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The Premier League stars who lit up Matchday 24
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Matthew Hill
Bukayo Saka gave a brilliant performance once again for Arsenal
Bukayo Saka gave a brilliant performance once again for Arsenal

The Premier League title race took another dramatic turn on Matchday 24 with Arsenal stealing a march on Manchester City.

A late victory at Aston Villa for Mikel Arteta’s men was made to look all the more important after the Citizens dropped two points at Nottingham Forest, while Manchester United kept their own outside hopes alive by overcoming Leicester.

With shock results, red cards and plenty of stunning performances all on show, we pick out our five star performers from a frantic weekend.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Arsenal were made to sweat for a precious three points at Aston Villa with Bukayo Saka the star of an inspired comeback. 

The Gunners fell behind twice in the first half to strikes from Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho but showed plenty of mettle to respond on both occasions, before two dramatic goals in the final moments sealed a seismic three points.

Saka, 21, scored his side’s first when blasting home early in the piece, notching his 17th direct goal involvement (nine goals, eight assists) in just 23 top-flight appearances this season.

Even when the chips were down, the winger led by example by bravely demanding the ball and driving his side forward — riding a number of strong tackles along the way.

Team-mate Oleksandr Zinchenko expressed his belief after the game that Saka does not receive ample protection from Premier League referees.

Zinchenko, 26, said: "Bukayo is an unbelievable player. All the full-backs from the other teams, they know he’s so dangerous, so they try to provoke him, tackle him and the referees should know this."

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

Bruno Fernandes ran the show for Manchester United against Leicester
Bruno Fernandes ran the show for Manchester United against Leicester

Marcus Rashford continues to rightfully dominate the headlines at Manchester United — but Bruno Fernandes is also playing a starring role in the Red Devils’ renaissance. 

The Portuguese maestro, 28, picked up his fifth and sixth assists of this Premier League campaign against the Foxes, with only a shocking miss from Diogo Dalot costing him a seventh.

Fernandes delivered a clinic in creativity, first carving open Leicester’s backline with a glorious outside-of-the-foot through ball which the clinical Rashford tucked away expertly.

Then, in the second period, his effortless one-two with Jadon Sancho provided the returning England star with the simplest of finishes and saw him lauded by his team-mates and manager.

Speaking about his No8, Erik ten Hag admitted: "First as captain, he’s an example on the pitch with the energy he puts in, and for our tactical approach in both the transition moments. 

"Bruno is so important for this team. He’s a great example for everyone in the squad."

Emerson Royal (Tottenham)

Tottenham’s deadline-day signing of Sporting wing-back Pedro Porro looked to spell bad news for Emerson Royal. 

However, the highly-rated Spaniard was left to watch on from the bench on Sunday as Royal put in a match-winning performance during his side’s 2-0 triumph over West Ham.

As well as confidently slotting home the opening goal just before the hour mark, the 24-year-old delivered a confident display on the right flank with lung-bursting runs and flying tackles aplenty.

Royal arrived from Barcelona in the summer of 2021 for over £25million but has endured a mixed time of things in North London — though he may be starting to turn a corner.

Having also shone against Manchester City recently, Royal thinks Porro’s arrival has brought the best out of him.

He told reporters last week: "It’s a healthy dispute. As we say in football, a good fight. I want to play. He's going to want to play too."

Emerson Royal put in an accomplished performance against West Ham
Emerson Royal put in an accomplished performance against West Ham

Alisson (Liverpool)

Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Newcastle has sparked talk of the Reds rediscovering their best form at the season’s business end.

However, while goals from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo earned them a morale-boosting win on Tyneside, Jurgen Klopp’s men were also indebted to their reliable goalkeeper Alisson.

Before a goal had been scored, the burly Brazilian stayed upright to deny Miguel Almiron from point-blank range and went on to make terrific second-half stops from Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson.

He also made a telling contribution going forward, too — his raking long pass for Mohamed Salah eventually leading to opposite number Nick Pope being sent off for a clumsy handball.

The 30-year-old stopper frequently takes the Brazil No1 jersey over his compatriot and fellow Premier League star Ederson, which is no mean feat given the Manchester City keeper’s pedigree.

In a season where Liverpool are badly struggling to make the top four, Alisson’s consistency is keeping them in with a chance.

Seamus Coleman (Everton)

Everton captain Seamus Coleman put in a superb shift on his side's right flank against Leeds
Everton captain Seamus Coleman put in a superb shift on his side's right flank against Leeds

There have been few shrewder signings in Premier League history than Everton’s £60,000 capture of Seamus Coleman from Sligo Rovers in 2009.

Now the Toffees skipper, 34-year-old Coleman has been a constant through plenty of highs and lows at Goodison Park and is still dragging his side to precious victories — just like Saturday’s one over Leeds.

Billed as a six-pointer by many, the hosts edged a tight encounter when their Irish full-back beat Whites stopper Illan Meslier from an unlikely angle with a fizzing strike.

While bad goalkeeping undoubtedly played its part, it was an effort typical of the evergreen Coleman who somehow found himself the furthest man forward when Alex Iwobi chipped a hopeful long ball into the channel.

It sealed a second win in three games for new Everton boss Sean Dyche, who confessed at full-time that he is an admirer of his skipper.

Dyche said: "I like professionalism, I like professional standards and I think he's got them without a doubt. He plays with that edge, and that is key for me."


Premier LeagueArsenalBukayo SakaManchester UnitedBruno FernandesTottenham HotspurLiverpoolAlissonEverton
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