Premier League Team of the Week

Premier League MW8 TOTW: English players excel and Leicester find themselves top of the table as we enter another international break


MW8 in the Premier League has Everton picking up a third successive loss, however it is also a great showing for English players just before the international break, with eight of the eleven being English. Jozef Kostecki gives a summary of the best players from this week’s games…

Premier League Matchweek 8 Results

6th November 2020 Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Burnley
6th November 2020 Southampton 2-0 Newcastle United
7th November 2020 Everton 1-3 Manchester United
7th November 2020 Crystal Palace 4-1 Leeds United
7th November 2020 Chelsea 4-1 Sheffield United
7th November 2020 West Ham United 1-0 Fulham
8th November 2020 West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Tottenham
8th November 2020 Leicester 1-0 Wolverhampton
8th November 2020 Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool
8th November 2020 Arsenal 0-3 Aston Villa

Premier League Matchweek 8 Manager of the Week – Dean Smith

Once again Aston Villa have gone above and beyond all expectations of them with a dominant win. Dean Smith got his team’s tactics spot on, easily dispatching fierce opposition in Arsenal. This was yet another top showing against a top of the table side, after already beating Leicester and demolishing Liverpool earlier in the season.

This showing is even more impressive when considering how the Birmingham side were unlucky to be limited to just three goals, with a contentious VAR decision ruling out a John McGinn goal three minutes in. On top of this, Jack Grealish was massively unlucky to have a sure-fire goal cleared off the line. Such a convincing performance from Smith’s men is made that bit sweeter by how it leaves them just one point off the top four, with a game in hand.

Whilst that game in hand may be against Manchester City, with the quality Dean Smith has managed to get out of his side, they’ll remain confident going into that game whenever it is rescheduled. If they can start to replicate the results they are gathering against the top sides, against those who are expected to finish lower in the league it will be a very memorable season for Villa indeed.

Premier League Matchweek 8 Player of the Week – Hakim Ziyech

After last week being amongst the best players the Premier League could offer, Hakim Ziyech did one better this week and was the very best in the league. If the Sheffield United players entered the game hoping to get their first away points of the season, he saw to it those dreams were quickly crushed.

A menace on the pitch the Moroccan international scooped up two assists that showed off his range of deadly crosses. Both stemming from set pieces, his ability to place a pin-point ball into the box with pace is going to win Chelsea games this season. Plain and simple.

TOTW MW8

Goalkeeper: Alphonse Areola (7.9 Player Rating)

Arguably the most consistent keeper in the Premier League right now, as shown by his regular feature amongst the TOTW. Areola was once again at his very best against West Ham. The Fulham shot stopper did all you could ask from a keeper as he made an impressive six saves. Fulham have showed a far greater defensive solidarity as of late conceding five goals in their last five games. The figurehead of this improvement is unquestionably Alphonse Areola, who is doing all he can and more to keep the Cottagers alive and kicking in the Premier League for as long as possible.

Right Back: Matty Cash (7.6 Player Rating)

One of the many stars in an elite Aston Villa performance, Matty Cash provided an exceptionally well rounded showing. Tasked with keeping last season’s second top goal scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet, the Villains right-back more than matched his adversary. If they tasked him with keeping Aubameyang quiet, he did one better turning the elite striker into a mute with his incredible defensive performance.

Making three tackles and winning six duels, the young Englishman is proving to be an absolute standout in the list of Villa’s signings over the last two years. A feeling that is heightened when remembering that this is Cash’s first season in the Premier League. At 23, there is no way it will be his last.

Centre Back: Ben Mee (7.8 Player Rating)

Whilst thankfully the rest of the Premier League did not follow the score of the first game of the week, there are many defenders out there who could do with following the performance of Ben Mee. Coming up against a Brighton side who had scored in all seven of their previous Premier League games, the Burnley captain saw to it that it would not be eight out of eight. A true defender’s performance Mee put his body on the line to try to secure any points for a Burnley side who really are in much need of them.

When Brighton take nineteen shots and don’t score, the praise has to go somewhere and you can look no further than Mee. Blocking four shots, and matching that and then some in interceptions with an elite level of six, Mee was an unbreakable wall at the back. These plaudits come hand in hand with Mee doing so without committing a single foul in the game.

Centre Back: Aaron Cresswell (8.1 Player Rating)

Yet again Aaron Cresswell finds himself in the TOTW after a great ninety minutes in the West Ham back-line. Cresswell has been thrown into an unfamiliar position as a left sided centre-back. Yet the quality of performance he has shown from there, week in week out, would suggest he’s played there all of his career.

The standout performer in a West Ham side that have performed far better than their twelfth position in the Prem would suggest, Cresswell has been the star of David Moyes five at the back system. Whilst he would normally show up with an assist or goal, he was unlucky to be denied that on Saturday, this is in vain of his four key passes and five successful crosses. Defensively impressive as well, Cresswell was the MOTM as West Ham picked up their second clean sheet of the season.

