Skrtel, Clyne, Coutinho and Klopp influence Team of the Weekend
After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully selects 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 below the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's ESPN FC show (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.
Goalkeeper: Perhaps entry into our Team of the Weekend will cheer Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy slightly. He faced a barrage as Chelsea claimed a much-needed 1-0 win Saturday and according to Steve Nicol, Ruddy was the main reason Norwich were not humiliated at Stamford Bridge. Paul Mariner is in agreement, saying that excellent stops on shots from Willian, Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic should cement Ruddy's place in the side. He edges out Watford's Heurelho Gomes, put forward by Gab Marcotti.
Right-Back: "Sterling, who?" roared Steve Nicol after Manchester City were thumped 4-1 by Liverpool. Nathaniel Clyne was the man tasked with shackling the former Liverpool man and he did it with ease. "A very solid display," was Mariner's take.
Centre-Back: "It was a mammoth performance at the back for Liverpool and a screamer of a volley," said Mariner after selecting Martin Skrtel as the first of our two centre-backs. "A rocket shot and stubborn defending," was Nicol's comment, and they are both right. Never lacking in commitment, he fully deserved a joyous celebration in front of the travelling fans after bagging his fourth goal against Manchester City. Marcotti added: "Skrtel showed the defensive solidity that Klopp's press requires."
Centre-Back: Alongside Skrtel is Toby Alderweireld, who bagged his second Premier League goal of the season as West Ham were obliterated 4-1 on Sunday. Marcotti said: "He was impeccable against West Ham's big boys and scored with a perfectly timed near-post header. His partnership with Jan Vertonghen is a critical part of Tottenham's current unbeaten run."
Left-Back: Tottenham's Danny Rose is the choice. Again. The Tottenham full-back is having a fine season and demonstrated his growing prowess with another exemplary showing in Spurs' victory over West Ham. Charging up and down the flank with his usual menace, Mariner noted Rose was always a willing runner on the overlap, while Nicol said the 25-year-old deserves a place in England's starting XI. Rose is in ahead of another of Gab's choices, Leicester's Christian Fuchs.
Right-Midfield: Maybe Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has found the perfect manager to let him showcase just how good he is. Manchester City were ripped to shreds by Jurgen Klopp's men, who scored three in a fine first half at the Etihad. Coutinho's link up with fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino was devastating and though both found the net, they could both have registered hat tricks. Nicol calls Coutinho a "magician" and Marcotti said he believes Coutinho has picked up Klopp's philosophy quicker than anyone.
Centre-Midfield: If you were compiling a list of underrated Premier League midfielders, James Morrison would certainly make the top five. He offers a slice of cutting edge in a functional West Brom side and pops up with important goals too. The finish against Arsenal in the Baggies' 2-1 win on Saturday was top quality and turned the game around for Tony Pulis' men. Mariner says Morrison "worked his socks off," while Nicol added: "He did everything -- and scored." Marcotti makes it a hat trick.
Centre-Midfield: Everton's Ross Barkley was irrepressible as Roberto Martinez's men thrashed Aston Villa 4-0. Barkley grabbed two and made one as Everton deepened the gloom on new Villa boss Remi Garde. Nicol thinks Barkley showed exactly what he is capable of and Mariner said: "This was a performance of amazing quality."
Left-Midfield: It's no surprise that Chelsea's return to winning ways coincided with a hugely improved performance by Eden Hazard. The Belgian has been out of sorts so far this season, in keeping with his teammates, but as Nicol notes, Saturday "was the real Eden Hazard." Mariner said: "Hazard was back to running the show." He beats Marcotti's selections of Tottenham's Dele Alli and Leicester's N'Golo Kante to the punch. (Sorry Gab.)
Striker: Barkley's teammate Romelu Lukaku was in full on beast mode against Villa on Saturday, the sort of mood where even the Incredible Hulk might have trouble marking him. "He's clearly loving his football," said Mariner and Marcotti added of the 22-year-old: "Lukaku became the fifth youngest player to hit the 50 goal mark in the Premier League. The only guys to do it younger? Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Not too shabby."
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Striker: If Tottenham striker Harry Kane carries on like this he may well be threatening Jamie Vardy and Ruud van Nistelrooy's mantle. The England striker has scored eight in five appearances for Tottenham and in four successive league matches following his double in Spurs' 4-1 win over West Ham on Sunday. His first was a neat turn and finish while his second beat Adrian for power and swerve. Nicol calls Kane Spurs' "crown jewel" while Marcotti added: "It's increasingly looking like his fine 2014-15 was not a fluke."
Manager: "No contest," said Mariner when pressed for the manager of the weekend. Jurgen Klopp's game plan was top-notch and executed perfectly by his players. Marcotti added: "They walked into the Etihad and delivered a thumping win based on disciplined and intense counter pressing."