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Oct 6, 2013

Team of the Weekend

After each round of Premier League fixtures, ESPN FC brings you its Team of the Weekend. Selected by our panel of ESPN FC experts, 11 of Saturday and Sunday's star performers, including a manager, are carefully chosen. 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 show (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) for further reaction.

Goalkeeper: While one very special youngster received much of the praise after Manchester United's win at Sunderland, Adnan Januzaj's heroics may have been worth nothing if it wasn't for some very decisive goalkeeping. Thus, our goalkeeper this week is David De Gea, who produced a near-miraculous save to deny Emanuele Giaccherini with United 1-0 down and heading for more woe. Gabriele Marcotti suggested Artur Boruc, who was indeed superb for Southampton against Swansea, but De Gea takes his spot on a majority verdict.

Right-back: Some wide-ranging suggestions from our panel for the whole defence, not just right-back. Marcotti nominated Leandro Bacuna's 'very professional' performance as Aston Villa drew at Hull, Steve Nicol suggested Pablo Zabaleta's showing for Manchester City while Paul Mariner thought Fulham's Sascha Riether was the stand-out. The judge's call goes to Riether on the basis that it's tough to argue with two goal-line clearances in the same game, which saved Martin Jol's bacon (for now) every bit as much as Darren Bent's late goal.

Left-back: More variety for the other full-back slot. Mariner was impressed with Aleksandar Kolarov, musing that he could keep Gael Clichy out of the City side on merit at this rate, Marcotti praised the way Davide Santon combined with Loic Remy for Newcastle, while Nicol was impressed with the attacking play of Norwich's Martin Olsson. Once again, your correspondent has the weighty decision of who to pick, and the nod goes to Santon.

Centre-back: One area of the defence our learned judges did agree on was in the middle, where Hull's Curtis Davies impressed across the board with his terrific display against Villa. On a day for the defences at the KC Stadium, Davies stood out, winning 'just about everything against Kozak' (Marcotti) and 'showed his true worth' (Mariner).

Centre-back: There's more debate for the other central defensive slot. Marcotti thought the way Winston Reid shut out Tottenham then nicked a goal for himself made him worthy of inclusion, Mariner said if it hadn't been for Phil Jagielka Everton would have conceded even more to Manchester City, while Nicol cast a favourable eye over both John Terry and Mamadou Sakho. The final call sides with West Ham's Reid, who helped execute Sam Allardyce's excellent tactical plan as the Hammers picked up a surprise 3-0 win at Spurs.

Central-midfield: There was little debate about the candidacy of Yaya Toure, who appears to be rediscovering his mojo after a slightly disappointing campaign last year. Marcotti called him a 'key man playing a key role', Nicol said he was 'so consistent' while Mariner summed it up nicely by noting 'what more is there to say?' What more indeed, Paul, what more indeed.

Central-midfield: The way Arsenal are playing at present, it takes some performance to stand out when you're an opposition midfielder, but that's exactly what Claudio Yacob did at the Hawthorns. The West Brom spoiler was one of the key reasons for Arsenal's relatively lacklustre showing, and thus he wins a place in our team this week. Marcotti noted that a 'game like this, all tactics, brains and postioning is made for his skill set', while Nicol praised the Argentinean's work rate as he helped snuff out Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and pals.

Attacking-midfield: One of the reasons for Manchester City's relative inconsistency this season might be the sporadic presence of David Silva pulling the strings from out wide or in midfield. The Spaniard was there on Saturday, and he showed City what they'd been missing with a terrific performance of guile and cunning, claiming an assist as well as creating no less than five other chances for his team-mates. He also picked up a yellow card, as if to prove he's not just a pretty left foot.

Attacking-midfield: There was no disagreement about the other two spots in our attacking-midfield trio. Loic Remy may have been Newcastle's only significant signing this summer amid promises of extensive squad-building from Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear, but if he continues playing like this then it will hardly matter that they didn't pick up anyone else. Remy helped to justify Pardew's big decision to drop Hatem Ben Arfa by notching two excellent goals (the second in particular was an exquisite finish) from his position on the left, earning praise from our panel who variously described the Frenchman as 'pacy', 'cool' and 'incisive.'

Attacking-midfield: Finally, of course he's here. Perhaps it's more a sign of the relative bareness of Manchester United's cupboard rather than Adnan Januzaj's undeniable skill, that United fans are getting quite so excited about the youngster. However, Januzaj justified the hype with a quite superb performance against Sunderland, scoring both in a win that will hardly convince those who doubt David Moyes really is the 'chosen one', but will at least keep the worst of the criticism at bay for a couple of weeks. Mariner called Januzaj a 'joy to watch', Marcotti praised his performance while chiding those who want the Belgian-born but Albanian-qualified 18-year-old to play for England, while Nicol wondered if this game was 'a taste of things to come'.

Striker: He's back, and while most will need some convincing that Luis Suarez really is happy at Liverpool, that hardly matters when he's combining quite this well with Daniel Sturridge. The England forward can count himself unlucky to miss out in our team this week (indeed, Paul Mariner wanted both men in an adventurous 4-1-3-2 formation) but it's Suarez's invention and rapid feet, as well as his goal, that makes him the choice to spearhead the ESPNFC XI.

Manager: For his splendid tactical plan of deploying Ravel Morrison as a 'false nine' (which may actually have been born of necessity given how bad Modibo Maiga, his one fit striker, has been), Sam Allardyce is in the dugout for our team. Marcotti sums it up thusly: 'Spurs had conceded two goals all season. His team had never scored on the road. And they win 3-0. Hats off.'

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