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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The 10 best players of Premier League Gameweek 26 – ranked –

A few teams might have been missing from the action, but Gameweek 26 of the 2023/24 Premier League season still delivered.

There were big wins for Arsenal and Manchester City as they aim to stay in title contention, while Aston Villa enhanced their hopes of Champions League qualification by thumping Nottingham Forest.

Here are 90min’s top performers from an entertaining round of fixtures in the Premier League.

10. Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)

Ayew was key in Palace’s win over Burnley / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

Oliver Glasner’s introduction to life in the Premier League eventually ended swimmingly as Crystal Palace eased to a 3-0 win over ten-player Burnley.

The Eagles were aided by Josh Brownhill’s 35th-minute red card before Jordan Ayew produced a pinpoint cross for Chris Richards to open the scoring in the second half.

He then tapped in Matheus Franca’s ball across goal as Palace eased their relegation worries and gave new boss Glasner the ideal start at Selhurst Park.

9. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Phil Foden

Foden’s strike earned City three points at Bournemouth / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Man City‘s win over Bournemouth bored a fair few neutrals, but there was still one moment of undisputed quality when Phil Foden fired in the winner.

The 23-year-old is enjoying arguably his finest individual club season and is well on his way to beating his previous best scoring campaign, recording his ninth strike at the Vitality Stadium.

He only needs three to surpass his 2022/23 haul and, in the form he’s in right now, few would back against Foden doing so.

8. Emerson Palmieri (West Ham)

Emerson Palmieri

Emerson scored a rocket / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Scoring a belter from distance is sometimes enough to earn a player a place in 90min’s illustrious ‘best players of the gameweek’ lists. But West Ham’s Emerson Palmieri did a fair bit more to warrant inclusion.

The former Chelsea full-back set up Jarrod Bowen’s early opener before sending a howitzer beyond the clutches of Mark Flekken.

The Brazilian then cleared a shot off his own line in the dying embers to prevent Brentford shortening the deficit even more. An all-round top performance.

7. Alex Iwobi (Fulham)

Alex Iwobi

Iwobi celebrates his winner at Old Trafford / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Alex Iwobi may well have been cursing his Fulham side’s lack of clinical edge at Old Trafford had he not scored the dramatic winner late on.

The Nigeria international earned the Cottagers the points at the death and created four chances throughout the game, with only Andreas Pereira (five) making more.

It was just a fourth league goal of the season for Iwobi but one both he and Fulham greatly deserved for their efforts in picking up a first away league win since August.

6. Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa)

Ollie Watkins

Watkins excelled again at Villa Park / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Ollie Watkins is enjoying his finest season in the Premier League to date, thriving as the battering ram spearheading Unai Emery’s attack.

The England international now has 24 combined goals and assists in league action this year, opening the scoring against Forest.

He also bagged an FPL assist when his shot was diverted into Leon Bailey’s path.

5. Kai Havertz (Arsenal)

Kai Havertz

Havertz tucked in Arsenal’s second against Newcastle / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The jury will be out on Kai Havertz at Arsenal for a fair while, but the German silenced the dissenting voices by leading the line effectively against Newcastle.

The former Chelsea attacker still had moments when he got in his teammates’ way, but he rarely gave the visiting defence a chance to settle and showed composure to tuck in the Gunners’ second in the 24th minute.

He later teed up Bukayo Saka and, having scored against Burnley a week prior, should now be full of confidence after a lean spell.

4. Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa)

Douglas Luiz

Luiz bagged a brace against Forest / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

All nine of Douglas Luiz’s Premier League goals in 2023/24 so far have come at Villa Park.

The Brazilian added two to his tally in the win over Forest, meaning he is well clear of his previous best for a season in England’s top flight (six goals in 2022/23).

Villa’s success has been built on the performances of Luiz and John McGinn in midfield and the pair were sensational again on Saturday.

3. Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

Jarrod Bowen

Bowen went goal-crazy on Monday night / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Bowen rattled in the 12th Premier League hat-trick of the season on Monday night as his goals powered West Ham to a much-needed win over Brentford.

The former Hull star now has 14 in the top flight in 2023/24 – his best ever haul – after ending a five-game goal draught in emphatic style.

Bowen is now one of a number of English players hoping to hit 20 league goals this term, with Watkins, Dominic Solanke and Bukayo Saka also creeping towards the mark.

2. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka

Saka was on top form once again / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Key to Arsenal‘s recent rampage in front of goal has been star winger Saka.

The England international was at it again on Saturday night as he toyed with Newcastle in an emphatic 4-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

Saka led the Gunners’ vicious press, helping to suffocate the Magpies, and tucked home his side’s third before being substituted for an early rest.

1. Leon Bailey (Aston Villa)

Ollie Watkins, Douglas Luiz, Leon Bailey

Bailey soaks up the praise from his teammates / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Villa are incredibly strong from front to back these days, but Bailey has added some star quality to their frontline and looked particularly dynamic against Forest.

The Jamaica international set up Watkins’ opener and later rounded off the scoring to seal a 4-2 win after the visitors had threatened to stage a comeback.

Champions League qualification is definitely within reach for Villa and a strong finish to the season from Bailey could be the difference between jubilation and disappointment come the end of the campaign.

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