Chelsea battlers plus Rooney and Toure in team of the week
Jose Mourinho's troops star at the back, while Man United and Swansea provide the firepower
A MASSIVE weekend in the title race has ended with Man City back in the ascendency thanks to Chelsea's stubborn triumph over Liverpool, which also leaves them with an outside chance of winning the league. The Blues' rearguard action helped them overcome the Reds at Anfield and there are several of Jose Mourinho's battlers in this week's team of the week.
Also this weekend Manchester United got off to a flying start under new manager Ryan Giggs, beating struggling Norwich 4-0. The Canaries look doomed to the drop after sliding into the bottom three after Sunderland beat Cardiff to move out of the relegation zone.
So, who were the players that excelled this weekend? Here's our pick of the experts' picks.
Goalkeeper: Mark Schwarzer (Chelsea)
Deputising for the injured Petr Cech, the veteran Australian put in a rock solid performance for Chelsea at Anfield. It may have been his first Premier League appearance of the season but you could not tell, says ESPN. "Schwarzer was superb as Liverpool attacked the massed ranks of the Chelsea defence," it adds. His preformance is even more impressive when you consider the heroics of West Brom stopper Ben Foster, who was unlucky to miss out after keeping a clean sheet against West Ham.
Defence: Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Vincent Kompany (Man City), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Danny Rose (Spurs)
Saints defender Clyne helped his team to a 2-0 victory over Champions League chasing Everton as Southampton took yet another big scalp in what will go down as a stellar season for the club. "The right-back actually made nine tackles in the match, a huge total, while also creating two shooting chances for his team," notes Bleacher Report. Kompany was back to his best against Crystal Palace, says Garth Crooks of the BBC. His return to form is "refreshing" he says, "and not before time". It could be crucial for City's title hopes. Three of Chelsea's back four were mentioned in dispatches, but Ivanovic gets the nod for his Anfield display. He was a rock alongside rookie Tomas Kalas and was voted man of the match by The Independent. The final place goes to Rose of Spurs, who made a big impact during his 68-minute appearance against Stoke. He scored, was the victim of a red-card challenge by Ryan Shawcross and almost got sent of after an altercation with Geoff Cameron. His "bombarding presence" earns him the nod from website, Fanatix.
Midfield: Nemanja Matic (Chelsea), Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea), Juan Mata (Man United), Yaya Toure (Man City)
Chelsea stopper Matic ran the midfield at Anfield and, along with John Mikel Obi, formed an inpenetrable defensive barrier in front of the Blues defence. Brendan Rodgers called it "parking two buses", but that, says the Daily Mail, is "disrespectful" and in awarding Matic nine out of ten for his efforts makes him man of the match. Shelvey scored a wondergoal from near halfway as Swansea thrashed Aston Villa 4-1. He also provided two assists to earn 16 points in Fantasy Football and earn a place in the Daily Mirror team of the week. Mata only played 31 minutes for United but he made quite an impact off the bench with two goals to help sink Norwich. It reminded Garth Crooks of the day "when Sir Alex Ferguson would occasionally leave out the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy, yet demand a response when required". The final place goes to Man City powerhouse Yaya Toure. He was "majestic" against Crystal Palace says ESPN. When he is "in full flight, it hardly seems fair to the opposition".
Attack: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Wilfried Bony (Swansea)
For once there is no room for Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who has been a regular up front all season, but failed to shine against Chelsea on the day he was named PFA Player of the Year. Instead we have Rooney, who scored the first goal of Ryan Giggs's reign as Man United boss, coolly firing home a penalty before adding a second with a long-rage effort to put United on the path to victory. It was "an enterprising and creative performance, full of movement off the ball", says Bleacher Report. The final spot goes to Swansea striker Bony, who "destroyed" Aston Villa with two goals, according to Crooks, and "plunged Paul Lambert's team into a relegation dogfight they will do well to survive".