Premier League Player of the Week: Fernandes rescues Solskjaer as Palace beat Leeds with Eze
Who gets your vote this week?
While Liverpool and Man City played out a tight, entertaining draw on Sunday we saw heroics elsewhere in the Premier League this weekend.
Man United came from behind to down Everton, easing the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while Crystal Palace were the second team in two weeks to put four past Leeds – who now boast the league’s joint-worst defensive record.
Elsewhere, Arsenal looked helpless as a ruthless Aston Villa bagged all three points and Chelsea punished the Blades with one player in particular drawing comparisons to Eden Hazard.
Here’s our picks for the Premier League Player of the Week…
After a disastrous start that saw the Brazilian Bernard give Everton a 1-0 lead, Man Utd and particularly Fernandes responded in exactly the manner Solskjaer would have hoped, refusing to panic as they played crisp passing football that allowed them to control the midfield and get back into the game.
Clever movement helped them carve out an equaliser, with Fernandes heading home from a Luke Shaw cross as he found space between Michael Keane and Mason Holgate.
His second had a touch of fortune about it, with a cross aimed at Marcus Rashford narrowly evading the striker’s head and finding the net via the back post, with Jordan Pickford clearly anticipating a header that never arrived.
To complete the performance, Fernandes unselfishly set up Edinson Cavani for the third after a Utd break, squaring the ball for the Uruguayan to get off the mark for United.
Questions will remain over Solskjaer’s long-term future at the club, but Fernandes’ exceptional performance dug them out of a hole on Saturday, showcasing the kind of leadership and commitment they’ve lacked in recent weeks.
While a lot of attention has been focused on Timo Werner and Kai Havertz after their big-money moves to Chelsea, Ziyech has been able to sneak under the radar a little.
A knee injury in August allowed the £36m signing from Ajax to acclimatize to his new surroundings, as he was eased into the team, with substitute appearances used to build up match fitness.
But with three top-class performances in their last four games, there’s now a suggestion that Ziyech could be the most inspired Chelsea purchase of all, in a busy summer transfer window.
The Moroccan boasts the kind of technique that will repeatedly see his left foot described as a ‘wand’ and he put it to great effect against Sheffield United.
In all, Ziyech created six chances for his team-mates, including two pitch-perfect crosses that enabled Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva to finish from close range, while his passing was also instrumental in the build up to Tammy Abraham’s equaliser.
Comparisons to Eden Hazard may be a little premature, but two goals and three assists in his last four games suggest a player whose creative influence will be come increasingly important for Chelsea as the season continues.
Simply the most dangerous player on the pitch against Arsenal. It may not have been as flashy as his performance against Southampton, where he dragged his team back into a game that was already effectively lost, but the Arsenal defenders probably had nightmares last night.
They were pulled this way and that by Grealish, with his dribbling ability, quickness of thought and the excellent link-up play with Ross Barkley and Ollie Watkins.
Last season perhaps Grealish was both Plan A and Plan B for Villa. But with players around him capable of shouldering more of the creative burden, it truly allows him to shine.
Instead of trying to do everything by himself, he can rely on a quick pass and move, with a first-touch to die for and an underrated ability to hold up the ball or draw a foul.
Grealish’s assist for the Villa’s third was pure direct attacking play. Receiving the ball in his own half, Grealish ran almost the length of the pitch, shrugging off a shoulder charge from a retreating Hector Bellerin before slipping a well-weighted through-ball for Ollie Watkins to slide home and seal the win.
While the Crystal Palace attacking midfielder is Eze on the eye, with the ability to ghost past defenders with the drop of the shoulder – he’s no slouch when it comes to the defensive aspects of the game either.
Against Leeds, not only did Eze win and score a stunning free-kick and provide an assist, he also completed five tackles and four interceptions – more than anyone else in the Palace team.
Eze has perhaps flattered to deceive in his Palace career so far, failing to score or assist in his previous six appearances (albeit mostly as a second half sub), but his display against Leeds will go a long way toward convincing Roy Hodgson that he’s no mere luxury player.
If he can demonstrate a consistent end product, while continuing to put in the defensive work that helped Palace dominate against Leeds, that £16 million fee to QPR will start to look like a steal.
Those are our four for this week, though we’ll give an honourable mention to Ollie Watkins, whose predatory movement and finishing was also key to Aston Villa’s victory, as well as Ross Barkley for his first time volleyed assist that will be on end-of-season highlight reels.
While it wasn’t a vintage Tottenham performance against West Brom, there was something inevitable about the way it ended, with Harry Kane popping up to score the vital winner. Is it time to take Spurs seriously as a title challenger?
Those are our four for the week, but who do you think deserves the plaudits? Let us know on our Twitter poll.
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