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Team of the Week: Newcastle trio joined by West Ham pair and Arsenal saviour

Who starred from the most recent set of outings

A reduced Premier League fixture list (Thanks, FA Cup) saw just 14 teams in action, but there was no shortage of drama.

Arsenal threw away their chance to move seven points clear at the top, coming back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at home to bottom of the Premier League Southampton, while a vital win for Leicester City handed them a lifeline for survival.

It was at St James Park that the sparks really flew, however, with Newcastle racing into a 5-0 lead against top four rivals Tottenham after just 20 minutes, and running out 6-1 winners in the north east.

A win for Liverpool and a draw for Aston Villa narrowed the gap, and leaves Spurs looking nervously over their shoulder for the final European places.

Here’s who we think stood out from the latest round of Premier League action.

GK: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace)

Johnstone has struggled for regular first-team action since he moved to Palace, but with more performances like that he won’t be on the sidelines much longer.

RB: Vladamir Coufal (West Ham)

Coufal has returned to something like his best for the Hammers in recent weeks, and was once again excellent against Bournemouth.

Crowning his outing with an assist, the Czech defender’s form has been a welcome boost for David Moyes, and his side looks to be clicking again.

CB: Fabian Schar (Newcastle United)

Schar had very little to do from a defensive standpoint, but has come on leaps and bounds under Eddie Howe in building up play and showcased that excellently with two assists in the thrashing of Tottenham.

At one point considered a weak point of the Magpies defence, he has formed an excellent partnership with Botman and could be tasting Champions League football next season as a result.

CB: Ben Mee (Brentford)

Brentford are sliding down fast, and though they are safe from the relegation zone they look unlikely to qualify for European football next season after failing to win their last six.

They could have lost again against Villa if not for an excellent rearguard action, which Ben Mee was central in. The Brentford man won 13 of his 16 duels and made 13 clearances to keep the Villains at bay for 87 minutes.

LB: Timothy Castagne (Leicester City)

Leicester City picked up a vital three points in their midlands derby against Wolves thanks to an excellent strike from Castagne, and could now have some momentum heading into their relegation six pointer with Leeds on Tuesday. The importance of the goal from the Belgian cannot be understated.

CM: Declan Rice (West Ham)

West Ham finally seem to be heading back in the right direction after a season to forget, and Declan Rice is central to their success.

Often doing the work of two or more players in midfield, he has added goals to his game and capped his performance against Bournemouth with another to help his side move clear of the relegation zone.

CM: Carlos Alcaraz (Southampton)

He was only on the pitch for 45 minutes, but the fiery South American undoubtedly left his mark on the game. A goal, an assist and a yellow card came his way in an all-action first half, and it was surprising not to see him come out for the second 45.

CM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

When Arsenal looked dead and buried, up stepped their captain. Martin Odegaard sprung into life in the dying stages against Southampton, and scored the first in their comeback as they snatched a point and went close to taking all three against the Saints.

RW: Jacob Murphy (Newcastle United)

Jacob Murphy’s strike from 25 yards out summed up the scarcely believable nature of Newcastle’s thrashing of Tottenham. With just five Premier League goals to his name before the game on Sunday, he found the corner with the assurance of a man who scored goals for fun, and his brace helped his side to a memorable result.

ST: Alexander Isak (Newcastle United)

Newcastle’s record signing continues to look value for money, with the Swedish international bagging another two goals against Tottenham to take his tally for the season into double figures.

Firing the Magpies into the Champions League, Eddie Howe looks to have a gem on his hands.

LW: Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

Until Monday, it had been almost a year until Diogo Jota scored for Liverpool. Fast forward six days, and he has netted four times in two games.

The Portuguese attacker has returned at a vital time for the Reds, with European football next season now tantalisingly close after being in doubt for much of the season. His goals against Nottingham Forest helped Klopp’s side pick up another vital three points in that battle.

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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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