VAVEL UK's Premier League Team of the Week - GW12
Photo: VAVEL - Daniel Orme

VAVEL UK's Premier League Team of the Week - GW12

Who made it into the final team of the week before the international break? 

mattddawson
Matt Dawson

It's safe to say that game week 12 of the Premier League will not be remembered for its high class officiating. 

Calls for VAR dominated the headlines as there was some quite frankly awful refereeing at St Mary's, whilst there was a questionable call at Anfield too.

Simon Hooper's team incorrectly chose to not award Watford a clear penalty, whilst for some bizarre reason the same group of officials ruled out a Charlie Austin goal - much to the forward's anger. In Merseyside, Aleksandar Mitrovic was also denied a goal against Liverpool. The Serbian was deemed offside but was marginally behind the defensive line. 

But enough berating of the officials, for VAR will have its time in the Premier League. Instead, let's focus on those who had the ball at their feet and who stood out from the ten matches around the country.

Goalkeeper and defence 

Bernd Leno

Arsenal's performance against Wolves on Sunday was a display that was in stark comparison to their draw with Liverpool a week prior. Against Jurgen Klopp's side, the Gunners played with brilliant intensity but it was the polar opposite this weekend. They struggled to break Wolves down and were hit numerous times on the counter-attack, mainly after giving the ball away. But with Leno in goal Arsenal found their saviour as they drew 1-1.

On numerous times the German was the hero for Unai Emery's men and without him, Arsenal would easily have lost the game by three or four goals. He denied Helder Costa in the first half after a breakaway, before coming to the rescue to stop Diogo Jota in the second half following yet another counter-attack. Leno's best save was late on as he did excellently well to come off his line with urgency to deny Adama Traore who had beaten Rob Holding for pace and then trickery as he looked certain to score. If there was ever a match which showed why he is Arsenal's number one over Petr Cech, then this was it. 

Matt Doherty

Another top performer from Arsenal's draw with Wolves was a visiting team's defender. Doherty has played at right wing back this season and has been a key figure in their side, remaining ever-present since the beginning of the campaign. The Irishman's display was brilliant, nullifying the threat of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac down the left-hand side as Wolves essentially played with five defenders after going 1-0 up. Each of Nuno Santo's defenders could have made the team of the week, but Doherty was particularly impressive. 

Juan Foyth

What a turn around for the young Argentine defender. Against Wolves last week he was hopeless for Tottenham, giving away two penalties for silly challenges which provoked mass criticism. However, Mauricio Pochettino stuck with him against Crystal Palace and his faith was repaid.

Foyth popped up with the only goal of the game, capitalising on poor defending from Palace as he was left with a free header from close range. Aside from a misplaced pass towards Hugo Lloris in the first half, defensively he was far more solid and it was a brilliant response to his performance only a week ago. 

Fabian Schar

The Swiss centre-back was once one of the brightest defensive talents in Europe when at Basel. However, two rather disappointing moves to Hoffenheim and then Deportivo La Coruna then followed. It also looked to be the same story with Newcastle after arriving this summer, as before the Magpies win over Bournemouth on Saturday he'd made just one Premier League appearance, somehow struggling to get in a poor side. But his display this weekend should earn him more minutes in the future. Replacing the injured Jamaal Lascelles he proved more than able deputy, as he turned in a high-class performance as his side won for the second game on the spin. 

Aaron Hindhaugh, Newcastle editor: "Considering Schar had only been given a chance because Lascelles is injured, it makes his performance on Saturday even better. The Swiss international was dominant in the air, strong in the tackle and very calm on the ball. He never looked fazed against an in-form Bournemouth attack who had been scoring freely."

Andrew Robertson

The Scot is now right up there with one of the best full-backs in the league and he showed it again against Fulham on Sunday lunchtime. His rampaging runs forward are a joy to watch as Robertson displayed all the qualities needed in a modern day full-back. During Liverpool's 2-0 win, he earned his seventh clean sheet in the league this season, and also his third assist this term - crossing delightfully to the back post for Xherdan Shaqiri to volley home the Reds' second of the game. 

Joshua Kerr, Liverpool editor: "Another typical performance from the Scotland captain. He covered every blade of Anfield grass with his tenacity to get back and forth. He got the crucial assist which sealed the three points with a lovely lofted ball. He is a fan favourite and one of the Reds' most reliable assets."

