Three hundred and sixty players were named in match day squads this weekend. Two hundred and seventy-nine of them saw some action (with David Wagner the only manager who didn’t use all three available substitutions), but who made it into our inaugural team of the week?
At this point we could just throw up an image of the top 11 players on this week’s leader board and have done with it. But of course they don’t make a ‘team’ in the conventional sense. Granted, nine of the top ten performers do fit into a recognisable formation and feature here, but the best rated goalkeeper is at number 39, and there’s no right-back in the top 50.
It’s not easy to pick a formation for this team either. According to football-lineups.com, nine different tactical set ups were deployed in the Premier League this weekend. I’ve gone for a 4-3-3, as it seems to work best with the players available.
Goalkeeper: Alex McCarthy. Southampton 0-0 Burnley
It looks like Southampton may struggle for goals again this season, so they will need McCarthy to stay in top form. He made six saves, including keeping out two clear cut-chances, and also won two aerial duels which is rare for a goalkeeper.
Right-back: Serge Aurier. Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
It may have only been the 18th minute, but Aurier assisted what proved to be the decisive goal. He also made six important defensive actions in the Spurs’ box to help his side see the result out.
Centre-back: James Tarkowski. Southampton 0-0 Burnley
The Burnley centre-back amassed the highest tally of defensive points on the opening weekend, and a glance at his dashboard illustrates why. Southampton had no clear-cut chances, and were mostly reduced to headed chances in the centre of the box. Tarkowski was also the top off ball performer in the team of the week, ranking 10th overall on that leader board.
Centre-back: Jan Vertonghen. Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Nine millimetres over the line or nestling in the back of the net, they all count. However, it’s clear that Vertonghen’s main contribution to Spurs’ win was defensive. The Belgian may have lost an aerial duel in the box, but he made plenty of other key defensive actions as we can see here.
Left-back: Luke Shaw. Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
It’ll never be enough for José, will it? But it’s hard to see how United’s left-back could’ve done much more on Friday night, and he was the ninth best performer overall this weekend.
Midfield: Dele Alli. Newcastle United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
In his preview of Spurs’ trip to Newcastle, Nathan Clark pondered if they’d have any players available. Fortunately for him and Tottenham fans they did, and they performed well as evidenced by the fact Alli is the third member of the White Harts to feature here.
Midfield: Paul Pogba. Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
Pogba made more important actions in his own box rather than Leicester’s, and his goal was a penalty, but he played well and covered the pitch as his dashboard illustrates. But will he still be a United player in a few weeks time?
Midfield: Roberto Pereyra. Watford 2-0 Brighton
Watford’s #37 was the player of the week, thanks in no small part to his two goals. Pereyra had a further two goal attempts, and he topped our shots chart this week. The Hornets have been tipped by many to struggle, so Pereyra needs to keep up this sort of form if they are to steer clear of trouble.
Forward: Sadio Mané. Liverpool 4-0 West Ham United
Many people thought Mané was poor for most of last season, and he certainly started 2017/18 slowly. However, he now has 13 goals in his last 17 appearances for Liverpool. Mané’s second goal against the Hammers should’ve been ruled out for offside, but in our algorithm’s opinion the referee’s decision is final.
Forward: Callum Wilson. Bournemouth 2-0 Cardiff City
Wilson was the top attacking performer this weekend. The Cherries’ forward assisted a goal, won a penalty (though it was a shame he missed it else he’d have been player of the week) and completed three dribbles around the Cardiff box. If he can stay fit, Wilson will be a huge asset for Eddie Howe in 2018/19.
Forward: Richarlison. Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton
When Everton splashed out as much as they did to take Richarlison to Goodison Park, eyebrows were raised. The Brazilian hadn’t scored a league goal since November, but his expected goal figures were very impressive so he was bound to come good again. He certainly started to make up for his litany of past misses at Molineux on Saturday.
Disagree with any of our choices? No doubt you do, so please let us know who should’ve been in the team in the comments below. Congratulations to Roberto Pereyra for being our first player of the week!