Gerrard, Suarez and Rosicky star in team of the week
Liverpool provide the spine as Arsenal, Man City and Villa heroes add steel to this week's selection
DEFEAT for Chelsea and wins for their three title rivals this weekend, including a remarkable triumph for Liverpool over Manchester United, have thrown the title race wide open. The Blues remain top but they are now only four points ahead of second-placed Liverpool and Arsenal in third, and both teams have a game in hand on the leaders. Man City are fourth, six points behind the Blues, but they have three games in hand and will go top if they can win them all. There were some excellent individual performances this week, so who makes the all-star XI? Here's our pick of the experts' picks: Goalkeeper: David Marshall (Cardiff).
Yet another fine performance from the Bluebirds' number one wasn't enough to earn his side a share of the spoils against Everton. Were it not for Marshall's heroics Cardiff's fate could have been sealed some time ago. Reflecting on his performance against Everton, ESPN notes: "Marshall made at least four world-class saves and, ultimately, was beaten by a deflection and a slice." Defence: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool).
Coleman's mis-hit goal for Everton that earned them victory over Cardigg had more than an element of luck to it, but they all count. It was his sixth goal of the season, not bad for a full back, and it made him the highest scoring defender in Fantasy Football, with 11 points. Villa captain Vlaar is always central to their best performances according to Bleacher Report, which says the inspiring defender "was dominant in the box at Villa Park this weekend". Arsenal's clean sheet at White Hart Lane was largely down to the efforts of Koscielny. "The Frenchman was a beast at the back for the Gunners," says website FTBPro. Young Liverpool defender Flanagan caught the eye of many pundits this week. "At no stage in the game did Flanagan look nervous or overawed," says Garth crooks of the BBC.
Midfield: Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), David Silva (Man City), Thomas Rosicky (Arsenal).
Every member of this week's midfield ended up on the scoresheet. Delph's back-heeled goal against Chelsea earned Villa the result of the weekend. "Villa got what they deserved against Chelsea and Fabian Delph was at the centre of everything they did well with his energy and work-rate," says Crooks of the BBC. Gerrard scored twice from the spot against Man Utd but was denied a hat-trick of penalties when his third spot kick hit the post. But it wasn't just his penalty-taking that earns him a place. "Gerrard set the tone for a comfortable victory," says the ESPN panel of experts. Silva's season has been stop-start but "he announced his return to brilliance at the perfect time", says Goal.com as he inspired ten-man Man City to victory over Hull. Rosicky downed Spurs with a wonder strike after just two minutes of the north London derby. But it wasn't just the goal, says Crooks of the BBC. "Rosicky then went onto play a major part in defending that lead in one of the grittiest displays I've seen from an Arsenal side at White Hart Lane in a good while." Attack: Jay Rodriguez (Southampton), Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Southampton striker Jay Rodrigues gets plenty of plaudits for what Bleacher Report calls a "stupendous performance" against Norwich. "He grabbed a goal, an assist and caused mayhem with his speed and dribbling ability." The final spot goes, as usual this season, to Liverpool striker Suarez, who won a penalty and scored in the Reds' win over Man Utd. "The Uruguayan’s performance demonstrated just how little Manchester United are getting out of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney in comparison, as he terrorised whoever stood in his way," says ESPN.