VAVEL UK's Premier League Team of the Week - GW18 
Photo: VAVEL UK - Daniel Orme

The final gameweek of the Premier League before Santa comes to town dished out its fair of shocks.

If you're a Liverpool fan then you would have been counting your blessings, for a 2-0 win over Wolves confirmed their place at the top of the tree come Christmas Day. But that wasn't the shock; Manchester City suffered defeat to Crystal Palace whilst Leicester edged past Chelsea.

Tottenham also displayed their credentials by sticking six past an Everton side who looked as though they were already sitting down for Christmas dinner.

But who were the individual players that stood out during GW18?

Goalkeeper and defence

Ben Foster

The Watford stopper has easily been one of the most productive goalkeepers in the Premier League this season and he showed what an outstanding addition he has been to the Hornets once more on Saturday. Foster was in superb form as he made a string of saves to keep a clean sheet against West Ham. One save in particular stood out from Robert Snodgrass as Foster denied his header before Michael Antonio somehow missed the rebound.

Ricardo Pereira

The Portuguese international came to the Premier League with a glowing reputation as one of the best defensive prospects in Europe and he has quickly become one of Leicester's key players. Particularly going forward he's been exciting and his display against Chelsea was arguably his best of the campaign. He played a pivotal role in the goal, steaming forward from right back before laying the ball inside for James Maddison to slip in Jamie Vardy as Leicester silenced Stamford Bridge.

Daniel Orme, Leicester editor: "Following a calamitous performance in Leicester's 4-2 defeat to Bournemouth in September, it seemed the defender was struggling to adapt to the demands of the Premier League. However, Pereira has improved ten-fold since. Tenacious, intelligent and strong in defence, whilst remaining effective in attack at Stamford Bridge, he played a key role in Vardy's winning goal."

Virgil van Dijk

The Liverpool defender is quickly becoming a regular in the TOTW series as he features again following another clean sheet and a goal against Wolves on Friday night. Van Dijk has been massive for Liverpool since signing in January and is a huge reason as to why they sit four points clear at the top of the table. The Reds have conceded just seven goals in 18 matches this season with the Dutchman influential.

Sead Kolasinac

Arsenal's rampaging left back put in a brilliant attacking display against Burnley on Saturday as the Clarets just couldn't deal with him. The Bosnian missed the trip to Southampton a week previous through injury and showed what the Gunners had been missing this weekend during a 3-1 win.

Kolasinac was involved in the first two Arsenal goals as he got on the end of a brilliant pass from Mesut Ozil to set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's opener. He then led the counter-attack which Arsenal's second came from as he played the ball inside for Alexandre Lacazette before Aubameyang then found the net again.


Paul Pogba

Pogba starts to play well as soon as Jose Mourinho leaves Manchester United. It's hardly a surprise, is it? The pair clearly never got on but with new manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in the Frenchman displayed just what a talent he is. The midfielder was pivotal as United hammered Cardiff and he picked up two assists for his troubles, firstly winning a free-kick and then laying Ander Herrera off for his deflected strike.

Pogba performed in the manner we saw at the World Cup, displaying a certain arrogance and flair we've only seen on the rare occasion in the red of United.

David Brooks

The Welshman has come a long way in the space of the past year and a half. In September 2017 he was only just making his full league debut for Sheffield United. Flashforward to December 2018 and he's one of the most exciting and consistent young players in the Premier League. Brooks scored both goals for Bournemouth this weekend as they defeated Brighton in comfortable fashion.

Both goals were taken brilliantly, as the 21-year-old's first was rifled into the bottom corner from the edge of the area before a wonderful deft header looped over Mat Ryan and found the net.

Andros Townsend

When a team beats Manchester City at the Etihad it's almost rude not to include one of the players who played a hand in it. And if they scored a goal of the season contender they almost have to make the team of the week. That very player was Townsend who unleashed a quite frankly ridiculous volley past Ederson and into the back of the net to send Palace on their way to a 3-2 win over City. But Townsend's contribution extended beyond that, proving a menace on the right-hand side for a City back line that largely goes untroubled.

Brandon Sayer, Crystal Palace editor: "Well what can be said about Townsend? He showed how good he can be against City and produced a contender for goal of the season with a thunderous volley from over 30 yards out which flew into the top corner of the net. He was also unlucky to not score a second when he saw a header come off the post. The key now for Townsend is to produce these kinds of performances on a regular basis and it's evident that he does have so much talent and a wonderful left foot."

Jesse Lingard

Another United player to take on a new lease of life this weekend was Lingard. It's clear that Solskjaer was allowing his players to play with more creative freedom and one of England's best players from the World Cup in the summer showed the type of form he displayed in Russia.

The attacking midfielder scored twice against Cardiff, firstly firing beyond Neil Etheridge after a lovely passing exchange from Anthony Martial and Pogba, before also scoring a penalty.


Son Heung-min

The South Korean has been tremendous this season and will be a huge loss once he goes off to the Asia Games next month. Left out of the starting XI last weekend as Spurs struggled against Burnley, Mauricio Pochettino's men showed no signs of any lethargic attacking play this weekend. They hit Everton for six as Son was one of a number of Tottenham players who continued to toy with the Toffees defence. He scored twice to take his tally for the season to eight strikes.

Brogan Clasper, Tottenham editor: “After a slow start to the season due to missing all of August and the majority of September on international duty - Son is now burning on all cylinders. Another fantastic finish in the first half brought Spurs level and his second killed off any possible comeback from the hosts. He is certainly one of the league’s in-form players.”

Harry Kane

Another player to bag two in the rout against Everton was Kane. The Spurs striker hadn't scored in his last four but returned to form at Goodison Park with aplomb. His first goal was a typical poachers effort, reacting to a free-kick which came off the post to tap home for an easy finish. Kane then added his second by guiding a Son cross into the back of the net to cap off a very productive evening for the striker.

Brogan Clasper: "Kane loves a goal against Everton. Having scored two braces last season against the Blues the 25-year-old dragged himself back into the race for the Premier League top scorer with two neat finishes in either half."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Like Kane, Aubameyang had been out of the goals and before scoring twice against Burnley he'd gone five matches without finding the net. But he was back to his best on Saturday as he got on the end of Kolasinac's pull back to prod the ball home and open the scoring for Arsenal. It was a goal that meant the Gunners went into a Premier League game at half time with a lead for the very first time this season. It then didn't take the Gabonese long after the restart to add a second, thumping the ball home from inside the area after a swift breakaway.