Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
Despite the Champions League and FA Cup becoming the main focus for many top-flight teams, there are still stars lighting up the Premier League. This weekend provided us with big displays from those fighting for the top four and for safety.
This weekend saw Saturday ruled by defenders in a low-scoring batch of games before Manchester United and Chelsea both put on a show on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the players that we thought put in the best individual performances of the weekend in our FST Premier League TOTW:
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Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno (Arsenal)
It wasn’t a classic Arsenal display at the Emirates, but they had Leno to thank in their narrow 1-0 success over West Ham. The German keeper made six saves to keep a much-needed clean sheet, which has left the Gunners dreaming of a late charge into the top four.
Defence: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
Raheem Sterling’s lack of impact on the Manchester derby came thanks to a stellar display by Wan-Bissaka at wing-back. The former Crystal Palace man didn’t forward all that often, but he was a defensive rock as the Red Devils shut out City. He came out on top in 100% of his attempted tackles as he once again pressed his case for Euro 2020.
Defence: Chris Basham (Sheffield United)
Sheffield United delivered their 10th clean sheet of the season on Saturday in a 1-0 victory over Norwich. The Blades remain just two points off fifth after holding on for that win, which was largely down to Basham. The centre-half was excellent in the air while making 10 interceptions and nine clearances. He’s also versatile and able to make an impact going forward, making six crosses.
Defence: Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace)
Roy Hodgson is getting exactly what he expected out of Cahill, a steady head who can keep Palace going at the back. Their 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday drew an excellent display from the Champions League winner. Palace handled Troy Deeney and co. just a week after a brilliant display in that win over Liverpool, while the win took Palace to the verge of safety.
Defence: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
It’s not been a bad week for Gareth Southgate, as our all-English back-four finishes up with Bukayo Saka at left-back. Not only did he contribute to the clean sheet, but he played a vital role patrolling the whole flank. Saka played nearly half of his total passes in the final third, including his involvement in Arsenal’s winner. He supplied plenty of crosses and consistently got himself into advanced positions, looking every inch an established, modern full-back. His Euro 2020 claim is growing by the week.
Midfield: Willian (Chelsea)
Chelsea ran riot in their 4-0 victory over Everton, a result which was exactly what Frank Lampard needed in their Champions League chase. It looked like a game where Everton could spring another Stamford Bridge upset, but a star display from Willian and co. blew Carlo Ancelotti’s men out of the water. The Blues’ midfield clicked perfectly in the victory, with both Willian and Pedro tearing it up out wide. A goal and an assist from the Brazilian helped the Blues to their win.
Midfield: Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
Former Evertonian Barkley was another who played a key role for the Blues. He set up the second and third goals and forced a couple of saves. While Barkley struggled to do the simple things right at times against Liverpool in midweek, he barely put a foot wrong against his former side. An impressive pass completion rate of 98% shows just how strong he was. He also made five key-passes within 25-yards of Everton’s goal, a league-high for the weekend.
Midfield: Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Our third Blue in the 11 was 18-year-old Billy Gilmour, who narrowly edged out teammate Mason Mount. The young Scot was great with and without the ball, completing 93% of his passes. The most impressive thing about Gilmour is the ease at which he’s stepped up and ran the show from the middle of the park, as he’s playing an incredibly important role at both ends for the team. To cope with the burden of expectation after his display against Liverpool also shows a level of maturity. Jorginho now has a tough battle for a starting slot when he returns from suspension.
Midfield: Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle)
Saint-Maximin is the kind of inconsistent talent who can be incredibly infuriating or infuriatingly incredible from week to week. On Saturday it was the latter, as he turned in the perfect kind of wide-man display in a 1-0 victory at Southampton. He threated the defenders, went on solo-runs and supplied the winning goal. He gave Newcastle the points with a brilliant finish, while he’s providing their attacking spark right now. As they chase a strong end to the season, Saint-Maximin needs more strong displays like this.
Attack: Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
Martial provided another big goal with the opener in United’s victory against City. The French forward is growing into his role as the number 9, doing plenty of thankless running after putting the Red Devils ahead after half an hour. He’s had his critics this season, but just when United need someone to step up and become their central figure in attack, Martial has answered the call.
Attack: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
After falling 1-0 down to Bournemouth, Liverpool’s comeback came from the guile and energy of Mane. The forward scored the winner, won possession to set up Mo Salah’s equaliser and was denied a wonder-strike from distance by the post. It was an excellent display by the star, who helped to put the Reds within six points of their long-awaited Premier League crown.
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