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Sep 16, 2012

Team of the Week

Hands were the hot topic at Loftus Road, and the only one who seemed to use his effectively was Julio Cesar. The Brazilian goalkeeper was on top form as he kept Chelsea at bay with a string of excellent saves to give proof, if any were needed, that he is a better option than poor Robert Green.

There were three debutants on the pitch for Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium, and Brazilian right-back Maicon shone for his new club. The former Inter Milan man will have impressed his new fans with some solid defending and exciting counter-attacking from his full-back position, giving the impression that he could be one of the final pieces in Roberto Mancini's jigsaw.

Aston Villa have lacked potency thus far but did manage a win over Swansea, aided by a cleansheet - something they will need a few more of if they're going to struggle to score. Ron Vlaar was named the team's captain for the day, and could be the leader Paul Lambert has been searching for, with the Netherlands international commanding the Villa backline all afternoon to shut the Welsh side out.

Kieran Gibbs failed to find the back of the net himself, but his work up and down the left-hand side of the Emirates pitch brought two own goals from the haphazard Southampton defenders, with Jos Hooiveld and Nathaniel Clyne feeling obliged to turn his vicious crosses into their own net by way of compliment for the young man's work.

Manchester United surprised everyone when they swooped for Dutch left-back Alexander Buttner, but he showed what he was made of on his debut for the club by assisting Javier Hernandez's goal before getting one of his own thanks to a fantastic solo run and finish to heap pressure on his first-team rival Patrice Evra.

Gervinho spent a Saturday afternoon aided by some lax defending from Southampton as Arsenal took advantage to fire home six, with the Ivorian getting two in the process. The forward was a constant threat from wide areas, running the likes of Danny Fox ragged as the Saints had a torturous afternoon against an on-form Gunners forward-line.

After 700 appearances for one club, you could forgive Paul Scholes for slacking off slightly, but instead he ran the show once more from the centre of the Manchester United midfield. After a goalless first half, he took matters into his own hands by finding the net from a few yards. The veteran playmaker might be looking over his shoulder, though, having viewed Nick Powell come on for his United debut to fire in a wonder goal just 11 minutes after arriving on the pitch.

Little Luka Modric might have left to avoid Spurs' new grey-and-black kit, but Gylfi Sigurdsson isn't worried by his attire and would rather focus on his football style, which is proving popular in North London as he sublimely set Aaron Lennon away for Jermain Defoe's opening goal, and always offering a threat with the ball at his feet and his ability to shoot from distance.

Replacing Robin van Persie at Arsenal is a tough task, and Lukas Podolski doesn't directly fill his boots, but the German can take on the reins of free-kick taking. The left winger delectably curled the ball past Kelvin Davis from almost 30 yards. His danger wasn't limited to set-pieces, with his direct running a constant threat to the frequently dismantled Saints defence.

Dimitar Berbatov was described as the biggest signing in Fulham's history by his manager Martin Jol in the week. That might have been a slight exaggeration by the Dutchman, but he did his reputation no harm when looking a cut above the West Brom defence by netting twice, including one of his trademark calm penalties.

There might be a lack of top-quality English strikers about, but Jermain Defoe is certainly a man in form. The former West Ham man helped Andre Villas-Boas to first his win as Spurs boss by scoring twice at Reading. Defoe moved into space for his first, allowing him to fire into the goal, and his second showed the other side to his game as he ran at a frightened Reading defence, advancing into the area and powering a shot across the helpless Alex McCarthy.

His team didn't put in the best performance, but Andre Villas-Boas got an important victory, and his first three points since arriving at White Hart Lane, as Tottenham defeated Reading. It gives the Portuguese manager something to build on after the pressures of his opening weeks in charge.

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