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Premier League Team of the Week

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2013

Premier League Team of the Week

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    With just 17 goals scored across nine fixtures so far this Premier League weekend, the same kind of raptured excitement hasn’t exactly gripped the division as it did in the opening encounters.

    That being said, with Manchester United playing host to Chelsea on Monday evening, the chance for Week 2 salvation is certainly there.

    Aside from Cardiff City’s shocking 3-2 triumph over Manchester City and Fulham’s 3-1 loss at the hands of Arsenal, no other game managed to produce more than three goals, with five clashes having just one goal or less.

    However, that doesn’t mean that the English top flight didn’t still produce its customary sample of Europe’s finest talents, the highlights of whom have been assembled into a neat 4-2-3-1 formation ahead.

    Statistics are courtesy of WhoScored and Squawka.

GK: Ben Foster, West Brom

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    Despite playing just 78 minutes of his side's 0-0 draw with Everton at Goodison Park this Saturday, Ben Foster made the most saves of any Premier League goalkeeper this weekend.

    The former Manchester United ‘keeper’s seven stops were essential in earning the Baggies a stalemate draw in Merseyside, their first point of the campaign in stingy territory.

    West Brom’s England international now faces a wait before learning just how long he has to sit on the sidelines after “feeling something pop” in his foot, per BBC Sport.

RB: Kyle Walker, Tottenham

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    As one of seven Premier League defences to have kept a clean sheet this weekend, Kyle Walker’s strength at the back was particularly strong against Swansea City.

    While that may seem to be a given for a full-back, the Spurs speedster’s inclination to sacrifice defensive effectiveness in favour of attacking contribution makes this weekend’s performance that much rarer.

    With three tackles, four interceptions and a pass completion of 82 percent, the England international was uncharacteristically less successful moving forward, but did well to restrain Pablo Hernandez and Wayne Routledge.

CB: Robert Huth, Stoke City

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    Although Ryan Shawcross grabbed the headlines with his goal scoring, it was his centre-back partner, Robert Huth, who gave the more rounded display against Crystal Palace.

    Not only were the German’s three tackles important in restricting the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Kevin Phillips and Mile Jedinak, but a passing accuracy of 88 percent suggests Huth helped his side propel forward too.

    As has come to be expected of the defender, Huth also managed to walk away from the 2-1 win with an 82 percent success rate in his aerial duels and rejected just about any notion of an Eagles equaliser with eight clearances on the day.

CB: Phil Jagielka, Everton

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    Under David Moyes, a sturdy home defence is something Everton fans have come to expect from their side. That so far looks to be maintained under Roberto Martinez.

    Phil Jagielka continues to be a large part of that record, and while the Toffees’ attack wasn’t in fluid motion during the 0-0 draw against West Brom, Martinez could at least count on his premier central star.

    The Everton captain made an incredible 14 clearances and was accurate in 80 percent of his passes, providing his side with a calm and assured presence in the heart of defence. He also made a vital six-yard block. 

LB: Jose Enrique, Liverpool

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    If the immediate arrival of Valencia’s Aly Cissokho is any encouraging factor behind Jose Enrique’s resolute display in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa, Brendan Rodgers has brought in the perfect competition for his left-back.

    Enrique contributed 60 percent of Liverpool’s entire key pass tally against the Villans, making three of the five managed by the visiting outfit.

    Eventually, this pressure held as the Spaniard assisted for Daniel Sturridge’s sole score. Enrique was also solid at the back, winning all of his headed battles and pulling off three interceptions.

CM: Aron Gunnarsson, Cardiff City

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    A consistent driving force behind the Bluebirds’ massive upset against Manchester City, Aron Gunnarsson was just one of several Cardiff stars who played out of their skin in the Welsh capital on Sunday.

    The Icelandic international actually played in a more advanced position, but was forced into central midfield for a lot of the game due to the visiting pressure piled on his side.

    With a passing accuracy of 73 percent, Gunnarsson certainly could have made better use of what little possession he managed to obtain, but piled on the pressure alongside Kim Bo-Kyung to equalise for his side at 1-1 and set the gears in motion for the eventual victory.

CM: Etienne Capoue, Tottenham

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    Etienne Capoue is barely a fortnight into his stay at Tottenham, but is already beginning to replicate the Toulouse form that earned him a move to North London in the first place.

    That being said, he still thrives in the more defensive aspects of his game. He has pulled off five of his six attempted tackles, two of his three headed duels, two interceptions and five clearances.

    That, teamed with a passing accuracy of 90 percent, made for an incredibly effective home debut that allowed those around him to express themselves more freely. It contributed largely to the 1-0 win over Michael Laudrup’s Swansea.

