The Premier League took centre stage for the last time until Boxing Day as the 2022 Qatar World Cup kicks into gear in less than a week’s time.
Despite this looming spectacle, the quality on offer didn’t suffer in England’s top flight, with the highlight undoubtedly coming at the Etihad, where a 98th minute strike handed Brentford a famous 2-1 win over champions Manchester City.Open in new window
It left Arsenal the chance to go five points clear atop the table, which they did with a routine 2-0 win over Wolves, while Newcastle continued their fine form with a 1-0 win over a struggling Chelsea.
Elsewhere, Liverpool came through a barnstorming clash with Southampton 3-1 winners, and Tottenham came from behind three times to beat Leeds United 4-3 and keep their spot in fourth place.
There were also wins for Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, while comfortable defeats for both Everton and West Ham left Frank Lampard and David Moyes closer to the managerial precipice than ever before.
101 takes a look at which players stood out over the Weekend’s action?
GK: David De Gea (Manchester United)
Manchester United needed a stoppage-time winner to secure three points against Fulham after a poor display (more on that later) but they could have found themselves down and out had it not once more been for shot-stopper David de Gea.
The Spaniard, who is not going to the World Cup with Spain, made six saves to deny the Cottagers, and ensure that his side came away from their trip to west London with something.
RB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
The England right-back seems to be in this team on a weekly basis, but continues to prove himself one of the best defenders in the Premier League. Against Chelsea, the Newcastle captain was once more at the top of his game, creating two chances and attempting 10 crosses in the attacking third, while he also ensured that he helped out the other way too, with eight ball recoveries and winning 8 out of 15 duels.
CB: Wout Faes (Leicester City)
Leicester’s fine form continues following a terrible start to the season, and Brendan Rodgers’ side now find themselves four points clear of the relegation zone that they sat in last month.
Central to their renaissance has been Wout Faes, and the Leicester summer addition was once more impressive as his side downed West Ham 2-0, keeping their sixth clean sheet in their last eight games.
CB: Ben Mee (Brentford)
A threat in both boxes, Ben Mee grabbed an assist for Toney with a well-timed flick-on, and though he was perhaps overshadowed at the back by Zanka, it is this addition that just sneaks him ahead of his impressive teammate in a historic win over the reigning Champions.
LB: Andy Robertson (Liverpool)
Much of the focus has been on Liverpool’s opposite flank, but Andy Robertson’s lack of form has also been a worry for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Fortunately, he returned to his old form against Southampton, grabbing two assists in their hard-fought win over Southampton, equalling Leighton Baines’ assist record in the process.
CM: Joe Willock (Newcastle United)
Heading into the clash with Chelsea at St James’ Park, all of the focus was on Miguel Almiron and Bruno Guimaraes in the Newcastle engine room.
However, it was Willock that stole the headlines, caressing home to hand the Magpies a deserved win over Graham Potter’s side, who continue to struggle.
CM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
Arsenal will be top of the Premier League until at least the last day of 2022, but they could so easily have dropped points against Wolves in what was an off-the-boil performance from Mikel Arteta’s side.
That was until Martin Odegaard turned on the style in the second half. with the Norweigian well-placed to grab both goals for his side, and ensure that the Gunners open up a five-point lead atop the Premier League over the World Cup.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham Hotspur)
Three goals against relegation-threatened duo Bournemouth and Leeds United have clinched six points for his side, and kept them battling the table toppers despite a string of poor performances.
While serious questions need to be asked about how Spurs manage to get themselves into such dangerous positions, there can be no doubting Bentancur’s qualities as the Uruguayan continues to show his value for money in north London.
RW: Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United)
On a night that his idol Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Garnacho continued to prove his value to Manchester United with a fine cameo appearance, netting a stoppage-time winner over Fulham.
The teenager laid an assist on in midweek against Aston Villa too, and amid the controversy and apathy that surrounds the club, Garnacho is one of few bright sparks at Old Trafford.
ST: Ivan Toney (Brentford)
It was simultaneously a smash-and-grab performance and a well-deserved win for Brentford as they stunned Manchester City at the Etihad, executing their counter-attacking tactics to perfection even though they saw just 25% of the ball.
Central to their success was Ivan Toney, who had a point to prove after being bafflingly overlooked for the England World Cup squad. And, after grabbing the opener, the Englishman ensured a historic victory with a poachers finish deep in stoppage time.
LW: Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)
It has been a tough start to life on Merseyside for Nunez, who has seen red already and is guilty of often being wasteful and raw.
However, he is certainly a talent, and he showcased his abilities once more with a gorgeous brace against Southampton as the Reds continued to build some momentum in their chase for a top-four spot following a disastrous start to the season.
While he may continue to frustrate and elate Liverpool fans in equal measure, his scoring exploits are only likely to increase as he continues to integrate into Jurgen Klopp’s side this season.