several players from those two sides.
There is also a contingent of players from Merseyside, including, as ever, a Uruguayan striker who plays in the red of Liverpool. But for once Luis Suarez was overshadowed, thanks to a hat-trick from forgotten man Adam Johnson, the former England winger now plying his trade with relegation threatened Sunderland.
Here's The Week's pick of the experts' picks:
Joe Hart (Man City)
Hart was at the centre of the weekend's biggest controversy after Newcastle had what looked like a valid goal ruled out for offside. But away from that incident the England stopper proved that he is back to his best with a series of fine saves that helped City end up with a clean sheet. Garth Crooks of the BBC goes as far as to say his agile stop to thwart Loic Remy "might, in the final analysis, win them the title".
Aleksandar Kolarov (Man City), Vlad Chiriches (Spurs), Leighton Baines (Everton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
Another Man City man leads the backline. The "seemingly irrepresible" Kolarov was The Guardian's man of the match and set up Edin Dzecko for City's opening goal. Spurs defender Chiriches did not have his hardest game against Crystal Palace as Spurs won 2-0, but he earns the nod from Bleacher Report. "The Romanian put together another assured performance that speaks volumes of his considerable talent and confidence," it says. As usual an Everton full back makes the side, and this week it’s Baines, who notched up 12 points on fantasy football along with Kolarov and Cole. Talking of the Chelsea defender, Cole's performance against Hull for Chelsea suggests he is "back to his best", says Crooks of the BBC.
Adam Johnson (Sunderland), Gareth Barry (Everton), Mark Noble (West Ham), Adnan Januzaj (Man Utd), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
No doubts about the performance of the weekend. It came from Sunderland midfielder Johnson, who leads out an attacking five-man midfield. He scored a hat-trick to sink Fulham, lift Sunderland off the foot of the table and remind everyone that he is still in the game. If he keeps it up, says the Daily Mail, he could "gatecrash" England's World Cup squad and keep Sunderland up. Barry is another former England man who proved he still has it, scoring for Everton and marshalling the midfield with "experience, nous and calm", according to Gab Marcotti of ESPN. Noble put in what Bleacher Report calls an "all-action showing" against Cardiff, to earn West Ham a vital win. Januzaj was the stand-out performer as Man Utd got back to winning ways against Swansea. "Anyone can see that the kid is a star. Play him," says Crooks of the BBC. The final place goes to Chelsea's Belgian star, Hazard, who "continued his superb form of late with a sparkling showing at Hull" according to ESPN.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
On his own up front is the Uruguayan goal machine... again. The pundits are running out of superlatives for his displays after he bagged another two goals in Liverpool's win over Stoke. "This was not vintage Suarez but it hardly seems to matter. Half a sniff is enough for this boy to ferret a goal," says The Independent.