Dream debuts, fabulous free-kicks and a new-look Chelsea side clicking into gear were amongst the talking points of another Premier League weekend, one which saw champions Liverpool overhaul early pacesetters Everton at the summit.
Southampton maintained their strong start thanks to a set-piece specialist, whilst Manchester United produced a dismal display to lose for the third time in just four home league fixtures so far this season.
Elsewhere there were victories for Manchester City, Spurs and Wolves, though the wait for a first win of the new season extends for both Burnley and Sheffield United.
Following the latest round of action we’ve picked out some of the division’s finest performers, here are nine Premier League players who shone in gameweek six.
Wolves produced their most accomplished performance of the season so far in a display which embodied their fine work since returning to the Premier League two seasons ago, an organised and strong backline providing the foundation for their fleet-footed attackers to cause problems at the opposite end.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had several stars shine in their 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, the likes of Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto hugely impressive in attack and summer signing Nelson Semedo produced his best showing since arriving from Barcelona.
One huge highlight, however, was the display of debutant Rayan Ait-Nouri, the teenager handed a surprise first appearance at left wing-back and making an immediate impression.
The highly-rated 19-year-old was signed from Angers during the summer on a season-long loan deal with an option to buy and rose to the occasion in some style, opening the scoring against the Eagles with a composed first-time finish.
✅ Clean sheet
✅ Man of the Match
Some debut for Rayan Aït-Nouri 👏 pic.twitter.com/dHgBBOQGEb
— Wolves (@Wolves) October 30, 2020
Ait-Nouri’s goal saw him become Wolves’ youngest ever Premier League goalscorer and it was a hugely impressive display for a young player adapting to a new league and country, full of energy and demonstrating his ability to provide dangerous deliveries from the left.
The long-term absence of Jonny has seen the likes of Marcal and Roman Saiss used at left wing-back so far, but Ait-Nouri’s performance this weekend has given Nuno a dilemma of whether to opt for youth or experience.
Hakim Ziyech was the first of Chelsea’s summer signings to be announced after a deal was concluded as early as February for the Ajax star, though his subsequent pre-season injury and the arrivals of Kai Havertz and Timo Werner perhaps dimmed some of the excitement surrounding his arrival.
Ziyech, however, has arrived as a Chelsea player over the past week, scoring on his first start for the club during the midweek Champions League victory at Krasnodar, before marking his full Premier League bow with another goal at Burnley this weekend.
The Moroccan international offers the west London outfit a different option to their current attacking contingent, Ziyech inventive in style and possessing superb delivery with his wand of a left foot.
Against Burnley he drifted inside dangerously from his preferred position on the right-flank, opening the scoring with a crisp finish after being teed up by Tammy Abraham just outside the penalty area.
11 goals ⚽️
19 assists 🅰️
Since the beginning of last season, Hakim Ziyech was directly involved in 3️⃣0️⃣ goals in 40 matches for both Ajax & Chelsea in all comps.
Mason Mount approved 👍 pic.twitter.com/37AXp5W0Q4
— Goal (@goal) October 31, 2020
He was again instrumental in Chelsea’s third of the afternoon after picking up possession in a central area and releasing Werner with a perfectly weighted pass, his creativity and vision set to play a key part in Frank Lampard’s bid to find balance between defence and attack.
Arsenal’s soft centre has been amongst their downfalls for several seasons but those issues look some way to being addressed following their summer recruitment, the signings of centre-back Gabriel and midfielder Thomas Partey significantly strengthening the spine of Mikel Arteta’s side.
The latter was the best player on the pitch in a monstrous midfield performance during the Gunners’ 1-0 win at Manchester United, the deadline day arrival from Atletico Madrid robust in the challenge, diligent in possession and domineering in the Arsenal engine room.
Partey led the north London side for touches, tackles, interceptions and possession won, overpowering a lacklustre Red Devils midfield in a stand-out display at Old Trafford.
Roy Keane likened the Ghanaian to former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira post-match and the midfielder looks like a player the club have craved in recent years, an elite athlete capable of influencing the play in a powerful box-to-box style.
Thomas Partey for Arsenal vs. Man Utd:
⬢ Most touches
⬢ Most duels won
⬢ Most ball recoveries
⬢ Most take-ons completed
⬡ 2nd-most tackles made
A midfield masterclass. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/AphLIwztxm
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 1, 2020
Fellow Sky Sports’ pundit Jamie Redknapp was similarly impressed by his display and believes Partey looks like an ‘incredible signing’ in a strong window of recruitment for Arteta and Arsenal, describing the 27-year-old as a player who ‘can do everything’ at the heart of the Gunners’ side.
Is there a better set-piece taker in Premier League right now?
James Ward-Prowse once again demonstrated just why he is such a valuable asset to Southampton, producing a masterclass in dead-ball situations as the Saints secured a 4-3 victory at Aston Villa to maintain their strong start.
The England international whipped a superb delivery onto the head of Jannick Vestergaard to open the scoring, before taking the game away from Aston Villa with two moments of magic before the interval.
Ward-Prowse whipped two fantastic free-kicks into the top corner and beyond the reach of Emiliano Martinez, with no Premier League player having now scored more free-kicks than the midfielder’s six since the start of the 2016/17 season.
