David De Gea joins Manchester United stars in Team of the Weekend
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 #ESPNFCTOTW.
Goalkeeper: The easiest choice in Team of the Weekend history? Probably. Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea was super-human in Saturday's 3-1 win at Arsenal, making a record equalling 14 saves in the match. No other goalkeeper has managed more since Premier League records began and it's no wonder he's a unanimous pick among our panel. De Gea's incredible double save from Alexandre Lacazette and then Alexis Sanchez was probably the standout moment in a performance that had Jose Mourinho purring. "The world's best," he claimed and Gabriele Marcotti was just as impressed. "Days like these he goes from being very good to miles out there beyond the edge of the Milky Way good. The double save was special, but it goes way beyond that. Without him, United probably lose," he said. Steve Nicol agrees and here's Shaka Hislop making it a full house: "He's the best in the world. You may not see a better goalkeeping display this season. If you do it'll be from De Gea again."
Right-back: Mourinho has truly reinvigorated Antonio Valencia, whose buccaneering presence down the right troubled Arsenal and resulted in United's opening goal. Valencia has won Player of the Year awards as a right winger and also right-back, underlining his versatility. Shaka was impressed by Valencia at the Emirates and so was Marcotti, who said: "I am not a fan of a back three for United, but it works brilliantly for him."
Centre-back: It's been a season to forget so far for Ashley Williams at Everton but Sam Allardyce's first match in charge coincided with an upturn in fortunes for him. Williams looked more like his old self in the 2-0 victory over Huddersfield and makes it into our side via Gab and Shaka's picks. "Huddersfield don't pose much of a challenge these days, but what little they did offer was nullified in part by the fact he's playing much better than earlier in the campaign," Gab said and Shaka added: "He's not been having a great time of late but he equipped himself well here."
Centre-back: Their attacking prowess left Brighton bewildered but it was also a good day for Liverpool defender Emre Can in the Reds' 5-1 win on the south coast. Can scored the opener and had a decent outing in an unfamiliar centre-back spot, with Nicol and Marcotti both selecting him. Nicol was impressed by Can's adaptability and Marcotti added: "He hasn't played at the back in a long time and it's totally different in a back three, but on the day he seemed to thrive. And he grabbed a goal as well."
Left-back: A difficult one this week with no real standout contenders. We're going to go with Marcotti's pick, because he offered the best reason. So, well done to Ryan Bertrand who was his typical assured self in Southampton's 1-1 draw at Bournemouth. "Just a nod to Mr. Dependable. Because otherwise he'd never get a mention here, yet he's one of the most consistent left-backs in the Premier League," said Marcotti and that's fair enough in our book.
Midfield: A few contenders here, but Shaka wins as his selection of Abdoulaye Doucoure in central midfield helps the balance of our XI. Gab went for Joe Allen at Stoke but Shaka wins as Doucoure excelled in Watford's 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Vicarage Road. "He bossed that midfield and Tottenham are still floundering," said Shaka.
Midfield: There's a distinct Manchester United feel this week and Paul Pogba is next up. His critics claim he doesn't influence big games enough but Saturday was a real tour de force at Arsenal, the Frenchman dominating the middle and looking a snip at £89.3 million. Pogba's beautiful footwork set up United's third goal before a late challenge on Hector Bellerin resulted in a red card. "Don't care about that," Gab says. "Care about the two goals he set up, the poise he brought and the way he helped weather Arsenal's siege." Pogba has stepped it up this season and is becoming the midfield maestro he seems destined to be. Oh, how he will be missed in the Manchester derby.
Forward: A day after England were drawn against Belgium for next summer's World Cup , Eden Hazard sent a warning to the Three Lions with an excellent two-goal performance in Chelsea's 3-1 win over Newcastle. The Toon had no answer to the Belgian's brilliance and a cheeky Panenka penalty sealed a majestic display. A fully deserved 9/10 in our player ratings and also a place in our attack this week. It's another full house, with all three of our panel impressed. "He bagged two goals, showed off some skills and led the comeback," Marcotti said.
Forward: Successful teams are not just built on superstars. Eric Cantona used the term "water carriers" when describing lesser heralded players (in this case, Didier Deschamps with France) and their presence in a squad is crucial. Shaka's pick of Jesse Lingard may never be world class but he has his uses, exemplified by his superb two-goal show at the Emirates. For his first, his hassling and harrying prompted a mistake in the Arsenal backline and a crisp finish put United in charge. A simple tap-in for the second was just reward for an enterprising display from a player who scored a wonderful solo goal at Watford in midweek.
Forward: Enjoy him while you can? In a week when more claims emerged that Barcelona want Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool's brilliant Brazilian was once again at his mesmeric best as Liverpool swatted Brighton aside. Coutinho was instrumental in the Reds' 5-1 mauling of the Seagulls, his clever free kick deceiving Mat Ryan in the Brighton goal towards the end. His "second" will go down as a Lewis Dunk own goal but no bother, Coutinho can console himself with a spot in our team this week. "No mercy on the counter against an overmatched Brighton. Adds a layer of unpredictability which takes Klopp's game to a new level," Gab said. Nicol makes it two out of three.
Striker: Liverpool's forward line continues to excite and Roberto Firmino's double at Brighton took him to 11 goals for the season. When Jurgen Klopp's attack clicks it really takes some stopping, with Firmino particularly impressive on Saturday. It wasn't just his double, it was the multitude of fancy flicks and clever turns that bewildered Chris Hughton's men. He was outstanding and Nicol's pick beats Gab's selection of Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Liverpool edging Everton there ... just in time for next Sunday's Merseyside derby.
Manager: He may have left the Etihad with nothing but West Ham fought well for David Moyes in Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City. Shaka went for Mourinho but was outvoted by Gab and Nicol. Gab said: "Never mind that they lost. They went into the second half leading away from home against a team that were undefeated in all competitions. One of only two in Europe's big five. And he gave City a game, showing cohesion and belief. Take that, haters!" Nicol was similarly impressed by the Hammers' spirit and said: "You can't give it to Mourinho -- everyone knew what he was going to do! It's Moyes this week -- at least West Ham showed some spirit and character under him."
Alex Shaw is General Editor at ESPN FC. Follow on Twitter: @AlexShawESPN.