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's 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: Unanimity. Not a word that can often be thrown around when it comes our team, but Asmir Begovic's performance for Stoke against West Brom had our panel purring. A hat trick of excellent saves, all from close range, included a point-saving one in the final minute of stoppage time as he thwarted Stephane Sessegnon, leading Gab Marcotti to ponder that these are the sort of draws that can prove vital come the end of the campaign.
Right-back: Marcotti tips a wink to Bacary Sagna for his showing for Arsenal, but Steve Nicol and Paul Mariner are adamant that Nathaniel Clyne should be adorned with the No. 2 shirt. The Saints are a stingy bunch this season, conceding just three goals, and Clyne has more than played his part. The 22-year-old clearly enjoyed exploiting the space offered by a luxurious Old Trafford pitch, getting forward to support his attacking colleagues time and again and almost grabbing his first goal of the season.
Centre-back: Clyne should feel at home in TOTW colours, as our panel have insisted another cog in that formidable Saints defensive machine is included in the shape of Dejan Lovren. The Croatian is praised by Marcotti for his continued vigilance at the back as Manchester United's leading lights -- Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney -- stalked around him, while Nicol thinks he should be allowed to keep his late equaliser as reward for his efforts, even if it did brush Adam Lallana on the way in.
Centre-back: Votes are split as to Lovren's partner, and though Jonny Evans was hurled into the mix by Nicol and Laurent Koscielny is tipped by Mariner, I've sided with Marcotti and his decision to anoint Swansea's Chico Flores. The Spaniard "tormented" Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher, according to Marcotti, and is becoming a real leader for Michael Laudrup, adding his first Premier League goal late in a four-goal romp on a miserable afternoon for Gus Poyet’s side.
Left-back: A return to cordiality at left-back, and perhaps something of a surprise given that Jan Vertonghen was playing slightly out of position. As Nicol rightly points out, the Belgian is assured in pretty much any position, and even though Marcotti doesn’t think Vertonghen has all the tools to play there and excel every week, he was certainly impressed with the part he played in Tottenham’s regulation victory at Villa Park.
Right midfield: It’s not been a bad week all in all for Andros Townsend -- two fine performances for England, and his first goal for the senior team, followed by a new four-year deal at Tottenham. He celebrated in style at Villa Park, setting Spurs on their way to victory with the opening goal, a devilish cross that deceived Brad Guzan, and impressing Mariner with his pace and skill.
Centre midfield: As ever, our cup runneth over in terms of attacking options, but shoring things up in front of our potent five is Morgan Schneiderlin after a masterful display at Old Trafford. Labelled as the "complete midfielder" by former Stoke boss Tony Pulis, the Frenchman caught the eye of Mariner who noted that his screening job was first rate, as was his inch perfect, goal-saving tackle on Danny Welbeck to lay the platform for Southampton’s leveller.
Centre midfield: As we thought he might, Mesut Ozil has nuzzled his way in and might take some shifting. The German was in his element against Norwich as Arsenal unleashed wave after wave of sumptuous football, resulting in some picture-book goals. Ozil was his usual diligent self, finding the net twice, first with a header and then from an expert cutback by the continually excellent Aaron Ramsey. Nicol thinks Ozil is the best player in Europe at present, and I’ll wager not many people will disagree with him.
Left midfield: Narrowly edging out Kevin Mirallas and David Silva in our left-sided berth is Eden Hazard, who, according to Marcotti, turned in his best performance of the season against Cardiff. He was the recipient of a slice of fortune after Samuel Eto’o had pinched the ball from Cardiff stopper David Marshall -- the subsequent passage of play affording him a tap-in -- but his second was a cool finish and he even found time in between to lay on another for Eto’o.
Striker: It is no surprise then, that Samuel Eto’o claims a place in our side, too. Nicol praises the way Eto'o -- a player who spends a lot of time in the box -- thinks outside the box, his movement a study in top-level experience. His first goal in Chelsea colours was taken expertly and celebrated feverishly, while his quick thinking to shadow Marshall prior to the goalkeeper bouncing the ball provided the Blues with a much-needed equaliser, however illegal it might have been according to the letter of the law.
Striker: Partnering Eto’o is Sergio Aguero, whose brace at West Ham set Manchester City on the road to their first away win of the season. The Argentina striker was in deadly mood, slotting home coolly from Yaya Toure’s pass for City’s first, nodding home their second off a free kick -- his first headed goal in the Premier League -- and then laying on the decisive third for David Silva with a cute backheel.
Manager: All good yarns should have a happy ending, and so does ours as, in neatly cyclical fashion, we return to an accord in terms of our manager of the week. It turns out all you need to get the gong these days is turn up at Old Trafford and have a go. Where Steve Clarke walked a few weeks ago, so now does Mauricio Pochettino, who is lauded by our panel. Nicol thinks the Argentine has taken the Saints to a new level, Mariner says his plan to attack the champions paid dividends, while Marcotti notes that by playing attractive football and being especially parsimonious at the back, not much more can be asked of them. And do you know what? He’s spot on.