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 seeing the early front runners all secure valuable wins.
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United remain level on points at the top of the division, though Manchester City lost ground following a goalless draw with Southampton at the Etihad.
Elsewhere there was an impressive win for Aston Villa against Everton, Brentford beat Wolves, and Watford won a potential six-pointer against a Norwich side rooted to the bottom.
Following the latest fixtures we’ve compiled our best XI, here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea – Manchester United
David de Gea’s record from penalties has been criticised in the recent past, but the Spaniard’s stop to deny Mark Noble from the spot proved the difference between Manchester United leaving the London Stadium with three points or one.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secured a crucial win at the Hammers courtesy of Jesse Lingard’s late goal, but a penalty awarded in stoppage time handed Noble the opportunity to snatch a dramatic leveller.
David de Gea. CLUTCH. pic.twitter.com/1A2yPZUWTP
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 19, 2021
Fortunately for the Red Devils, De Gea’s dive to his left saw him get a strong hand to the kick, another match-winning moment for the goalkeeper that could prove crucial at the season’s end.
Right-back: James Milner – Liverpool
Liverpool‘s team sheet caused surprise this weekend with both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson left out of a rotated side against Crystal Palace.
Jurgen Klopp’s lack of specialised cover at right-back saw James Milner once again called upon to deputise in a defensive role, the 35-year-old handed the unenviable task of containing Wilfried Zaha at Anfield.
Zaha had tormented Tottenham last week as the Eagles secured their first win of the season, but Milner stuck to his task in typically selfless fashion after an early scare in which Zaha struck the post.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 19, 2021
No player made more passes, crosses or tackles than Milner, who also led the clash for distance covered and sprints – incredible statistics for a footballer approaching two decades as a Premier League player.
Centre-back: Jan Bednarek – Southampton
Southampton have been on the wrong end of some huge scorelines in recent seasons, with a trip to face a Manchester City side with 17 goals scored in their past four outings a daunting prospect.
However, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side produced their best performance of the season to grind out a point, with Jan Bednarek a tower of strength as the Saints held on to secure a goalless draw at the Etihad.
Bednarek has had to settle for a place on the bench for much of the season so far, but justified his return to the side with a strong performance, making three blocks, winning three aerial duels, and leading the Saints with four interceptions and five clearances.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva – Chelsea
Chelsea’s win at Tottenham proved a tale of two halves as the west Londoners withstood early pressure before securing three points following a dominant second period across the capital.
Thiago Silva was crucial to both aspects of Chelsea‘s win, producing a number of vital interceptions to thwart the hosts in the opening 45 minutes, before breaking the deadlock with a magnificent header.
⭐️ Man of the Match, @ChelseaFC's Thiago Silva
Won 5/6 duels & all 4 aerial duels
51/60 passes completed, 1 chance created
2 shots, both on target
Scored opening goal, becomes Chelsea's 2nd oldest PL scorer, after Drogba pic.twitter.com/zOwLtSmdm1
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 19, 2021
The veteran Brazilian’s late run and fine leap saw him meet Marcos Alonso’s corner to open the scoring, setting Chelsea – whose early season form has raised hope of a sustained title challenge – on their way to another three points.
Left-back: Marc Cucurella – Brighton
Brighton are into the Premier League’s top four after a fourth win in just five fixtures, beating Leicester 2-1 at the Amex Stadium to continue their strong start to the season.
Deadline day arrival Marc Cucurella was named as man of the match following the win over the Foxes, with the wing-back enjoying a superb home debut for the Seagulls.
The Spaniard was full of energy and made an impression at both ends of the pitch, including one enterprising run beyond Ricardo Pereira that earned a roar of approval from the home crowd.
Midfield: Christian Norgaard – Brentford
Excellent at the base of the Brentford midfield as the Bees secured a 2-0 win at Wolves, the Denmark international was brilliant in possession and even better without it.
Norgaard’s anticipation and positioning prevented the threat of the Wolves counter-attack on several occasions, whilst he was a composed figure with the ball at his feet and kept Thomas Frank’s side in control at Molineux.
