Coral’s Premier League team of matchweek 17: stunning strikes
As Coral continues to countdown to Christmas, here’s who impressed enough to make our fantastic festive starting XI.
Goalkeeper: Costel Pantilimon (Sunderland)
The former Man City back-up stopper showed just why he moved on to be the main man elsewhere. Pantilimon protected his posts with pride, illustrating the flexibility of a Black Cat to help Sunderland claim all three points, with a sensational second half fingertip save to deny Moussa Sissoko.
Right back: Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton)
Despite being deployed at wing back against Everton, Clyne impressed hugely in both defence and attack, restricting Leighton Baines’ runs down the left flank and contributing a peach of a cross for Shane Long to knock down into Graziano Pelle’s path.
Centre back: Jores Okore (Aston Villa)
Arsenal’s Mathieu Debuchy deserves another honourable mention for operating effectively in an unfamiliar role once again. However, we gave the Frenchman this spot in our XI last week, which gives the edge to Okore. The young Ivorian-born Denmark international put in a solid, unruffled performance against Manchester United’s superstars and has deservedly cemented his place at Villa Park.
Centre back: Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
The Japan defender has not always been first-choice at St Mary’s, but certainly justified his inclusion at the heart of defence against the Toffees. Yoshida helped shut out Samuel Eto’o and Romelu Lukaku before bravely throwing himself into the fray to score Southampton’s third, with an assured header past Tim Howard.
Left back: Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
Kolarov was once again key in breaking down a stubborn defence. Crystal Palace could only hold City back until the second half, as the Serbian pumped crosses into the box, eventually providing the assist for David Silva to make it 2-0. Manchester City are now 9/4 to win the Premier League.
Defensive midfield: Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City)
Swansea’s goal scorer may have been lucky to bag the winner, but will be much missed by Garry Monk’s men when he departs for the Asian Cup in January. In what was a scrappy game, the South Korea skipper was composed and influential from deep.
Right wing: Adam Johnson (Sunderland)
There is no greater honour for a Black Cat than grabbing the winner in the Tyne-Wear derby. Johnson kept calm and composed to lash home a late winner against Newcastle after slicing open the Magpies defence with a surging run. It’s the third season running he scored at St James’ Park.
Attacking midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
The Spanish magician was at his most effective against Palace, popping up in the right places to bag a brace and constantly crafting openings. Two delicate, simple finishes announced Silva is back to his best.
Attacking midfield: Stewart Downing (West Ham United)
Downing’s reinvention continues, with the converted wingman continuing to put in fine performances and showing his renaissance is not just a flash in the pan. The 30-year-old was again inspirational behind the strikers, but provided the game’s highlight reel moment himself with a long-range stunner to make it 2-0. West Ham are now 12/1 for a top four finish.
Left wing: Erik Lamela (Tottenham)
The tricky Argentine has shown flashes of flair since his switch to Spurs in 2013, but has failed to capture his previous Roma form consistently. Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that Lamela has now turned a corner after netting his first league goal for the Londoners. His curling shot from distance was certainly worthy of being a match winner against Burnley.
Striker: Charlie Austin (QPR)
Harry Redknapp’s Hoops would be even further adrift without leading man Austin’s vital goals. The former bricklayer is not a scorer of spectacular strikes, but has an uncanny knack of appearing in the right place at the right time. A hat-trick, including a coolly taken penalty against West Bromwich Albion to turn the game in QPR’s favour, may have given the poacher hopes of England recognition.