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PST writers’ Premier League Best XI of the year 2018

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The calendar is turning to 2019, so who have been the best players in the Premier League since New Year’s Day?

[ MORE: Liverpool rips Arsenal | Spurs shocked ]

We asked our staff to search their hearts and search their minds a la Bryan Adams to find their PL Best XI from the second half of the 2017-18 season and the top half of 2018-19.

Here are the results.


Joe Prince-Wright (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

David Silva (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Nick Mendola (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Marcos Alonso

Midfielders: Fernandinho, N'Golo Kante, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

N’Golo Kante (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Ederson

Defenders: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Fernandinho, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling

Forwards: Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah

Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Dan Karell (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Virgil Van Dijk, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Chilwell

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang  (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Hot Hazard runs Chelsea past Watford

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  • Kabasele stretchered out of stadium
  • Hazard scores in each half
  • Pereyra nets terrific equalizer (video)

Eden Hazard scored a pair of goals to lead Chelsea back up the table in a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday.

Roberto Pereyra scored a beautiful volley for Watford, but the Hornets will be more concerned with Christian Kabasele. The defender needed to be stretchered from the stadium after sliding into the goal post in a bid to block Hazard’s opener.

Chelsea is back into fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal and four back of Man City, while Watford finishes Boxing Day in the table’s ninth position.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Willian came near to making it 1-0 when Cesc Fabregas slotted him into the left of the box, and he beat Ben Foster but not the goal post.

Christian Kabasele slid hard into the post and needed plenty of help from the trainers. He tried to gut out a performance, but Adrian Mariappa needed to take his place.

Hazard missed a chance to open the scoring earlier in the half, but made no mistake in stoppage time. The Belgian squared his hips to shoot to the right, then kept dribbling and shot left after Ben Foster committed his body to the feint. Mateo Kovacic set up the goal.

Watford leveled the score within moments, a training ground play when saw Pereyra sneak atop the 18 for a volleyed finish inside the near post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Gerard Deulofeu thought he’d won a penalty off David Luiz in the 54th minute, but no whistle came for what appeared to be shoulder-to-shoulder.

Hazard won a penalty off Foster in the 57th, and left no doubt with his conversion.

N'Golo Kante and Troy Deeney missed chances at each end as the game reached its final 10 minutes.

Foster stopped a Willian chance cued up by Marcos Alonso in the 89th, the ensuing corner kick nearly serving the same purpose of a third goal.

Hazard runs Chelsea past Brighton

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  • Goal, assist for Hazard
  • Pedro scores
  • March pulls one back

Eden Hazard had a goal and an assist in the first half as Chelsea beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Sunday at the Amex Stadium.

Pedro scored Chelsea’s other goal as the Blues go fourth with 37 points, two back of Spurs.

Solly March nabbed Brighton’s marker, as the Seagulls are 13th with 21 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

David Luiz‘s early free kick sailed to Mat Ryan, as Chelsea issued the first test of the day.

Anthony Knockaert drew a foul in the 8th minute to set up a right-flank free kick, but it didn’t get past the first defender on the line.

Willian slipped Marcos Alonso through for a chance that led to a free kick in the 15th minute, but Willian’s effort hit the wall.

Chelsea went ahead soon after, Pedro at the back post to slam a well-slid Eden Hazard pass into the goal.

Brighton struggled to gather itself together, though Solly March forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into a save around the half-hour mark.

Willian picked off a Leon Balogun entry pass, and immediately sent Hazard through 1v1 with Ryan. The Belgian rolled a smooth effort past the keeper, and it was 2-0 in the 33rd.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

A mess in the Brighton box just after halftime led to a desperate and acrobatic kick from Pedro flying over the frame.

Alonso then hit the bar in the 63rd.

Brighton pulled to within one. Two minutes after threatening the Chelsea goal, March was a flash quicker than David Luiz to react to a bouncing ball across the box.

Three things we learned: Chelsea v. Man City

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LONDON — Maybe Manchester City aren’t going to stroll to the title again this season…

Chelsea beat Man City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to not only blow the title race open but also breath new life into their own campaign. Pep Guardiola‘s injury hit City were blown away by Chelsea’s press, as the reigning champs had only trailed for 12 minutes all season long before this defeat.

Goals in each half from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz did the damage, as City were left stunned. They now trail Liverpool, who are top of the Premier League table by a point.

Here’s what we learned from a wild encounter in west London.


FIRED UP CHELSEA KEEP TITLE HOPES ALIVE

Maurizio Sarri said he was “very worried” after Chelsea’s midweek defeat to Wolves. Don’t worry, Maurizio. Things are much better now. Chelsea became the first team to defeat Manchester City in the PL this season, as the Blues beat the reigning champs at their own game on Saturday. Sarri’s men hunted in packs and showed the same hunger they had at the start of the season, as well as the clinical edge. Marcos Alonso recovered from a poor first half, Kante was back on form and so too was Jorginho.

