The latest round of Premier League action saw Leicester equal the division’s record winning margin, as Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying Foxes smashed nine (yes, nine!) past a hapless Southampton on Friday night.
Manchester United also seem to have remembered how to play football away from Old Trafford, though there were less pleasing scenes at Arsenal as captain Granit Xhaka further dented his popularity with the club’s supporters following his expletive-filled departure from the field amid a chorus of boos.
Here is the Football Faithful’s Team of the Week…
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul – Norwich
It’s not often we place a goalkeeper in a losing side in our Team of the Week, even less often when their side has been comfortably beaten at home, but Norwich’s Tim Krul must be wondering what more he could have done to earn his side a result in the defeat to Manchester United.
The Dutch goalkeeper made a magnificent stop to deny Anthony Martial from close range with the game goalless, whilst he showcased his reputation as a spot-kick saver to twice deny United from 12-yards.
The 31-year-old spared his side from humiliation by first saving Marcus Rashford’s poor penalty, before producing heroics again to deny Martial from the spot following Todd Cantwell’s handball.
Norwich are now winless in five, and Krul will need greater contributions from his teammates if the club are to move away from danger.
Tim Krul saved two penalties but this stop off Martial's point blank header was incredible… pic.twitter.com/CCkPDiAVQT
— Shamoon Hafez (@ShamoonHafez) October 27, 2019
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Is there a better attacking right-back in world football at present?
The 21-year-old continues to shine in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, with his array of passing and delivery from wide areas a potent weapon for the league leaders.
Alexander-Arnold and captain Jordan Henderson provided a constant outlet down the right-hand side as Liverpool came from a goal down to secure a vital win over Tottenham at Anfield, a result which maintains the clubs six-point advantage over Manchester City.
Defensively the youngster still has work to do to improve, though that is likely to come in time as he continues to flourish for his boyhood club.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has made the most key passes (37) in the Premier a League this season.
De Bruyne second on 36. pic.twitter.com/OTCxmGb214
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) October 27, 2019
Centre-back: Federico Fernandez – Newcastle
The Newcastle defender was handed his first start of the season in the absence of Fabian Schar, with the Argentine impressing alongside captain Jamaal Lascelles as Steve Bruce’s side secured a 1-1 draw with Wolves at St James’ Park.
The 30-year-old won three aerial duels and made four successful tackles, whilst also providing the assist for defensive partner Lascelles to head home the opener following a superb cross.
The point lifted Newcastle out of the bottom three, and their defensive performance was key as they would be made to hang on for a point following Sean Longstaff’s dismissal.
Centre-back: Steve Cook – Bournemouth
Clean sheets were at a premium this weekend in an attacking round of action, though Bournemouth’s Cook was central to helping his side keep a second successive shut-out.
Somewhat uncharacteristically, Bournemouth have struggled for goals of late with their 0-0 draw at Watford their third consecutive fixture without finding the net. Fortunately for Eddie Howe’s side, Cook and defensive partner Nathan Ake have held the fort, producing solid defensive displays to ensure the Cherries keep picking up results.
Having spent much of his early career in non-league and the lower divisions, Cook is now arguably enjoying the best form of his career in the top flight after an impressive start to the season.
? Steve Cook in our last two @premierleague fixtures…
? Average pass success rate – 86%
? Average tackle success rate – 84%
? Clearances – 12
? Aerials won – 8
? Clean sheets – 2
— AFC Bournemouth ? (@afcbournemouth) October 27, 2019
Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Leicester
The Leicester left-back enjoyed a fine day out in his side’s record-breaking 9-0 win at Southampton, scoring the first goal as Brendan Rodgers’ side recorded the biggest ever Premier League away win at St Mary’s.
Chilwell’s goal was just his second in senior football, on an evening in which he marauded down the left-hand side. The 22-year-old also provided two assists in the thrashing of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s struggling side, in what was the latest impressive display from the England international.
A place in Gareth Southgate’s first-choice side is now surely Chilwell’s to lose on current form, especially given competitor Danny Rose’s recent struggles at Tottenham.
Ben Chilwell created more chances (6) than any other player on the pitch against Southampton.
A goal and two assists to go along with it. ? pic.twitter.com/CBAxXWmd2J
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 25, 2019
Midfield: Mateo Kovacic – Chelsea
Having struggled to really establish himself during a loan spell under Maurizio Sarri last season, the Croatian international is becoming increasingly influential in Chelsea’s new-look side under Frank Lampard.
Against Burnley the 25-year-old was dominant, controlling the game alongside midfield partner Jorginho as Chelsea secured an impressive win a Turf Moor.
