4 Premier League players who impressed this weekend
From a steady centre-back to a flying winger, these are the players who caught the eye as the Premier League returned.
Danny Ings (Southampton)
While every other Golden Boot candidate looked like they’d been sleeping over the break, Ings dispelled any theory that his remarkable season was based on a freakish run of momentum by taking Southampton’s first game back by storm.
Norwich’s defending was generous in the main, but no team could have stopped the 27-year-old’s opener from curling into the top corner, while he also proved that he is no one-trick pony by dropping deep to play in Nathan Redmond and Michael Obafemi.
No striker has scored more non-penalty goals (16) in the Premier League this season. He couldn’t be doing any more to be taken seriously as a possibility to win the top prize.
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
In complete contrast to Ings, it cannot be said that Fernandes is going under the radar. But what is remarkable about Manchester United’s January saviour is that he continually lives up to the hype.
At Tottenham, he passed and probed like no other player on the pitch – at one point picking out Anthony Martial with a beautifully-disguised through ball that even seemed to take the Frenchman by surprise – while his shot volume of four per game in the Premier League, means that he threatens the opposition in several different ways.
It looks like it will take some serious resolve from Chelsea to hold off United for fourth position, such is the transformative impact that Fernandes has had on the team.
Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace)
Cahill, whose summer move to Crystal Palace was questioned in several quarters, is increasingly looking like a candidate to figure in the Premier League Team of the Season.
Palace’s shutdown of Bournemouth on Saturday evening was clinical, and no fluke. It was their fourth consecutive Premier League clean sheet and the third game of that run in which the opposition have been restricted to under 0.5 expected goals.
Hodgson’s men seem to be strategically positioned like chess pieces, restricting the spaces between the lines and calmly snuffing out any danger. That is largely due to Cahill’s cajoling, leadership and defensive skills.
Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle)
Whether Saint-Maximin is on song is the difference between Newcastle being boring or a decent watch.
It was the latter on Sunday against Sheffield United, in the most emphatic manner that Steve Bruce’s team have managed all season. The Frenchman was the driving force, completing a whopping seven dribbles to regularly get Newcastle up the pitch, while his goal was the latest sign that his final product is quickly improving.
Changes are coming at St James’ Park, but the sight of Saint-Maximin charging down the wing certainly shouldn’t be one of them.
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