Here’s my team of the week – have a read and select your own below.
Goalkeeper – Sergio Rico (Fulham)
I never thought that Fulham’s Rico, the goalkeeper of the team with the worst defensive record in the league, would ever get into my team of the week, but he has.
Rico’s saves have put a noose around the neck of Cardiff City. Fulham won for the third successive game under Scott Parker, and while that might get him the vacant managerial position at Craven Cottage, it won’t save the team from relegation.
Thanks to Rico, Cardiff must now beat Crystal Palace at home and Manchester United away to stand any chance of survival. Good luck with that.
Did you know? Rico made eight second-half saves against Cardiff.
Defenders – Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Issa Diop (West Ham), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)
Trent Alexander-Arnold: The ball from Alexander-Arnold for Mohamed Salah to score his 68th goal for Liverpool must have brought a warm glow to Chris Lawler and Phil Neal.
Both former players were sat in the stand and watched the demolition of Huddersfield Town. The two Liverpool legends would have appreciated the quality of the pass from the young player.
That said, Lawler was a wonderful finisher and Neal an excellent defender. Alexander-Arnold needs to dust those old VHS videos down and give them a watch – he could still learn a thing or two from both those former full-backs.
Did you know? As well as providing an assist for Salah’s first goal, no Liverpool player made more tackles against Huddersfield than Alexander-Arnold.
Issa Diop: I saw this lad play brilliantly away at Everton earlier in the season and I knew then that Diop could defend. What I saw at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was a defender who not only took on the responsibility at key moments but read the game beautifully.
I also thought Ryan Fredericks was impressive against his old club and that brings me to my central point. If West Ham approached every game as though they were playing Tottenham Hotspur, they would win the Premier League title. What is it with these London clubs. Why do they hate Tottenham so much?
Did you know? Diop made more clearances (8), interceptions (6) and blocks (3) than any other West Ham player in their 1-0 win over Tottenham.
Virgil van Dijk: Did you see the take by Van Dijk from Alexander-Arnold’s pass against Huddersfield? He took it out of the air, and away from Steve Mounie, with the most glorious cushion from the inside of his right foot.
He then proceeded to sprint away from the Huddersfield centre-forward before passing the perfect ball to Andrew Robertson to cross for Sadio Mane to score.
Van Dijk has transformed Liverpool’s entire defence. He has brought authority and composure to what was originally chaos. I look forward to congratulating him on his achievement of becoming the second consecutive Liverpool footballer to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
Did you know? Van Dijk had more touches (122) and made more passes (114) than any other Liverpool player in their 5-0 win against Huddersfield.
Andrew Robertson: What a season this lad has had. Robertson’s quality of pass has been as good as I have seen from any full-back in years.
I have compared him to the great German full-back Manfred Kaltz, who was the only defender who could make a ball move like a boomerang.
As for Huddersfield – what a carry on. If you want to know why they are languishing at the foot of the Premier League table then you need look no further than the debacle between Jonas Lossl and Jon Gorenc Stankovic just 15 seconds into their game against Liverpool. What a shower.
Did you know? No defender has assisted more goals in a Premier League season than Robertson has in 2018-19 (11).
Midfielders – Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Michail Antonio (West Ham)
Youri Tielemans: The decision by referee Michael Oliver to send off Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles was a shocking decision. If officials start sending off players for innocuous challenges then games will be over almost before they’ve begun.
Leicester City were left with no option but to take full advantage of this appalling error of judgement and that’s precisely what Tielemans did.
What should have been an interesting contest was, in the end, a non-event thanks to Oliver.
Did you know? Tielemans has been directly involved in seven goals in his last nine Premier League games for Leicester (3 goals, 4 assists)
Eden Hazard: The wink by Hazard in his post-match interview said it all. He is off.
A point away at Manchester United with another sparkling performance by the Belgium international suggests that regardless of what Chelsea do this season, Real Madrid beckons for Hazard.
