Every week, the PlayON Analyst takes a look at the best and worst of the previous round of Premier League action. Here are the latest batch of stars and suspects.
Man Utd’s victory over Liverpool has been widely heralded as the finest display of the Louis van Gaal era. The same could easily be said about Juan Mata’s performance. The Spanish international’s form has been inconsistent since his January 2014 transfer from Chelsea, with questions being asked about his future following a recent spell out of the side.
On Sunday, though, he reminded us why he was twice named Chelsea’s player of the year. Playing the right forward role in a 4-3-3, Mata delivered two sublime goals. The first goal – struck with his weaker right foot following an Ander Herrera through ball – showed his composure; the second was pure magic. Picked out by Angel Di Maria’s chipped pass, Mata contorted his body beyond the perpindicular and launched a stunning volley past Simon Mignolet.
Afterwards, Mata declared it his best performance in a United jersey. If it is a sign of things to come the future looks very bright for the Red Devils.
Harry Kane’s performances have made him almost an ever present in this list, which only serves to highlight how impressive a job the Man Utd duo of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones did on him last week in limiting to a single shot on target.
Fresh off his most innocuous performance of the season, Kane was back to his destructive best against Leicester – celebrating his England call up with a hat-trick. The youngster has now scored 14 Premier League goals in 2015, six more than any other player. The goals moved him into a tie with Diego Costa in the race for the Golden Boot, a remarkable feat considering he didn’t start a game until week 11.
It is beyond rare that a goalkeeper whose side finished on the wrong side of a 3-0 scoreline makes in into the Champs section of this article. However, given the bombardment faced by West Brom’s stand in goalkeeper Boaz Myhill, it was no more than he deserved.
Making just his second start of the season in place of the injured Ben Foster, Myhill made a stunning 13 saves against Man City. With his side reduced to ten men and completely overrun by the likes of Silva, Aguero and Bony, his performance was the only thing that kept the scoreline from getting wildly out of hand.
With Foster set to miss the rest of the season, Myhill will get plenty more chances to show what he can do. If he keeps performing like he did on Saturday, he may be able to convince another club that he is worthy of being their number one.
Steven Gerrard has used his emotion to turn many a game in Liverpool’s favour over his illustrious career. On Sunday, though, it was this same raw passion that boiled over and cost his team dearly.
Freshly introduced as a half-time substitute, Gerrard announced himself with a crunching, but fair, tackle on Juan Mata that had the Anfield crowd on their feet. Just seconds later, he was being given his marching orders by referee Martin Atkinson for a stamp on Ander Herrera.
The sending off, coupled with his imminent departure from the club, probably means that Gerrard will have little more than a peripheral role for the club until season’s end – a sad way for such a great player to depart his hometown club.
Schmeichel returned to the starting line up after a long-term injury, replacing his experienced understudy, Mark Schwarzer. It wasn’t a happy experience for the Dane, who spent a large portion of his day picking the ball out of his net.
Conceding four times, while making just one save in the process, Schmeichel may be wishing he waited one more week to re-enter the line up. His boss, Nigel Pearson, may privately be thinking the same thing.
Chelsea’s normally solid central defensive partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill were given one of their sternest tests of the season by Hull’s Abel Hernandez, on Sunday. Cahill, in particular, had a really rough outing, picking up a booking in addition to the two goals they conceded.
His performance could have been even worse had it not been for several important saves from Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Chelsea have not looked as assured in recent times, twice blowing a lead against ten man PSG, and winning just three of their last seven league games. They’ll need better performances from their back four to keep their title bid on track.