In Depth

Cech, Koscielny, Alli and Martial star in team of the week

Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Sunderland provide two players each in this weekend's selection of star performers

The final round of Christmas games ended with scrappy wins for league leaders Arsenal and third-placed Manchester City. Manchester United, who recorded their first victory in nine matches, and West Ham were the only other teams in the top ten to win.

Pacesetters Leicester are still clinging on to second place, despite taking only two points from their three Christmas matches, while Tottenham Hotspur, in fourth, could only draw at Everton.

At the other end of the table, Chelsea showed encouraging signs of recovery with a win over Crystal Palace and Sunderland's 3-1 victory against bottom club Aston Villa appears to leave the Birmingham side doomed.

But who were the stars of the weekend's action? Here's our pick of the experts' picks:

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

The Gunners' keeper has had a real impact at the Emirates and helped earn his side three vital points with a fine display against Newcastle. Cech was "outstanding again, producing a number of outstanding stops", says BT Sport. It was a display that shows what an "astute signing" he has been, says ESPN, although it notes that manager Arsene Wenger will be concerned that he was so busy against the lowly Magpies

Defence: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), James Collins (West Ham), Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland)

Another Arsenal player makes this week's side in the form of Koscielny, who popped up to score the winner at the Emirates. His crucial late strike capped "another solid display", says the Daily Express. His goal plus Arsenal's clean sheet also makes the French defender the top points scorer on Fantasy Premier League this week.

West Ham defender Collins was instrumental in the win over Liverpool on Saturday and is a universal choice for team of the week. "Collins had [Liverpool striker] Christian Benteke in the palm of his hand – which is no easy task – and limited [midfielder] Philippe Coutinho to endless shots from outside the box, which caused [West Ham] goalkeeper Adrian no problem," says website The Offside Rule.

Van Aanholt was on target as Sunderland overcame relegation rivals Aston Villa. "The left-back capped an excellent performance with a goal and gave [Villa defender] Alan Hutton so many problems down Villa's right flank," says Goal.com.

Midfield: Alexander Tettey (Norwich City), Mark Noble (West Ham), Willian (Chelsea), Dele Alli (Spurs)

Norwich midfielder Tettey scored the winner against Southampton at the weekend. The game was not a classic, says The Offside Rule, but Tettey "put in a good shift and netted the winning goal".

Noble was a star for West Ham at both ends of the field against Liverpool, setting up Andy Carroll for one of the Hammers' goals and clearing off the line when Liverpool attacked. "He epitomises everything this East End club stands for," says Garth Crooks of the BBC. "The Hammers have produced some wonderful servants in the past and it looks like they've produced another worthy member of the West Ham academy."

Willian is one of the few Chelsea players who has impressed all season and he maintained his high standards against Crystal Palace. He "has been the one player who seems to have remained above the nonsense and played to his potential", says Crooks. "Once again, he was superb against a totally outclassed Palace. The only difference this time was that Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Oscar all seemed to join him."

The final berth goes to Spurs youngster Alli, who was on target against Everton. "The 19-year-old's performances keep getting better and better," says Goal.com. "[He] took his goal at Goodison Park extremely comfortably to earn a point for Spurs."

Attack: Diego Costa (Chelsea), Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Anthony Martial (Man United)

It was a welcome return to form for the Chelsea marksman against Crystal Palace. "The Spaniard was the third Chelsea player to both score and provide an assist at Crystal Palace," notes the Daily Express.

Veteran striker Defoe scored twice for the Black Cats against Villa and impressed the BBC's Crooks. "Throughout his career, he has produced [goals] wherever he's gone and at the moment he looks like Sunderland's only ticket to survival," he says.

United striker Martial edges out his team-mate Wayne Rooney after a performance in which he "terrorised" Swansea City, says ESPN. "A goal and an assist was fitting reward," says the website's judging panel. "He was a threat all day with his pace on the ball and his movement."

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