The weekend’s action got off to a blistering start at Anfield, where Liverpool thrashed Arsenal 5-1, so unsurprisingly it is the Reds who contribute the most players to our latest Premier League Team of the Week, with five selections in total.
Simon Mignolet did not have much to do against the Gunners, though, so the goalkeeper’s gloves go to Maarten Stekelenburg (4), who made some “astonishing” saves as Fulham earned a 2-2 draw at Manchester United. The Dutchman is one of seven players making their debuts in our team.
Julian Speroni (3.5) was pipped to the post by Stekelenburg in the final game. The Argentine made some fine stops at crucial times as Crystal Palace beat West Brom 3-1.
Two Liverpool players help make up the defence, with Jon Flanagan (4) and Martin Skrtel (3.5) at right-back and centre-back, respectively. Flanagan was rock solid defensively and showed a superb eye for a pass when going forward, while Skrtel got his side off to a flier with two quick-fire goals to earn his first appearance in the Goal XI.
Fulham’s Dan Burn (4), another debutant, partners Skrtel at the back, after helping the Cottagers stand firm in the face of 81 Manchester United crosses at Old Trafford. “More encouraging signs for Roy Hodgson, who would have been impressed by Burn’s ability to win almost every ball in the air. A true coming-of-age performance,” according to Goal’s Peter Staunton in Manchester.
Burn just about saw off competition from West Ham’s James Collins (4), who put in a very solid performance against his former club, Aston Villa.
Joe Ledley (3.5) completes the defence. Despite mistiming a couple of tackles, he was playing out of position at left-back but nonetheless managed to score on his Crystal Palace debut, and therefore makes his Goal debut.
Liverpool were not the only team to put in a stunning performance, of course, and Steve Sidwell (4) was one of the key men as Fulham battled to their draw at Manchester United. He takes his place in the midfield after scoring the opening goal and playing a part in Darren Bent’s late equaliser.
Sidwell is joined by Steven Gerrard (4.5) in our XI. The Liverpool captain was given a standing ovation when he was withdrawn after 75 minutes. Wayne Veysey at Anfield was equally impressed: “Sat in front of the back four and dictated the play with a consummate midfield performance. His reading of the game was as impressive as the quality of his set pieces and passing.” Gerrard is, perhaps surprisingly, making his first appearance of the season in our line-up.
Nemanja Matic also scored a 4 in our ratings but despite another very impressive performance for Chelsea, he was not quite as eye-catching as Sidwell or Gerrard.
It is a sparkling attacking line-up, with the weekend’s star man, Eden Hazard (4.5), taking up a role on the right. The Belgian scored his first Chelsea hat-trick against the Magpies in yet another eye-catching performance. Described as “A pleasure to watch” by Liam Twomey at Stamford Bridge.
Tom Ince (4.5) bagged a goal on his debut to get Crystal Palace started against West Brom. The England Under-21 international moved to Selhurst Park from Blackpool on transfer deadline day and took just 15 minutes to open his account under Tony Pulis, and earn a place in our squad for the first time, too.
Our team finishes, inevitably, with two Liverpool players. Raheem Sterling (4.5), also making his debut in the Goal XI, was the star performer at Anfield, scoring twice and tearing the Gunners to shreds on the counterattack in the second half. “Arsenal will have nightmares about his searing pace and astonishing change of gear,” remarked Veysey in his player ratings.
Luis Suarez (4) makes his eighth appearance in our team of the week this season. The Uruguayan was not on the scoresheet against Arsenal but “his genius was evident throughout,” says Wayne. “His imagination, creativity and touch started the fire that torched the Arsenal defence, with the many highlights including a jaw-dropping 35-yard volley and the defence-splitting cross to set up Sterling for his first goal.”
Suarez kept out Marouane Chamakh (4) and Shane Long (4), despite both men scoring crucial goals for Crystal Palace and Hull City, respectively.