Each week we delve through the Premier League action and compile our divisional Team of the Week from the fixtures’ finest performances.
A compelling weekend of Premier League drama was headlined by Liverpool’s comeback win at Newcastle, with the Reds recovering from Virgil van Dijk’s red card to come from behind and snatch a late win at St James’ Park.
Manchester United also showed their powers of recovery in a thriller with Nottingham Forest, West Ham’s strong start continued after beating Brighton, and Fulham left it late to claim a point in an entertaining London derby at Arsenal.
Here is The Football Faithful’s Premier League Team of the Week:
Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola – West Ham
Alphonse Areola has justified David Moyes’ decision to instate him as West Ham’s number one this season, producing another excellent example of his shot-stopping abilities at Brighton.
West Ham conceded 78% of the possession to the Seagulls, but Areola’s goalkeeping and a clinical counter-attacking gameplan undid Brighton and secured the Hammers a 3-1 win at the Amex Stadium.
Areola recovered from an early drop to stand tall amid the pressure from Brighton and made nine saves, including a superb strong hand to tip away Evan Ferguson’s fierce effort from close range.
Sensational saves from our No23 👏 pic.twitter.com/twccUdvEZc
— West Ham United (@WestHam) August 27, 2023
Right-back: Matty Cash – Aston Villa
Aston Villa have bounced back impressively from their opening weekend humiliation at Newcastle and secured a third consecutive win in all competitions at Burnley.
Unai Emery’s side cruised to a 3-1 win over the Clarets at Turf Moor with Matty Cash the unlikely hero with a brace. Cash – who operated in a more advanced position than he is used to – opened the scoring to give Villa the lead, before doubling his tally for the day after finishing off a fine team move that involved neat combination play with Moussa Diaby in the penalty area.
There’s plenty to like about Emery’s side in the early stages of the season.
Emery Ball. 😍
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 27, 2023
Centre-back: Joachim Andersen – Crystal Palace
Andersen’s equaliser at Brentford will take the headlines but the Crystal Palace centre-back was outstanding in all areas during the club’s 1-1 draw with the Bees.
The Denmark international is one of the best long-range passers in the Premier League and defended well at Brentford, winning 11/15 duels and making seven clearances. His goal was a great moment for Andersen, who surged forward to exchange passes with Jordan Ayew and prod home to earn Palace a point.
Our Great Dane. pic.twitter.com/lF3hY82iN9
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) August 26, 2023
So often a central figure in Palace’s build up, Andersen managed five key passes at Brentford. Only twice since 2015/16 has a centre-back recorded five key passes in a Premier League fixture and on both occasions it was Andersen.
Centre-back: Micky van de Ven – Tottenham
Ange Postecoglou’s impressive start at Spurs continued with a 2-0 win at Bournemouth, with the north Londoners remaining unbeaten under the Australian to date.
Several summer arrivals have shone during the opening weeks of the season and Micky van de Ven already looks like a fine addition. The Dutch defender carries the ball confidently and is a strong runner in and out of possession, while he has brought balance to the backline alongside Cristian Romero. There’s reason for optimism in north London.
Left-back: Destiny Udogie – Tottenham
All-action once again and fast becoming a key figure in Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs side.
Udogie has been a brilliant outlet down the left-hand side during the season’s opening weeks and followed an eye-catching outing against Manchester United with another at Bournemouth. The 20-year-old’s best moment came as he set up Dejan Kulusevki’s goal, driving infield and combining with Son Heung-min before crossing for the Swede to steer home.
Tottenham double their lead through Dejan Kulusevski!
How about that work on the left from Destiny Udogie though 😮💨
📺 Watch live on TNT Sports & discovery+ pic.twitter.com/giHvuYHnyR
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) August 26, 2023
Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City
Rodri has developed quite the reputation for rescuing Manchester City in their hour of need and the Spaniard saved the champions at Sheffield United this weekend. The Champions League final hero slammed home an emphatic winner with just two minutes of normal time remaining, after Jayden Bogle looked to have rescued a point for the Blades moments earlier.
Rodri’s clutch moment capped a standout performance from the midfielder, who led the contest for touches, completed passes and possession won.
Rodri has misplaced just 18 passes in the Premier League this season:
◉ Most touches (404)
◉ Most passes completed (355)
◉ Most possession won in the middle third (20)
◎ 2 goals scored
◎ 1 assist
And he hasn’t even been booked. 😏 pic.twitter.com/Wcot6gHt7M
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 27, 2023
Midfield: Joao Palhinha – Fulham
Fulham fought off interest from West Ham to retain the services of Joao Palhinha this summer, with the midfielder having become a crucial – and popular – figure in west London since his arrival at the club.
The Portugal international led the Premier League for duels won and tackles made last season and has started the new campaign in similar form, dominating his duels as Fulham earned a 2-2 draw at Arsenal this weekend.
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 26, 2023
The 28-year-old scored a late equaliser for Fulham after turning home a late corner to secure Marco Silva’s side a point at the Emirates.
Midfield: James Maddison – Tottenham
So, so good in pockets of space. James Maddison has quickly become a favourite at Tottenham and produced another performance of creative class in the club’s 2-0 win at Bournemouth.
Maddison was involved heavily throughout and often dropped deep to contribute to the build up, with Ange Postecoglou having placed non-negotiable demands for his team to play out from the back. The England international has spoken on his desire to become the creative spark at Spurs and scored his first goal at Bournemouth. His ability to thrive on the half-turn appears perfectly suited to this side.
Happy Saturdays from me and the old boy in Row E🤣✌️🎯 pic.twitter.com/TDMloNi6Ak
— James Maddison (@Madders10) August 26, 2023
Forward: Raheem Sterling – Chelsea
Raheem Sterling showed signs of getting back to his best at West Ham last week, before the Chelsea winger took it up another level in the club’s 3-0 win over Luton.
Sterling scored twice and created another as the Mauricio Pochettino era got up and running, tormenting the Luton defence with slaloming runs and sharp changes of pace and direction.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 25, 2023
This was Sterling full of confidence, determined to take on his man and producing fine end product. He took both goals well and teed up Nicolas Jackson for another, in a performance that will have hugely encouraged both Pochettino and England manager Gareth Southgate.
Forward: Michail Antonio – West Ham
West Ham might feel the need to sign another striker before the deadline, but the current occupant of the number nine showed he still has plenty left in the tank. Antonio’s work-ethic and power unsettled Brighton this weekend as the Hammers secured a 3-1 win on the south coast.
He muscled Adam Webster off the ball to set up James Ward-Prowse for the opener, before an outstanding sharp turn and finish made it three for the visitors. A selfless outlet for a West Ham side who had just 22% of the ball at Brighton, he made his moments count in an outstanding lone forward performance.
Antonio adds West Ham’s THIRD!
A masterclass of counter-attack play 🧑🏫 pic.twitter.com/ANFbTTek5U
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 26, 2023
Forward: Darwin Nunez – Liverpool
Liverpool looked down and almost out after finding themselves a goal and man down at Newcastle inside 28 minutes, but Jurgen Klopp’s men dug deep to keep themselves in the game and secure a remarkable comeback.
Darwin Nunez was the hero after coming off the bench to score a brace, with the Uruguayan firing home two fantastic finishes on the break to stun Newcastle. Nunez was criticised for wastefulness last season and has started the opening three fixtures on the bench, but his match-winning cameo will do his confidence a world of good after two clinical goals at St James’ Park.
A start is surely warranted next weekend.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 27, 2023