Liverpool stars in team of the week, but there's no Suarez
Sterling and Coutinho make the grade, but Chelsea stars also put in an appearance
AFTER a massive weekend of Premier League and FA Cup action, Liverpool appear to be on course for their first title in a generation, while Arsenal and Hull are preparing for a Wembley showdown next month.
While the Gunners look to end their trophy drought they may have to face up to life without Champions League football after Everton moved above them into fourth place in the Premier League and there were vital wins for Fulham and Cardiff at the bottom of the table, which breath new life into their efforts to avoid relegation and spell disaster for Norwich.
But who were the stand-out performers this weekend? Here's our pick of the experts picks:
David Stockdale (Fulham).
The match betweeen Fulham and Norwich was must-win for both sides, and Stockdale made the difference as Fulham emerged victorious. Felix Magath dropped Maarten Stekelenburg in favour of Stockdale but the decision "proved to be the right one" says Bleacher Report as he made brilliant stops to deny Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer. An honourable mention must go to David Marshall of Cardiff, who performed equally impressive feats as they also won.
Joel Ward (Crystal Palace), Juan Cala (Cardiff City), Erik Pieters (Stoke), John Stones (Everton).
Palace fullback Ward "has been a vital part of Palace's resurgence under Tony Pulis and put in another dogged display as they grabbed the victory that surely seals their place in the Premier League next season", says ESPN. Cardiff centre back Cala scored the winner for the Bluebirds and was a unanimous choice among all the pundits. He was also the highest scoring Fantasy Premier League player this weekend with 15 points. Pieters sank Newcastle with a lucky strike for Stoke. Never mind his first goal for six years, it’s his "steady, consistent, committed performances on a weekly basis" that have caught the eye of Bleacher Report. Stones was "immense" for Everton as they beat Sunderland says Garth Crooks of the BBC. "The Everton manager has not just found a substitute for the injured Phil Jagielka, he may have found a future replacement."
Raheem Sterling, Phillippe Coutinho (both Liverpool), David Silva (Man City), Nemanja Matic (Chelsea).
The two Liverpool midfielders who undid Man City and topped and tailed the Reds scoring on Sunday have helped establish Liverpool as firm favourites for the title. Both are unanimous selections for team of the week. Sterling is the Daily Mirror man of the match. "Great composure and finish for opener. City couldn't handle him," it says. Coutinho matched his City rivals says Crooks of the BBC. He "has always looked a good player, but now he's looking like one who could win the Premier League title". On the other side on Sunday was Silva, who masterminded City's recovery from 2-0 down. "If any Man City player didn't deserve to end up on the losing team against Liverpool, it was Silva," says the Sports Mole website. Chelsea holding midfielder Matic edges out Steven Gerrard for the last spot in the middle. He set up Chelsea's only goal and, says Bleacher Report, "proved once again why everyone is so happy to pay top dollar for multifunctional, technically able holding midfielders in this day and age".
Hugo Rodallega (Fulham), Demba Ba (Chelsea).
Colombian striker Rodallega has been reborn under Felix Magath and scored Fulham's winner against Stoke. He also contributed a vital goal line clearance. In short, he "came up trumps again in this biggest match of Fulham's season", says ESPN. Another striker who has found a new lease of life is Chelsea man Ba. "Ba looked dangerous throughout the match and his goal was indicative of his hard work and tireless effort... the title race is not over yet," says Crooks. ·