Dimitri Payet, Wes Morgan turn in big games, lead Team of the Weekend
After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully selects 11 star performers, along with a manager.
Do you agree or disagree? You can have your say on those picked or overlooked in the comments section at the foot of the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's ESPN FC show (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.
Goalkeeper: It's an open and shut case at No. 1. Ben Foster is a shoo-in after a magnificent showing in the 0-0 draw at relegation-haunted Sunderland. He made excellent stops from Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff, Fabio Borini (twice) and another from Jermain Defoe as West Brom edged to what we are contractually obliged to refer to as the "magical 40-point mark."
Paul Mariner says Foster "stood on his head" for the point while Nicol simply adds "Sunderland 0-0 Foster." Foster nips in ahead of Gab Marcotti's shout for Fraser Forster.
Right-back: "Being right-footed, it is a bit weird I scored it with my left but I am very happy." The first component of an all-scoring back four is Hector Bellerin, who seems to have a weird definition of the word "weird." His goal owed much to a deflection but it was just reward for a "tremendous attacking full-back display," according to Mariner. Nicol, a master of brevity, adds "impressive" while Marcotti reckons he's "probably the best attacking right-back in the league." You arguing?
Centre-back: All hail Captain Morgan -- Wes Morgan that is. A fifth 1-0 victory for Leicester in their past six Premier League games was secured thanks to a nudge and a nod from the big skipper, as Southampton became their latest conquest. A rock throughout the season, his goal pushed the Foxes to the brink of the title. They were bottom this time last year; it's simply phenomenal. "A giant in stature and performance," says Nicol. Marcotti and Mariner concur.
Centre-back/Left-back: A pair of Norwich goal-scoring heroes complete the back four. It's fair to say that defences were not on top in their relegation battle royale, but that doesn't matter if they score does it? Central defender Timm Klose nodded the Canaries in front on the stroke of half-time and left-back Martin Olsson snatched a winner in stoppage time to lock down a vital 3-2 win over Newcastle.
Both Mariner and Nicol remarked on the importance of the goals and the exquisite nature of Olsson's finish in particular. Marcotti voted for Klose, but his selection of Leicester's social media guru, Christian Fuchs, at left-back is overlooked.
Defensive midfield: As the joke goes, 70 percent of the planet is covered by water and the rest is covered by N'Golo Kante. "I'm running out of superlatives," explains Marcotti. "The best way of putting it is the chant that goes 'Three N'Golo Kantes! There's Only Three N'Golo Kantes!'
The Frenchman was his usual all-action self in the win over Saints, leading Nicol to refer to him as the "Energiser bunny" (other batteries are available) while Mariner lauded his amazing work rate.
Defensive midfield: Alongside Kante is an equally luxurious footballer, Tottenham's Mousa Dembele. The midfielder oozed class in his side's 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield, one that did Kante's Leicester no end of good. Mariner's hot take is as follows: "He was magnificent in the middle of the park for Spurs and is looking the complete player." Nicol pays tribute to his "guile and work."
Right midfield: A young man begins our more attack-minded midfielders, Arsenal's Alex Iwobi. The 19-year-old scored for the second game running in the 4-0 win over Watford and maintained the extremely lively standard he'd set in the game against Everton. Iwobi forced Heurelho Gomes into a fine save even before sweeping home Alexis Sanchez's cross to double Arsenal's lead. Nicol says "the guy has pure talent" while Mariner salutes his impact. He edges out Sanchez, put forward by Marcotti.
Attacking midfield: It's clear that Dimitri Payet is the set-piece king. Fresh from that birthday stunner in the Stade de France on international duty, he repeated the feat as West Ham and Crystal Palace shared four goals at Upton Park. A stunning free-kick capped another silky smooth display from one of the players of the season. Both Mariner and Nicol agree he had to be included after such a wonderful strike.
Left midfield: Rounding out our midfield quintet is a unanimous decision regarding Philippe Coutinho. "Elusive, intelligent and seemingly very clear on what Klopp wants," explains Marcotti. "The heartbeat of Liverpool in possession." Mariner thinks this was one of the Brazilian's best games in a red shirt, while Nicol adds that he was "a constant threat and the finish for his goal was class."
Striker: Why did Rafa Benitez not start Aleksandar Mitrovic after his derby day heroics? It's a question on every Newcastle fan's lips after the Serbian scored twice after being brought on in the second half at Carrow Road. Both Mariner and Nicol hailed his impact after coming on and he, rather unfairly in my opinion, knocks Norwich's Dieumerci Mbokani out of the team. Gab said, "The big man wreaked havoc with drive, power and initiative." He's right, you know.
Manager: Unsurprisingly, Alex Neil is our gaffer and I'll waste no time in bringing in Marcotti to explain why: "His fingerprints are all over Norwich's tremendous performance against Newcastle. Now he needs to do it next week against Sunderland as well. But you won't see a better prepared team than the one he sent out on Saturday."
Mariner underlines Neil's steadying influence and how much daylight there is now between the Canaries and the two north-east strugglers.