VAVEL UK's Premier League Team of the Week - GW21
Photo: VAVEL UK - Daniel Orme

Liverpool are no longer unbeaten. They suffered defeat against Manchester City this week as they bounced back from poor recent results as we saw in 2019's first round of fixtures with the title race reigniting.

Four points now separate Liverpool and City, whilst the race for the top four also hotted up once more with Chelsea drawing and Arsenal returning to winning ways.

Elsewhere there was a thriller at Bournemouth as they drew with Watford whilst there was a big result at the bottom of the table where Burnley beat Huddersfield. Meanwhile, the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United revival marched on against Newcastle.

However, who stood out on in an individual level?

Goalkeeper and defence

Angus Gunn

It's hardly surprising that the 22-year-old Southampton 'keeper has been touted as England's next number one. His performance against Chelsea in what was just his first start of the season showed all of his class as he made six saves to keep the Blues at bay in a 0-0 draw. Gunn was particularly busy in the second half as he denied Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata before saving from Marcos Alonso late on.

Previously at Man City, Gunn never made a first-team appearance for them and after a promising loan spell with Norwich last season made the move to the Saints in the summer. He's had to wait patiently for his chance, as this was his first start in the league of the season, but with displays like the one against Chelsea, he'll now be hoping to become a mainstay.

Yan Valery

It takes quite the performance to stop a player like Hazard but 19-year-old Saints right back Valery, managed just that against Chelsea. He nullified the threat of the Belgian and in just his seventh senior match this was mightily impressive. The Frenchman arrived at Southampton in 2015 from Stade Rennais but has only just got the chance to prove himself. Under Ralph Hassenhuttl, a forward-thinking coach, Valery has the perfect person to aid his development.

Harry Robinson, Head of Content: "He's had a difficult introduction with a managerial sacking and games against Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. But he showed his quality against Hazard at Stamford Bridge. Hazard sought space in the central areas frequently because of Valery's good performance."

Maya Yoshida

Southampton's defensive performance against Chelsea was that good that Yoshida becomes the third player to make this team of the week. The Japanese international has been far from a world class defender but his display against Maurizio Sarri's men was phenomenal. He made 11 interceptions throughout the game, the most by a single player in any Premier League match this season.

Harry Robinson: "The Japan captain showed exactly Why Southampton will suffer without him when he goes on international duty this month. Manager Hasenhuttl said as much after the game. He was disciplined, led the backline well, and tackled Kante superbly in the box at one point to avoid a one-on-one opportunity."

Victor Lindelof

Another player who seems to be rejuvenated by Jose Mourinho's departure is Swedish centre-half Lindelof. Mourinho seemed intent on doing everything possible to make a statement to the board that he wasn't happy with his defensive options, so much so that Scott McTominay was selected in defence.

However, now in a far more settled side, Lindelof looks every bit the promising talent United signed for over £30m. In keeping a clean sheet against Newcastle, the 24-year-old had impressive numbers, winning seven aerial duals and completing nine clearances.

Midfielders

Hamza Choudhury

It's hard to miss Choudhury whenever he plays. He sports a fine head of hair and after his recent displays in Leicester's midfield, he's becoming even more noticeable. Having played two games in the Carabao Cup this season he's waited for a Premier League opportunity and has grasped it with both hands, having started in Leicester's last three matches, his first appearances in the league this season. He was a big presence in the Foxes midfield against Everton and confirmed himself as one of the players who can consider themselves a part of the ever-growing list of promising English players coming through.

Daniel Orme, Leicester editor: "Despite being only 21 years of age, Choudhury has displayed the composure and experience of a seasoned professional. His inclusion against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in a midfield triumvirate has been key in three brilliant wins. The youngster, sitting just in front of the back four against Everton, was excellently defensively with numerous tackles and interceptions. He also allowed the likes of Wilfred Ndidi and Nampalys Mendy to advance further up the pitch to support the attack. Choudhury looks a future star for sure."

Fernandinho

After Man City's defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester, there was a discussion that the Brazilian holding midfielder was the only player in Guardiola's side who is truly irreplaceable. Evidence of this was then provided as the Citizens halted Liverpool's unbeaten run with Fernandinho playing a pivotal role in the outcome of City's 2-1 win. In the biggest match of the campaign so far he won four tackles, more than anyone on his team and also won back possession an incredible nine times.

Josh Slinger, Manchester City editor: "Following back to back losses Manchester City now have back to back wins, and it’s no coincidence that this return to winning ways ties in with the return of Fernandinho. The Brazilian is an irreplaceable asset to Guardiola’s setup, relieving high amounts of pressure off the back four behind him, as well as having the skill to quickly turn with the ball and set City off on the counter-attack."

Ryan Fraser

If you told those who watch Premier League football that Fraser would be leading the way for assists in the division as 2019 came around they'd have laughed in your face. But that is the reality. The Scot has had a brilliant term so far and after supplying a goal in Bournemouth's crazy 3-3 draw with Watford, took his tally for the season to nine. Fraser also scored in the game as he found the net with a sweetly struck effort from just inside the area.

He has been involved in 14 goals this season, the most by a Scottish player in the Premier League in a single campaign since Shaun Maloney in 2012-13.

Ricardo Pereira

Pereira's form has been outstanding of late and it was hardly a surprise to see him turn in another intelligent display against Everton on New Year's Day. Operating on the wing, rather than in his more familiar role as a fullback he supplied plenty of energy going forward and laid on the winning goal for Jamie Vardy, as he set the striker free down the channel.

Daniel Orme: "The Portuguese full-back has become one of the first names of the team sheet at the King Power Stadium following a spectacular Christmas period. Playing on the wing at Goodison, Pereira provided Leicester with pace and skill. He also teed up Vardy for the winning goal by playing an inch-perfect through-ball for the striker."

Forwards

Ken Sema

The Swede is hardly a household name and since arriving in England from Ostersunds, hasn't particularly set the world alight. However, against Bournemouth he had a fantastic game, providing pace and power down the flank for the Hornets as he scored and assisted. After Bournemouth recovered from two goals down, Sema scored almost instantly after the Cherries equaliser to restore the lead with a left-footed effort. Before that he'd put the ball on a plate for Troy Deeney to head home for the opening goal of the game.

Jake Horwood, Watford writer: "Prior to Sema’s arrival at Watford, his reputation in England had mainly been forged by an impressive display against Arsenal in the Europa League — through he gave Hornets fans positive insight into what he’s capable of, earning both a goal and an assist in the 3-3 draw at Bournemouth. "

Marko Arnautovic

West Ham's main man returned to form against Brighton on Wednesday night as he scored twice in a remarkable turnaround at the London Stadium. The Hammers went 2-0 down in the space of two minutes before the Austrian scored twice in the same amount of time as the game finished 2-2.

Arnautovic only returned to the side against Burnley last weekend following injury and these were his first strikes since the beginning of November.

Harry Kane

The England forward had a pretty standard day at the office, scoring and assisting as Tottenham put Cardiff to the sword in 26 first-half minutes. Kane's goal was fortuitous as Sean Morrison hit the ball into his knee before it found the net but he also supplied Son Heung-min for his goal, playing a pass into the South Korean before he scored from a tight angle.

Kane is currently the joint top scorer in the league, alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with 14, whilst he's now scored against all 28 Premier League opponents he has faced.

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