Each week we delve through the Premier League’s weekend action and compile our divisional Team of the Week, with the latest round of fixtures including an impressive response from Manchester United at Tottenham.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side bounced back from last weekend’s embarrassing loss to Liverpool to win in North London, relieving some of the growing pressure surrounding the Norwegian and adding to the uncertainty at Spurs.
Chelsea extended their lead at the summit after winning at Newcastle, on a weekend where nearest challengers Liverpool and Manchester City both dropped points.
Elsewhere there was a fine win for Arsenal on the road, whilst West Ham’s strong start continued and Burnley secured their first win of the season with a convincing three points against Brentford.
Following the latest fixtures we’ve compiled a best XI from the stand-out performers, here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week.
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale – Arsenal
Aaron Ramsdale continues to serve his doubters a sizeable portion of humble pie this season, with many – this writer included – having questioned Arsenal’s decision to sign a £24m ‘back-up’ goalkeeper with areas elsewhere seemingly in need of more pressing investment.
Ramsdale has instead seized an opportunity to become the Gunners’ number one, with the goalkeeper’s emergence coinciding with Arsenal’s upturn in form and a seven-game unbeaten run.
The 23-year-old was magnificent during the North London side’s 2-0 win at Leicester this weekend, his distribution excellent alongside a string of saves to secure a valuable three points at the King Power Stadium.
✋ All the stops
🎯 All the distributions
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 31, 2021
The highlight of his performance was undoubtedly a stunning stop to claw away James Maddison’s free-kick, a save Peter Schmeichel subsequently declared as the best he had seen ‘for years’ – high praise from a man many regard as the Premier League’s greatest ever goalkeeper.
Right-back: Reece James – Chelsea
James has enjoyed a brilliant start to the season for Chelsea to emerge as one of the Blues’ most influential players, the wing-back proving the architect of the league leader’s win at Newcastle this weekend.
The 21-year-old provided a continued outlet down the right-hand side and showcased his improving goal threat with a brace at St James’ Park, each goal lashed home perfectly to take his tally for the season to four Premier League goals.
Reece James is now Chelsea's top scorer in the Premier League this season!
Not bad for a full-back 👏 pic.twitter.com/GdDFTonf1l
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 30, 2021
Remarkably, only four players have now scored more league goals than James in the division this season, the England right-back now the leading scorer in a Chelsea side regularly sharing the goals.
Centre-back: Gabriel – Arsenal
Like Ramsdale, Gabriel has been crucial to Arsenal’s turnaround in fortunes, returning to the side for the first win of the season against Norwich in September and remaining an ever-present for the Gunners’ unbeaten run.
The Brazilian has helped Arsenal to four clean sheets in those seven games including another shut-out during the win at Leicester on Saturday, with Gabriel a towering presence alongside Ben White in a youthful backline – boasting an average age of just 23 – growing with each performance.
His partnership with White has both balance and promise and Gabriel set Arsenal on their way to victory this weekend, rising to meet Bukayo Saka’s corner with a glancing header to open the scoring.
Centre-back: Marc Guehi – Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace secured the result of the weekend after shocking Manchester City at the Etihad, with Marc Guehi the stand-out figure in a backline that frustrated the Premier League champions.
The summer signing has been an important presence in a new-look Eagles’ side under Patrick Vieira, impressing alongside Joachim Andersen and producing one of his best performances for the campaign at City.
Guehi won each of his five duels and made five clearances and the performances of the 21-year-old – the youngest centre-back in the division with 5+ starts this season – will not have gone unnoticed by those in the senior England fold.
Left-back: Kyle Walker-Peters – Southampton
Restored to the team at left-back with summer signing Tino Livramento having cemented a position on the opposite flank, Walker-Peters was amongst Southampton’s best players during their 1-0 win at Watford.
He defended well and got forward in support of those ahead of him, dealing with the threat posed by Ismaila Sarr, a winger who has already caused opposition full-backs endless problems this season.
— Kyle Walker-Peters (@KWPeters) October 30, 2021
The 24-year-old got back brilliantly to deny Sarr with a goal-line clearance, a moment which ensured the Saints escaped Vicarage Road with a clean sheet and much-needed three points.
Midfield: Scott McTominay – Manchester United
Manchester United delivered a pressure-relieving performance for the under-fire Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 3-0 win at Tottenham, the Norwegian shuffling his pack and switching to a 3-5-2 formation in North London.
The move proved inspired as the added security of three central defenders led to an impressive performance, with the display of Scott McTominay hailed by his manager following the win.