Critics of Kovacic have struggled to identify the midfielder’s best position in the past, though the former Real Madrid star was at his best against Sean Dyche’s side, controlling the play in tight spaces and surging forward with his trademark dribbling skills.
Given a greater licence to dictate in Lampard’s attacking side, Kovacic is thriving.
— amadí (@amadoit__) October 28, 2019
Midfield: Youri Tielemans – Leicester
Possibly the most competitive position in our line up this week, though we’ve opted for Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans who is beginning to make his £40m club-record fee seem like a snip on recent showings.
The Belgian international possesses all the qualities of a complete central midfield player, mixing energy and work-rate defensively with an ability to go forward and influence games in the final third.
The 22-year-old’s goal against Southampton was his second in as many games, another fine finish demonstrating all of his composure and technique whilst he added another assist to his tally. There are few midfields in the division as talented as Leicester’s trio of Tielemans, James Maddison and Wilfred N’didi, and with all aged just 22, the future looks bright at the King Power Stadium.
Right-wing: Ayoze Perez – Leicester
It’s taken a little time for the diminutive Spaniard to get off the mark for Leicester since his move from Newcastle last summer, though he did so in fine style by netting a hat-trick in the club’s humiliation of Southampton.
The 26-year-old is given licence to roam in Leicester’s fluid front line, whilst he took his three goals expertly to open his account for the club. Perez also scored a hat-trick on his last appearance against Southampton as a Newcastle player in April, becoming the first player to score back-to-back hat-tricks against the same club since Luiz Suarez against Norwich in 2012.
Ayoze Perez has now scored 50 goals in all competitions in English football.
The half-century has been achieved. pic.twitter.com/15vDMihqos
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 25, 2019
Left-wing: Christian Pulisic – Chelsea
It’s taken a little while, but Christian Pulisic has now arrived as a Chelsea player.
Signed in a £58m deal from Borussia Dortmund in January before joining up with his new teammates this summer, it has been a slow adaptation to life in English football for the 21-year-old.
The US international has had to make do with a bit-part role in recent weeks, but handed his first Premier League start since August provided a match-winning display that is likely to make him hard to drop.
Pulisic scored a perfect hat-trick at Turf Moor to take the game away from Burnley, his treble coming from his left-foot, right-foot and head as Chelsea secured a seventh successive win.
Competition for places is fierce in manager Frank Lampard’s forward line, though Pulisic has done his chances of becoming a regular no harm following his first career hat-trick this weekend.
21y 38d – Christian Pulisic today became @ChelseaFC's youngest hat-trick scorer in Premier League history, beating Tammy Abraham's record that stood for 42 days. Escalation. pic.twitter.com/UKStkkmkyD
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 26, 2019
Forward: Anthony Martial – Manchester United
Manchester United’s struggles this season have been made more difficult by the absence of Anthony Martial through injury, with the Frenchman’s return to the team coinciding with their best performance in recent weeks.
The 23-year-old transformed the club’s attacking fortunes in a central forward role, working in tandem alongside Marcus Rashford and Daniel James as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secured a 3-1 win at Norwich.
Martial’s return also proved to be the catalyst for a rejuvenated performance from Rashford, the under-fire forward having been criticised in recent weeks but seemingly back to his best this weekend.
The duo combined for a brilliantly worked third goal, exchanging passes before Martial’s delightful dinked finish. A penalty miss each for the pair were blemishes on an otherwise positive afternoon, and keeping them fit and playing together can only boost the club’s hopes of a successful season.
Manchester United have won 77% of their league games under Ole Gunnar Solskjær when Anthony Martial has started, compared to 29% when he hasn’t.
Vital. ??? pic.twitter.com/fTb421uQLR
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 27, 2019
Forward: Jamie Vardy – Leicester
There is just no stopping the Leicester forward at present, who continued his rich vein of form in the early weeks of the season with a hat-trick in his side’s 9-0 thrashing of Southampton.
Vardy’s predatory insists were evident as he capitalised on a hopeless defensive display by Southampton, his treble making it nine goals for the season to move him ahead of Sergio Aguero and Tammy Abraham in the race for the Golden Boot.
The 32-year-old seems to have elevated his game since the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as manager, whilst his treble also meant that Vardy and Ayoze Perez became the first teammates to score a hat-trick in the same game since Robert Pires and Jermaine Pennant for Arsenal in 2003 – coincidentally also against Southampton.
Only Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have scored more than Vardy’s 21 league goals across Europe’s top five leagues in 2019.
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