Premier League Team of the Week: Isak fires Newcastle United to comeback, Villa build on form

2PFJMKG Newcastle United's Alexander Isak shoots during the Premier League match at The City Ground, Nottingham. Picture date: Friday March 17, 2023.

As national teams across the world head to an international break, the Premier League is on pause for the next ten days but before it did we had a free-goalscoring set of fixtures to ravel in.

With that said, let's dig straight into this week's top performers in the Premier League using PFF data and grades.

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford, Everton

Shots saved on target: 5 of 7 (position rank: T-1st/14)

Matchday 28 was a high-scoring week in the Premier League despite four teams being involved in FA Cup action. The 2.23 average goals scored by each team was higher than the seasonal average of 1.73.

Some mitigation then for Pickford who conceded twice at Stamford Bridge, but it is worth noting neither João Félix’s strike nor Kai Havertz’s penalty were deemed saveable for Pickford. Aside from this, the England stopper saved the other five shots on target he faced – joint-second highest among goalkeepers.

Right-back: Kyle Walker-Peters, Southampton

Pass grade: 82.8 (8th/35)

Walker-Peters is a worthy inclusion for his all-round solid display versus the club where he began his career.

Spurs were able to put three goals past Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, but Walker-Peters was still head and shoulders above his contemporaries in recording top-10 grades in passing (82.8, 8/35), crossing (77.7, 2/18), and ball carrying (75.6, 3/27) as Saints rescued a late point at home.

Centre-back: Ezri Konsa, Aston Villa

Pass grade: 91.8 (1st/33)

A third clean sheet in their last four games helped Aston Villa to surpass the mythical 36 points that most believe is the target typically required to avoid relegation – only two teams in the last ten Premier League seasons have been relegated having reached that total (Wigan Athletic, 2022/23, and Newcastle, 2015/16).

Relegation is now firmly in the rear-view mirror after it had looked like a real possibility under Steven Gerrard, and the partnership of Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings has been a key feature of the improved form under Unai Emery.

In the win over Bournemouth, Konsa generated his best passing grade of the season at 91.8 which was the third-best grade this week among all players.

Centre-back: Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa

Challenge grade: 88.4 (4th/32)

Mings was the better of Villa’s two central defenders in our challenge grading as he successfully defended two dribble attempts to earn an 88.4 grade. There were also top-five rankings in our ball carry and clearance grading for the England international.

Left-back: Ben Chilwell, Chelsea

Crossing grade: 86.5 (1st/18)

Now in camp with the England squad, Chilwell arrives in good form after posting the joint-most chances created (5) in his club season in the draw against Everton.

Three other players equalled his cross attempts (12), but neither Kieran Trippier (70.2) or Bryan Mbuemo (70.0) were a match for Chilwell’s 86.5 grading.

The Chelsea defender was also solid in defence in winning five of eight challenges, including three or four aerial duels, worthy of a 77.6 grade that is good enough to rank fourth among all full-backs.

Midfielder: Enzo Fernández, Chelsea

Pass grade: 97.5 (1st/48)

The World Cup-winner continues to go from strength-to-strength as Chelsea’s form, somewhat, stabilises under Graham Potter. Fernández pulled the strings and created two chances in the 2-2 draw with Everton, factors behind a truly elite pass grade of 97.5 that is the fourth-highest recorded all season, as Chelsea extended their unbeaten run to four games.

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey
2PG5FNM London, UK. 19th Mar, 2023. 19 Mar 2023 – Arsenal v Crystal Palace – Premier League – Emirates Stadium Arsenal's Thomas Partey during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture Credit: Mark Pain/Alamy Live News

Midfielder: Thomas Partey, Arsenal

Ball carry grade: 85.0 (1/40)

Arsenal remain unbeaten in ten London derbies this season as Thomas Partey ably anchored the midfield in the convincing 4-1 win over Crystal Palace. Though Manchester City have a game in hand, Arsenal now hold their largest lead over their title rivals at eight points.

Partey recorded an 85.0 ball carrying grade and 81.8 passing grade in what was their ninth win over opponents who also hail from the capital – no other midfielder was better as a carrier while his passing grade ranked 18th.

The Ghanian was also one of only four players at his position to register a precise pass, as he completed nine of his 12 line-breaking pass attempts.

Midfielder: Joe Willock, Newcastle United

Pass grade: 80.9 (4th/48)

Willock did miss a sitter early on for Newcastle but he made amends to provide both crosses which Newcastle were able to convert goals from.

Coming through the contest at the City Ground with a pass grade of 80.9 and challenge grade of 79.9, to go with the 77.5 value placed on his crossing.

Right wing: Bukayo Saka, Arsenal

Shot grade: 85.8 (1st/30)

Bukayo Saka remains firmly within the conversation for the Premier League Player of the Year after another impressive performance against Palace.

He became the first player to non-striker to amass 20 or more goal contributions, taking his goals tally to 12 with two strikes and his assists to nine at this Emirates. His 85.8 shooting grade was the second highest among all 61 players

Left wing: Jacob Murphy, Newcastle United

Pass grade: 92.3 (1st/47)

Jacob Murphy’s performance against Forest will have given manager Eddie Howe plenty to think about over the international break, as Newcastle welcome Manchester United to St James’ Park upon the return of the Premier League next month.

His 92.3 pass grade reflects the quality of his five key passes, which a led to a chance on goal. Likewise, Murphy’s 81.1 cross grade was also to a high order as it ranked third for attacking midfielders.

Striker: Alexander Isak, Newcastle United

Shot grade: 92.6 (1st/18)

Newcastle’s £58m ($71m) signing has looked to have hit a groove after missing a large chunk of the season with a hamstring injury. Isak followed up his goal last week against Wolves with two at the City Ground, as Newcastle recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since December.

The Swede led all players with a 92.6 shooting grade to fire Newcastle to within two points of Spurs in fourth, the final Champions League qualifying spot.

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