Santi Cazorla might have been Arsenal’s man of the match in their excellent 2-0 victory at Manchester City on Sunday, but whilst his name was being sung to the rafters by the Gunners supporters, an unsung hero was proving just as important.
Francis Coquelin – a 23-year-old midfielder who has left Arsenal for loan spells at Lorient, Freiburg and Charlton throughout his stay at the club – was excellent in the face of mounting City pressure in the second half, standing firm and protecting his back four.
Having come in from the cold to star for the Gunners due to injuries, Coquelin will now hope to stay in the team and prove just as effective as some of the Premier League’s other quietly vital stars.
Lucas Leiva – Liverpool
Despite being on the verge on leaving Liverpool more times than ferries leave the Albert Dock, the Brazilian international midfielder Lucas Leiva is still at the club and still making a huge difference.
The weekend win at Aston Villa ensured that the Reds have now taken 2.25 points per Premier League game that he has been selected for this season, compared to a measly total of just 0.80 per game in the 10 matches in which his understated but effective midfield play has not featured.
As he also proved at the weekend, he’s pretty good at crowdsurfing too (pic via @TheHoodedClaw66).
Nemanja Matic – Chelsea
Such has been the quality of his displays this season that many have sat up and took notice of the excellence of Chelsea’s Serbian enforcer Nemanja Matic, who acts as a screen for his back four in a way that few others are capable of.
It was no coincidence that Chelsea’s first defeat of the season at Newcastle came in a match that Matic was suspended for, and if the Blues are to claim Premier League honours in this campaign then few will have done more to deserve it than him.
Steven Davis – Southampton
The likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama might have got more praise this season, whilst Dusan Tadic and the new arrival Eljero Elia have the dynamism and the goals, but one of the key elements of the rise of Southampton has been the performances of the Northern Irishman Steven Davis.
The former Aston Villa, Fulham and Rangers man’s boundless energy has been vital to the success of Ronald Koeman’s team, and it says something for the 30-year-old’s quality that he has been one of the first names on the teamsheet for three different managers in his three seasons at St Mary’s.
5 Things We Learned From Manchester City 0-2 Arsenal
Steven N’Zonzi – Stoke
Tall, rangy and with a stride which seems to span several counties, it was revealed earlier this month that Stoke midfielder Steven N’Zonzi had run the most distance of any Premier League player this season.
The former Blackburn man has been linked with some of the brighter lights of the division in the recent past, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move on in a bid to try and break into the France setup.
He has certainly got the quality and so perhaps it is his discipline which lets him down.
Michael Carrick – Manchester United
After missing the first nine league matches of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United reign, Michael Carrick has now featured in the last 13, starting 12 of them and completing the full 90 minutes in 11.
In a team who seem to be rapidly evolving both in formation and personnel he is a very important player to have, with his ability to play both in defence and midfield proving invaluable to a coach in his first season in English football.
Carrick’s contributions might often go unnoticed, but he is proving to be one of his team’s most important players.