The most open Premier League season in recent memory saw plenty more twists and turns this weekend, with the division’s leaders changing three times over the course of yet another thrilling weekend.
Leicester lead the division heading into November’s international break, sitting a point clear of both Tottenham and Liverpool, the latter having shared the spoils with Manchester City in the crunch clash between the two title rivals at the Etihad.
Elsewhere Manchester United bounced back from their recent troubles to win at Everton, Chelsea’s fine form continued, while both Aston Villa and Crystal Palace secured eye-catchng victories.
It’s that time of the week again where we compile our dream side from the weekend’s action, here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper: Kasper Schmeichel – Leicester
Leicester are the new league leaders courtesy of securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolves at the King Power Stadium, Jamie Vardy scoring one penalty and missing another as the Foxes moved to the top with three points.
Whilst Vardy’s contribution was decisive, Schmeichel’s performance at the opposite end proved equally important, the Denmark international assured to keep Wolves at bay as the pressure grew in the second-half following a quiet opening 45 minutes.
Perfect positioning, perfect set, perfect spring, and the right hand.
— The Goalkeeping Blog (@thgkblog) November 8, 2020
His save from Ruben Neves’ strike was brilliant and the 34-year-old remains amongst the most reliable – and perhaps underrated – shot-stoppers in the Premier League.
Right-back: Matty Cash – Aston Villa
Aston Villa’s superb start had suffered a setback with successive defeats to Leeds and Southampton in recent fixtures, but Dean Smith’s side responded with a thumping victory at Arsenal in another demonstration of their credentials this season.
Villa’s improvement has largely been down to a series of smart summer signings and it was one of the new-boys in right-back Matty Cash who impressed in nullifying the threat of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the Emirates.
Cash has handled the step-up to the Premier League with ease after signing from Nottingham Forest and was a stand-out figure in the 3-0 win at Arsenal, making six clearances, three interceptions and winning each of this three tackles.
England are currently stacked with talent at right-back but there is a growing clamour – certainly from those of a Villa persuasion – that Cash can force his way into the international reckoning with further performances of a similar ilk.
Centre-back: Wesley Fofana – Leicester
It’s another inclusion in our Team of the Week for Leicester’s teenage centre-back, who already looks amongst the finest signings of the Premier League season.
The 19-year-old has made an almost flawless transition from French football into the Premier League and has already established himself as a key figure in the Foxes’ side, his performances defying his relative inexperience.
Against Wolves the youngster was once again superb, completing 89% of his passes and stepping out of the backline with supreme confidence, in addition to making brilliantly timed challenges to deny both Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence when danger threatened.
Wesley Fofana has made more clearances (18) than any other Leicester City player so far this season and they have only conceded two Premier League goals with him on the pitch.
At 19 years old, he's only going to get better. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/c4tmzVmwjW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 8, 2020
Brendan Rodgers last week joined Frank Lampard in placing a bizarre chip on his own shoulder regarding the praise given to foreign managers, though the Leicester boss would be better served letting his league leaders – including the brilliant Fofana – do the talking following a start to the season that promises much.
Centre-back: Eric Dier – Tottenham
Eric Dier has taken his fair share of criticism in recent seasons but is enjoying quite the renaissance of late under Jose Mourinho in his favoured position at centre-back.
Dier had made it clear that he wanted to specialise in a defensive role after playing much of his early career in midfield and after a shaky start is beginning to shine in the position, the England international outstanding in Tottenham‘s 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion.
On what was the 26-year-old’s 250th appearance for the north London side, he made two crucial interventions with the game goalless, including a fine clearance from underneath his own crossbar from Callum Robinson’s dangerous cross.
This clearance by Eric Dier 🤯pic.twitter.com/eVXKgNd6RC
— Goal (@goal) November 9, 2020
Mourinho’s continued faith in Dier was rewarded with arguably his best performance for the club at centre-back and the Portuguese will hope it is start of a prolonged run of committed and assured displays
Left-back: Ben Chilwell – Chelsea
Chelsea‘s previous problem position at left-back is now one of great strength, Ben Chilwell having enjoyed a fine start to his career at Stamford Bridge after signing from Leicester during the summer.
It’s now three goals, two assists and seven clean sheets in just nine starts in all competitions for the England international, who was on the score sheet once more during the west London side’s 4-1 win over Sheffield United.
Chilwell arrived at the back post to turn in Hakim Ziyech’s pinpoint delivery to put Chelsea ahead as the Blues came from behind to win, continuing both his and the club’s impressive form of late.
4 – Ben Chilwell has been directly involved in four goals in his three Premier League home games for Chelsea (2 goals, 2 assists), as many as his 52 home appearances for Leicester in the competition. Accommodating. pic.twitter.com/Gq965bMYkw
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 7, 2020
The 23-year-old’s attacking output has already shown significant improvement since his summer arrival in the capital, with Chilwell fast becoming one of the most complete full-backs in the Premier League.
Midfield: Fred – Manchester United
Fred is a player who has polarised opinion amongst Manchester United supporters, but the Brazilian is often important to the club’s better results, his energy a vital component of the Red Devils’ morale-boosting win at Everton this weekend.
The Brazilian – alongside midfield partner Scott McTominay – helped United bounce back from insipid performances against both Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir to dominate the midfield at Goodison Park, his work both in and out of possession key in securing a 3-1 victory on Merseyside.
