Premier League team of matchweek 31: King Kane and Saints stars
Holly Thackeray | March 20, 2016
Premier League team of the week
After another breathtaking weekend of Premier League battles, as the English top-flight gets down to the business end, there were more than just Super Sunday derby delights on offer.
So, read on to find out which heroes made our XI from an enthralling matchweek 31…
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
The Danish post protector kept his 12th clean sheet across all competitions against Crystal Palace, with his authoritative command of the Foxes area repelling cross after cross.
Turning into an excellent shot-stopper and chip-off-the-old-block, but at his own pace, superb Schmeichel has been key to several Leicester 1-0 shut-outs of late and could have a telling impact on the title race – just like his dad.
Right back: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
Arguably the most effective attacking right back in the Premier League, Bellerin was once again diligent in defence against Everton, but shone most on the front foot with a delightful assist to feed teenage talent Alex Iwobi for his first Premier League goal.
Centre back: Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)
Another Gunner on his game against the troubled Toffees, alert France international Koscielny captured attention at Goodison Park as he shut down Romelu Lukaku and co and remains Arsenal’s most dominant defender. When the Frenchman plays, the north Londoners are a different prospect.
Centre back: Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Back to his best following a few wobbles of late. As Man Utd put out an almost a spotless defensive performance on derby day against Manchester City, Smalling got in several vital blocks and put the Citizens strikeforce under pressure.
Also looked exciting bursting forward, an attribute the Englishman has been much criticised for lacking.
Left back: Christian Fuchs (Leicester City)
Fine full back Fuchs kept Palace wing whizz Wilfried Zaha in his pocket for the Foxes’ tight win, helping contain the Eagles attack as, yet again, a key cog in an underrated and unsung Midlands rearguard.
Right wing: Jonathan Walters (Stoke City)
The Republic of Ireland goal hero was crucial for his club in their wrangle with Watford, from a deftly dispatched close-range opener to pouncing on Heurehlo Gomes’ error to deliver a delicious assist over the top for fellow forward Joselu to run onto for Stoke’s second. An excellent all-round effort from the reliable Potters predator.
Defensive midfield: Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City)
There could be several shouts here, as Foxes duo Danny Drinkwater and N’Golo Kante were once again excellent for Leicester. The praise needs to spread out, though, and Imbula also excelled for Stoke, as he patrolled the pitch versus Watford.
One notable contribution summed up his match – collecting the ball from deep in his own half before bursting the length of the pitch to help craft the Potters’ first.
Central midfield: Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea)
Fabregas’ fantastically curving free-kick alone may have been enough for him to snatch a spot in this XI ahead of Dele Alli but, having been criticised for much of this campaign, the Spanish schemer stood up against West Ham United to ensure a splitting of spoils.
Aside from his spectacular set-piece, the playmaker also stepped up to convert the equalising penalty to complete his first Premier League brace for three years and could have nabbed a third from a brilliant bicycle kick.
Left Wing: Sadio Mane (Southampton)
Having gone a little quiet in the latter half of the season, super sub Mane made an incredible impact off the bench, striking twice to sink favoured foes Liverpool – and his pair of lovely lashed efforts make it four goals in three games against the Reds this term.
Centre forward: Graziano Pelle (Southampton)
It wasn’t just poacher Pelle’s sweetly struck goal from outside the area, as he instigated the build-up to his own effort before wriggling into space, but his two slick and simple assists that see the Italian steal this spot in our XI.
After bagging a brace against Stoke last matchweek, the lethal Pelle Saints fans know and love is surely back just in time to take Italy to Euro 2016.
Centre forward: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Another deadly dispatcher of doubles features here, as Spurs hitman and local hero Kane continues to challenge Jamie Vardy to be Premier League top scorer.
Displaying excellent timing and movement yet again, the Tottenham talisman punished Bournemouth with two trademark finishes – one sliding in at the near post and a sublime second running onto a lovely Alli pass. While, the Englishman’s low crack at goal also set up Spurs’ third for Christian Eriksen.