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Handicapping the PFA Players’ Player of the Year finalists

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Only two of the six nominees for the Professional Footballers Association’s Players’ Player of the Year Award made last year’s shortlist.

And part of that pair should be the favorite to snare the award.

N'Golo Kante has arguably been the best player on the last two Premier League champions, assuming Chelsea goes on to win the league. Considering I’ve argued for his inclusion as a Ballon d’Or finalist, this should come as no surprise.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

With respect to Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses, Kante is the most impactful on-field difference between 2015-16 and 2016-17 Chelsea.

Teammate Eden Hazard‘s return to form has no doubt been a catalyst for the side, but which player is more replaceable in the Blues’ side? We’re not talking like-for-like, but it’s more difficult to argue that Chelsea is still in first Nemanja Matic bearing Kante’s burden than with Pedro or Willian taking on more of Hazard’s responsibilities.

This is a player’s vote, which is a huge factor. Will fellow PL players be more swayed by dizzying dribbles or the man disrupted their attack to turn possession, defense, and attack on its ear? Unfortunately we can’t combine Kante and Harry Kane to make some sort of N’Garry Kante who puts up wild numbers while doing the sometimes unnoticed things in the middle of the park.

That takes us to Kane, who missed eight PL matches for Spurs, which seems a hefty sum in a race for such an honor, and Tottenham was unbeaten in that octet.

Alexis Sanchez has been phenomenal in leading Arsenal’s attack, but the club hasn’t matched his production. Zlatan Ibrahimovic may fall victim to the same fate, though he’s been the only goal scorer for Manchester United in seven PL contests.

Romelu Lukaku is having a wonderful season for Everton, but has too often gone quiet in big Everton fixtures. The Toffees could be fifth or better had Lukaku found the back of the net or been the prime set-up man for a goal in either Merseyside Derby loss or a pair of 1-1 draws against Manchester United.

If you’re asking for a ranking…

  1. Kante
  2. Sanchez
  3. Ibrahimovic
  4. Hazard
  5. Kane
  6. Lukaku

Man City 3-0 Burnley: Smooth sailing

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  • Aguero converts early PK
  • Man City’s first PL clean sheet vs. Burnley
  • City equals club record of 11 consecutive victories in all competitions

Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, and Leroy Sane scored as Manchester City wore down Burnley for a 3-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The win, coupled with Manchester United’s loss at Huddersfield Town, gives City a five-point lead on United. Burnley slips ninth, with 13 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

City was undoubtedly the more threatening side in the first quarter-hour, as expected, with Fabian Delph and Kevin De Bruyne particularly involved in the play.

Burnley backstop Nick Pope made a two-handed punch stop of Bernardo Silva as City kept up its attack.

Bernardo Silva then won a penalty kick for City. After a long delay, often a problem for the taker, Aguero proved immune to the pressure and it was 1-0 to the hosts.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

There wasn’t much to most of the second half, as Burnley rarely looked capable of an equalizer.

David Silva snapped the match to a bit of life when he forced Pope into a 72nd minute save, and an ensuing corner kick saw Otamendi nod home an insurance goal. Sane made it 3-0 within moments.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Swansea 1-2 Leicester: Foxes back to winning ways

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  • Leicester took lead lead via Fernandez OG
  • Okazaki doubled lead
  • Mawson got Swansea back in it

Michael Appleton led Leicester City ti victory in his first game as interim boss following the firing of Craig Shakespeare earlier this week.

Leicester beat Swansea 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday with an own goal from Federico Fernandez and a strike from Shinji Okazaki good enough to secure the Foxes a first win since August as Riyad Mahrez impressed.

Alfie Mawson scored in the second half to set up a tense finish for Leicester but they held on to grab their second win of the season and move away from the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors looked like the better team early on and Okazaki almost knocked out home after a goalmouth scramble in the box.

Leicester took the lead with Riyad Mahrez’s cross deflecting off Fernandez and in. 1-0 to the Foxes away from home.

Tammy Abraham went close twice in the first half for the Swans but Paul Clement‘s men struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Leicester doubled their lead early in the second half through Okazaki as the Japan international finished off Mahrez’s ball. 2-0 and cruising.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mawson then unleashed his inner-striker with a fine turn and finish to make it 2-1 but that wasn’t enough for the Swans.

Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth: Cherries secure huge road win

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  • Surman, Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead
  • Stoke have only won one of their last 8 games in all comps
  • Diouf’s goal not enough for a point

Bournemouth beat Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their first away win of the season.

Early goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas was enough to grab Bournemouth all three points as Mame Biram Diouf’s goal in the second half wasn’t enough to launch a Stoke comeback.

With the defeat Stoke slip into the bottom with Bournemouth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Bournemouth got off to the best possible start as Stanislas set up Surman who fired home to make it 1-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later after it was 2-0 as Stanislas slammed home a penalty kick following Benik Afobe being hacked down in the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Stoke struggled to recover after that awful start but they did grab a goal midway through the second half.

Diouf made it 2-1 with just 17 minutes gone in the second half as a long ball forward caused havoc in the box with Choupo-Mouting knocking it down for Diouf to finish.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Stoke threw plenty of long balls at Bournemouth late on but the Cherries held on for a crucial three points to leave Stoke in plenty of trouble.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Afobe and others came close to sealing the win late on for Bournemouth with Stoke pushing forward but the Cherries were well worth their victory.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.