We are coming into the most exciting and busiest time of the football season as players up and down Britain prepare themselves for the busy Christmas period. Following this weekend’s games, the title race has been blown wide open while Martin O’Neill began life at Sunderland with a dramatic win as Man United bounce back from their Champions League exit with a comfortable win but pounds the pressure on Wolves. I select the eleven players who lit up the league at the weekend.
GK: Michel Vorm (Swansea)
The Dutch international was an unknown quantity when he joined the newly promoted Welsh club back in August but how things have changed since then. A scintillating debut at Eastlands made him an instant favourite and with the Swans conceding just two goals at home thus far, Vorm has been central to that. His penalty save against Fulham on Saturday ultimately bagged the three points for Swansea.
RB: Kyle Naughton (Norwich City)
The young right back has tons of potential and his attacking ability seems to be far superior then his defensive game but he constantly gave Davide Santon a hard time on Saturday as Norwich earned a massive three points.
CB: Steven Caldwell (Wigan)
Caldwell was inspirational in Wigan’s massive victory at West Brom. He marshalled a normally fragile and vulnerable defence and his experience will be needed as the Latics look to avoid the drop.
CB: Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers)
Despite losing the big defender is quickly enhancing his reputation. The Congo international helped keep Sunderland out for 80+ minutes but in the end two stunning strikes succumbed Rovers to yet another defeat but it was a solid display from Samba who Rovers heavily rely on.
LB: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)
The Belgian played out of position on Saturday but that didn’t stop him putting in another eye catching display. His power, determination and general ability means he can play anywhere it seems and not only did he run up and down the wing all day but made some important defensive contributions as well, most notably his last ditch back post header to deny the onrushing Tim Cahill.
RM: Nani (Man United)
One of the heavily criticised players following United’s Champions League exit has something to prove in the next few weeks. He often goes missing in a game and wastes possession but is capable of moments of brilliance. Saturday was different from the Portuguese international as he was United’s main threat and bagged himself two goals.
CM: Seb Larrsson (Sunderland)
After missing the penalty last week at Wolves, the Swede was probably personally trying to make up for it on front of the new gaffer and that he did. As a wide man he doesn’t have the pace of a Bale or the skill of Nani but his delivery is second to none. If the Black Cats could sign a prolific striker then Larrsson’s wicked crosses could actually be converted. His stunning injury time free kick sent the Stadium of Light into raptures and brought O’Neill his first win.
CM: Stylian Petrov (Aston Villa)
The Bulgarian has just returned from injury and has already made an impact in what is a weak Villa midfield. They lack creativity in the central regions but Petrov brings the playmaker ability to the team. He lead Villa to a big three points on Saturday and chipped in with the winning goal.
LM: Matthew Etherington (Stoke)
The winger is very much an unsung hero at Stoke. He has been central to their recent success as the frontmen need something to feed on and ultimately it is Etherington’s deliveries that provide the goal scoring opportunities. He gives everything for the team and was rewarded with a match winning brace on Sunday against his former club Spurs.
ST: Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)
The England international showed what City are missing as he inspired Chelsea to victory over the league leaders. Sturridge was sold by Man City during their wholesale changes but it seems as if they made the wrong decision as Sturridge continues to impress. He set up the equalising goal as well as winning the penalty which Lampard converted to win the game.
ST: Wayne Rooney (Man United)
Arguably United’s best and most valuable player has had a lot to answer to as his recent performances haven’t been up to his usual standards. He hadn’t scored since September from open play and after missing a guilt edge chance in Basel last week, Rooney would have been one of the most effected by their Champions League exit but he bounced back with a double to help beat Wolves on Saturday.
Do you agree with my choices? If not let me know who you would have in your team by using the comments box below or use Twitter @RyanBailey37