He was a class apart against United and seems to be relishing his last days with Chelsea. The Europa League final and a fourth place finish for the Blues will mean Hazard can leave Stamford Bridge with a clean conscience.
Did you know? No Chelsea player created more chances (2) or was fouled on more occasions (3) than Hazard against Manchester United.
Michail Antonio: This is a player who has a lot of ability, who is strong as an ox and can score goals with his feet and head.
West Ham’s Antonio appeared to be the perfect foil for Marko Arnautovic and I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken manager Manuel Pellegrini so long to discover this bourgeoning double act.
Tottenham couldn’t cope with Antonio running in behind their back four to devastating effect. It’s so refreshing to see a team prepared to play the long ball game instead of this continuous tippy-tappy nonsense. A word of advice for Antonio – keep scoring the goals, dump the celebration.
Did you know? As well as scoring the winner against Tottenham, no West Ham player had more shots (4) or shots on target (2) than Antonio.
Forwards – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Mohamed Salah: When Salah scored his goal at Southampton, and the player ripped off his shirt with a defiant glare at the Liverpool fans who dared to doubt him, I knew he was back.
Against a poor Huddersfield, who looked tired and fed up, Salah cut them to ribbons.
Liverpool must now have the courage to take their game to Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday. If not, it might be too late by the time Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho return to Anfield for the second leg of the semi-final.
Did you know? Salah had more shots (8) and shots on target (3) than any other Liverpool player against Huddersfield.
Sergio Aguero: For the fifth consecutive season, Aguero reaches the 20-goal mark in the Premier League. It wasn’t his greatest goal, but then it wasn’t the greatest game.
Burnley had nothing to lose other than the points. But they made no attempt to make a game of it and got what they deserved – nothing.
All Manchester City have to do now is hold their nerve. Leicester at home and Brighton away stand between them and back-to-back titles. As for Aguero, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – world class players always turn up when it matters.
Did you know? Aguero is only the second player in Premier League history to score 20-plus goals in five consecutive campaigns, after Thierry Henry from 2001-02 to 2005-06.
Sadio Mane: The two headed goals by Mane against Huddersfield were excellent but if ever a player deserved to get a hat-trick then it was this player – and he should have done.
His contribution to Liverpool’s title-challenging efforts this season have been immense considering Salah and Roberto Firminho have both gone on the missing list for periods of the title race.
Nevertheless, Mane has kept the Anfield fire burning and, now that Salah is back on form, Liverpool can dream again.
Did you know? Mane scored with both of his attempts on target against Huddersfield, taking his Premier League tally for the season to 20.
Now it’s your turn
You’ve seen my selections this week. But who would you go for?
Pick your Team of the Week
Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.
The Crooks of the Matter
I write The Crooks of the Matter from my room at the Grosvenor House hotel where I am preparing for the Professional Footballers’ Association awards dinner. During the course of the evening some of the best players in the world will be honoured by their fellow professionals.
Earlier in the week the PFA announced their Premier League Team of the Year, and the only player to get into that team who is not from Manchester City or Liverpool, was Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
Regular readers of my team of the week will know that I have arguably been Pogba’s greatest critic since his arrival at Old Trafford. Nevertheless, I found myself compelled on occasions to select the France World Cup winner in my teams because of either his goalscoring exploits, courage or down-right sheer brilliance.
Like United fans, I would have liked to have seen more of these moments throughout the course of the season but we must remember that Pogba is not a one-man show and United have too often simply not been good enough.
I was amazed to read some pundits, and those who I thought would have known better, suggest that Pogba did not deserve to be included in the PFA’s team of the year.
Let me remind them that this was not an opinion piece but a vote and one by his fellow professionals no less. That right, incidentally, was not extended to relics of a bygone era like myself. Pundits may enjoy the freedom of expression but they really should not be dismissing votes, especially when those votes don’t concern them.