Tottenham looking scarily good
At this point, Spurs do not need to provide a 'statement of intent' regarding a Premier League title race because they have done that and more already. But Mauricio Pochettino's side gave a scary demonstration of their ability to demolish inferior opposition in their comprehensive dismantling of West Brom at White Hart Lane.
Carroll wondergoal helps West Ham forget Payet saga
With Harry Kane in ominously good form in scoring his third hat-trick for the club and Dele Alli producing yet another astonishingly effective display from midfield, everything looks to be perfectly in place for Pochettino right now. There is not much more Spurs need to do to prove that they have what it takes to win the title, it is just a question of whether they can sustain the form and vibrancy throughout the season in what will likely be an extremely tight race.
Enrique right to drop Neymar
Fans reacted in hysterical fashion when it emerged that Barcelona coach Luis Enrique had decided to drop Neymar, along with Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic, but it turned out to be absolutely the correct call. Enrique has been under fire of late after a patchy run of form from his side, but he is still more than capable of making bold team selections in the interests of his team moving forward.
Not only was it an understanding decision to give Neymar, Iniesta and Rakitic a timely rest, but it was also an inspired call as Rafinha, Andre Gomes and Arda Turan thrived in the absence of the star trio. Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored three goals between them and more than made up for the absence of their big-name team-mates, but it was also a perfect opportunity for Enrique to rotate his squad and allow other players to pick up some valuable form.
Aubameyang can light up AFCON
He may be desperately hoping that he is a Real Madrid star in waiting, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang already has the opportunity to increase his star status away from Borussia Dortmund at the Africa Cup of Nations. The formidable forward opened his account for Gabon at the tournament, scoring from close range against Guinea-Bissau, and he has the opportunity to have a memorable few weeks.
The Dortmund forward certainly has the ability to lead Gabon through the tournament, even if his side are not tipped to win it outright, and remind Europe's other big clubs why he may be worth a tremendous amount of money looking ahead to the summer transfer window. Aubameyang, who has scored 70 goals in 95 games for Dortmund in the Bundesliga alone, has been presented with a perfect opportunity to shine on the world stage: can he continue to take it?
Giroud's fitness suddenly key for Arsenal
Olivier Giroud has become a crucial component of Arsene Wenger's side this season like never before, and suddenly now the club is sweating on his fitness after yet another goalscoring appearance from the Frenchman against Swansea City. Giroud got on the scoresheet in the 37th minute, but had to be withdrawn from the action on the hour mark after sustaining an ankle injury.
Wenger said after the game, "he has an ankle problem, I don’t know how bad it is: it’s being assessed now by the doctor - I hope it’s not bad". The extent of the injury remains to be seen, but Giroud's presence has become crucial to Arsenal's success and, with the club already trailing Premier League leaders Chelsea by eight points, Wenger simply cannot afford to lose the striker for an extended period of time.
Van Dijk destined to make a big move
In Southampton’s draw at Burnley, Virgil Van Dijk looked a cut above everyone else and it was clear yet again that he’s destined to move on to one of Europe’s top clubs. He’s dominant in the air, quick, doesn’t tend to dive in unnecessarily and very comfortable in possession.
He’s proven himself in the Premier League and is only 25, and so will cost a lot of money. Saints probably won’t sell until the summer, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jose Fonte, but there won’t be any shortage of suitors.
Chelsea's quietly exceptional stalwart
Plenty of plaudits have been handed out over the course of Chelsea's very successful season so far, but Marcos Alonso has barely featured in the accolades. Well, that's finally changed as a result of his exceptional performance against Leicester City. He's been brilliant all season, the only difference was that he popped up with two goals to go with his consummate all-round play down the left flank.
The 26-year-old, who joined Chelsea for £23 million from Fiorentina after an ill-fated spell at Bolton, scored in each half against the Premier League champions but also turned out yet another incredibly efficient and effective display in Antonio Conte's acclaimed 3-4-3 formation. The Italian coach has found a way of getting the very best out of the defender, who has thrived opposite Victor Moses. Finally he's getting the attention his performances have long-since deserved.
West Ham do need Payet, actually
Who needs Dimitri Payet? Well, West Ham actually. Their lack of creativity was there for all to see, managing to carve out just one clear cut opening in a drab first half against Crystal Palace. Hammers fans will have travelled home only talking about Andy Carroll’s fabulous strike and Manuel Lanzini’s delicate finish but this may do little to sugar coat a flattering 3-0 victory against an extremely poor Crystal Palace side.
They're not out of the woods yet and this win may not be enough to change Payet's mind that this is now a world-class outfit, capable of lifting the silverware he so craves.
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