Premier League Team of the Week III feat. Manchester United and Chelsea stars
They say all good things come in threes. Of course, eventually there will be 38 of these Premier League matchdays to enjoy, but the new season was back again with a bang this weekend for its third instalment of the season as the new campaign begins to gather pace.
We saw defending champions Leicester finally get off the mark at the King Power Stadium with a 2-1 victory over Swansea City – whose lack of potency up front continues to haunt them – and Arsenal also managed to get their first three points of the season in a convincing 3-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road. José Mourinho’s Manchester United preserved their 100% record start after Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner earned the Red Devils a 1-0 win at the KCOM Stadium over a plucky Hull City, whilst Manchester City followed suit on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 3-1 win over West Ham United at the Etihad.
Amongst all the goals and never-ending drama, who stood out the most to make The Boot Room’s pick for Matchday III’s Premier League Team of the Week? Read on over the next few pages to find out!
Coach: José Mourinho (Manchester United)
Renowned for his precise match preparation and tactical masterclass, José Mourinho showed persistence alongside his team and no fear to shake-up his side as the Red Devils ground out a 1-0 win at Hull courtesy of substitute Marcus Rashford’s winner deep into injury time. The youngster’s goal was just reward for a United side led by Mourinho which changed tack several times before eventually penetrating Hull’s stubborn rear-guard.
With Ibrahimovic’s physicality posing a threat in the first-half despite the Swede roaming out wide on occasions, Mourinho had him maintain his position centrally, with Wayne Rooney taking charge to roam more freely behind the forward, whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford were thrown on to run the channels and stretch Hull’s defence.
Mourinho’s tactical switch to more of a 4-3-3 than a 4-2-3-1 proved inspired, as Rooney escaped down the left to put a ball in for Rashford who came up trumps with a first-time finish to spark wild celebrations on the United bench and in the away end at the KCOM Stadium.
It may also be a corner turned for the Portuguese in his willingness to gamble on younger players, after Rashford became the first teenager to score for any of José Mourinho’s clubs. But it is the persistence and mentality of his United side; a desire to go for broke, which won the day for the Red Devils, and it is for that reason that the Special One makes the cut this week to take his spot in the dugout.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)
The veteran Czech Republic international goalkeeper reminded the Premier League that he’s still got it with a fantastic display at Vicarage Road. He faced a total of six shots which hit the target from Watford, and saved several certain goas for the home side includeing keeping out a thunderous effort from José Holebas before a superb reaction save to deny Odion ighalo a resulting tap-in.
His strong show of goalkeeping kept Watford’s second-half recovery at bay, and kept new Hornets boss Walter Mazzarri waiting for his first victory as manager of the Hertfordshire club.
Right-Back: Michail Antonio (West Ham United)
Deployed as a right wing-back in the game at the Etihad against Manchester City to provide width, Michail Antonio ran himself into the ground getting up and down the right flank, and his headed goal in the second half – putting him on a league high of eight headed league goals since since the start of the Premier League season of 2015/16 – hauled the Hammers back into the contest before Raheem Sterling’s late finish killed the game.
No English midfielder has scored more Premier League goals since August 2015 than Michail Antonio, who is on a joint high of ten goals alongside Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli. He has been given his first call-up to the England squad by former coach Sam Allardyce this week, and needless to say given his displays of late it is more than deserved.
Centre-Back: Curtis Davies (Hull City)
In the midst of an extraordinary circumstances at Hull City in the build-up to the season, including manager Steve Bruce’s resignation, no summer signings and only 13 fit senior players available to interim boss Mike Phelan, Curtis Davies has been a rock in the heart of the Tigers’ defence, which helped them to unexpected victories in their opening two games of the Premier League season.
Davies was immense again in Saturday’s late kick-off at home to Manchester United, putting in a titanic performance to help nullify the threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as well as putting in a total of 16 clearances and five blocks – more than any other player on the pitch.
His efforts were beyond worthy of earning his team a precious point against Mourinho’s men, and Davies and his team-mates were only denied in cruel fashion deep into stoppage time by Marcus Rashford’s winner, but on any other week it may have been enough to see the point safe. If Hull are to stay in the division or even thrive in the Premier League this season, you get the sense that Curtis Davies will be one of their standout performers if not one of their most important players.
Centre-Back: Papy Djilobodji (Sunderland)
Several eyebrows were raised when new Sunderland boss David Moyes splashed out £8 million for the Chelsea defender, whom the Blues signed for half of that amount from FC Nantes only a year earlier. On this showing however, such a fee may prove a real bargain, after the Senegalese combined well with Lamine Koné to create a solid centre-half pairing which restricted Claude Puel’s Southampton to efforts from range.
Djilobodji made a total of 11 clearances on the day, more than any other player, and he only saw his efforts go to waste after a snapshot from Jay Rodriguez squirmed under the body of rookie shotstopper Jordan Pickford after Jermain Defoe’s penalty seemed to have snatched the points for the Black Cats.
Sunderland are improving under Moyes though, and if Djolobodji can continue to replicate such form, it won’t be long before Scotsman Moyes can enjoy some established stability at the back, and Sunderland can begin to look up the table rather than think about an impending relegation dogfight.
Left-Back: James Milner (Liverpool)
Deployed once again in an unfamiliar left-back spot, James Milner showed professionalism and guile in his new role which helped shut down Tottenham Hotspur’s attack in the Saturday lunchtime encounter at White Hart Lane, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side continued to struggle in rediscovering last season’s spark.
Milner’s goal from the penalty spot means he has now netted in 42 Premier League games without being on the losing side, and his maruading runs forward and general solidity in the position drew specific praise from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the game; a fast, frantic encounter which was a joy to watch, with Milner at the heart of the action even out at left-back.