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Premier League Team of the Week - Phil Foden, Richarlison, Kieran Trippier

Sports Mole picks its Premier League Team of the Week, including Phil Foden, Richarlison and Kieran Trippier.

Premier League history was made in an unmissable batch of weekend fixtures, as 45 goals flew into the back of the net up and down the nation, the highest tally ever for a 10-game matchweek.

Three of those goals came the way of Arsenal, who toppled leaders Liverpool 3-1 in their headline encounter to move to within two points of the Reds, although Manchester City beat Brentford by the same scoreline to ensure that they would end the gameweek second in the rankings and with their title destiny in their own hands.

A Champions League place is also Aston Villa's to lose thanks to their 5-0 humiliation of Sheffield United, but Tottenham Hotspur's top-tier European aspirations suffered another blow as Everton rescued a point in a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Manchester United made light work of West Ham United, easing to a 3-0 win at their Old Trafford base, but Chelsea's familiar problems reared their ugly heads in a 4-2 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

A whopping eight goals were shared between Newcastle United and Luton Town in an engrossing 4-4 draw, while Brighton & Hove Albion drove another nail in Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace coffin with a 4-1 win in the M23 derby.

Another high-scoring encounter was on the menu at Turf Moor, where Burnley produced a stunning fightback to hold Fulham to a 2-2 draw, and the lowest-scoring encounter of the weekend also ended with Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest sharing the spoils in a 1-1 stalemate.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Premier League Team of the Week for the record-breaking round of goal-laden fixtures.


DEFENCE

Brighton & Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk celebrates scoring their first goal on February 3, 2024© Reuters

The gameweek's only two clean sheets may have gone to Manchester United and Aston Villa, but in truth, there was only ever one candidate for the gloves. For 45 minutes of Brentford's clash with Manchester City, Mark Flekken was the definition of a brick wall - making nine first-half saves and an astonishing 12 in total - as well as becoming the first goalkeeper to register an assist in the current Premier League season.

Neither set of defenders covered themselves in glory in their own boxes during Newcastle and Luton's eight-goal extravaganza, but Kieran Trippier's renowned attacking capabilities came to the fore, as the right-back drilled the ball into the box for Sean Longstaff before getting across Carlton Morris and finishing clinically for his side's third of the afternoon.

Speaking of defenders leaving something to be desired in their own penalty area, Brighton's Lewis Dunk maybe could have done better for Jean-Philippe Mateta's Palace consolation, but the skipper sparked the Seagulls' goal rush with a well-taken glancing header inside the opening three minutes, while also registering an excellent pass accuracy of 98%.

A special mention goes to Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite for his last-gasp Tottenham leveller, but with so many on-song attackers to fit into the XI, Aston Villa's Alex Moreno completes the back three on account of his exquisite volley to round off the rout of Sheffield United, in which he also made two tackles, two interceptions and succeeded with both of his dribble attempts.


MIDFIELD

Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates with the match ball after completing a hat-trick on February 5, 2024© Reuters

With no Michael Olise - at least for 81 minutes - and Eberechi Eze at Palace's disposal for the M23 derby, Pascal Gross stole the playmaking spotlight at the Amex Stadium, providing an on-the-money delivery for Dunk to head home before stealing the ball from unfortunate debutant Adam Wharton, sitting Joachim Andersen down and laying off Facundo Buonanotte for his second direct contribution.

Two midfield maestros in the St James' Park spectacular also weighed in with a pair of direct contributions, including local lad Sean Longstaff, who charged forward to meet Trippier's cross for his first of the afternoon, and after Thomas Kaminski parried an Anthony Gordon strike back into the danger area, he was in the right place at the right time to feed off the scraps.

One of Longstaff's compatriots - who, whisper it quietly, may be making a play for England's Euro 2024 squad - also dominated the engine room in the North East on Saturday, as the Ross Barkley renaissance continued with a goal and assist for the ex-Chelsea man. Firstly arriving in the right area to thump home from a saved Alfie Doughty shot, Barkley made the right decision to tee up Elijah Adebayo rather than go for goal himself in the second half; one of five chances he created on the day.

Netting the goals that officially made gameweek 23 the highest-scoring in Premier League history, the persistent Phil Foden finally wore down Flekken's defences and was rewarded with a second career hat-trick, executing two low finishes to perfection alongside a sharp header into the corner to ensure that the title is officially Man City's to lose once again.


ATTACK

Tottenham Hotspur's Richarlison celebrates scoring their first goal on February 3, 2024© Reuters

Foden was one of two players to tuck a match ball under their arm during the goal-laden gameweek, as Wolves talisman Matheus Cunha single-handedly demolished the expensively-assembled Chelsea XI. There may have been an element of fortune about his first deflected strike, but there was nothing fortuitous about a thumping first-time finish for his second or a calm penalty for the clincher, as Cunha became just the fourth visiting player to score a Premier League hat-trick at Stamford Bridge after Kanu, Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero.

Another hat-trick of sorts came the way of Ollie Watkins, who had a direct hand in three of Villa's five efforts at Bramall Lane to hit a personal landmark. Becoming the first Premier League player to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in all tournaments this term, the much-coveted Englishman found the far corner under pressure before also banking assists for Leon Bailey and Moreno in an attacking masterclass.

In contrast, Richarlison's efforts against Everton may not have been enough to propel Tottenham to victory, but the red-hot South American certainly showed his former team what they are missing. Firstly finding the top corner with a sublime side-footed volley before curling home a 20-yard strike, Richarlison's blistering form continued as he made it nine goals in his last eight Premier League games, although he almost appeared ashamed of his actions as Everton slipped into the relegation zone.


SPORTS MOLE'S PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK

PL TOTW GW23

Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Week (3-4-3): Flekken; Trippier, Dunk, Moreno; Gross, Longstaff, Barkley, Foden; Richarlison, Watkins, Cunha

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Tables header RHS
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Arsenal33235577265174
2Manchester CityMan City32227376324473
3Liverpool32218372314171
4Aston Villa33196868491963
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs32186865491660
6Newcastle UnitedNewcastle321551269521750
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd32155124748-150
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham33139115258-648
9Chelsea31138106152947
10Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton321111105250244
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33127144653-743
12Fulham33126154951-242
13Bournemouth32119124757-1042
14Brentford3498175259-735
15Crystal Palace3289153754-1733
16Everton3298153248-1627
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3379174258-1626
18Luton TownLuton3467214775-2825
19Burnley3458213769-3223
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3337233188-5716


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