Goals were few and far between as the fight for last place on Match of the Day heated up. The defending champions failed to exact revenge away at Anfield and saw their crown as Capital One Cup Champions taken by Chelsea. The return of Jonás Gutiérrez on the Newcastle bench was a heart-warming sight following his battle with testicular cancer.
The Football Express team of the week lines up in the 4-2-3-1 formation that has swept modern football.
Goalkeeper: Łukasz Fabiański (Swansea City)
The Pole failed to establish himself as a worthy candidate for the number one jersey at Arsenal but has been Garry Monk’s favoured choice since the departure of Michel Vorm. He repaid his manager’s faith with a string of strong saves, including a crucial interception to prevent Vokes scoring at the depth.
Right-back: Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle United)
Signed for an undisclosed fee of around £5 million to replace the outgoing Mathieu Debuchy, the Dutch international has represented a solid piece of business for the toon thus far. Displayed all the attributes of a modern full-back and was a constant threat down the right flank. His assist for Cisse’s opening goal was his sixth of the season.
Centre-back: Martin Škrtel (Liverpool)
A leader at the back for a resurgent Liverpool, the Slovakian has done well to partner the uncertain Lovren in defence. Beaten by Agüero’s pass to set up Dzeko for City’s equalizer, the defender did well on the whole to thwart the attempts of City’s attacking players that also included the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri.
Centre-back: John Terry (Chelsea)
Man of the Match in Chelsea’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool in the 2005 League Cup final, the veteran was once again awarded for the same accolade ten years on. Chelsea’s captain was dominant in the air and made a countless number of clearances from set pieces and crosses from wide. Also did well to cope with the threat of Harry Kane.
Left-back: César Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Nicknamed ‘Dave’, the Spanish international won all of his aerial duals and won a creditable nine tackles. Resilient in defence and undoubtedly one of the best defenders in one-on-one situations, Azpilicueta fulfilled his duties with great aplomb as Hazard was afforded the luxury of not tracking back.
Centre-midfield: Darren Fletcher (West Bromwich Albion)
The Scotsman was Tony Pulis’ number one target in January and has unsurprisingly been installed as captain upon his arrival from Manchester United. A calm head in the heat of midfield, with good contribution, Fletcher’s experience in the Premier League will be key in the Baggies’ bid for survival.
Centre-midfield: Charlie Adam (Stoke City)
Has struggled to recapture the form of his Blackpool days after a spell at Liverpool and now at the Potters, with his last start back in October. However, he was instrumental in Stoke’s 1-0 win at home to Hull and instantly quickened the tempo of Stoke’s attacking play with his long range efforts and pin-point passing. Bagged an assist to make Crouch the Premier League’s all time highest goal-scorer of headed goals, alongside Alan Shearer.
Right wing: Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
Scorer of two offside goals, the ex-Southampton man provided a real test for City with his willingness to run at their defence and also in-behind. Also showed his versatility when moved out wide to accommodate the substitution of Daniel Sturridge, and tracked back to help his defence as Liverpool took all three points.
Centre-Attacking Midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
The leading contender for Liverpool’s player of the season and perhaps goal of the season with today’s goal, amongst a batch of others. Tormented the City defence with his direct runs and dangerous shots on goal. Proved too elusive for both Fernandinho and Yaya Touré as he continued to find space in between the lines. His goal with fifteen minutes to go was more than worthy of winning an entertaining, all-action clash.
Left wing: Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace)
Has been one of Palace’s star players in the topflight and recorded a hat-trick of assists for the Eagles as they overcame West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park. The crafty winger’s delivery has been a feature of Palace’s revival over the last two seasons with a wand of a left foot that has earned him three goals and seven assists.
Striker: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Could not find the back of the net in his last eight Premier League outings for Manchester United, it was his brace that saw off Sunderland at Old Trafford. Came off to a standing ovation, the England forward has suffered as Louis van Gaal has attempted to accommodate United’s attacking riches, often being deployed in the midfield. Dispatched his penalty kick into the corner with great precision and scored an instinctive header from a Pantilimon save.