Premier League Team of the Week: Nani, Aguero, Modric, Adebayor and More
As we move deeper into autumn, the Premier League wades deeper into the season. A table is now really beginning to take shape.
United top the pile after overcoming Chelsea 3-1 this weekend to leave the London club 5 points adrift. Manchester City slipped up, allowing Fulham to walk away with a point, and find themselves 2 points behind the leaders.
Arsenal continued their calamitous start to the season, losing 4-3 to Blackburn, while Liverpool were trounced 4-0 by a resurgent Tottenham side—the same margin that Sunderland achieved over Stoke. Newcastle and Aston Villa played out a draw that sees them both remain undefeated, Swansea got their first win, a 3-0 victory over West Brom, and QPR saw off Wolves by the same margin.
Everton dealt with Wigan 3-1 despite their financial problems, and Norwich got their first win of the season against Bolton away from home.
So, with all that action, who were the best players of the week? Here's my team of the week, lined up in a standard 4-3-3 formation.
GK Shay Given
Shay Given made his name at Newcastle, pulling off some incredible saves during his 354 appearances for the Tyneside club. A spell at Manchester City was not as enjoyable a period of Shay Given's career, but Aston Villa seems to be a more successful venture for the Irish star.
Given starred against his old club, making an impressive save from Cabaye, almost keeping the ball out before Best got the better of him, and making a great diving save from Steven Taylor.
Villa, like Newcastle, are undefeated this season. That is largely down to the efforts of the veteran shot-stopper.
LB Armand Traore
Just a few weeks ago, Armand Traore was being slaughtered for his performance in Arsenal's 8-2 drubbing by Manchester United. A move to QPR, however, seems to have turned things around for the left-back.
Traore was a constant threat on the left flank, providing the assist for QPR's third goal and giving his side another outlet at every possible moment.
Unlike against United, he did his defensive job well and helped his side to a clean sheet, the type of thing that could prove valuable come May next year.
CB Ledley King
It is one of English football's great modern tragedies that Ledley King has bad knees. If he had been able to stay fit, there is no telling what he could have achieved, for club and country. We were provided with a reminder of that ability in Tottenham's victory over Liverpool.
The centre-back was a dominant force at the back on his return to Tottenham's starting XI, as he snuffed any and all chances that Liverpool looked to create, dealing with Andy Carroll quite comfortably.
At 30 years old, Ledley King probably does not have long left as a Premiership footballer. There appears to be no cure for his knee problem, but as long as he is around and fit, Tottenham have one of the country's best defenders.
CB Titus Bramble
Much-maligned Titus Bramble played a great game for Sunderland, scoring a goal and securing a clean sheet as he went up, quite successfully, against Peter Crouch.
His goal was hardly a highlight-reel moment, but his bundled finish was, nonetheless, important. It gave Sunderland an early lead and helped them to their first win of the season.
Some believe that there was a time when Bramble was one of the best defenders in the country. The 30-year-old has plenty of doubters, but he showed at the weekend that he has the tenacity to keep going despite it all and play very good defensive football.
RB Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker put in a promising shift at right-back for Tottenham, haring up and down the right wing and causing serious problems for Team of the Week veteran José Enrique with his pace and skill.
His crossing was good, but could have been better, whilst his defending was impressive when he was actually called into action.
He earned some experience last season at Aston Villa, and it appears to have been very beneficial for the Englishman. He may only be 20 years old, but the right-back looked at home playing against a big side like Liverpool.
CM Luka Modric
Tottenham turned down an incredible £40 million to hold on to Luka Modric over the summer, and it is for performances like his display against Liverpool last weekend that they were prepared to do so.
In addition to a truly wonderful long-range finish into the top corner of Pepe Reina's net, Modric was a great creative force for the North London club as he played perfectly weighted balls around the park. Some of Scott Parker's toughness seems to be rubbing off on him as well: he made some good tackles to show that he offers more than just the control on the ball that he is widely recognised for.
Redknapp will be desperate to hold on to Modric, and if the Croat plays well, that job will be a lot easier. A successful season for Modric is likely to be a successful season for Tottenham.
CM Joey Barton
QPR's captain is continuing the renaissance he started whilst at Newcastle. He was vital to QPR's 3-0 win over Wolves this weekend, with a display that showed us all that is good about Joey Barton.
He provided plenty of metal in the centre of the pitch, applied the slightly scruffy, finishing touch for the first goal, and was a constant thorn in the side of Wolves as he built attacks and broke up play.
Barton, unsurprisingly, could well be in trouble over his comments about Karl Henry, who made a poor tackle on the QPR man late in the game. Barton responded by giving him the twitter hash-tag "#sundayleagueplayer."
CM Luis Nani
Luis Nani, widely regarded as "a lesser Ronaldo," has really stepped up to the plate since his compatriot traded in the Northwest for the Spanish capital. The match against Chelsea was no different.
He scored a fantastic goal from range at an important time in the game—United were not dominating play as they might have wished, but Nani contributed a lot more than just a goal.
The Portuguese midfielder won Rooney's calamitous penalty after seeing his shot cannon back off the bar, and set up Rooney's goal after John Terry's clearance rebounded off the midfielder.
His on-the-ball skill was vital as he skipped and jinked past numerous players as United ran out 3-1 winners. Nani now has 19 Premier League goals in 100 Premier League appearances, exactly the same amount as Ronaldo after 100 outings.
Nani fits in well with a youthful Manchester United side. There's no reason to think that the 24-year-old will not be a major star for United for many years to come.
ST Sergio Aguero
Another two goals for Sergio Aguero mean that the Argentinian striker is well and truly up and running in the Premier League, with eight goals in five appearances. His side may have slipped up by letting Fulham fight back to a 2-2 draw, but Aguero was hardly to blame.
His second goal, just 10 seconds into the second half, was a brilliant, powerful drive into the corner, which on a normal weekend would probably have been the best goal scored. His first may have been offside, but his energy as he chased and carried the ball all around the pitch made it hard for Fulham to function for much of the game.
Aguero must surely be a contender for the golden boot, and while City have the likes of Dzeko and Tevez, you can't help but feel that Aguero is the man to challenge the club's crosstown rivals over the course of the season.
Yakubu first hit the Premier League with Portsmouth in 2003, and he has had his ups and downs over the past eight years (see open goal miss at the 2010 World Cup).
Luckily for Blackburn, he was at his best last weekend and caused multiple problems for Arsenal's defence.
He scored two, although one should have been disallowed for offside. The first was a brilliantly controlled finish, and the second a real striker's goal that showed the instincts are still very much there.
Yakubu is just the type of striker Blackburn need: strong, powerful and skilled. They will want more of the same if they are to cause more upsets on a similar scale.
ST Emmanuel Adebayor
Nobody, least of all the man in question, expected Emmanuel Adebayor to have his name chanted in celebration by White Hart Lane, but that is exactly what happened this weekend after the powerful striker, recently of Real Madrid, scored twice as Liverpool were seen off comfortably.
The big man took both his goals well and was impressive throughout, a poor miss aside, as he exhibited great close control and caused the Liverpool defence countless problems.
Tottenham fans were probably already well aware of the damage Adebayor can do; according to the BBC, he scored eight times against Tottenham while at Arsenal, and he helped send the club out of the Champions League last season.
Three goals in two games is a great start to Adebayor's time at Spurs, and the North Londoners will require more of the same if they are to overcome their poor start to the season and challenge for a Champions League place.