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Bruce must make case for defence

Hull City 2 days ago
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 Posted by James Tyler
Aug 19, 2014

A decent XI of Prem debutants

As the first week of the English Premier League concludes the ESPN FC panel discuss who they feel make up the Team of the Weekend.

The Premier League is no place for the timid, or so we're led to believe. Tackling of an agricultural variety and aggression at dizzying speed is sometimes said to be why more of the world's top players don't dare try their luck on English shores.

Layer in the naturally anxious nature of debuts, and it's nothing short of miraculous that the players can withstand the pressure, in particular the self-applied variety.

Debuts are often sublime or absurd, rarely somewhere in between. Massimo Taibi's first game for Man United was an error-ridden mess, albeit one in which they still beat Liverpool 3-2 regardless of his two mistakes for the two Reds goals. Jonathan Woodgate completed a ridiculous move to Real Madrid in 2004 -- at 13.4 million pounds, the mind still boggles -- was sent off for two bookable offenses and scored an own goal in his opener at the Bernabeu.

And while some notable debutants flopped this past weekend -- Ander Herrera and Javier Manquillo clearly need a few more games to get up to speed -- there was enough quality on display from first-timers to cobble together a starting eleven.

GK: Fraser Forster, Southampton
The tall Englishman was a mainstay for Celtic over the past three seasons, winning three SPL titles and starring in several memorable Champions League games against Barcelona, but Sunday saw his first-ever game in the Premier League... and it wasn't bad. Though the new-look Saints lost 2-1 to a feisty, fortunate Liverpool, Forster made three strong saves and showed that Southampton will be just fine this season with him between the posts.

DF: Eric Dier, Tottenham
The 20-year-old defender learned the game in Portugal, with a brief loan to Everton in 2011 that ended without a single appearance. A 4-million-pound move to Spurs this summer finally gave him a proper taste of the Prem and a strong all-round performance culminated in the late, game-winning goal on opening day. Not bad at all.

DF: Andrew Robertson, Hull City
The Tigers were a brittle side at times last season, but further fortification in the form of the 20-year-old Scottish left-back has helped immensely. Steve Bruce's side looked miserly and calm in Saturday's 1-0 win over QPR, a game in which last season's SPL Player of the Year performed manfully against Harry Redknapp's busy XI.

DF: Aaron Cresswell, West Ham
The youngster from Ipswich was a smart summer signing for Sam Allardyce, and although the Hammers fell to Dier's late goal on Saturday, Cresswell's resolve in the face of numerous tests from Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen bodes well for the season ahead. Further proof: he was named Man of the Match.

Cabella impressed for Newcastle in their season opener.
Cabella impressed for Newcastle in their season opener.

MF: Remy Cabella, Newcastle United
Ignore his absurd hair -- part detained animal, part architectural marvel -- and focus on his lively, inventive play from midfield. The Frenchman adds a much-needed soupcon of creativity to a side that's been desperate for it since Yohan Cabaye was shipped to Paris Saint-Germain.

MF: Dusan Tadic, Southampton
Concerned about Ronald Koeman's side? Don't be. The Serb may have unsettled some given his prominence in the Eredivisie -- never a reliable indicator when it comes to Prem signings -- but he was a constant menace down either wing at Anfield. He formed a fine partnership with another Saints new man, Ryan Bertrand, down the left wing, a constant tormentor of another Prem debutant, Liverpool right-back Javier Manquillo.

MF: Fernando, Manchester City
Another robust, calming midfield influence in Manuel Pellegrini's side, the ex-Porto enforcer adds further ballast to a side that can benefit from allowing Yaya Toure more freedom to attack.

MF: Dean Hammond, Leicester City
Replacing Foxes midfielder Danny Drinkwater late in the first half, Hammond maintained the Championship winners' pressure against Everton en route to a creditable 2-2 draw.

FW: Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
The big-money signing that Gunners fans craved has settled nicely in Arsene Wenger's side. Though the Chilean is prone to bouts of hesitant build-up play, he offers the kind of directness necessary to break open deep-lying Prem defenses. Sufficiently busy against Crystal Palace in a 2-1 win; also, he curled in the set piece from which Laurent Koscielny scored on the verge of halftime.

Diego Costa showed that he's the striker Chelsea have sorely been lacking.
Diego Costa showed that he's the striker Chelsea have sorely been lacking.

FW: Leonardo Ulloa, Leicester City
Strikers often have a tougher transition from the lower leagues to England's top tier, but the Argentine showed no such fear on Saturday. Leicester's record signing scored a fine, opportunistic goal after 22 minutes -- a real "poacher's goal," to use the dreaded cliche -- and offered plenty of trouble for Everton's veteran duo of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka.

FW: Diego Costa, Chelsea
Finally, an actual striker at Chelsea! With Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o all blamed at various times by Jose Mourinho for the Blues' failed title push, the ex-Atletico Madrid front man scored an efficient goal -- admittedly, it was against Burnley -- in Monday's 3-1 win.

James Tyler

James Tyler is a general editor for ESPN FC. He can be found on Twitter @JamesTylerESPN.

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