Vito Mannone: A couple of early stops; which were not quite as simple as they may have seemed, gave Vito Mannone a solid start and a confidence boost. This is very important for a player whose form is hardly consistent and therefore thrives on obtaining that self-belief. He was left in a sticky situation when Borini asked his compatriot to clear the ball with Olivier Giroud in close attendance. Mannone produced a superb one-handed save down low to his right hand side from a free-kick by Alexis Sanchez. From the ensuing corner, the Italian’s services were required once again to block a close-range header. Mannone did have a nervous moment with just over ten minutes to go when he misjudged a long ball and his attempted headed clearance had to be helped clear by Younes Kaboul. The former Arsenal and Hull City shot-stopper redeemed himself a few minutes later when strong wrists were required to deflect a powerful shot by Alexis away from danger. The part that he played in helping Sunderland to a vital point in their quest for survival should not be underestimated.
Danny Simpson: While Leicester City re-discovered the very best of their form in emphatic style, beating Swansea City 4-0, it is the understated performances of players such as Danny Simpson which go un-noticed but are nonetheless important to the final result. He was solid throughout, making three tackles, and knew exactly what was required from him in each situation that presented itself. Whether closing down the man on the ball, covering space, or clearing danger from behind the centre-half, Simpson more than played his part on Sunday.
Robert Huth: Leicester City’s towering German defender was at his brutal and uncompromising best against their Welsh visitors on Sunday, not relenting in his desire to keep another clean sheet alongside Wes Morgan. Robert Huth was on hand to clear his lines effectively on seven occasions and as ever, was imperious in the air, winning three aerial duels. The whole of The Foces’ back-line protected Kasper Schmeichel very well, but Huth’s two blocks epitomise that. Many believe that he could; and possibly should, earn his place in the Premier League Team of the Year. His performance on Sunday was certainly a timely reminder of just how much of an influence he has been to Ranieri’s side this year, with it being a certainty that Andre Ayew and Alberto Paloschi will wake up tomorrow realising that they were involved in a titanic tussle.
Laurent Koscielny: Although Arsenal were fairly blunt as an attacking force, Sunderland were certainly a determined outfit themselves and offered a serious challenge to the Gunners’ attempts at maintaining a clean sheet. Laurent Koscielny was able to physically dominate the rather isolated Jermain Defoe, frequently preventing Sunderland from establishing a base in the attacking third of the pitch from which to build on. This can be seen by the fact that he made six interceptions and came out on top in three aerial duels. The Frenchman also did well to dispel the threat that the lively substitute Duncan Watmore brought to Sunderland’s play when he entered the action, with many of Koscielny’s four clearances coming at the end of an adventurous run by the local boy from the North East.
Alberto Moreno: After enduring an inconsistent spell for much of the campaign, Alberto Moreno has come into his own recently and put in another impressive display against Newcastle at Anfield, despite the Reds’ second half capitulation. The Spanish international was as energetic as ever on the left flank, running tirelessly up and down the touch-line to take part in attacks and helping the team’s defensive endeavours, putting in four strong challenges and making three interceptions. His final ball has come on leaps and bounds in recent times too, emphasised by the fact that he provided both the assists for Liverpool’s goals. In doing so, Moreno equalled his tally for the last 57 matches, and Liverpool fans will certainly hope that this is only the beginning for him in terms of getting into the action in the final third.