Left Back: Ben Chilwell (8.0 Player Rating)

Yet another world-class performance from Chelsea’s number twenty-one greeted viewers of Chelsea vs Sheffield United on Saturday. Since signing for Chelsea, Chilwell keeps setting the bar a little higher for himself after every game and this was no different. Starting off the Blues’ scoring by curving his run to get on the end of fellow TOTW entrant Hakim Ziyech’s cross, Chilwell meant business from the word go.

One of the best performers in the Premier League this season did not disappoint on the defensive end either, raking in four clearances, an interception and three successful duels. Whilst he may have missed out on an assist this time, something I’m sure he will be gutted over, this was not through a lack of trying as he made two key passes.

Right now Chilwell is one of the most in-form players in the league, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

Centre Midfielder: Ross Barkley (7.9 Player Rating)

Six key passes, seven attempted crosses, one of which was a beautifully taken volleyed number which resulted in an assist. There is no denying Ross Barkley is playing to prove the point, that at the age of twenty-six he is far from done in the top flight of English football.

Whilst last season at Chelsea he may have only played twenty-one times in the Premier League, he has already appeared all but once in the Prem for Aston Villa this season and it’s easy to see why. Barkley has not looked this comfortable on a football pitch since his Everton day’s, and if this top level form continues all season long, you would have to think Aston Villa would look to secure him permanently.

Centre Midfielder: Bruno Fernandes (8.6 Player Rating)

In a battle of two sides needing a win between Manchester United and Everton, it was Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes who excelled in this situation. The Portuguese play-maker was instrumental in all three goals, his first being a perfect header, from an equally good cross from Luke Shaw. This was then followed by a cross which sailed straight into the net off the post. Finally he got a classy assist, selflessly denying himself a hat-trick for the sake of the team and building other’s confidence, allowing Edinson Cavani to slot home.

It was not just the goal involvements that need praising, but how they came after United went one goal down. Fernandes was the driving force in United’s resurgence, which without him could have gone very differently.

Centre Midfielder: Eberechi Eze (8.8 Player Rating)

When Eze signed for Crystal Palace, there was a great deal of speculation over whether it was the right call for a team, to make a player with no Premier League experience their marquee signing. This speculation was only intensified when considering he had only just turned twenty-two. There was no doubting his talent, just whether it was right to place this pressure on his shoulders.

Well, it may have taken a few games, but against high flying Leeds Eze showed pressure makes diamonds. The best player on the pitch by some distance, Eze was unlucky to miss out on player of the week. Picking up a goal and an assist, the assist came from a perfectly pinpoint cross from a corner that Scott Dann sent straight into the goal. But it was Eze himself’s goal that was the real star of the show. A brilliantly placed free kick that was struck with venom and pace. It curled up and over the wall, straight into the top corner. A great goal and a great performance, hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Forward: Hakim Ziyech (8.9 Player Rating)

After Chelsea’s game against Sheffield United wrapped up, there was one thing that was certain Hakim Ziyech is some player. A creator of the highest level, the stats make seriously impressive reading ; two assists, six key passes and three big chances created. Simply put the Moroccan star was untouchable, on Sunday it was Sheffield United who did not have an answer to him, however the level he was playing at its unlikely many sides in the Prem would have fared any differently.

Now sitting on four goal involvements from his two starts in the Premier League, Ziyech is proving to be an exceptional purchase. Chelsea have not won the Premier League since 2016-17 and now if Frank can get his squad of new signings gelling together, they may not get as good an opportunity to win another title for the next few seasons, especially with various sides under performing this season.

Striker: Harry Kane (7.9 Player Rating)

Winning even when you don’t play your best is the sign of a great team. For the last three weeks this has been the case for Spurs, as they’ve won each of their last three Premier League games by one goal. In all three of these games, Harry Kane has either assisted or scored in those hard fought wins. Against West Brom at the weekend, this was no different. It may not have been the most pretty of goals, but it was one Tottenham needed, especially if they are to contest for their first Premier League title this season.

Consistency is key in the top leagues, and that is Harry Kane summed up. He now sits as the Prem’s second top goalscorer and first on assists, having already racked up sixteen goal involvements. With stats like that, it’s easy to see why he is currently SofaScore’s player of the Premier League season so far.

Striker: Ollie Watkins (8.7 Player Rating)

Rounding out the trifecta, it is yet another successful Villa signing from this window, and yet another successful Sunday night for Ollie Watkins in the Premier League. Three shots, two goals: this was the sort of showing that really summed up what kind of striker Watkins is. He scored both his goals with just one touch, the first heading in from a few yards out from a brilliant Barkley cross and the second a deadly strike on his left foot.

The striker who grew up an Arsenal fan didn’t let this affiliation stop him from producing a game of an out-and-out finisher. Watkins resembled a true number nine, akin to Ruud van Nistelrooy, Shearer etc, this is brilliant to see in a world where these kind of players are becoming a rarity.

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Honourable Mentions for Premier League TOTW 8

Roy Hodgson: So close to picking up manager of the week, Roy was tactically spot on. The oldest manager in the Prem showed he has plenty left in the tank.

Thiago Silva: Another disciplined showing as Chelsea captain. He did well to grab his goal as well.

Luke Shaw: A great cross for an assist, and a top showing at left back. Real shame it was cut short through injury.

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