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1. TROY DEENEY (WATFORD) – 7.65
The Hornets hitman scored a brace as Quique Sanchez Flores’ men won 2-1 at Crystal Palace to move up to eighth in the Premier League table.
Deeney showed excellent composure from the penalty spot to open the scoring for his team in the 16th minute and he latched onto Ben Watson’s cross to net the winner seven minutes from time.
The 27-year-old’s performance merited a man of the match accolade and he has now scored eight goals this season.
Good day at the office yesterday massive result for the team enjoy your weekend people ✌?️ pic.twitter.com/xeB5RiPmgy— Troy Deeney (@T_Deeney) February 14, 2016
2. N’GOLO KANTE (LEICESTER) – 7.50
The Frenchman has been a rock at the heart of the league leaders’ midfield this term and has made a big impression during his first season in England.
Kante, who signed for Claudio Ranieri’s men from Caen last summer, delivered a master-class of accurate passing and tough tackling to win the ball back for his team – which prompted ex-Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand to tweet:
Right now, Kante is the best tackler/retriever of the ball on the planet.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) February 14, 2016
Although Kante’s efforts were in the end not enough to help the Foxes salvage a draw at the Emirates, the 24-year-old’s midfield engine will be crucial between now and the end of the season if they are to land the title.
3. PEDRO (CHELSEA) – 7.38
Despite enduring a difficult first season at Stamford Bridge, the Spaniard provided a timely reminder of his world-class talent with a brace in the 5-1 home thrashing of Newcastle United.
The former Barcelona star showed pace, trickery and a clinical touch in front of goal – scoring his first after capitlising on a wayward cross-field pass and then linking-up with Cesc Fabregas for his fourth league goal of the campaign.
Pedro, 28, will be a key man for the Blues in the run-in as they look to stretch their 10-match unbeaten streak.
Great game by the team today. Happy with the goals and winning confidence for upcoming challenges. Come on Blues! pic.twitter.com/KVaNfywReO— Pedro Rodríguez (@_Pedro17_) February 13, 2016
4. CLAUDIO YACOB (WEST BROM) – 7.25
The Argentine defensive midfielder was a rock for Tony Pulis’ side as West Brom claimed a valuable 1-0 victory at Everton.
Yacob kept Ross Barkley under a tight leash and marshalled Toffees central pair Gareth Barry and James McCarthy well during the Baggies’ first victory in six matches.
5. SHANE LONG (SOUTHAMPTON) – 7.15
Republic of Ireland star Shane Long scored a second-half headed winner as Southampton continued their rich vein of form in the Premier League.
The striker was on hand in the penalty area to turn in James Ward-Prowse’s exquisite, pin-point cross in the 69th minute to stretch the south coast club’s unbeaten run to six matches.
Long’s form up front has limited new signing Charlie Austin to action from the substitutes’ bench since his arrival from the Championship.
Manuel Pellegrini raged at referee Mark Clattenburg after a controversial penalty decision dealt a decisive blow to Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes.
Locked goalless with rivals Spurs, the official pointed to the spot in the 53rd minute when Danny Rose’s cross struck Raheem Sterling on the back and elbow as he turned away.
Harry Kane put the visitors ahead and despite Kelechi Iheanacho’s leveller, Spurs snatched a crucial victory through Christian Eriksen’s 83rd-minute finish and moved back into second place and, ominously, two points behind leaders Leicester.
But Pellegrini, whose side are fourth and six points off top spot, was fuming as he also accused Clattenburg of costing City two goals in their 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane in September.
“It was a penalty that referee Mark Clattenburg wanted to signal for and he gave the signal. It was absolutely the wrong decision. It hit the back of Raheem Sterling then his elbow. Sterling was not even seeing the ball,” he said.
“It was the same referee in the first game where they were two clear goals in offside and we lost 4-1. For me I don’t think it is a good decision to have the same referee but I don’t want to talk any more about that.”
Pellegrini also approached the fourth official after the game and he added: “Just to congratulate the referee, about the decision. It was a penalty that was decisive for the game.”
Having now lost to Leicester and Spurs in successive home games, Pellegrini said: “We never expected not to win a very important six points but we must continue fighting. We have 36 points more to play for. It is very important to start working again and believe all things can happen.”
With a passionate and polished performance, Spurs certainly believe as boss Mauricio Pochettino said: “It was a big test for us. It is important to start to feel that when you come to a stadium like Manchester City to play against a big team you can win. It is very important for the future.
“It is true that our supporters can dream, this is important.”
Arsene Wenger was full of praise for match-winner Danny Welbeck as the Arsenal forward came back from 10 months out to keep Arsenal in the title race with a last-gasp goal against 10-man Leicester.
The England international has been missing all season after a serious knee injury but came off the bench to rescue a win for the Gunners, who moved to within two points of leaders Leicester with the 2-1 win.
“You know Danny Welbeck, he is a great guy, with a great mentality. He worked extremely hard. That is why he is fit,” Wenger said. “In the last two days he was convincing in training. I planned at the start, when I made my press conference on Friday morning, to play him next week. But in the last two training sessions he was very strong and I decided just in the end to include him in the squad.
“It was a great decision because Danny Welbeck is a great player, and you never know in our job, if somebody else had come on, would he have scored or not? But everybody is extremely happy for him, because he has been out for 10 months, that is an eternity for a player.”
Jamie Vardy had put Leicester on course to be eight points clear of Arsenal and Wenger admitted afterwards that he would have feared the worst if his side had not hit back.
“A loss today would have been massive, yes,” he said. “Even after that you get all the negative vibes, the belief goes down, it would have been much more difficult. We would not have given up, but eight points is three games to come back. We would need to win three, they would need to lose three.”
Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri said he and his players were left “very sad” by the result and was unhappy with referee Martin Atkinson. Asked how his players were feeling, he said: “Very sad. Me too.
“My reaction is to laugh with you because I am strong and I want my players to follow me. If I think about the match I am very angry because I think maybe I make mistakes but an international referee gives two yellow cards for normal fouls and the match was full of fouls.
“I remember the first half when we scored and there was a bad tackle from Aaron Ramsey and it was a yellow card but it is not the same yellow card when Simpson stopped the other player. But I am very proud of my players. They gave a fantastic performance.”
Ranieri also revealed he has given his squad a week off, with no FA Cup commitments next weekend.
“It’s the same as if you won the match. ‘Go home, and we will see you next Monday’ because they deserve it. They made a fantastic performance today. They go, I don’t know where, Dubai maybe. They go wherever they want.”