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Premier League Team of the Week - Bukayo Saka, Rasmus Hojlund, Axel Disasi

Sports Mole selects its Premier League Team of the Week for gameweek 25, including Bukayo Saka, Rasmus Hojlund and Axel Disasi.

Another twist was added to the Premier League title tale in gameweek 25, as a hitherto unstoppable Manchester City lost their 11-match winning streak in all competitions in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

The champions' slip-up means that the crown is now Liverpool's to lose thanks to their 4-1 thumping of Brentford, although Arsenal remain hot on their heels and made even more history in a 5-0 humiliation of Burnley.

The final Champions League qualifying spot also changed hands again, as Aston Villa rose back into fourth spot with a 2-1 win over Fulham, capitalising on Tottenham Hotspur's defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers by the same scoreline.

Manchester United still have Europe's top table in their sights and continued their impressive form by overcoming Luton Town 2-1, while Brighton & Hove Albion remain in the continental mix thanks to their 5-0 slaughter of a seemingly doomed Sheffield United.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace's first game since the departure of Roy Hodgson and appointment of Oliver Glasner saw the Eagles draw 1-1 with Everton, Nottingham Forest prolonged West Ham United's misery with a 2-0 triumph at the City Ground, and Newcastle United stole a point in the dying embers of their 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Premier League Team of the Week for the latest round of fixtures.


DEFENCE

Chelsea defender Axel Disasi pictured in August 2023© Reuters

Three of this week's four defensive representatives donned different shades of blue at the Etihad Stadium, where Man City were indebted to the gloves of Ederson during their gripping stalemate with Chelsea. Despite failing to head home with a clean sheet, the Brazilian stopper came up with a quintet of vital saves to ensure that the treble winners would at least glean a point from the weekend's headline battle.

As praiseworthy as Ederson's exploits were, two members of Mauricio Pochettino's rearguard earned their keep and then some in Manchester, starting with Malo Gusto. Attempting to quell the threat of Jeremy Doku is often a fruitless endeavour, but with 10 clearances and eight blocks - as well as creating two big chances - Gusto kept the Belgian on a leash and more than made his mark on the Etihad soil.

Another member of the Blues shield to hit double figures in clearances at the weekend, fellow Frenchman Axel Disasi was here, there and everywhere for the visitors, hooking the ball away from his penalty box an astounding 16 times. Not only that, the former Monaco man made three blocks and won all four of his aerial battles, although he and his teammates were the beneficiaries of an attacking horror show from Erling Haaland.

Meanwhile, a defensive horror show was in store for Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, where Brighton captain Lewis Dunk helped spark the Seagulls' goal rush with the headed assist for Facundo Buonanotte's close-range effort. The Englishman hardly came under the cosh at the back, but when called upon, he stood tall - quite literally - to win all three of his aerial battles, while also completing 95% of his passes in the five-goal obliteration.


MIDFIELD

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring for Liverpool on February 17, 2024© Reuters

Flaunting his prowess from 12 yards yet again, Arsenal talent Bukayo Saka made it back-to-back braces in the top flight and scored for the fourth Premier League game running in the thrashing of Burnley, calmly stroking home a penalty out of James Trafford's reach before a classic near-post finish into the roof of the net with his weak foot.

Another Gooner putting himself into early contention for the February Player of the Month prize, Martin Odegaard followed up his historic playmaking display against West Ham with another two direct contributions at Turf Moor, putting his laces through a crisp half-volley and finding the bottom corner in the first few minutes, before slipping in Saka for his seventh Premier League assist of the campaign.

However, only one half of North London rejoiced in victory at the weekend, thanks in no small part to the feats of Wolves fulcrum Joao Gomes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Breaking the deadlock with a looping header before finishing off a quintessential Wolves counter-attack, the Brazilian also played his part defensively, making six tackles and five clearances to help end Spurs' five-match triumphant sequence on familiar territory.

Tottenham's agonising reverse to Wolves came seven days after their smash-and-grab success over Brighton, where Pascal Gross's penalty was in vain. However, the Seagulls' midfield maestro made a telling impact at Bramall Lane, registering an assist with a pinpoint cross for Simon Adingra - one of a whopping nine chances he created in Sheffield - while 97% of his passes also found the mark.

Mohamed Salah fulfilling his duties at left wing-back would be a collector's item, but the Egypt international simply had to be shoe-horned into the XI on account of his super sub display versus Brentford. Making his first Reds appearance since New Year's Day, Salah's lovely pass infield set Alexis Mac Allister away for Liverpool's second before he bullied Nathan Collins out of the way and found the far corner. Only Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney have both scored and assisted in more Premier League games than Salah's 30, although subsequent reports of a fresh injury to the 31-year-old put a slight dampener on proceedings.



ATTACK

Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund celebrates scoring their second goal on February 1, 2024© Reuters

Taking advantage of Spurs' slip-up, a Champions League berth is now Aston Villa's to lose once again, and they have the Ollie Watkins show to thank. The England international moved onto 13 goals for the Premier League season in the beating of Fulham, firstly spinning away from his marker and finding the corner before rifling a powerful finish past Bernd Leno, and only the offside flag denied him an assist for Alex Moreno at Craven Cottage.

Another two-goal hero stole the Kenilworth Road spotlight on Sunday afternoon, where Man United hotshot Rasmus Hojlund etched his name into Premier League folklore. Benefitting from a defensive Hatters howler before an unorthodox - but ingenious - chested finish, the 21-year-old became the youngest player in the history of the competition to score in six consecutive fixtures, as well as notching Man United's quickest-ever Premier League away goal with just 37 seconds on the clock.


SPORTS MOLE'S PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK

PL TOTW GW25

Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Week (3-5-2): Ederson; Gusto, Disasi, Dunk; Saka, Joao Gomes, Odegaard, Gross, Salah; Hojlund, Watkins


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Tables header RHS
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City32227376324473
2Arsenal32225575264971
3Liverpool32218372314171
4Aston Villa33196868491963
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs32186865491660
6Newcastle UnitedNewcastle321551269521750
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd32155124748-150
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham33139115258-648
9Chelsea31138106152947
10Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton321111105250244
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves32127134651-543
12Fulham33126154951-242
13Bournemouth32119124757-1042
14Crystal Palace3289153754-1733
15Brentford3388174758-1132
16Everton3298153248-1627
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3379174258-1626
18Luton TownLuton3367204670-2425
19Burnley3348213368-3520
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd3237223084-5416


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