No player covered more distance than Norgaard’s energy-sapping 12km, his continued alertness to danger contributing to Brentford earning their first away win since promotion.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
Kante turned the game around for Chelsea following his introduction as a half-time substitute, the midfielder’s energy and drive allowing the Blues to overrun Tottenham in the second half.
Spurs had threatened during a positive opening 45 minutes, but the arrival of Kante saw Chelsea begin to exert control as the France international afforded more room for Jorginho.
Kante was then handed a stroke of good fortune as his long-range effort deflected off Eric Dier to double the visitor’s lead, but it was a deserved moment for the midfielder whose arrival after the interval transformed his side’s performance.
Right-wing: Ismaila Sarr – Watford
Watford will need more performances of this calibre from Ismaila Sarr in order to survive this season, with the winger living up to his billing as the Hornets’ key player at Norwich this weekend.
The Senegal international was superb as Watford secured three points at Carrow Road, in a result that moves Xisco’s side upwards and away from danger.
Sarr was in scintillating form to score twice in an early-season ‘six-pointer’ against the Canaries, who struggled to deal with his electric pace and forward threat.
Ismaila Sarr’s game by numbers vs. Norwich:
100% take-on success
100% shot accuracy
93% pass accuracy
9 touches in opp. box
5 shots on target
5 duels won
He was superb. 😍 pic.twitter.com/qLXTfWcXlx
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 18, 2021
Often linked with a move to some of the Premier League’s leading clubs, those rumours will only intensify if the 23-year-old maintains the levels he showed this weekend.
Left-wing: Leon Bailey – Aston Villa
Leon Bailey has endured a frustrating start to his career in the Premier League so far, but his cameo this weekend proved there’s plenty of reason for Aston Villa fans to get excited about the new arrival.
The Jamaica international was on the pitch for just 21 minutes against Everton, but his arrival helped turn Villa’s increasing dominance into an emphatic home win.
Bailey’s dangerous delivery was first headed into his own goal by Lucas Digne, before the winger burst forward to smash home his first goal for the club in an exciting glimpse of what he can offer.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 18, 2021
Dean Smith will hope the injury the winger later sustained is not too serious, with Bailey a potentially pivotal player for a new-look Villa side in the post-Jack Grealish era.
Forward: Ivan Toney – Brentford
Ivan Toney has arrived as a Premier League player, with last season’s record-breaking goal haul in the Championship having caused much excitement upon Brentford’ promotion.
Toney has performed well so far this season without truly reaping the rewards of his industry, but against Wolves, the forward scored one and provided another to secure three points for his side.
The 25-year-old was superb throughout and gave Conor Coady a torrid time, whilst Marcal was forced to haul down the forward for the first-half penalty he cooly converted himself.
44 – With a goal and assist today, Ivan Toney has scored (33) or assisted (11) 44 league goals (excl. play-offs) since joining Brentford in 2020, at least seven more than any other player in England's top four tiers since the start of last season. Buzzing. #WOLBRE pic.twitter.com/289afQe6Hg
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2021
Toney then turned provider for the impressive Bryan Mbeumo, with the former’s confident and composed performance one of a player seemingly safe in the knowledge that he belongs at this level.
Forward: Allan Saint-Maximin – Newcastle
Newcastle are often the worst watch in the Premier League. Allan Saint-Maximin is quite often the best.
The presence of the Frenchman in a mundane Magpies’ side only enhances his box-office status, with Saint-Maximin in dazzling form to secure his side a point against Leeds on Friday evening.
The 24-year-old was exceptional with his speed of foot frightening at St James’ Park, the home crowd waiting with excited anticipation whenever the ball arrives at Saint-Maximin’s feet.
Sometimes people forget why they started to love football, I never will, thank you for the love lads ❤️ pic.twitter.com/p0BPTlbSOk
— Allan Saint-Maximin (@asaintmaximin) September 18, 2021
He proved his side’s saviour after netting the equaliser in the second half, dancing beyond a succession of Leeds challenges before firing home a low finish.
Newcastle’s stuttering start to the season has only added to the unrest surrounding the club, but in Saint-Maximin the Magpies’ fans are provided with a glimmer of hope.