Only four teams out of the twenty kept a clean sheet through the course of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures while five teams scored three or more. Understandably then, there was more competition for attacking spots than defending places in our Team of the Week this week.
With Manchester City opening up a 5-point gap at the top of the league and Tottenham plundering an infamously shaky Liverpool back four, Spurs and City are well-represented. However, after a number of good results for lower table sides, there are some surprise inclusions across the board.
GK – Hugo Lloris
Few things have remained constant during Tottenham’s surge to relevance. One of them is Hugo Lloris, who has emerged from the dark days of Younes Kaboul and Andros Townsend to become one of Europe’s premier goalkeepers. After impressing against Real Madrid, the Frenchman was largely unruffled by an insipid Liverpool attack. However, he did deny Philippe Coutinho superbly to stave off any hopes of a comeback for the visitors.
DC – Lewis Dunk
Brighton were excellent in their 3-0 defeat of West Ham on Friday night and the 25-year-old academy product was central to the performance. The former striker didn’t give Javier Hernandez a sniff throughout the 90minutes and was impenetrable alongside the equally impressive Shane Duffy. Rumours of a call-up to the England squad are well-merited.
DC – John Stones
Last season, John Stones’ career was in jeopardy, such was the severity of his collapse in form. This year, however, he has led the City defence to eight clean sheets in 13 unbeaten games. He was imperious again against Burnley, distributing the ball with intent and snapping into tackles with a self-confidence that will worry strikers around the Premier League. A sterling show from the ‘Barnsley Beckenbauer’.
DC – Nicolás Otamendi
He can’t pass like Stones and he can’t lead like Kompany but Nicolás Otamendi put in another rugged showing on Saturday. The Argentine has been much-maligned since his £28.5 million transfer in 2015 but even Pep Guardiola has been impressed with his “outstanding” mentality this season. The recently-prolific Chris Wood was given nothing all game.
LM – Mesut Ozil
Amy Cuddy would love Mesut Ozil. The American sociologist is one of the world’s foremost authorities on body language and her expertise might have been useful in dispelling the haggard debate over the German’s ‘application’ and ‘desire’. The facts are stark: nobody has made more assists since his arrival in the Premier League in 2013. He was tyrannical against Everton on Sunday, scoring one and laying on another for Alexandre Lacazette.
CM – Aaron Mooy
Whatever happens to his team, Aaron Mooy will be in the Premier league next season. Huddersfield hadn’t beaten Manchester United since 1952 but the cue-ball Australian was integral in a 2-1 victory against Jose Mourinho’s men. His goal was just reward for a man whose reputation continues to grow.
CM – Christian Eriksen
In the ultra-bright lens of the Premier League, no hero goes unsung. Still, Christian Eriksen largely evades the praise that befits his consistency. The Dane had scored four in six before the Liverpool match on Sunday and, while he didn’t add to that tally, he was Tottenham’s creator-in-chief once more. Another stunning performance.
RM – Sofiane Boufal
You’ve seen the goal. No further explanation required.
CF – Harry Kane
“It wouldn’t happen if I was on the pitch,” said a humourless Jurgen Klopp on Sunday. The German had just watched his team give generous amounts of time and space to the world’s in-form striker with predictably devastating results. Ten Dejan Lovrens couldn’t have stopped the England marksmen yesterday.
CF – Glenn Murray
Glenn Murray isn’t what you’d call prolific. The Brighton man last scored in the Premiership almost two years ago. But even he looked unbeatable against this torrid West Ham defence. By the time he sunk a penalty past Joe Hart for his second, the game and Slaven Bilic’s will to live were gone.
CF – Sergio Aguero
Alan Shearer, Michael Owen and Thierry Henry might share an aversion to rigorous analysis but they also have another thing in common. Along with Robbie Fowler, they are the only players to have scored more hat-tricks in the Premier League than Sergio Aguero. The Argentines’ goal against Burnley sees him become City’s joint top scorer but his is a talent that should be celebrated across the Premier League.
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