Manchester United remain top of the Premier League after a draw at Liverpool and a win against Fulham, but Manchester City narrow the gap to two points.
Burnley surprised Liverpool at Anfield, Arsenal beat Newcastle and Brighton beat Leeds, while West Brom got their first win under new manager Sam Allardyce.
Check my order and make your own selection at the end of the item.
Goalie – notch pipe (Burnley)
Nick Pope: Before the game against Liverpool, I didn’t even consider Nick Pope’s Burnley my team of the week. In fact, Alisson was pinned after the game against Manchester United. The Brazilian goalkeeper’s performance not only kept Liverpool in the match against United, but also earned them a point. But when you’re a spectator for as long as Alisson was against Burnley, a lack of concentration or an error of judgement is often inevitable. Pope, on the other hand, never left the game, producing save after save. My apologies to Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel and Manchester City’s Ederson, who both scored twice this week, but Burnley’s win at Anfield was the first in 46 years and Liverpool haven’t lost at home in nearly four years, so it’s a win so special it would be wrong not to admit it. What a great wake-up call for Brighton, Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United.
Did you know that? Pope made 14 saves in his last two games at Anfield, including six in Thursday’s win over Burnley.
Defenders – Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), John Stones (Man City), Luke Shaw (Man Utd)
Jordan Henderson: The way Liverpool got a point against Manchester United has to be due to Allison and Henderson. It was impressive to see Fabinho substitute so brilliantly at the back, but to see Henderson do the same – and against United when so much was at stake – was impressive. Henderson and Fabinho kept Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani reasonably quiet on the night. Henderson was not used in the game against Burnley as a precaution. Very clever, they can’t afford to lose him for long, but my God they needed Henderson against Burnley. Liverpool’s injury list is so bad that players only need to be treated by appointment.
Did you know that? Henderson, who occupies a different position in central defence, made four tackles against ManUtd – more than any other Liverpool player.
John Stones: I resisted suggestions from various quarters that John Stones would return to Manchester City. Since the player’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium, I thought there might be a few missteps and I thought I’d be more careful this time. However, his recent performances have been impressive and Pep Guardiola has faith in the defender. His goals against Crystal Palace are further evidence of the player’s confidence. Three games, three zeros and two goals for the Stones in the last ten days. This is the uniform of England.
Did you know that? Against Palace, the City Stones defender scored his third career double, having also scored twice against Feyenoord in September 2017 and for England against Panama in the 2018 World Cup.
Luke Shaw: If I had to pick someone for this game, in the Manchester United v Liverpool shirt, it would be Luke Shaw. Such a performance by the fullback is long overdue, but when it came, it was worth watching. Eventually he emerged as United’s number one left-back, but it wasn’t easy. He was also pretty solid in the win against Burnley, but against the champions he was exceptional. He’s still not Patrice Evra or Dennis Irvine, but if he keeps playing like this, anything is possible.
Did you know that? Shaw has made more touchdowns (69) and successful passes (33) than any other Manhattan player at Liverpool.
Midfielders – James Maddison (Leicester), Ilkay Gundogan (Man City), Tanguy Ndombele (Spurs), Paul Pogba (Man Utd)
James Maddison: The movement was only surpassed by the quality of the work. James Maddison made a nice breakaway from Jack Stephens and sent the ball into the net past Alex McCarthy who was blocked. I’m not in the habit of celebrating overly creative goals, but I appreciate Maddison’s comments on the new rules imposed by Covid-19. It was very well done. His goal against a hapless Chelsea a few days later was less spectacular but just as important. They sat at the head of the table for a while. You can read more of my thoughts on the boundaries of the player’s party in the trade circles below.
Did you know that? Leicester midfielder Maddison scored in three consecutive league games for the first time in his career.
Ilkay Gundogan: The man has played in every Manchester City game in ten days, showing how much Pep Guardiola values Germany at international level. His goal against Crystal Palace was a gem, but in the absence of substitute Kevin de Bruyne against Aston Villa, Gundogan not only took the captain’s armband, but also provoked a questionable penalty decision against Matty Cash for that ridiculous handball rule. Aston Villa have not played for 19 days due to Covid’s cancellation of matches, so they continue to make life very difficult for City. Now it’s a three-horse race. City, Liverpool and Manchester United are all capable of winning and I still can’t put my finger on it.
