The Premier League stars who lit up Matchday 26
Home teams ran riot and records tumbled during another thrilling weekend of Premier League action.
Eight of the nine clashes across Saturday and Sunday saw teams taste success in front of their own fans, including a precious last-gasp victory for leaders Arsenal against Bournemouth.
Liverpool thrashed Manchester United, while the likes of Brighton, Wolves and Manchester City also secured impressive wins.
Ahead of Brentford's battle with Fulham, we single out five star performers from a memorable Matchday 26.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Mohamed Salah became Liverpool’s all-time Premier League top scorer in fairytale fashion yesterday, starring in the Reds’ breathtaking 7-0 thumping of Manchester United.
Though their top-flight campaign has fallen well short of pre-season expectations, Sunday’s showing against their bitter rivals was clear evidence that Liverpool and Salah are near impossible to contain when operating at full throttle.
The Egyptian grabbed his side’s fourth and sixth strikes on a remarkable afternoon, first hammering in a half-volley before coolly diverting a deflected pass home for his brace.
Upon grabbing the goal record, Salah removed his shirt and soaked up the adulation from the home fans for an achievement that further seals his place in Anfield folklore.
He even helped himself to two assists, too — most memorably when sitting Lisandro Martinez down with dazzling feet that will have given the United defender a sleepless night.
Jose Sa (Wolves)
Adama Traore’s late goal helped Wolves impressively see off Tottenham 1-0 on Saturday, but they also had their stopper Jose Sa to thank at full-time.
The Portuguese ace pulled out six superb saves and bravely claimed three crosses to help thwart Spurs, who laid siege on the home goal for long periods of the contest.
Former Porto custodian Sa, 30, was at his acrobatic best to deny Dejan Kulusevski on two occasions, earning his seventh shutout of the season in the process and helping the men from Molineux up to 13th in the table.
Winning the club’s Player of the Season award last term, Sa is a popular figure in the West Midlands but has struggled at times this term, having played two months of the campaign with a fractured wrist.
However, recent performances suggest Sa still has a big role to play in the coming years under Julen Lopetegui’s stewardship.
Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
Brennan Johnson’s brilliant brace that earned Nottingham Forest a precious point against Everton may prove to be a pivotal moment in this season’s relegation scrap.
With the Toffees ahead early through Demarai Gray’s penalty, Johnson eased the tension among home supporters when slotting home a parried Morgan Gibbs-White strike from a narrow angle.
And the City Ground erupted when their 21-year-old academy product levelled proceedings for a second time, cleverly exchanging passes with Ryan Yates before emphatically slamming a strike beyond Jordan Pickford.
Johnson has a bright international future ahead of him with Wales, having been touted as a potential successor to the retired Gareth Bale’s position of talisman for his nation.
With seven Premier League strikes to his name already this term, Forest may struggle to hold on to their livewire for much longer if his fine form continues.
Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)
Brighton fans will rightly be dreaming of Europe next season after the Seagulls continued a fabulous campaign by routing West Ham 4-0 at the Amex.
In what was a near faultless team performance, Japanese sensation Kaoru Mitoma’s majestic display was well worth singling out for special acclaim.
The 25-year-old has wasted little time adjusting to life in England this season, netting eight goals in 24 appearances across all competitions — including six in his last 11 outings.
He proved far too hot for the Hammers defence to handle here, drawing a foul from Jarrod Bowen for the early penalty before tapping home his side’s third at the back post after the interval.
Wesley Fofana (Chelsea)
There has not been much to smile about at Stamford Bridge recently, though Wesley Fofana’s goal earned Chelsea a hard-fought 1-0 win over Leeds on Saturday.
The French defender was making his first Premier Legue start for the Blues since October 1, having missed over four months of action with a knee injury sustained not long after arriving from Leicester.
Fittingly, the five-cap Les Bleus international marked the occasion with his first ever goal in England’s top tier, rising high to head home Ben Chilwell’s corner early in the second half.
The £75million star is a hugely rounded operator, as showcased by his 100% aerial duel success rate and 96% passing accuracy against the Whites.
At just 22, Fofana has all the tools to operate at the heart of Chelsea’s defence for a decade or longer, providing injuries do not interfere too frequently.