James Ward-Prowse scored two free-kicks in the first half against Villa 🤯
Technique = 💯 pic.twitter.com/axpRnulpVb
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 1, 2020
It was the perfect tonic for the Saints’ club captain on his 26th birthday and capped a fine all-round display, Ward-Prowse once more providing energy and enthusiasm at the heart of the side in addition to his dead-ball prowess.
Southampton’s set-piece specialist ensured it was another three points for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side who sit in the Champions League places at present, the Saints gaining momentum and confidence in a season filled with shocks and surprises.
Aston Villa’s solid start has stuttered over the past two weeks with successive defeats to Leeds and Southampton, though captain Jack Grealish remains a cut above his teammates and produced another display of quality this weekend.
The visitors had looked capable of embarrassing Dean Smith’s side after racing into a four-goal lead, only for Grealish to make the score respectable as he almost singlehandedly attempted to drag Villa back into the contest.
Grealish provided an assist for Tyrone Mings with a delightful clipped ball into the penalty area, before drawing a foul from Ibrahima Diallo in the penalty area to allow Ollie Watkins to score from the spot.
The 25-year-old then fired home a third for Villa from distance to make it eight goal contributions so far this season, with only Harry Kane having registered more amongst English players in the Premier League.
Jack Grealish’s game by numbers vs. Southampton:
21 final third passes
7 fouls suffered
6 shots (2 on target)
4/4 aerials won
2 big chances created
1 penalty won
Continues his fine form. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DsAtA47khL
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 1, 2020
Grealish recently signed a new contract and insists he remains happy at his boyhood side, but Villa will need to show signs of significant improvement if they are to fulfil the midfielder’s ambitions.
Gareth Southgate has been reluctant to hand Grealish a real chance with England so far, though it is becoming more and more difficult to ignore the clamour for his inclusion in the starting side, the star a unique talent and one capable of moments of magic.
Another player who will be hoping Southgate has kept a close eye on his performances in recent weeks, Callum Wilson has made a fine start to life at Newcastle following his summer arrival from Bournemouth.
Wilson had stated a strong case to be Harry Kane’s deputy with the national side before a downturn in form last season as the Cherries were relegated, but he looks back to his best in a Newcastle shirt after scoring six goals in just seven appearances since moving to St James’ Park.
The 28-year-old was the match-winner against high-flying Everton this weekend, opening the scoring from the penalty he had won after being fouled by Andres Gomes, before tapping home from close range via a Ryan Fraser cross.
The England international also linked the play from the front and combined well with Allan Saint-Maximin, including one weighted pass into the path of the Frenchman who should perhaps have done better with the chance.
Wilson faces competition for a Three Lions’ call from the likes of Danny Ings, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tammy Abraham, but will be hoping he has done enough ahead of this month’s international break.
Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis saw an unlikely debutant thrust into the action against West Ham on Saturday, the untested Nathaniel Phillips partnering Joe Gomez at the heart of the champion’s defence.
Phillips was widely expected to leave the club during the summer but remained on Merseyside despite interest, the 23-year-old having spent last season on-loan in Germany’s second tier with Stuttgart and possessing just one senior appearance for Liverpool before the weekend.
The centre-back is actually two months Gomez’s senior in terms of age but a huge way behind the England international in terms of high-level experience, though he produced a solid display as Jurgen Klopp’s side came from behind to move top of the Premier League.
Phillips was strong aerially and kept things simple when in possession, his assured performance a welcome boost to the Reds who have seen Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho sidelined in recent weeks.
🔴 Nathaniel Phillips – Premier League debut by numbers
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 31, 2020
Matip’s return to fitness is likely to demote Phillips once more ahead of next weekend’s crunch clash with Manchester City, though his league debut has shown he can provide immediate cover should he be called upon throughout a congested fixture schedule.
Arsenal and defensive stability have been two words not often associated for much of the past decade, but times are changing at the Emirates with the north London side currently in possession of the Premier League’s best defensive record.
This weekend’s win at Manchester United was the latest demonstration of the Gunners new-found resilience, with summer signing Gabriel continuing his strong start to life in English football.
The Brazilian was named as Arsenal’s Player of the Month for September and has continued to go from strength to strength in the opening weeks of the campaign, Gabriel marshalling a back three this weekend and dominating defensively.
The 22-year-old completed 92% of his passes and was proactive in his defending, making four clearances and five successful tackles, including a brilliant last-ditch challenge on Nemanja Matic.
Arsenal’s progress and evolution in style has been evident since the appointment of Mikel Arteta and the signings of Gabriel and Partey have accelerated their rebuild, their strong defensive record coming despite trips to Liverpool and both Manchester clubs in their opening six fixtures.
Kyle Walker brought up a century of league appearances for Manchester City by rifling home a collector’s item goal against Sheffield United this weekend, scoring the only goal of the game against his former side to ensure Pep Guardiola’s side left Bramall Lane with three points.
It was a highlight in an impressive start to the season for the England international who has been amongst City’s most consistent and reliable performers, with Rio Ferdinand labelling Walker as ‘the standout defender in the league so far’ following his display.
This weekend saw the 30-year-old provide typical energy and athleticism down the right-hand side, though the traits he has developed under Guardiola’s guidance are also evident as he tucks into midfield, organises those around him and utilises his recovery pace to get City out of dangerous situations.
Walker’s game has long been played at a frenetic pace but he has refined his style in recent seasons for the better, a phenomenal athlete and a player capable of influencing games at either end of the pitch.