It had to happen eventually: James Tarkowski‘s reign of terror is over. In fact, he didn’t even make the top 50 players this week, and in light of the name of the article, you can probably guess why. Still, the Burnley defender remains the only player in the Premier League with three team of the week appearances this season, so he shouldn’t be too disheartened. We do have a player from last week returning to join Alli and Pogba on two caps though, and we begin our round up with a stunning goalkeeping performance.
Goalkeeper: Martin Dubravka. Manchester City 2-1 Newcastle United.
One of the great challenges of producing these articles is finding someone to go in goal. It’s a bit like playing five-a-side with your mates in that respect. In the first three weeks of the season, not one goalkeeper made the top 50, yet Dubravka is in like a rocket at number eight this week. He also was this week’s top defensive performer, thanks mainly to a pair of saves at point blank range. If only Rafa Benitez could find more bargains like him, eh, Mr Ashley?
Right-back: Kyle Walker. Manchester City 2-1 Newcastle United.
Our right-back scored a belter past our goalkeeper this week. Walker also made three important defensive contributions in the City box as we can see here, and only one player for the home side made more ball recoveries than he did. But more on that mystery man in due course.
Centre-back: Shkodran Mustafi. Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal.
When Mustafi scored the opening goal against a Cardiff team who hadn’t yet scored since their return to the Premier League, he probably thought he might’ve got the winner. As it was, his side conceded twice but he still did enough to make the cut this week, thanks to the many defensive actions he completed.
Centre-back: Craig Cathcart. Watford 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Obviously Cathcart’s winner stole the headlines, but he also played a long range pass into Spurs’ box (and Twelve loves long range passes into the box) and made a plethora of key defensive contributions. His partner, Christian Kabasele, was 13th in the rankings this week too, illustrating how busy but excellent the Hornets’ centre-backs were.
Left-back: Nacho Monreal. Cardiff City 2-3 Arsenal
For the first time this season, our left-back didn’t get on the score-sheet. That aside, Monreal had a pretty similar afternoon to Craig Cathcart, as their dashboards demonstrate. It’s interesting that the Spaniard picked up three important ‘off ball’ actions (the yellow marks) for offsides in almost identical positions. Did Arsenal hold their line as well as this suggests, Gunners fans?
Midfield: Fernandinho. Manchester City 2-1 Newcastle United.
Here’s the one City man with more ball recoveries than Walker, and he also picked up almost a quarter of his points for one high value shot. It was saved by Dubravka, which obviously makes me suspect they arranged it between them in order to both get in to this team. What other explanation could there be?
Midfield: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Crystal Palace 0-2 Southampton.
In the opinion of the Twelve bot this was the second best performance this week, and seventh best of the season overall. It’s easy to see why too; there’s a goal, a couple of sexy long passes, and a defensive shift across the length and breadth of Selhurst Park.
Midfield: Joao Moutinho. West Ham United 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Portuguese midfielder misplaced just four passes all afternoon, created three chances, completed both of his attempted dribbles and made the most ball recoveries for a Wolves side who dominated possession (well, had 52% of it) for good measure. A successful tackle on your own six yard line is never a bad thing either.
Forward: Romelu Lukaku. Burnley 0-2 Manchester United.
Our player of the week simply wreaked havoc in the Burnley box, as we can see here. Nine of United’s 21 shots were either set up or taken by Lukaku, and he completed a dribble in the penalty area and sent a couple of crosses into dangerous areas too. Sorry, Clarets, but can he play you every week?
Forward: Glenn Murray. Brighton 2-2 Fulham.
Like Lukaku, Murray bagged a brace this weekend, and he also won a penalty in the first half. They were his only contributions to appear on the dashboard, but who wouldn’t be happy with that level of input from their centre-forward?
Forward: Eden Hazard. Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth
I mentioned in the introduction that we have a returnee from last week’s team, and here he is to complete the XI. While Hazard’s dashboard includes three dribbles and one chance created (which were his efforts as mentioned last week), in total he actually registered five of each against the Cherries. With Chelsea up against hapless West Ham after the international break, the Belgian could easily ‘do a Tarkowski’ and feature for a third week in a row next time out.
So there we are. Our full team of week four is below, and don’t forget to let us know who our algorithm missed this week. It’s the only way we’ll learn.