Fred was incisive in his passing and industrious in regaining possession, winning his battle with international teammate Allan as victory lifted some of the pressure surrounding Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.
Neither Fred or McTominay are the most fashionable of players and receive their fair share of flack, though there is a reason Solskjaer often trusts the duo when the pressure is on.
Midfield: Bruno Fernandes – Manchester United
Manchester United’s match-winner once again at Everton, Bruno Fernandes delivered when it mattered most for his manager to secure a precious three points at Goodison Park.
Fernandes shouldered responsibility for his side in typical fashion and lifted those around him with a display full of drive and purpose, heading home a fine equaliser following Bernard’s opener for Everton, before his dangerous cross evaded everyone to find its way into the net to put the Red Devils ahead.
A fine afternoon’s work was capped with an assist for Edinson Cavani’s first goal for the club, Fernandes the heartbeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side and so often a talismanic figure.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 8, 2020
Only Mohamed Salah has created more chances than the Portugal international in the Premier League so far this season and his remarkable productivity remains United’s greatest asset, his record since moving to English football now standing at 22 goal contributions in just 21 league appearances.
Right-wing: Hakim Ziyech – Chelsea
Chelsea’s creator-in-chief continued his sensational start for the west London outfit with another display of creative quality this weekend, the 27-year-old providing two more assists in the club’s 4-1 win over Sheffield United.
Ziyech has now provided two goals and three assists in just five starts in all competitions for the Blues, the summer signing instantly impressing and in sparkling form at present.
His delivery for Ben Chilwell’s goal was pinpoint, before another whipped cross saw Thiago Silva head home his first goal in a Chelsea shirt as Frank Lampard’s side continued their fine form with another three points.
Hakim Ziyech created six chances for Chelsea against Sheffield United, the most any Premier League player has created in a single home game this season.
He's here…and he's perfect. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/E1JPaMdtIa
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 7, 2020
Ziyech’s ability to make things happen could prove priceless for Chelsea over the course of the season, their Moroccan magician shaping as arguably the most exciting acquisition of a lavish summer spend.
Left-wing: Eberechi Eze – Crystal Palace
The summer signing announced his arrival in the Premier League with a fine performance in Crystal Palace’s impressive 4-1 win against Leeds at Selhurst Park, showcasing the potential which had seen his arrival from QPR greeted with much excitement.
Eze had shown glimpses of his talent so far but starred in a comprehensive win for Roy Hodgson’s side, demonstrating his ability from set-piece situations with a beautifully delivered corner for Scott Dann to head home the Eagles’ opener.
The 22-year-old then took responsibility to execute a fantastic free-kick into the top corner and double Palace’s lead, whilst his all-action influence and link-up play with the club’s forward players was encouraging throughout.
Eberechi Eze for Crystal Palace vs. Leeds:
100% tackles won
87% passing accuracy
9 ball recoveries
5 tackles (most)
4 interceptions (most)
3 fouls won
2 chances created
A breakthrough performance. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/SxtYgJF2Le
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 7, 2020
Palace have long relied on the performances of Wilfried Zaha – impressive again against Leeds – during their best displays, though Eze’s breakthrough showed he can be a more than dependable asset as part of the Ivorian’s supporting cast.
Attacking Midfield: Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
Aston Villa secured arguably the most impressive result of the weekend after thrashing Arsenal at the Emirates, Dean Smith’s side in irresistible mood to secure an emphatic win in north London.
It seems that it is almost impossible to talk about a positive result for Villa without mentioning the performance of Jack Grealish, such is the influence that the club captain has over a side which has shown huge improvements in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Grealish was once again central to his side’s success as he drifted around the attacking third with menace, gliding across the turf and combining brilliantly with the equally impressive Ross Barkley.
His surging run from inside his own half to assist Ollie Watkins for Villa’s third goal was Grealish at his very best, taking his tally to four goals and five assists in just seven league appearances so far this season.
9 – Jack Grealish has been directly involved in nine goals in the Premier League season (four goals and five assists) – only Spurs pair Harry Kane (15) and Son Heung-min (10) have had a hand in more. Productivity. pic.twitter.com/VRh8aovJGE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2020
There is no better creative English midfielder in the league at present and at risk of sounding like a broken record, it is time for Gareth Southgate to recognise his performances.
Forward: Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa
Provided Aston Villa with a fine outlet throughout in their 3-0 win at Arsenal and finished the clash with two goals despite finding chances largely at a premium.
Watkins’ pace and movement stretched the Gunners’ backline and freed space for the likes of Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish to thrive, before the forward burst into life with two well-taken goals in the second half.
6 – Ollie Watkins has scored six goals in seven games for Aston Villa in the Premier League this season; only Dean Saunders (7) and Dion Dublin (9) have ever netted more in their first seven appearances for Villa in the competition. Flyer. pic.twitter.com/RMOiD1Cl2I
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 8, 2020
His first was headed home from close range following a volleyed cross from Barkley, before latching on to Grealish’s pass and finishing cooly past the advancing Bernd Leno, his quick-fire double following a hat-trick against Liverpool earlier this season with the 24-year-old clearly relishing the biggest of occasions.
It’s now six goals in just seven games for the club-record signing, who – alongside fellow summer signing Matty Cash – has proven there is talent to be found in the Championship if you have a manager with the bravery to take a chance.