EPL Week 7 Predictions: Players Sure to Land in All-EPL Team for Week's Clashes
The 2012 English Premier League season will continue with another slate of matches that will hinge on the performance of a select few players who are able to rise above their competition.
Last week saw Liverpool's attack finally produce an impressive performance, led by a spectacular hat trick from Luis Suarez.
Tottenham's fast start against Manchester United earned them a surprising victory as Gareth Bale's pace did in the Red Devils defense.
But success is often fleeting in the Premier League, and a new set of players will step into the spotlight in Week 7. Here are the stars who will be included in the EPL's Best XI after this week's matches.
Goalkeeper: Jussi Jääskeläinen, West Ham United
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West Ham have conceded just five goals in six matches in 2012, and a large part of that is due to excellent play from their veteran goalkeeper.
Jussi Jääskeläinen has provided the Hammers with a stable, reliable shot-stopper, and they will need the 37-year-old to continue his consistent play on Saturday.
Arsenal will head to Upton Park for the first installment of this London derby, and the Gunners are currently averaging 17 shots per match. Jääskeläinen will be under fire in this contest and will be required to make several saves.
Playing in front of the lively West Ham supporters, Arsenal will not be entirely comfortable, and a fine performance from the Hammers keeper will add to the Gunners' uneasiness.
Left-Back: Jan Vertonghen, Tottenham
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Andre Villas-Boas' decision to play Jan Vertonghen at left-back was a move motivated by desperation, but it now looks like a stroke of genius.
Both Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Naughton suffered injuries, leaving AVB to try out both Gareth Bale and Vertonghen in the spot. The Belgian, who was brought in to be the future at center-back, was far more impressive than the speedy winger when playing out of position.
In fact, Vertonghen was more impressive than nearly every full-time left-back in last Saturday's match against Manchester United. He has exceptional speed and agility for a center-half and is remarkably comfortable when carrying the ball forward.
Vertonghen's versatility has been a delight for Villas-Boas, and this will continue to be the case when Spurs go against Aston Villa on Sunday.
Center-Back: Daniel Agger, Liverpool
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Daniel Agger and Liverpool will be looking for their second victory of the season over a Stoke City team that have only lost one of their six matches.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis' archaic long-ball tactics are the antithesis of Brendan Rodgers' smooth-passing style. The Reds boss coaches his players to keep possession of the ball, while the Potters manager has no interest in keeping the ball for the majority of the match.
But Stoke are always a threat to steal a goal on a set piece or take advantage of lazy defending with a long ball. It will be up to Agger to keep his defenders focused as his team knock the ball around, trying to find a weak spot in the opposition's defense.
The Dane is playing with a fractured knee cap, and he will not be able to be timid against a team as physical as the Potters. Agger will lead the back line to a fine performance in this match as Liverpool continue winning.
Center-Back: David Luiz, Chelsea
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David Luiz scored a stunning goal on a free kick in Chelsea's Champions League match against FC Nordsjælland on Tuesday.
While this offensive contribution was certainly appreciated by Roberto Di Matteo, the Blues manager will be pleased just to see Luiz play sound defense.
Luiz is a supremely talented defender and has the size, strength and athleticism to be one of the best players at his position. But the Brazilian is also prone to occasional rash decisions.
However, Luiz will be glowing with confidence after his incredible striker earlier this week, and he will turn in a fine performance against Norwich City on Saturday.
Right-Back: Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal
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Arsenal's Bacary Sagna is considered one of the best right-backs in England, but the Frenchman suffered a broken leg in May and is still recovering.
Starting the season without one of its best and longest-tenured players was certainly a worry heading into this year's campaign for the Gunners, but 20-year-old Carl Jenkinson has quelled all concerns with his fantastic play.
The Finnish and English international has played the right-back role at an extremely high level in recent outings, and he will continue to impress against West Ham on Saturday.
The long-term future is bright for Jenkinson, but the short-term looks promising as well, and he will continue shining in his next match.
Left Midfielder: Adam Lallana, Southampton
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Adam Lallana has spent time in the center and on the left side of the Southampton midfield, and he has been dangerous when playing on the wing.
The crafty 24-year-old has three assists this season, and he provides a creative spark to the Saints attack.
He has a knack for finding players in scoring positions, and he will need to help facilitate goals on Sunday as Southampton's defense is allowing an average of three goals in EPL matches.
Lallana's touch and vision will be on full display against Fulham, and he will earn recognition for the Premiership's new boys.
Center Midfielder: Michu, Swansea City
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Swansea City received a valuable contribution last season from Gylfi Sigurdsson, but the Icelandic international is now playing for Tottenham.
New manager Michael Laudrup brought in Michu to fill Sigurdsson's role as an attacking central midfielder, and the Spaniard has succeeded beyond anyone's grandest expectations.
He had four goals in his first three matches, and while he has not been as productive in his last three contests, he will return to goal-scoring form against a sub-par Reading defense.
The Royals have allowed 11 goals this season, and there will certainly be space for Michu to add to his scoring total.
The Swansea attack will be back to the form it was in during the opening matches, and Michu will be at the center of attention.
Center Midfielder: Marouane Fellaini, Everton
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Marouane Fellaini has been thriving as an attacking center midfielder this season, and notoriously slow-starting Everton are playing as well as any team in the Premiership.
Three goals and one assist fromt the powerful Belgian have been a large part of the team's success, and Fellaini will continue to dominate opposing defenses on Saturday against Wigan.
The Wigan defense will not be able to contain a player like Fellaini, who is an extremely forceful attacker.
The 25-year-old's hair makes him the most visible player on the pitch, but he has been worth watching this season, and that will continue agains the Latics.
Right Midfielder: Damien Duff, Fulham
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Damien Duff and the Fulham attack have the benefit of going against a Southampton back-line that has allowed 18 goals this season.
The Cottagers, however, have scored 13 times this season, which is more than any other team, except Manchester United.
Duff has been enjoying an excellent start to the season and has three goals and an assist through the team's first six matches.
Success in the attack will come much easier on Sunday against the worst defensive team in the league, and Duff will be significantly improving his statistics against the Saints.
Striker: Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
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Wayne Rooney has shown in two matches that he can play successfully alongside Robin van Persie.
In the team's last match against CFR Cluj, Manchester United's star was content with playing deeper than he is used to by settling into a distributing role. He was tremendously effective and finished the game with two assists.
Rooney has always been an excellent passer, and now he is playing with the best finisher in the EPL.
But the English international is one the league's most lethal goal-scorers himself, and his name will show up on the stat sheet for multiple reasons during United's match against Newcastle this Sunday.
Striker: Nikica Jelavic, Everton
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Nikica Jelavic is coming off a performance in which he scored twice and assisted Everton's only other goal in a 3-1 win over Southampton last Saturday.
While Victor Anichebe has also played well for Everton in a center forward role for the Toffees, Jelavic is an extraordinarily intelligent and efficient player.
He is a master at finding space in the penalty area, and few players in the world are as adept at striking a ball on their first touch.
While his fantastic performance last week did come against Southampton's porous defense, Wigan—his opponent this Saturday—is not all that stout at the back. Jelavic is difficult man to keep off the score sheet, and the Latics will not be up to the challenge.