In Depth

Rooney, Sterling, Cazorla and Toure star in team of the week

Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool and Sunderland provide eight of this week's selection

After an unusual weekend of Premier League action – unusual because Man City actually made inroads into Chelsea's lead at the top of the table –  a sense of normality appears to be returning to the upper echelons of the Premier League.

Southampton and West Ham are now the only two interlopers in the top seven, as wins for Arsenal and Spurs lifted them above Swansea and Newcastle. Liverpool also won but remain in the bottom half of the table level on points with their Merseyside rivals Everton.

At the bottom QPR's win over Leicester sees the two teams switch places, with the Foxes at the foot of the table and Rangers 18th, above Burnley on goal difference.

But who were the star performers this weekend? Here's our pick of the experts' picks.

Goalkeeper:

Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland)

Simon Mignolet and Thibaut Courtois both put in good displays but Sunderland stopper Pantilimon gets the nod for becoming the first goalie to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea this season. He "shut out a rampant Chelsea attack" says Goal.com as Sunderland pulled off arguably the result of the weekend, holding the league leaders to a goalless draw.

Defence:

Gael Clichy (Man City), Chris Smalling (Man United), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Glen Johnson (Liverpool).

All four defenders scored for their clubs this week and each managed an impressive 15 fantasy league points. Clichy finished off a wonderful move that ended Southampton's hopes on Sunday. It was "another superb performance from the Frenchman", says Garth Crooks of the BBC. United defender Smalling is the only unanimous choice in this week's team after capping a fine game against Hull with a headed goal. "Smalling is clearly a strong man," says ESPN. "Lambasted after his rash red card in the Manchester derby, he has come back better and has even added a credible goal threat to his armoury."

West Ham's goalscorer Aaron Cresswell "continues to prove he is comfortable in the top tier" says Caughtoffside and showed alertness to end Newcastle's winning run. Liverpool's much maligned full-back Johnson scored the later winner and "his contribution against Stoke was much more like the player of old," says Crooks of the BBC. "His goal epitomised Liverpool's determination to take all three points."

Midfield:

Yaya Toure (Man City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Lee Cattermole (Sunderland).

Man City put in a commanding performance against Southampton and it's no surprise that Toure, who opened the scoring, was crucial to it. "The Ivory Coast international is beginning to show signs of the imperious form that powered Manchester City to the title last season," says Goal.com. Sterling helped drive Liverpool to a crucial win over Stoke and he did a job at both ends of the pitch, says Garth Crooks. "He kept asking questions of the Stoke defence with his darting runs and attacking menace, but it was his positional awareness in defence that impressed me the most."

Carzorla enjoyed his time in the limelight for Arsenal, says ESPN, and proved "there are few better technicians in the Premier League... An excellent all-round performance was capped by his role in Arsenal's winner as a jinking run down the left was followed with a delicious cross for Danny Welbeck." The final berth goes to the more defensively-minded Cattermole, who was "inspiring" for Sunderland against Chelsea, says Sports Mole "It's a cliche, but he really did cover every blade of grass and in doing so made a host of vital blocks and clearances."

Attack:

Wayne Rooney (Man United), Charlie Austin (QPR)

United skipper Rooney "took his international form onto the domestic stage", says Caughtoffside, and he beats team-mate Robin van Persie to a place in this week's team after scoring his second in two games as United brushed Hull City aside. Alongside Rooney, and picked ahead of players including Sergio Aguero, is QPR's matchwinner Austin. "If Queens Park Rangers do defy all odds and expectations and stay in the Premier League for another season, what price can be placed on the contribution of Charlie Austin?" asks the Daily Mail, who made Austin it's star man.

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