The Christmas period always provides a bit of wackiness in the Premier League, and this year was no different, as many crazy results shook up the Premier League table. Despite the fact that Leicester City was able to manage a tie against a big money Manchester City side, they lost their spot at the top of the table to an Arsenal side that was able to take down Bournemouth 2-0.
Tottenham and Liverpool were also able to manage wins, while Chelsea and Manchester United tied, but as always the stars took center stage, and here’s three of the best from this BPL weekend.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Midfielder, Stoke City
During this year’s summer transfer window, Stoke City made a splash by bringing in a number of creative players, the likes of which had never been seen by Potters fans previously. No signing was bigger than Xherdan Shaqiri, who immediately stepped in as a leader in the Stoke locker room.
This week, Shaqiri was the star of the show for Stoke, scoring twice in the first half in their 4-3 win against Everton, including one goal that will be considered for goal of the season.
Shaqiri has undoubtedly raised the offensive level of Stoke City this season, as he serves as the creative force that connects the midfield and attackers, which has in turn helped the Potters score more goals. Stoke is currently a dark horse candidate for a Champions League spot this season, and will definitely need Shaqiri to help them on that road.
Mesut Ozil, Midfielder, Arsenal
It’s becoming a weekly occurrence that Mesuit Ozil finds his way into the three stars of the week, but it’s also become nearly impossible to leave him out. With a goal and an assist against Bournemouth, Ozil was clearly the star of what proved to be the game that saw Arsenal go top of the table. With his corner kick assists against the Cherries, Ozil now leads the Premier League with 16 assists on the season.
After this performance, Ozil has to be considered for Premier League player of the season thus far. While the stories of Leicester City and the emergence of Kevin De Bruyne has made the headlines this season, Ozil is quietly having a historic season for a team that is currently at the top of the table. It’s hard to imagine anyone besting the German international for at least the best midfielder in the Premier League, and top player is well within his sights.
Erik Lamela, Attacking Midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham’s Argentine creative midfielder has had a stellar season thus far, and this weekend’s 2-1 victory over Watford was no different, as he scored the opening goal in Spurs’ victory, their third consecutive victory over the Christmas period. Spurs has looked every bit a top four side this season, and Lamela has been a huge part of it.
In order for Tottenham to validate their stellar season under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, they need to secure a Champions League spot for the first time in nearly a decade. A big part of the improvement has been the play of Lamela, who has served as a catalyst for the Tottenham attack, which has been exceptional over the Christmas period.
Since Tottenham’s shocking defeat against Newcastle, they have rattled off three straight wins, and catapulted up the table as a result. A top-four spot is well within reach for the Spurs, but Tottenham fans will be understandably cynical as the season closes out, knowing how nearly their team has missed the Champions League in past seasons.