In Depth

Coutinho, Firmino, Lukaku, and Barkley in team of the week

Six Liverpool and Everton stars joined by Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in this week's selection

Leicester City sit proudly atop the Premier League after a weekend on which the top two teams both lost and the Foxes took advantage as Jamie Vardy struck for a tenth game in a row.

Liverpool recorded the most symbolic result of the weekend as they thrashed Manchester City. Spurs also continued their unbeaten run, which stretches back to August, and Chelsea recorded a much-needed win against Norwich.

But who were the stand-out performers of the weekend? Here's The Week's pick of the experts' picks.

Goalkeeper:

David de Gea (Man United)

Louis van Gaal had De Gea to thank as United leapfrogged Arsenal and Man City to go second in the table thanks to a hard fought win over Watford. "The Spanish shot-stopper remains United's ultimate match-winner, once again making a string of fine saves at Vicarage Road. It took a penalty to finally beat him," says Goal.com.

Defence:

Eric Pieters (Stoke), Chris Smalling (Man United), Martin Skrtel (Liverpool), Seamus Coleman (Everton)

Stoke kept a third straight clean sheet as they beat Southampton away from home, and Pieters caught the eye of Harry Redknapp, who selects him for his Daily Telegraph team. Pieters was also the highest-scoring defender in Fantasy Premier League after proving an assist for Stoke's winner.

Smalling has been something of a revelation this season for Man United and was in fine form again against Watford. "Not only has he become a dependable defensive figure, but a leader," says Garth Crooks of the BBC. "His presence and stoic authority for club and country is fast becoming his greatest strength."

There's no doubt about the other centre back, who gets the nod from most pundits. Liverpool defender Skrtel marshalled the Reds back four with aplomb and had time to score a thunderous volley to sink Man City once and for all on Saturday. The "Czech defender capped a fine all-round display with a fiercely struck fourth goal", says the Press Association.

Everton provided a "beautiful exhibition of 'total football'" against Aston Villa says website The Offside Rule, and Coleman "played his part" in it. He set up Romelu Lukaku for one of the Toffees four goals and helped himself to a clean sheet.

Midfield:

Ross Barkley (Everton), Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino (both Liverpool)

Only three in midfield and not a lot of defensive cover, but this trio picked themselves. 

Barkley, who scored twice on Saturday, is playing in a more advanced role for Everton and "is really starting to express himself as a consequence", says Garth Crooks of the BBC. "We know how creative he can be but to see him adding goals to his game again could be the difference between Europa League and the Champions League for the Toffees." Barkley was also the top scorer in Fantasy Premier League.

In Jurgen Klopp Liverpool midfielder Coutinho "has found the perfect manager to let him showcase just how good he is", says ESPN. "Coutinho's link up with fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino was devastating and though both found the net, they could both have registered hat tricks." He and Barkley were the only two unanimous choices in this week's selection.

Alongside Coutinho is, as ESPN suggest, Firmino who finally "showed the Hoffenheim form that convinced Liverpool to fork out so much", says Goal.com. "[He] exploited gaps with aplomb, picking up two assists and a goal. The first of many brilliant displays, surely," it predicts.

Attack:

Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Harry Kane (Spurs), Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

That Leicester are top of the table has much to do with the form of Vardy, who has now scored in ten successive matches. That can be no fluke, says Crooks, who says Vardy is the real deal. "Against Newcastle the Leicester City striker looked electric and ran Steve McClaren's side ragged from start to finish," he adds.

Spurs striker Kane is shrugging off the one-season wonder tag and is hot on the heels of Vardy, says ESPN. "The England striker has scored eight in five appearances for Tottenham and in four successive league matches following his double in Spurs' 4-1 win over West Ham on Sunday."

The final spot in an intimidating frontline goes to Everton striker Lukaku, who scored twice against Villa in what Goal.com calls a "bullish, bulldozing performance from the burly Belgian". He ran Villa ragged "as he claimed two goals and continued what is fast becoming a superb campaign".

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