McTominay was excellent in a box-to-box role for the Red Devils, completing 95% of his passes and winning 11 duels – the most by a Manchester United midfielder in any league fixture this season.
The Scotland international – so often a maligned figure as both he and Fred attempt to cover for a lack of defensive work further forward – showcased what he is capable of when afforded greater freedom, driving through the centre of the pitch and completing three dribbles in addition to his defensive work.
Midfield: Declan Rice – West Ham
Declan Rice just keeps getting better and better as the heartbeat of a West Ham team continuing to exceed all expectations, the England midfielder outstanding once again as the Hammers thrashed Aston Villa 4-1 at Villa Park.
Having emerged from the club’s academy ranks as a defensive midfield anchor with the potential to move to centre-back, Rice has evolved into a complete midfield player and was in the thick of the action against Villa on Sunday.
Rice claimed the assist for Ben Johnson’s opening goal with a floated pass out into the full-back, before scoring the Hammers’ second with a driven bouncing effort from distance.
After 10 games, Declan Rice is the only player in the Premier League this season with:
◉ 10+ clearances
◉ 10+ tackles made
◉ 10+ interceptions
◉ 10+ aerial duels won
◉ 10+ chances created
◉ 10+ take-ons completed
◉ 10+ touches in the opp. box
The complete midfielder. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/CAQDlpVE6Q
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 31, 2021
It’s now three goals and three assists for the campaign in all competitions for the England midfielder, who is unlikely to see the transfer speculation fade away given his continued excellence as the driving force of David Moyes’ Champions League-chasing side.
Midfield: Conor Gallagher – Crystal Palace
Conor Gallagher has wasted no time in becoming a crucial player for Crystal Palace, the on-loan midfielder having been superb since his summer arrival from Chelsea.
Gallagher was central to the Eagles’ shock win at Manchester City this weekend, bringing trademark energy, drive and creativity to Patrick Vieira’s improving side.
The 21-year-old tenaciously stole possession from Aymeric Laporte in the build-up to Wilfried Zaha’s opening goal at the Etihad, before netting the second with an emphatic finish to seal a memorable result.
Gallagher has shown he is capable of it all in the Eagles’ midfield, whether it’s bursting forward as a third-man running or tracking back tirelessly to regain possession for his side.
The midfielder’s regular exposure to Premier League football is clearly benefitting the youngster, who can be doing little more to grab the attention of Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea ahead of next season.
Forward: Raphinha – Leeds
Leeds have struggled to find their form of last season, but secured a win at Norwich this weekend to keep themselves clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
Raphinha was the best player on the pitch at Carrow Road, scoring the opening goal of the game with a wonderful moment of individual brilliance, dancing into the penalty area before firing home a low finish.
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 31, 2021
The Brazilian has starred since signing from Rennes last summer and will be key to Leeds’ hopes of reviving their season, with the 24-year-old a footballer capable of match-winning moments for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Much has been made about Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact on this Manchester United side, but providing chances for the Portuguese superstar should be Solskjaer’s prominent focus if the Red Devils are to find consistency in their results.
Ronaldo will never be the forward to press and work defenders with hard-running, but he will take chances in clinical fashion whenever opportunities are provided.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 30, 2021
The 36-year-old’s quality around the area proved the difference in United’s 3-0 win at Spurs, opening the scoring with a sublime first-time volley, before creating Edinson Cavani’s second with a trademark chop and precise through pass.
Ronaldo is not the long-term solution and his summer arrival has added to the lack of clear direction for this side, but there are few better match-winners in world football and getting the best from him is surely the key to an immediate upturn in fortunes for Solskjaer’s side.
Forward: Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
Zaha started in a central role for Crystal Palace and tormented the Manchester City defence this weekend, the Premier League champions struggling to cope with the Ivorian’s speed and skill.
The 28-year-old opened the scoring with a well-taken finish beyond Ederson after finding himself through on goal, before his presence led to Aymeric Laporte’s red card for the hosts as the defender hauled down Zaha as he threatened to burst away once more.
This may not be massive in the world of football compared to what others have done but to me this milestone is massive as where I’ve come from my only dream was to get to the opportunity to do what I love so I’m so thankful 🙏🏿 I’d like thank God and everyones support ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hdHcKmivBj
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) October 31, 2021
Zaha has previously made no secret of his desire for a greater challenge but the forward will no doubt have been left impressed with Patrick Vieira’s early work at Selhurst Park, a side now possessing more energy and cutting edge providing an improved supporting cast for the talismanic academy graduate.