Premier League Team of the Week: Mata, Sturridge, Adebayor and More
Another round of Premier League matches has been completed, but for once, that does not seem to matter.
Gary Speed's passing has entirely overshadowed the weekend's action. He was a gifted footballer, often under-appreciated, a promising manager and, from the words of everyone who knew him, a truly great man. He leaves behind a wife and two children. I think I can speak for all football fans when I say our thoughts are with them.
The weekend's action was of as high a quality as ever, and there were some big fixtures played. Manchester United vs Newcastle is not normally a big game, but Newcastle have earned their reputation as tough customers and earned a credible point at Old Trafford.
Liverpool vs Manchester City was the other big fixture and, like their cross-town rivals, City were held to a 1-1 draw.
Elsewhere, Tottenham continued their fantastic run of form and Robin van Persie, somewhat surprisingly, was not among the goals.
Players from eight sides feature in this week's team, which lines up in a 4-4-2 formation.
So, here is the Premier League Team of the Week. Please leave any comments, or stories you might have about Gary Speed in the comment section below.
GK Tim Krul
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Tim Krul is proving to be a fantastic acquisition for Newcastle United. The Dutch goalkeeper was in top form against Manchester United and won his team a useful point at Old Trafford.
Krul made a string of top saves, somehow stretching to keep out Ryan Giggs' shot, getting his chest in the way of an effort from point blank range and diving to make another important stop.
Newcastle have based their impressive start to the season on a hard working defensive unit, and Krul typifies that, showing good concentration, awareness and ability to do the most for his side.
Joe Hart deserves a mention for a great outing against Liverpool, but he is just pipped by Tim Krul.
LB Leighton Baines
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Leighton Baines was, once again, impressive for Everton. He was involved in both of his side's goals, providing the assist for the first and playing in another ball in the build up to the second.
Baines' bursts up the left wing were a constant source of danger to Wolves, as were his corners, and he kept things tight at the back, when called on to do so.
Everton's left-back is pushing his way to the front of Fabio Capello's mind as the Italian formulates his squad for next summer's European Championship. He would do well to keep an eye on the 26-year-old.
CB Fabio Coloccini
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Newcastle's Argentine centre-back has been central to Newcastle's brilliant start to the season. He continued his fine form with another courageous and skilled display against Manchester United.
United spent plenty of time in the final third of the pitch, and Coloccini had a busy afternoon dealing with that problem. He made several important blocks as he fought tooth and nail to keep Newcastle in with a chance.
Not at fault for the goal, Coloccini was brilliant for Newcastle, and will need to continue being so if the Geordie boys are to maintain their top four position.
CB Philippe Senderos
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Arsenal old boy Philippe Senderos made a triumphant return to The Emirates Stadium with a solid showing in central defence.
Going up against Robin van Persie, Senderos effectively neutralised the prolific striker's influence, giving him very few chances to shoot and keeping him well away from Fulham's goal.
Maybe it was the hours they must have spent on the training ground together, but Senderos,along with Brede Hangeland, handled RVP better than just about any other defender this season.
He spent much of his time at Arsenal on the bench, but the Swiss international could be far more influential at Fulham this season.
RB Danny Simpson
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Newcastle United right-back Danny Simpson was one of many Newcastle United players to put in a good shift against Manchester United on Saturday.
The 24-year-old was up against some top quality players with the likes of Nani, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young to contend with. The former Manchester United player handled the situation well, making some important blocks and tackles in a disciplined performance.
His block on the line was the highlight of his afternoon, as he denied United what would have been a crucial second goal with a last-gasp lunge.
LM Juan Mata
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Juan Mata is having a good first season for Chelsea, quickly proving to be one of the Premier League's best creative players.
Mata did well for Chelsea's second goal, making a good run down the left-wing, dummying the defender before riding a challenge well and playing a good ball across to Daniel Sturridge.
He didn't stop there; Mata was on hand to play a wonderful flicked half volley that had too much power for the goalkeeper to deal with, as he put Chelsea 3-0 up and had already provided the corner for Chelsea's first goal.
Chelsea have not got off to a good start this season, with Andre Villas-Boas under pressure, but Juan Mata is proving to be a very useful addition with his potent combination of pace and skill.
CM Lucas Leiva
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Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder was once widely mocked and a rather unpopular figure on Merseyside. That is no longer the case.
The midfielder dominated proceedings in the centre of midfielder, hassling the likes of Samir Nasri and David Silva, was quick to cut out passes and was vital to Liverpool's attacking play.
Still only 24 years old, Lucas is coming into his own and, in conjunction with Charlie Adam, is forming a partnership in central midfield that combines defensive solidarity and technical ability.
CM Youssouf Mulumbu
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West Brom's player of the season last time around, Youssouf Mulumbu had a good game against Tottenham Hotspur despite his side losing 3-1.
Big and powerful, Mulumbu has a great deal of skill as well, and that was on show as he slid through Tottenham's defence and was only prevented from scoring by a sprawling Brad Friedel.
Mulumbu got West Brom's goal after managing to get between Tottenham's two centre-backs to head the ball home and continued to threaten going forwards while also creating a couple of chances himself.
Ultimately, it was not enough to halt the Tottenham bandwagon, but it was a performance that should give Mulumbu the confidence to help him keep West Brom well away from the relegation zone.
RM Theo Walcott
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The Walcott seems to be getting better and better and, in this form, would be thoroughly hard done by if he was to miss out on the England squad for next summer, as he did for the 2010 World Cup.
Walcott put in another credible display full of his usual bundle of speed and technical ability as he made several probing runs down the right wing.
Often criticised for his poor final ball, Walcott is improving rapidly in that department and provided the cross for Vermaelen to score the equaliser.
ST Emmanuel Adebayor
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Emmanuel Adebayor seems to be settling in nicely at Tottenham Hotspur and grabbed himself two goals this weekend as Spurs continued their attack on the top of the table.
Adebayor failed to convert his penalty, but followed up quickly to poke the ball home, and grabbed a second late in the game after Gareth Bale squared the ball to him.
In between those two goals, the 27-year-old missed a few chances, but also set Jermain Defoe off on his run and goal with a clever first time flick and worked well holding the ball up as Tottenham improved after a shaky start.
The Togolese striker is in great scoring form; seven goals in 10 games is a record that speaks for itself, and Harry Redknapp will no doubt be looking to secure the former Arsenal striker's services on a more permanent basis.
ST Daniel Sturridge
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Daniel Sturridge is really making a name for himself and is currently keeping the likes of Fernando Torres and Nicholas Anelka out of the starting line-up, which is, needless to say, no easy task.
Sturridge showed good instincts to get into a scoring position at the far post for his goal, before continuing to threaten with a long shot and some exciting runs down the wings.
He almost got an assist with a good pull-back and looked dangerous throughout. He will be hoping to make the Euro 2012 squad and is going the right way about it, especially with Wayne Rooney's position in doubt.
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