The Premier League stars who lit up Matchday 21
Premier League fans have been treated to thrilling encounters and tight affairs in equal measure on Matchday 21 so far.
Arsenal once again outlined their title credentials with an entertaining late win over Manchester United after Manchester City had breezed past Wolves.
West Ham secured a crucial 2-0 victory over relegation rivals Everton, while Aston Villa and Newcastle had their goalkeepers to thank as they kept clean sheets on the road at Southampton and Crystal Palace respectively.
Ahead of Fulham's clash with Tottenham tonight, we pick out the five stars who shone brightest over the top-flight weekend.
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
Villa have claimed an astonishing 16 points from 21 available since Unai Emery took charge last November but much of their latest win was down to the heroics of Emiliano Martinez between the sticks.
The South American stopper made five saves to thwart an in-form Saints side at St Mary’s, allowing Ollie Watkins to head home for a handy away win on the South Coast.
A goalkeeper oozing with confidence following his key role in Argentina’s World Cup triumph in Qatar, two eye-catching saves from Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo were not his only contributions.
Ex-Premier League midfielder Danny Murphy noted of Martinez’s display: "One aspect of his game that I think has definitely got better is his feet, using his feet more.
"He stays calm, exactly what you want. You need a certain type of personality to play out the box and take balls.
"One of the main reasons why they have won five of their last seven is because of their goalkeeper."
Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)
West Ham have performed well below the levels of recent years but one of their key players came to the fore when they needed it the most.
Their crunch clash with Everton had all the makings of a relegation six-pointer and Jarrod Bowen’s brace ensured it was the Hammers who were celebrating at full-time as they climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win.
In a frantic end to the first half, the forward exhibited the poacher’s instinct that saw him score 18 goals last season by poking home the opener before arriving at the perfect time to rifle home Michail Antonio’s cross before the interval.
It rounded off a memorable few days for the England international, whose two goals were a fitting way to celebrate the news that his partner is expecting twins.
Nick Pope (Newcastle)
In a weekend featuring three 0-0 draws, it is fitting that another goalkeeper makes this list and Nick Pope showcased his pivotal role in Newcastle’s excellent season at Crystal Palace.
While the Magpies were unable to get themselves in front against Patrick Vieira's men, their No1 ensured they did not leave Selhurst Park empty handed with a simply sensational save.
Some Eagles fans had already begun to celebrate when Jean-Philippe Mateta lined up a 72nd-minute effort inside the box but the England man pulled a hand out of nowhere to tip it over.
Made all the more impressive by the quiet night he had enjoyed prior to that moment, his league-high 12th clean sheet of the campaign was certainly well earned.
Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
It seems inconceivable that a striker with 25 goals in 19 Premier League games could be a reason for Manchester City’s struggles this season, but those were the accusations being thrown by some in Erling Haaland’s direction prior to their clash with Wolves.
The Norwegian hitman once again proved that if you give him the opportunities, he will finish them as his hat-trick saw off the West Midlands outfit.
In a 14-minute spell either side of half-time, Haaland headed home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross, dispatched a penalty before tucking away a Riyad Mahrez assist for his fourth treble of the season.
Pep Guardiola admitted he will have to adapt his tactics to suit his prolific No9's outstanding qualities.
The Catalan boss said: "We know his quality. We cannot play a false nine with him and we have to adapt some movements.
"He has to get the balls delivered as much as possible. We have fantastic players around him but the first goal is because he is there and the delivery from Kevin is fantastic."
Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
Eddie Nketiah has had to bide his time for a chance at Arsenal — but he now finds himself spearheading the Gunners’ charge to the title.
The popular 23-year-old made his mark in Gabriel Jesus’ absence as his two goals saw Mikel Arteta’s men restore their five-point lead at the top of the table with a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester United.
He was in the perfect position to nod home a flowing Arsenal move to cancel out Marcus Rashford’s superb opener seven minutes earlier in the first half.
Bukayo Saka and Lisandro Martinez both netted to make it 2-2 before Nketiah came up trumps once again by directing Martin Odegaard’s effort past David de Gea in the 90th minute, sparking bedlam at the Emirates.
If the North Londoners are crowned champions in May, fans will certainly not forget the crucial contributions the Lewisham native has made along the way.