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 the start of several managerial reigns and the end of another.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the latest managerial casualty in the Premier League this season, after Manchester United’s woeful form continued with a 4-1 thrashing at struggling Watford.
There were debut wins for Steven Gerrard and Dean Smith at Aston Villa and Norwich respectively, whilst Eddie Howe’s first game in charge of Newcastle ended in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Brentford.
Elsewhere there were wins for Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the title race, whilst the Antonio Conte era got up and running in north London as Spurs came from behind to beat Leeds.
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 for Gameweek 12.
Goalkeeper: Jose Sa – Wolves
Wolves secured a hard-fought 1-0 win against a West Ham side riding high in the Premier League, with Raul Jimenez’s goal moving Bruno Lage’s side up to sixth in the division.
It was a strong defensive display from Wolves who coped well with the Hammers’ notorious set-piece threat, Jose Sa confident in coming from his line to relieve the pressure on his backline.
The Portugal international also made three saves to secure a clean sheet, in what represented arguably the most impressive result of Lage’s reign to date.
Right-back: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Liverpool
Alexander-Arnold continued his excellent start to the season as Liverpool thrashed Arsenal at Anfield, the full-back a constant menace to the Gunners down the right-hand side.
After a hat-trick of assists for England on international duty during November’s international break, the 23-year-old added two more to his ever-growing collection against the north Londoners.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has recorded 7 assists in his last 4 starts for club & country
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) November 20, 2021
Alexander-Arnold’s arced free-kick delivery was met by Sadio Mane for the opener, before the right-back teed up the fourth for substitute Takumi Minamino as the Reds earned an emphatic home win.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva – Chelsea
Chelsea produced one of the most impressive and efficient performances of the weekend’s action, cruising to a 3-0 win at Leicester in a rematch of last season’s FA Cup final.
Thiago Silva formed part of a back three who were rarely troubled at the King Power Stadium, the veteran at ease in a performance that rolled back the years.
Silva was confident and composed with his passing from the back excellent, whilst he made a crucial block on Jamie Vardy as he dominated his duel against the Foxes’ forward.
— Thiago Silva (@tsilva3) November 20, 2021
The 37-year-old remains a class act and his experience has helped bring the best from the likes of Antonio Rudiger and the emerging Trevoh Chalobah.
Centre-back: Tyrone Mings – Aston Villa
The Steven Gerrard era got up and running with three points as Aston Villa left it late to beat Brighton, goals from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings sealing a debut win for the new manager.
Mings had endured a testing time during the late period of Dean Smith’s reign, but looked back to his best in Gerrard’s debut with a commanding performance at the heart of the Villa defence.
The centre-back was dominant in his duels as Villa secured a much-needed clean sheet, whilst his performance was rewarded with a goal after showing great anticipation to follow in and slam in a crucial second.
Left-back: Joao Cancelo – Manchester City
Just Joao Cancelo doing Joao Cancelo things for Manchester City this weekend.
The full-back was having somewhat of a quiet opening half until his moment of magic created the opening goal for the Premier League champions against Everton, an audacious outside-of-the-boot pass into the path of Raheem Sterling.
João Cancelo has now provided an assist in three consecutive games for Man City:
🅰️ vs. Man Utd
🅰️🅰️🅰️ vs. Club Brugge
🅰️ vs. Everton
That pass was outrageous. 🤤 pic.twitter.com/Z7Z7LN3QUP
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 21, 2021
The vision and execution were sublime from Cancelo, who is amongst a collection of full-backs dominating the Premier League this season.
Liverpool are no doubt a better team with Fabinho at the centre of their side and the Brazilian produced an outstanding performance in the Reds’ 4-0 win over Arsenal this weekend.
Alert to danger, authoritative in possession, and a snarling presence protecting the backline, it was a complete defensive midfield performance from Fabinho who so often shuts down attacks and gets Liverpool on the front foot.
His partnership with Thiago Alcantara is one that will prove crucial to Jurgen Klopp’s side moving forward, with Liverpool now unbeaten in 11 league fixtures in which the duo have started together, winning 10 and drawing one. It’s a pairing that provides a perfect blend of ball-winning ability and technical proficiency.
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Manchester City exerted complete control in a comfortable win over struggling Everton, the Premier League champions securing a comfortable 3-0 victory at the Etihad.
Despite their dominance of possession, it took two moments of exquisite quality to open up the game, the first a sensational assist from Joao Cancelo as Raheem Sterling opened the scoring, before a thunderous strike from Rodri doubled the advantage.
Rodri's game by numbers vs. Everton:
100% take-on success
100% shot accuracy
94% pass accuracy
7 duels won
5 passes into the box
4 ball recoveries
3 aerial duels won
3 tackles made
Pure class. pic.twitter.com/Z9taSE4NOu
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 21, 2021
The goal was a stunning highlight in a fine performance from the latter, who has become increasingly crucial to City’s search of control, winning seven duels and racking up a 94% accuracy from his 115 passes against the Toffees.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
N’Golo Kante came back to haunt his former side as Chelsea maintained their lead at the summit, driving the side forward with a signature performance full of energy and endeavour.
Kante’s box-to-box dynamism was crucial as the European champions dominated the opening exchanges at Leicester, with his performance capped with a surging run and fine finish to double Chelsea’s advantage.
The France international was more disciplined after the break as the west Londoners protected their lead, making several crucial interventions, with Kante back to his best at the King Power Stadium.
Forward: Emmanuel Dennis – Watford
The summer signing has proven an inspired acquisition for Watford and produced a superb performance in the Hornets’ 4-1 thrashing of Manchester United, providing two assists before slamming home the fourth goal.
The Nigerian’s link-up play with the impressive Josh King caused problems all afternoon for the Red Devils, with the trio of Dennis, King and Sarr one that combined troubling movement, pace and energy throughout.
Good team performance 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/KAqyV73u37
— DENNIS BLESSED (@dennisblessed42) November 20, 2021
It’s now nine goal involvements (5G, 4A) in just 10 league starts for Dennis this season, with Watford possessing the forwards to fire the club away from trouble on the evidence of this showing.
Forward: Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Sadio Mane was in the thick of the action as Liverpool beat Arsenal at Anfield, involved in two goals and the spat between the opposing managers following a strong challenge on Ben White.
Mane gave as good as he got despite Arsenal’s close attentions to the Senegalese star, giving Takehiro Tomiyasu a torrid time in what must surely rank as the most difficult assignment of the Japanese defender’s Premier League career so far.
The finesse was lacking from Mane’s game across the opening exchanges as he repeatedly squandered possession, but he delivered at crucial moments for the Reds, heading home the opener from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick before teeing up Mohamed Salah for the third.
Not always the easiest on the eye against the Gunners, but his tigerish front-footed aggression often makes Mane unmissable viewing.
Forward: Christian Benteke – Crystal Palace
Led the line superbly as Crystal Palace played out a six-goal thriller at Burnley, the towering Belgian relished the physical duel with the Clarets’ backline and was rewarded with a brace of well-taken goals.
Benteke scored twice in the 3-3 draw with each finish instinctive, whilst his tireless work-rate will no doubt have pleased Patrick Vieira who now has a wealth of differing forward options available.
Christian Benteke has now scored 86 Premier League goals, more than Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres .
Found goalscoring form under his new manager. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/IoLuW9Qss4
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 20, 2021
The Belgium international – who scored during the international break – has often been a confidence player and Vieira will hope this can be a springboard for Benteke to go on a goalscoring run. It’s now four goals from eight starts for the 30-year-old, who can provide the focal point for an improving Palace.