Premier League Team of the Week: Coutinho, Silva, Matic and Rodallega Star
Welcome to the latest edition of our Premier League Team of the Week, where we select the top 11 players from the weekend's performances and slot them into a suitable formation. This week, that's a 4-2-3-1.
Liverpool see their attacking starlets honoured, and David Silva's in, too, but most of this week's representatives are from bottom-half clubs as the battle to avoid the drop heats up.
Who made the cut? Take a look inside, and if you don't agree, create your XI in the comments below!
All statistics via WhoScored.com
GK: David Stockdale, Fulham
Manager Felix Magath benched Maarten Stekelenburg in favour of David Stockdale this week. It was a bold move, but it proved to be the right one on Saturday afternoon.
The Englishman made two key stops to keep Fulham ahead in a must-win tie vs. Norwich, and the eventual clean sheet allowed the Cottagers to win and climb within reach of escaping the relegation zone.
RB: Adrian Mariappa, Crystal Palace
Adrian Mariappa joined Crystal Palace as an unsung summer transfer from Reading. While he's been unable to crack the team at centre-back, he did a very solid job at right-back this weekend.
He stemmed the flow of any Aston Villa attack and handled Ryan Bertrand better than most have this season. He's quicker than he looks, takes throw-ins rather well and seems to suit the Tony Pulis philosophy superbly.
CB: John Stones, Everton
John Stones continued his impressive maiden Premier League campaign, starting his 11th game and keeping a clean sheet away at Sunderland.
With the Black Cats desperate for points, it's a hard slog playing them, but the 19-year-old was able to block a game-high five shots and keep the ball flowing on the deck with ease.
CB: Cala, Cardiff City
Cala is becoming a bit of a hero at Cardiff City, having risen from free-transfer anonymity to goalscoring hero at St. Mary's Stadium.
Southampton battered the Bluebirds for long periods but weren't able to break them down, and Cala was key in the centre of defence alongside Steven Caulker. The pairing combined to make 19 clearances.
Cala then popped up and scored a magnificent strike, sealing three precious points for the South Wales side.
LB: Erik Pieters, Stoke City
Erik Pieters' aggressive streak has halted any potential big-money move from PSV Eindhoven over the last few years, but other clubs' losses have been Mark Hughes' gain.
He took the Dutch left-back to Stoke City last summer and has enjoyed steady, consistent, committed performances on a weekly basis. At the weekend, Pieters scored his first goal in six years, looping a cross into the net seemingly by accident.
They all count.
CM: Nemanja Matic, Chelsea
Nemanja Matic proved once again why everyone is so happy to pay top dollar for multifunctional, technically able holding midfielders in this day and age.
He kept things solid at the back as Chelsea squeezed out a 1-0 victory over Swansea City. In the 68th minute, he provided a clean through ball for Demba Ba to sweep home.
CM: Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
Philippe Coutinho was epic in central midfield for Liverpool against Manchester City, proving once again he has what it takes to play a deeper role in the formation.
His shooting was wayward in the first half and it dominated his personal narrative, but an instinctive, swept shot proved the difference in a game finishing 3-2.
He was voted Man of the Match by Liverpool fans on Twitter.
RW: James Milner, Manchester City
It's a rare occurrence that a substitute breaks into our Premier League Team of the Week, but James Milner changed the game at Anfield.
Manuel Pellegrini brought him on for Jesus Navas in the 50th minute and he contributed immediately, driving forward and squaring the ball for David Silva to convert seven minutes later.
His presence worried Liverpool, and they shifted to the right as a result, thereby making space for Silva and Samir Nasri to craft an equalising goal from the other side.
AMC: Raheem Sterling, Liverpool
His influence may have waned somewhat in the second half, but for the first 45 minutes, Raheem Sterling ripped Manchester City to pieces.
He continually found space in between the lines and charged beyond the centre-backs as often as possible, most notably with the first goal of the match. Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis tried to keep him at bay with aggression, but nothing worked.
LW: David Silva, Manchester City
David Silva was an injury doubt coming into Manchester City's clash with Liverpool, but any concerns were abandoned after a second-half performance in which he scored once and also forced an own goal to level matters.
He came oh so close to another goal after just missing Sergio Aguero's great low cross with his studs. Simply put, there were periods in the game when Glen Johnson had no clue how to stop him.
ST: Hugo Rodallega, Fulham
Crucial goals are rewarded, and Hugo Rodallega scored the most important goal of his life when he hit the net against Norwich City this weekend.
His all-round performance was brilliant, too. He held the ball up to give his side relief against periods of pressure from the Canaries and created a succession of chances for his teammates.
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