Anthony Martial double for Man United earns Team of the Weekend spot
After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Our panel of experts carefully selects 11 star performers, along with a manager.
Do you agree or disagree? You can have your say on those picked or overlooked in the comments section at the foot of the article or on Twitter using the hashtag #TOTW. Plus, tune in to Monday's "ESPN FC" (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.
Goalkeeper: There were some strong goalkeeping performances in the Premier League this weekend, notably David De Gea, who produced a number of magnificent saves to keep Manchester United in the game in their 3-2 win at Southampton. However, our panel couldn't look past another man who kept his side in their game, West Ham's Adrian. He weathered a storm as West Ham won 2-1 at Manchester City and Paul Mariner said: "City would have won without him."
Right-back: After a sticky start, Bournemouth are warming to life in the Premier League and Eddie Howe's side recorded their first home win of the campaign by easing 2-0 past Sunderland. One of the Cherries' most impressive performers was Simon Francis at right-back, providing defensive solidity as well as a threat going forward. "He's a lower-division lifer who showed that he can hang with the big boys," said Gab Marcotti, before adding: "Or, at least Sunderland."
Centre-back: As impressive as Adrian was in the West Ham goal, he couldn't do everything on his own and was helped by a fine defensive performance from the four men in front of him. New Zealand centre-back Winston Reid has proved to be one of the best "below the radar," talents in the Premier League over the past few years and proved this once again with his heroic showing at the Etihad, making an extraordinary 21 clearances as City laid siege to the West Ham goal. Reid becomes the first unanimous nomination from our panel this week.
Centre-back: While discussion after Chelsea's 2-0 win over Arsenal was dominated by Diego Costa, all the talk before kick-off was over John Terry's omission from the starting XI, the first time that Jose Mourinho has left his captain out of the team for a Premier League game. However, his decision was vindicated after Kurt Zouma, picked for his pace, as Arsenal tried Theo Walcott up front, performed brilliantly to keep the Gunners at bay, then capped things off with a fine header. The imposing youngster has been gradually introduced into the Chelsea first team, but soon the debate might be not who partners Terry at the back, but who partners Zouma.
Left-back: Cesar Azpilicueta produced another excellent performance, which continues to be even more impressive since left-back is the natural right-footer's "wrong" side. "Arsenal got nowhere on his side of the pitch," said Marcotti. "And when he does cross the halfway line, he's a handy outlet."
Midfield: It was always going to be interesting to see how Watford coped with life back in the Premier League, particularly after changing their manager again and making so many new signings since winning promotion. One of those new signings was Etienne Capoue, recruited from the Tottenham bench to provide steel to their midfield. He did just that as Watford recorded an impressive 2-1 victory over Newcastle on Saturday. Capoue set up one of the Hornets' two goals, but perhaps more importantly was the steady rock around which their performance was built.
Midfield: Completing the trio of Chelsea players in our team this week is Cesc Fabregas. The Spanish playmaker has looked a shadow of his old self for much of the past year, but against his former side on Saturday, he seemed closer to the man who ran games for Chelsea in the first half of last season. He worked hard, as any Mourinho player has to do, and pinged a few more of his familiar passes around the Stamford Bridge pitch, notably to set up Zouma's opening goal with a perfectly judged cross. "Back to something like his best," was Mariner's assessment, and it's tricky to argue.
Midfield: Another man settling very nicely into life as a Premier League player is Bournemouth midfielder Matt Ritchie, who was perhaps the outstanding player in the Championship last season, and has carried on where he left off since his team's promotion. What's particularly impressive about Ritchie is not just his creativity, but his work rate, as both Mariner and Marcotti note; the latter describing him as an "Energizer Bunny." The main reason he caught the eye this weekend was his utterly magnificent goal in Bournemouth's 2-0 win over Sunderland. The way Ritchie chested down the ball and lashed a swerving volley straight into the top corner was reminiscent of James Rodriguez's strike for Colombia at the World Cup, and it will take a special effort to eclipse it in the goal of the season stakes.
Forward: While Manchester City suffered their first league defeat of the season to West Ham, there were still positives to be taken from their performance, not least how new record signing Kevin De Bruyne played. The Belgian filled David Silva's shoes admirably in the No.10 role, after the Spaniard was injured in the prematch warm-up, providing the creative impetus City needed in the absence of their playmaker. De Bruyne scored a brilliant goal to give City a sniff of hauling West Ham in, and it was notable, as Mariner and Hislop spotted, that their threat diminished when he was moved out to the left wing in the second half.
Forward: To think, only a few weeks ago Anthony Martial was being described as a waste of money, an expensive folly from a United side desperate to find a striker in the last days of the transfer window. For now he looks the real deal, scoring two goals with a poise that belies his years. While Wayne Rooney continues to be rather goal-shy, United will need the 19-year-old to carry on scoring. "He kicked it up a notch with two goals," said Marcotti of the young Frenchman. "One was a function of his ability to read the game and the other a result of ice-cool finishing and awareness to punish Maya Yoshida's blunder."
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Forward: Watford's Odion Ighalo bagged both goals as Quique Sanchez Flores' team completed their impressive victory over Newcastle. Ighalo opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, then doubled the lead with another product of his burgeoning partnership with captain Troy Deeney, who has found himself playing the perhaps unfamiliar role of creator for his colleague this season. "He was in the right place at the right time, got his two goals and didn't look back. "He's ideal for Quique Flores' brand of football," noted Marcotti, and if it continues, then the Hornets will have an excellent chance of staying up.
Manager: Slaven Bilic. It couldn't possibly be anyone else in the dugout. It looked like a significant gamble for West Ham to get rid of the dependable Sam Allardyce this season, when they absolutely have to stay in the top flight ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium next term. However, at the moment it looks like it's paying off handsomely, as Bilic guided his team to a brilliant win over Manchester City following those excellent victories at Arsenal and Liverpool. "In case you're wondering," said Marcotti, encouraging you to make a note in your diary, "they're away to Tottenham on Nov. 22, Manchester United on Dec. 5 and Chelsea on March 19."
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.