Midfield

Fernandinho

Often the one who doesn't quite get enough praise in this City side, Fernandinho has stepped his level up even higher this season, if that were even possible. The Brazillian has been tremendous and has laid the foundations for many a City victory this season with calm midfield displays. However, he saved his best performance of the campaign so far for the Manchester derby. His ball retention was superb as he dictated the game behind the also impressive Bernardo and David Silva. 

Josh Slinger, Manchester City editor: "He was key for City in building from the back in their win over rivals United. Linking defence to attack time and time again effortlessly, whilst also being the main character in breaking up United attacks. He left the defence behind him with very little to do all afternoon." 

Bernardo Silva

The Portuguese international played one of his best games in a City shirt on Sunday as he was hugely influential in such a joyous attacking display from the Citizens. Since Kevin de Bruyne got injured, Bernardo has received a lot more game time and he's taken full use of it, displaying why Pep Guardiola paid so much money to bring him to the club in 2017 from Monaco. Often on the fringes last season, he's become a major part of the City squad this term and created two goals for his side against United in a magnificent display.

Josh Slinger: "Two terrific assists for City. Firstly, brilliantly keeping the ball alive before picking out David Silva for City’s opener. Silva then practically killed the game dead himself with an inch-perfect ball through to Gundogan for the Blues third, completely taking out the United backline meaning his German teammate couldn’t miss." 

Alex Pritchard

It's unlikely you'll see many Huddersfield players in the team of the week this season, such is the way they play, but Pritchard was key in Huddersfield's draw against West Ham this weekend. He scored their opening goal of the match, the first by a Terriers player at home in 726 minutes, a run stretching back to April when Tom Ince scored for the West Yorkshire side. It was a well-taken strike just six minutes in as he stroked the ball in from the edge of the area. 

Pritchard showed promise for Huddersfield towards the back end of last season as they stayed up but has struggled for form during the new campaign. If they are to beat the drop again then they'll need more performances like this one from the former Tottenham academy graduate. 

Forwards

Kadeem Harris

Aged 16 years and 201 days, Harris was once the youngest player to feature for Wycombe Wanderers in the Football League. That was before Jordan Ibe arrived on the scene, but it tells you all you need to know about the talent and potential he had as a teenager coming through. Since joining Cardiff in 2012, however, the winger has struggled for game time besides one promising season in the Championship in 2016/17. 

But this season he is showing what an asset he can be for the Bluebirds and after scoring last weekend, he put in another tricky display as Neil Warnock's side beat Brighton. He was a constant danger for the Seagulls backline all afternoon, providing an assist for Callum Patterson's goal, before also hitting the bar with a curling effort from outside the box. 

Matthew Wojciow, Cardiff City editor: "Harris was by far and away the best player in a Cardiff shirt on Saturday. When it was still 11v11, Harris was Cardiff’s one and only threat going forward. He gave Martin Montoya nightmares as Harris’ dribbling was leaving the Spaniard at sixes and sevens. Even when Cardiff had the man advantage, Harris stood out and was the main component in the Bluebirds walking away with three points."

Mohamed Salah

The Egyptian could have worked his way into the last couple of team of the week's but was unfortunate to miss out. On this occasion, he does make it, though, as he once again excellent for Liverpool. Fulham showed signs of improvement on Sunday but still couldn't keep a clean sheet and Salah was a key reason behind that.

He scored a composed finish on the counter-attack after a lovely ball in behind from Trent Alexander-Arnold and would have had another in the first half if it wasn't for good goalkeeping from Sergio Rico. Salah started the season in poor form but is now back to his best.

Solomon Rondon

One of the best players this week was Newcastle's Rondon. Eyebrows were raised when Rafael Benitez signed him from West Brom over the summer but we got a real glimpse this weekend of just how vital the big Venezuelan can be when he's at his powerful best.

The Magpies are beginning to find form now and if Rondon carries on scoring they may be able to survive. Against Bournemouth he bagged twice, scoring a rebound from inside the penalty area before powering home a wonderful header which drew comparisons to a certain Alan Shearer

Aaron Hindhaugh: "Rondon’s performance was the perfect number nine display. He was physical, brought others into the game and got into the box at every opportunity. His second goal summed up what his game is all about, strength and power, especially in the air. Rondon never gave the Bournemouth defence a minutes rest all game."

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