RAM: James Ward-Prowse, Southampton

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    Although just 18 years of age, James Ward-Prowse already appears to be repaying the faith that Mauricio Pochettino has shown him early on this season, not least of which in the 1-1 draw against Sunderland this weekend.

    Operating mainly off of the right flank but drifting all across the creative line, the teenager displayed all the signs of a hungry talent eager to make his mark on the division, crafting a consistent line of supply for his Saints teammates.

    Despite grabbing a yellow card early on, Ward-Prowse got more than 85 percent of his passes to their intended target and delivered half his attempted cross to a teammate, eventually grabbing a pivotal assist for his trouble.

CAM: Santi Cazorla, Arsenal

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    Arsenal’s main creative talent last season and one of the most potent of his kind in the division, Santi Cazorla finally picked up his form where last term left off, notching six key passes at Craven Cottage this weekend.

    The Spaniard finished with a magnificent pass completion of 94 percent, an incredible ratio considering he attempted more than 60 passes in the 3-1 win against Fulham.

LAM: Lukas Podolski, Arsenal

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    As another vital factor in the Gunners’ early weekend win against Martin Jol’s Cottagers, Lukas Podolski looks to have entered a far more effective vein of form early on in this campaign, capitalising upon the absences of other key figures.

    Arsene Wenger will have been pleased to see the former Cologne star do what he was initially brought to North London for: scoring goals. He perhaps does that in as much quantity as some may have expected in 2012-13.

    The Gunners’ No. 9 was clinical in his attacking approach and finished two chances, both from just inside the opposition’s area and capping off a great outing for not just the individual, but the entire team.

ST: Fraizer Campbell, Cardiff City

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    The spearhead of Cardiff’s attack in their 3-2 win over 2011-12 Premier League champions Manchester City, Fraizer Campbell’s efficiency against Joe Hart showed that the promoted club have a striker of real top-tier quality among their ranks.

    Campbell scored twice with his head, both from a corner scenario, to heap some discontent on Manuel Pellegrini’s ranks, but at the same time sprout hope in the Cardiff camp.

    Aside from his goals, the former Sunderland and Manchester United attacker also took the initial blocked shot that led to Aron Gunnarsson’s first equalising effort and was a general nuisance to the Citizens’ makeshift defence.

Bench

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    Manager: Arsene Wenger, Arsenal

    The Frenchman barely had 11 healthy first team players to call upon, but Arsene Wenger crafted some magic in encouraging his Gunners to an impressive 3-1 win over Fulham this week.

    Considering they’ve only just come back from a midweek game in Turkey, Arsenal’s victory was as much of a testament to Wenger’s man management as anything else.

     

    GK: Allan McGregor, Hull City

    One of the brighter spots for Steve Bruce to look upon in the 1-0 win over Norwich City, Allan McGregor redeemed his mistakes against Chelsea, making four saves and four aerial claims in a highly impressive display this weekend.

     

    RB: Mathieu Debuchy, Newcastle United

    Like Walker, Mathieu Debuchy was a full-back slightly off his attacking game, but played good defense. 

    The Magpies’ utility tackles well and was strong in the air against Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan, helping his side to a morale-boosting point against West Ham.

     

    CB: Jose Fonte, Southampton

    Scorer of Southampton’s only goal, Jose Fonte imposed himself up front as well as at the back against Sunderland, winning no less than eight aerial battles and maintaining an 88 percent passing average.

     

    CM: Marouane Fellaini, Everton

    Although the Belgian has struggled to get off to as successful an attacking season as 12 months ago, Marouane Fellaini nevertheless pitched in very helpfully in his preferred defensive midfield spot this weekend.

    Against West Brom, the towering utility made five tackles and a goal-line clearance, but also managed to almost clinch a winner near the death. He was unfortunately denied near the post. 

     

    LM: Robbie Brady, Hull City

    Robbie Brady was one of the few more explosive players to provide Chelsea with a defensive challenge last week and also gave Norwich a tougher test on Saturday. 

    The young Irishman eventually converted Yannick Sagbo’s won penalty to give his side the three points, but was almost omnipresent off the left flank.

     

    AM: Emanuele Giaccherini, Sunderland

    Despite being one of the smallest men on the St. Mary’s pitch, Emanuel Giaccherini did an incredible job craning his header past Artur Boruc on Saturday and provided a generally dynamic performance from the right wing.

     

    ST: Daniel Sturridge

    With another game winner, Daniel Sturridge maintained his 100 percent scoring record for the 2013-14 season so far, dribbling past Brad Guzan despite being lodged between numerous Villa defenders before finishing with great calm.

    In the absence of Luis Suarez, the forward was again a stern platform in attack and linked up well with his wide teammates, with accuracy again his among his finest assets.

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