Suarez, Toure and Rooney lead goal-crazy team of the week
This week's selections managed an incredible 16 goals between them on a weekend of drama and drubbings
IT WAS a weekend in which Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was humbled by Jose Mourinho, Wayne Rooney produced a wonder strike from halfway, and goalkeepers were left crying into their gloves.
As the dust settles on a round of matches that produced a remarkable 42 goals (one short of the record) what is clear is that Arsenal are out of the title race and could be struggling to finish in the top four – and that the ultimate destination of the trophy could be decided on goal difference. That is good news for neutrals as Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool go hell-for-leather to outscore each other.
There is also a three-way battle for Europa League places brewing, as long as Man United can turn two good results into a lasting run of form (once they have negotiated local rivals City on Tuesday) and put the pressure on Spurs and Everton.
So after a stellar weekend of football, who makes the team of the week? Here's our pick of the experts' picks:
Goalkeeper: Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace)
It was a disastrous weekend for many keepers, in particular Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal and Cardiff's David Marshall, who both shipped six. However, there were also several clean sheets. Palace stopper Speroni came within seconds of claiming one himself, only to see Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse score in the 94th minute. It was rough justice for the Argentine, but as Goal.com says: "He can take great encouragement, though, from his performance, as the scoreline would have been far uglier without him."
Defence: Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Liam Rosenior (Hull City), Martin Demichelis (Man City), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
"While Liverpool's defending was a little suspect at times in their remarkable 6-3 victory over Cardiff, it's tough to ignore a player who popped up with two goals," says ESPN, and that's why Skrtel gets the nod. Rosenior also found the net this weekend with his first goal for Hull after three-and-a-half years as they beat West Brom. "Anyone who takes 157 attempts to score a goal deserves a mention when they finally achieve it," says Garth Crooks of the BBC. Demichelis has taken lots of stick recently, but was in impressive form for Man City against Fulham, says Bleacher Report. His goal was the "icing on the cake" says the website, but he would have made the team "regardless". The website also selects Azpilicueta of Chelsea who "finally removed any lingering doubts about his pedigree" with a fine display against Arsenal.
Midfield: Yaya Toure (Man City), Christian Eriksen (Spurs), Alex Tettey (Norwich), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea).
Midfield general Toure is a fixture in every pundit's team after his hat-trick for Man City. He was also the highest scoring player in Fantasy Football this weekend with 21 points. "A powerhouse presence, he was simply unplayable on Saturday," says Goal.com. Spurs creator Eriksen managed two goals as he inspired his side to a come-from-behind win over Southampton. He was voted man of the match by the Daily Mail, which says his performance was "enterprising and energetic... laced with the touches that come off the boots of those schooled at Ajax". Tettey also found the net as he scored an absolute pearler for the canaries against Sunderland. His strike was "phenomenal" says ESPN, "simply because of the technique it took to strike it so sweetly". The win also gives Norwich a decent chance of staying up. The final place goes to another goalscorer, Andre Schurrle of Chelsea, who helped orchestrate the Blues demolition of Arsenal. "Schurrle didn't just run the Gunners ragged but nailed their feet to the floor," says Crooks of the BBC.
Attack: Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Man United).
Yet again Suarez makes team of the week after his third hat-trick of the season for Liverpool, and he now has an extraordinary 28 goals this season. But it's not just his predatory instincts that make him so dangerous, says Bleacher Report, it is also his "phenomenal movement off the ball and near-telepathic connection with Daniel Sturridge in and around the box". Alongside the Liverpool man is Rooney, whose wonder goal from halfway against West Ham had echoes of David Beckham's famous strike in 1996. But there was more to Rooney's performance than just goals, and he led from the front. "The way seems clear for Rooney to become United's full-time captain and, more importantly, standard-bearer of a new era," says The Guardian.