Did you know that? Gundogan’s penalty against Villa was his seventh goal in all competitions this season, the best of his career so far in the top flight.
Tangi Ndombele: It is clear that the relationship between Tanguy Ndombele and Jose Mourinho has improved significantly since the Tottenham Hotspur coach refused to let the player speak. We have seen the French international start to dominate games in recent months and Mourinho is increasingly reluctant to replace a player at the end of a match. Ndombele, on the other hand, has gained confidence and been very impressive at Sheffield United. His goal was quite brilliant, and although Spurs lack skill and resourcefulness in midfield, especially at home, there is a player here who can make an unexpected response.
Did you know that? Apart from goals, no Spurs player made more tackles (3) or interceptions (3) against Sheffield United than Ndombele.
Paul Pogba: I’m not at all surprised at the timing of Paul Pogba’s resurgence. Call me a cynic, but it’s always been predictable. I said that once Manchester United became a serious threat to the Liverpool title, Pogba’s chances of joining the side increased. The French international’s performance against Burnley comes at a time when Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandez and Rashford have been going through a difficult period of the season. But his fighting spirit has returned. His winning goal and performance against Burnley were very telling, while his performance against Liverpool was further proof that Pogba is serious. However, his goal and winning strike against Fulham were sensational and cemented the United Star’s ten days of glory.
Did you know that? Since returning to the club in 2016, no Manchester United player has scored more goals than Pogba (6).
Strikers – Harry Kane (Spurs), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Edinson Cavani (Man Utd)
Harry Kane: Tottenham’s 1-1 draw at home to Fulham wasn’t particularly impressive, unlike Harry Kane’s flying header, but don’t forget that victory over Sheffield United was the best ever. Maybe that’s how Mourinho built his team. Scoring a goal is hard enough for Mourinho, but if you score three on the outside, he may take all the points. Kane was in scintillating form and produced a stunning finish to give Spurs a 2-1 lead over the Blades, who are increasingly desperate to score points. The Spurs may not be good enough to win the title, but they seem capable of finishing in the top four.
Did you know that? Kane’s 19 goals in all competitions are the best of any Premier League player for the 2020-21 season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The Arsenal match against Crystal Palace may not have been one event, but the one against Newcastle was another. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was back in form and his arrival was fatal. The Arsenal striker scored two goals and probably should have scored a hat-trick against the Magpies. His team’s first half goal against the post is a good indicator of the kind of night Newcastle will experience, and Arsenal’s youngsters will not disappoint. Meanwhile, Geordie is in trouble, as is manager Steve Bruce. The defeat to Sheffield United wasn’t pretty, but it fell apart after the Gunners’ first goal.
Did you know that? Aubameyang scored as many goals in Arsenal’s win over Newcastle as he has in his last 15 league games (2).
Edinson Cavani: This player could have a huge impact on the destination of the title. The Uruguayan, who came on in support of Rashford, Martial and Mason Greenwood, was the best on the United set. His work rate is phenomenal and his desire to score is insatiable. It took him some time to settle into the team, but he was outstanding against Fulham and now gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a selection puzzle. And all this at a time when Manchester United have their eyes on the title. Solskjaer can solve this better.
Did you know that? Cavani became the first Man Utd player to score the club’s first four Premier League goals away from home.
The controversy over the number of goals professional players celebrate after scoring has intensified after the EFL’s new director general, Trevor Birch, called on clubs and players to redouble their efforts to comply with the protocols. Fair point when players insist on special celebrations and gatherings that are clearly against the rules, but during the holidays after scoring a goal? Even the General Manager of the Premier League, Richard Masters, has asked the players to adjust their behaviour on the pitch, during goal celebrations and at the start and end of matches. Really? Does anyone seriously believe that by the time a player enters the field, with all the necessary tests, it is still necessary, if not possible, to avoid contact?
Choose XI from our list and share with your friends.
Select the Firmware command
- You can watch five fifth-round matches live this weekend, including Liverpool’s trip to Manchester United. For more information, click here.