David De Gea, Leicester heroes and awesome Aguero make TOTW
After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully select 11 star performers, along with a manager.
Do you agree or disagree? You can have your say on those picked or overlooked in the comments section at the foot of the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's "ESPN FC" (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.
Goalkeeper: Where would Manchester United be without David De Gea? Probably in next season's Europa League. The Spaniard was outstanding in their 2-1 win at Crystal Palace, pulling off an incredible save from Glenn Murray with a firm right hand that put anything we saw in Mayweather vs. Pacquiao to shame. Another save from Murray and from United's Wilfried Zaha completed a fine day's work. Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner went for De Gea while Gab Marcotti went for Costel Pantilimon and was outvoted.
Right back: Nicol has been championing Marc Albrighton for a few weeks now and it seems churlish to keep ignoring him. Cast in an unfamiliar role at right back, he has excelled in Leicester's remarkable transformation. Once again on Saturday he was hurtling up and down the right flank with abandon and supplying plenty of ammunition into the box. In Steve's words, "Albrighton has been a revelation in this great escape for Leicester." He edges out Marcotti's choice of Emre Can and Mariner's selection of Pablo Zabaleta.
Centre back: Leicester's resurgence has been underpinned by a colossal team effort, epitomised by the relentless Robert Huth. The big German has been influential alongside Wes Morgan in recent weeks, the Foxes carving out four clean sheets in their past five Premier League matches. Huth was at his "no messing" best for Saturday's visit of Southampton as a sixth win in seven was snaffled. Marcotti said simply: "The German giant provides the [king] power that keeps Leicester's dash to safety alive," while Mariner labelled his display "authoritative."
Centre back: Alongside Huth is a man who has been much maligned for most of his stay in England -- Sebastian Coates. The Uruguayan never quite fit in at Liverpool and has been on the fringes at Sunderland but he came to the fore at Goodison Park just when the Black Cats needed him most. Mariner said the 24-year-old "defended with courage and fire for Sunderland when it was needed."
Left back: This could have been a stiff test for Manchester City up against a Queens Park Rangers unit looking to stay alive in the top division. But once Aleksandar Kolarov curled a glorious free-kick into the net to make it 2-0, the game was over and the floodgates swung open. Marcotti said the Serbian offered "lots of hard, intelligent running down the left," and Nicol was in complete agreement.
Right midfield: No guts no glory. Leicester have shown plenty of the former in the last month, and are now drinking in the latter. Riyad Mahrez's opening goal typified the grit Nigel Pearson's lot have shown during an extraordinary period in which they've doubled their points tally. Mahrez won the ball for his first, jinking to the edge of the box before firing home, then stabbed home a critical second. Unsurprisingly, he was a unanimous choice for our Team of the Weekend.
Centre midfield: "What he lacks in polish he makes up for in elbow grease." Those words could be carved on Lee Cattermole's headstone. Sunderland's vital trip to Merseyside was made for his particular type of midfield tenacity and 90 minutes of terrier-like snapping into tackles duly ensued. Steve is right -- there's little prettiness in what the 27-year-old does but that shouldn't limit its importance. Mariner was equally impressed, saying: "Cattermole showed his true colours when his side needed a performance -- he was everywhere in defence."
Centre midfield: Tom Cleverley's third goal in three matches ensured another home win for Villa and took them within touching distance of safety given Saturday's results. Tim Sherwood has demanded more of a goal threat from the 25-year-old and that's precisely what he's getting. "A big goal for Tim's men and good vision in the middle of the park as well," says Gab.
Left midfield: "Who needs Gareth Bale when you've got Ashley Young in this form?" asks Mariner. Young's rich performances of late might make Louis van Gaal wonder if splashing all that cash on Bale is necessary. Young's performance at Palace showed he had become "Mr Reliable" according to Nicol, as he swung in two crosses that led to goals for United.
Attacking midfield: David Silva turned in a twinkling display in Manchester City's handsome 6-0 victory. Nicol called him "smooth as silk" and no wonder, after the Spaniard won his side a penalty and slotted home their final goal coolly. Every time he got the ball Rangers seemed to retreat in sheer panic. "On this form as the creator there are not too many better," explains Mariner.
Striker: No surprise that hat-trick hero Sergio Aguero gets the nod up front. Once again, it is probably wise to deploy the caveat that it was a miserable QPR effort, but given these kind of opportunities the Argentine would have tucked them away no matter the opposition. His excellent afternoon took him to 25 goals for the season. "A hat-trick and an assist. Need we say more?" said Marcotti while Mariner added: "Movement and work rate; he can score all types of goals and does."
Manager: There's a full house for Dick Advocaat. After a shaky few weeks he now has back-to-back victories to his name and salvation is looking ever more possible. Following last week's nerve-jangling defeat of Southampton, Sunderland somehow pulled off a win at Everton despite riding their luck on numerous occasions. As Marcotti rightly said: "He had an enormous slice of luck at Goodison Park, but then that's part of the game. It doesn't change fact that he's picked up a Sunderland team that looked and acted like a relegated side."