Premier League Team of the Week VI feat. Arsenal and Liverpool stars
It was a big weekend in Matchday 6 of the 2016/17 Premier League, with a Saturday lunchtime showdown between Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Claudio Ranieri’s defending champions Leicester City kicking off proceedings. The Red Devils blew Leicester away at Old Trafford with four first half goals in an eventual 4-1 triumph, before neighbours Manchester City maintained their 100% record start under Pep Guardiola with a 3-1 win at Swansea.
The performance of the weekend however came in the late kick-off on Saturday, and it was a London Derby between Arsenal and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. The visitors were hardly in the contest, the Gunners scoring three first half goals to brush aside the Blues and earn their first league win over their West London rivals since 2011.
Elsewhere, second placed Everton tasted defeat for the first time this season after being undone by Junior Stanislas’ wonder strike at Bournemouth, Liverpool hammered Hull at Anfield, and Tottenham ran out 2-1 winners at Middlesbrough to keep their early momentum going in the absence of Harry Kane. However, it was another disappointing week for David Moyes after seeing his Sunderland side blow a two goal lead to lose at home to Crystal Palace, courtesy of a stoppage time winner from Christian Benteke.
There was a last minute goal elsewhere too, and it was a Salomon Rondon goal for West Bromwich Albion which agonisingly denied Stoke City a first win of the season after Joe Allen’s 73rd minute goal looked to have been enough; a result which keeps the heat firmly up on Potters boss Mark Hughes and takes Baggies boss Tony Pulis to five matches unbeaten against his former side.
There looked to be no respite to West Ham United’s defensive woes either, they fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Claude Puel’s Southampton, and Slaven Bilic must now be a man under serious pressure.
But on a weekend of big individual and team performances, who stood above the rest to make The Boot Room’s pick for Premier League Team of the Week? Read on over the next few pages to find out.
Coach: Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Having written in his pre-match programme notes “we feel as though we are on our way up”, Arsenal supporters may have thought little of the talk having seen their team so often billed to be contenders only to disappoint, and have even been flat at times this season particularly at home. The performance that followed only proved Wenger’s optimistic theory of his team, and they blew Chelsea away it what the manager would call a “nearly perfect” first-half performance and “one of the greatest Arsenal displays in recent years”.
Wenger sent his players out to press Chelsea and play in a committed and team manner, having been disappointed by the lack of intensity they had shown in the opening exchanges of their last home game against Southampton. His instructions to his team to up their intensity and show that they can play the old Arsenal way could not have been executed better, and the French boss can be credited with getting his selection and tactics spot-on, from leaving Granit Xhaka on the bench (who would later come on to replace the injured Francis Coquelin) and starting youngster Alex Iwobi on the flank.
Despite letting their foot off the gas a little in the second half it did little to tarnish what was a stunning performance, and Wenger can take much credit in the way he set out his team, drilled them to shut Chelsea down and in the manner he demanded a higher intensity and urgency from his players. His team delivered, but he knows they must to it on a consistent basis if they are to do themselves justice and bring silverware back to the Emirates this season.