Having Eden Hazard back to his best was a big reason why they defeated City, but Sarri slightly altering his approach paid huge dividends. Choosing to start without a recognized center forward was a masterstroke from the Italian coach, as Hazard, Willian and Pedro pushed high on City’s defenders whenever they could, aided by Kante not far behind them and often in front of them. Chelsea’s bite returned, especially in the second half, and so did their faint hopes of winning the title this season. They are still seven points behind City and eight behind leaders Liverpool, but Chelsea needed this win to prove that Sarri’s project is still moving in the right direction after two defeats from their previous three games. With this victory they also gave Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool hope that City can be stopped this season.


WASTEFUL CITY LOSE UNBEATEN RUN

When Guardiola decided to not start Gabriel Jesus on Saturday it sent out a message to Chelsea: we are going to toy with you. They did just that in the first half, and Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez saw plenty of the ball and created plenty of chances. They failed to take them. Sane, Sterling and Mahrez were all denied in the first half as they tried to pick the perfect pass or finish. Had Sergio Aguero or Kevin De Bruyne been on the pitch, it may well have been a different story. For just the second time this season they fired a blank (the other was at Liverpool) and it was only the fourth time in the last two seasons that City have failed to score in a game.

Yes, injuries are mounting up for Pep all over the pitch and City didn’t have a cutting edge on Saturday which shows just how important Aguero is to them. Gabriel Jesus came on early in the second half, but it was more in desperation than anything else as the goal on half time gave Chelsea all of the momentum and inspired their victory. City’s first defeat of the season came after 23 games last season. They only lost once after that on their way to a record-breaking title win. Guardiola will be hoping this defeat has the same galvanizing effect on his players this season.


CHELSEA DO NOT NEED A NO.9

For Chelsea much of the talk this season has been about whether or not they need to start Alvaro Morata or Olivier Giroud. Morata wasn’t in the 18-man squad on Saturday, while Giroud came off the bench late on. Hazard was frustrated for most of the first half in a false nine position, throwing his arms in the air when passes didn’t go his way, but with Pedro and Willian buzzing around him they gave City’s defense all kinds of problems and denied them time to play out from the back. Hazard may not enjoy playing in a central striking role, but this performance and the balance it gave Sarri suggests that Chelsea no longer need a No. 9. Playing a 4-3-3 with a false nine in certain games, especially against the top six, is the way forward for the Blues.

Wolves stun Chelsea with amazing comeback win

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  • Loftus-Cheek scores for third-straight PL game
  • Jimenez, Jota scored for Wolves
  • Second defeat in three games for Chelsea
  • First victory in seven for Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Chelsea 2-1 at Molinuex on Wednesday, as they stunned Maurizio Sarri‘s with a four-minute spell in the second half.

Chelsea led through Ruben Loftus-Cheek‘s deflected first half goal, but Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota scored in quick succession to deliver a famous victory for Wolves.

With the win they move up to 12th place on 19 points, while Chelsea slip to fourth place on 31 points and are now 10 points behind leaders Man City who they play on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Chelsea had the majority of the ball but Wolves threatened on the break as N'Golo Kante gave the ball away and a poor touch at a pivotal moment let down Diogo Jota.

But it was Chelsea who took the lead. Loftus-Cheek picked up the ball on the inside left channel, drove towards goal and hit a shot which Conor Coady nodded past his own goalkeeper to put the visitors 1-0 up. The goal was eventually awarded to Loftus-Cheek, as his positive impact continued.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Willian went close with a free kick before the break as Rui Patricio tipped his superb curling effort over the bar as Chelsea dominated the first half.

Wolves had no answer to wave after wave of Chelsea attacks, although they did improve slightly before the break as Raul Jimenez headed just over. Willian should have made it 2-0 in the first half but Ryan Bennett made a wonderful last-ditch tackle.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

In the second half Eden Hazard played in Loftus-Cheek and his perfect cross towards Alvaro Morata saw Willy Boly dive in and somehow deny the Chelsea forward who wanted a penalty kick.

Morata was probably correct as Boly’s challenge from behind was reckless, and the Spaniard then headed a glorious chance over from a cross as Chelsea knocked at the door for a second.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

But it was Wolves who came roaring back, as they hit Chelsea twice in four minutes.

First, Jimenez was played in by youngster Morgan Gibbs-White and he slammed the ball straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga and it somehow went in to make it 1-1.

Moments later Wolves were 2-1 up as Matt Doherty was found on the right and he found Jota at the back post to slot home and spark wild scenes among the home fans in Wolverhampton.

Chelsea went close through Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas late on but the Blues lost in the PL for the second time in the last three games.