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Premier League Team of the Week - Gabriel Jesus, Scott McTominay, Virgil van Dijk

Sports Mole picks its Premier League Team of the Week for gameweek 15, including Gabriel Jesus, Scott McTominay and Virgil van Dijk.

Another Premier League game-of-the-season contender was added to the ever-growing collection in the midweek batch of fixtures, as Arsenal maintained their slender advantage at the top thanks to an exhilarating 4-3 win over Luton Town.

Liverpool ensured that the Gunners' lead would remain within their reach by defeating Chris Wilder's Sheffield United 2-0, while Aston Villa proudly boast the final spot on the podium courtesy of their fully deserved 1-0 win over faltering champions Manchester City.

Manchester United eased some of the growing pressure on Erik ten Hag's shoulders by overcoming Chelsea 2-1, while West Ham United sunk Tottenham Hotspur by the same scoreline, as the Lilywhites became the first team in Premier League history to score first in five successive games but not win any of them.

Brighton & Hove Albion kept their European ambitions alive with their own fightback to beat Brentford 2-1, but Steve Cooper appears to be on borrowed time at Nottingham Forest, who crumbled in a 5-0 loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is also feeling the pressure on the back of a 2-0 reverse to Bournemouth, Burnley returned to losing ways in a 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, but Everton shocked Newcastle United 3-0 to rise off the foot of the rankings.

Here, Sports Mole selects its Premier League Team of the Week for gameweek 15.


DEFENCE

Brighton & Hove Albion's Jack Hinshelwood celebrates scoring their second goal on December 6, 2023© Reuters

Sheffield United number one Wes Foderingham was crucial in helping the Blades keep the scoreline down against Liverpool, but despite also emerging on the losing side, Chelsea's Robert Sanchez left Old Trafford with his head held high having made seven stops, including guessing correctly to deny Bruno Fernandes from the penalty spot.

Amid Brighton's ongoing injury crisis, and with Roberto De Zerbi still keen to rotate his resources at any opportunity, 18-year-old Jack Hinshelwood was shoe-horned into a right-back role for the visit of Brentford. In spite of his unfamiliarity with the position, though, the Seagulls academy graduate made it a night to remember, clearing a Yoane Wissa attempt off the line mere moments before scoring his first senior goal to complete the hosts' second-half turnaround.

Similarly, Hinshelwood's fellow midfielder Pascal Gross - a lynchpin more accustomed to the demands of an emergency defender - assumed left-back duties on Wednesday evening to magnificent effect, firstly levelling the scores with a crisp left-footed strike into the bottom corner before providing the back-post delivery for his teenage teammate to head home.

Two out-and-out centre-backs being deployed in their favoured positions do make it into our selection, though, as Craig Dawson played his part in making the Wolves backline unbreakable in their beating of Burnley, winning four of his five aerial duels, making nine clearances and completing 89% of his passes in a performance that typified his experience.

While Ibrahima Konate deserves his own acclaim, Virgil van Dijk just about outshone his French teammate in Liverpool's win over Sheffield United. With Joel Matip confirmed to be out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Van Dijk helped to ease any rearguard concerns by winning four of his five aerial duels, making two interceptions and two tackles, not to mention crashing home a volley like a seasoned number nine.


MIDFIELD

Manchester United's Scott McTominay celebrates scoring their second goal on December 6, 2023© Reuters

Making the net ripple for the second Premier League game running, Everton's Dwight McNeil - the match-winner against Nottingham Forest - terrorised the Newcastle backline at Goodison Park on Thursday. After robbing Kieran Trippier of the ball, the ex-Burnley man decided to go himself rather than slip in Dominic Calvert-Lewin - a smart decision as the ball sailed into the far side of the net - and his deft touch to Abdoulaye Doucoure also went down as an assist.

Naming Scott McTominay in midfield appears redundant given the Manchester United man's prowess in the penalty area, which Chelsea felt the full force of at Old Trafford. The Scotsman's first effort saw him delicately lift the ball up before crashing a volley home, and in the second half, he restored the Red Devils' advantage with a bullet header at the back post, moving onto five goals for the league season and topping his team's charts in the process.

From a current Man United engine-room enforcer to a former one, Andreas Pereira was heavily involved in almost everything that went right for Fulham during their pummelling of Nottingham Forest. The Brazilian was unfortunate not to score himself - rattling the woodwork from a free kick - but he would bag a pair of assists for Raul Jimenez and Tom Cairney in a playmaking masterclass.

Pereira is one of three Cottagers representatives in our gameweek 15 selection, as while the South American bagged a pair of assists, Alex Iwobi netted a more conventional brace in the English capital, managing to keep himself onside to make the breakthrough before coming up with a smart finish as the ball bounced awkwardly for him.


ATTACK

Fulham's Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring their first goal with Raul Jimenez on December 6, 2023© Reuters

Completing the three-pronged Fulham selection, Raul Jimenez had gone nearly four years without a Premier League double since netting twice against Southampton for Wolves in January 2020, but the Mexican joined Iwobi in the braces club this week, crashing home into the roof of the net from Pereira's delivery before skipping past Odysseas Vlachodimos and adding a dash of flair to proceedings with a cheeky backheel into the open net.

Last but certainly not least, Gabriel Jesus's football intelligence was rightly lauded on Tuesday evening, where the Brazilian looked back to his best against Luton. With the deadlock yet to be broken, Jesus had the awareness to take a quick throw-in as Hatters players scrambled back - leading to Gabriel Martinelli's opener - before rising highest for a header of his own and also delicately lifting the ball through to Kai Havertz as Arsenal emerged triumphant from a seven-goal spectacular.


SPORTS MOLE'S PREMIER LEAGUE TEAM OF THE WEEK

PL TOTW GW15

Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Week (4-4-2): Sanchez; Hinshelwood, Dawson, Van Dijk, Gross; McNeil, McTominay, Pereira, Iwobi; Jimenez, Jesus

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Today's games header
Tables header RHS
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool26186263253860
2Manchester CityMan City25175358263256
3Arsenal25174458223655
4Aston Villa25154652331949
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs25145652381447
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd2514293534144
7Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2510874840838
8Newcastle UnitedNewcastle251141053411237
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham2510693644-836
10Chelsea25105104241135
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves25105103940-135
12Fulham2585123441-729
13Bournemouth2477103346-1328
14Brentford2574143544-925
15Crystal Palace2567122844-1625
16Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest2566133244-1224
17Everton2586112733-620
18Luton TownLuton2555153551-1620
19Burnley2534182555-3013
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd2534182265-4313

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