Premier League best XI from matchweek 14, featuring Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and Everton striker Wayne Rooney.
Wayne Rooney turned the clock back to the peak of his career and helped first club Everton out of the relegation mire in the process. Rooney’s stunning hat-trick against West Ham wasn’t the only highlight of the Premier League’s midweek fixtures.
Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil was back to his creative best after missing the win over Burnley. Ozil dominated the final third for the Gunners against Huddersfield.
Kevin De Bruyne did the same to help leaders Manchester City maintain their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Find out who else made the team of the week for Week 14:
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford, Everton
It’s been a tough season for Jordan Pickford. He arrived at Everton as the most expensive English goalkeeper of all time seemingly poised to join the ranks of the league’s elite at his position.
Unfortunately, the failures of the Ronald Koeman regime have taken their toll on Pickford. He has shipped goals in bunches and struggled to assert himself at both club and international level.
Perhaps things will change for the better after Pickford helped the Toffees keep a clean sheet in the 4-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday. Everton were well on top, but Pickford’s penalty save to deny Manuel Lanzini when it was 2-0 took the game permanently away from the Hammers.
With Sam Allardyce ready to take over as manager, per BBC Sport, now is the time for Pickford to build on this strong showing.
Defender: Ashley Young, Manchester United
Rooney wasn’t the only player who travelled back in time this week. Two superb goals helped Ashley Young resemble more the inside left forward he used to be, rather than the full-back he is for United today.
It’s difficult to believe there will be a better free-kick scored this season than the one Young struck to punish former club Watford and help United to a 4-2 away win. He had already scored off a rasping drive from outside the box after fine set-up work from Jesse Lingard.
Young hadn’t been this effective going forward since his days with Aston Villa and Watford a decade ago.
Defender: Mamadou Sakho, Crystal Palace
The only goalless draw of the week saw Crystal Palace take a point at the Amex Stadium against a Brighton team tough to break down this season. Brighton were kept in check thanks to an all-action display from Eagles center-back Mamadou Sakho.
He was everywhere, quickly getting to the ball and tackling precisely when he did. His pace on the deck is one reason the vision of creative midfielder Pascal Gross counted for naught for the Seagulls.
Ex-Liverpool man Sakho also bossed the game in the air. This was the kind of performance Sakho is capable of regularly when on form and motivated.
Defender: Sead Kolasinac, Arsenal
Arsenal kept a third clean sheet in a row in the league after thrashing Huddersfield 5-0 on Wednesday. Sead Kolasinac did his bit at the back, but was also a menace going forward.
The player signed from Schalke 04 on a free transfer in the summer never stopped raiding the flank. He helped create space for Olivier Giroud to score his second, the Gunners’ fifth.
With better finishing, Kolasinac would even have added a goal or two of his own to a fine night’s work.
Midfielder: Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Ozil continues to frustrate and astound in equal measure. Fortunately for the Gunners, Wednesday was a night when he turned on the style.
The languid schemer unlocked the Huddersfield defense for fun at the Emirates Stadium. He turned a close and frankly nervy game in Arsenal’s favor by contributing to a three-goal salvo in just under four minutes.
Ozil makes football a joy to watch. In this sort of form, the playmaker, whose contract expires next summer, also makes Arsenal more than a match for any team in the division.
Midfielder: Jesse Lingard, Manchester United
Lingard has been a forgotten figure for most of this season, but he offered a timely reminder of his quality to United manager Jose Mourinho on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old created Young’s opening goal at Vicarage Road. His contribution came when he ghosted off the flank and took up a troubling position off the striker and in the grey area between the midfield and forward lines.
Later, with United dangerously close to blowing a 3-0 lead, Lingard sealed the points with a fine finish after an epic solo run. The latter moment of brilliance ensured a rare achievement in England’s top flight for the academy graduate.
Performances like this suggest Mourinho should trust Lingard more often.
Midfielder: Matt Ritchie, Newcastle
When something good happens for Newcastle going forward, Matt Ritchie is usually responsible for it. He was at it again to help the Magpies come from two goals down to earn a draw against West Brom.
Ritchie created Newcastle’s first goal by lofting a teasing delivery into the box for defender Ciaran Clark to nod in. Another Ritchie free-kick caused havoc in the Baggies’ defence and ended with Jonny Evans turning into his own net.
Scotland international Ritchie is the creative hub of this Newcastle side. His impressive output in attacking areas can keep the Magpies up this season.
Midfielder: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
The goals and assists just keep coming from Kevin De Bruyne. He dragged the leaders over the line during the last-gasp, 2-1 win over Southampton on Wednesday.
De Bruyne opened the scoring at the Etihad Stadium. He also teed up Raheem Sterling to score the winner deep, deep into stoppage time.
His efforts took him to four goals and seven assists in the league, according to WhoScored.com. City’s squad is loaded, but De Bruyne is the most common source of inspiration for the title hopefuls.
Midfielder: Riyad Mahrez, Leicester
Like De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez continues to be the creative talisman in midfield for his club. On Tuesday, it meant scoring the goal to seal a win for Leicester over Tottenham at the King Power Stadium.
The goal was typical Mahrez. He danced and tricked his way past a marker before cutting off the right flank and lifting a finish into the bottom corner with his wand of a left foot.
Foxes manager Claude Puel has given Mahrez more freedom to occupy central areas as a No. 10. But the Algeria international remains at his most effective whenever he gets the ball out wide.
Striker: Wayne Rooney, Everton
There probably aren’t enough superlatives to do justice to Wayne Rooney’s ode to his wonder years against West Ham on Wednesday. The 32-year-old score a terrific hat-trick, including an awesome strike from inside his own half.
Rooney is obviously no longer the force he was during his days at United. But he is still the best player in this Everton squad and one Allardyce must use more often.
Striker: Jamie Vardy, Leicester
It’s become too easy to sum up Jamie Vardy as all pace or merely a product of a counter-attacking system. To do so is to forget the 30-year-old’s quality as a standout finisher.
Vardy reminded everybody how ruthless and imaginative he can be in front of goal when he opened the scoring against Spurs. The goal came as a result of a deft touch over Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Vardy had found space after another typically intelligent and expertly timed run.
The Foxes naturally aren’t grabbing the headlines the way they did during their Cinderella season to win the title two years ago. Even so, their prolific No. 9 is quietly putting together an outstanding campaign.
Vardy should have moved to Arsenal in the summer of 2016, if only to bring his underrated talent to a bigger audience. Yet he is still the match-winner who most often proves decisive for Leicester.