Best and worst combined XIs for Premier League gameweek four
With a managerial sacking, a top six clash, a contentious red card and 26 goals scored across eight fixtures, the return of the Premier League after the first international break of the season did not disappointment for drama or entertainment.
Manchester United lost their 100% record while their crosstown rivals Manchester City drew level on 10 points with four games played. At the other end of the table, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace ambled on with one goal and zero points between them.
Below are Squawka’s best and worst teams of the weekend.
Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski
The Pole made five saves, only Jack Butland and Simon Mignolet made more this weekend – two ‘keepers effectively put under siege by Manchester United and Manchester City, respectively.
Swansea’s last line of defence couldn’t keep Newcastle United from scoring to deny his side a clean sheet but his excellent reflexes and athleticism were evident as he sprang into action to try and hold off the Magpies in South Wales.
Right-back: Daryl Janmaat
Full-backs have played a very important role for Marco Silva so far at Watford, and while Jose Holebas may have grabbed the headlines of late for his impact in the final third, against Southampton it was Janmaat who made the difference for the Hornets, scoring the second goal to kill off any hopes of a comeback for the Saints.
Up against Ryan Bertrand and Nathan Redmond, the Dutchman bested both of his opponents, making six defensive actions down his flank.
Centre-back: James Lascelles
The youngest captain in the Premier League was the match-winner for Newcastle at the Liberty Stadium as he rose above his opponents unmarked to get a head on a corner to ensure the visitors headed back to the North East with all three points.
Centre-back: James Tarkowski
Frank De Boer lost his lost in the aftermath of Crystal Palace’s defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor and while the Dutchman sought to encourage his club to try and keep the ball on the deck and out-pass their opponents, in Tarkowski the Eagles met a defender who was the antithesis of the former Ajax manager’s approach.
The 24-year-old completed a paltry 33% of his passes, but it didn’t matter. He made it count in his work to shackle Christian Benteke and wrestle Palace’s attack into submission, making an incredible 23 defensive actions – the most of any player in the Premier League this weekend. A dominant display without the ball.
Left-back: Ben Davies
Once regarded as the left flank’s equivalent to Kieran Trippier at Tottenham Hotspur, a good and dependable yet ultimately more limited player to cover for the first-choice full-back down his side of the pitch, Davies is thriving in place of Danny Rose and showing he has more to his game than many had assumed.
He has created 12 chances so far this season, more than any other player in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad and Everton simply couldn’t cope with his runs from deep. A goal and an assist rounded up a profitable day out on Merseyside for the Welshman.
Central midfield: Tiemoue Bakayoko
More than a destroyer for Monaco last season, Bakayoko showed his quality in the middle for Chelsea as the Blues beat Leicester City 2-1 at the King Power Stadium. The Frenchman won 100% of his tackles and completed 100% of his take ons alongside N’Golo Kante as he drove through the Foxes to take control of the game.
Central midfield: Kevin De Bruyne
After deploying the Belgian as a so-called “free eight” last season next to David Silva, Pep Guardiola has moved De Bruyne deeper of late with Manchester City looking short of the sort of defensive midfielder that the Catalan built his teams around at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
It was a decision that was questioned prior to facing Liverpool yet with the playmaker’s eye to find a defence-splitting pass from behind the forward line was evident at the Etihad Stadium as the home team ran out 5-0 winners over the visitors who were reduced to 10 men in the first half. Yet City still needn’t to beat the Reds and with two assists to his name, De Bruyne made sure he delivered from deep.
Right wing: Gabriel Jesus
The Brazilian was another player who made sure that Guardiola’s team pressed their advantage against Liverpool and scored two goals to put the result beyond doubt at the Etihad.
Gabriel Jesus has now scored or assisted a goal every 65.3 minutes in the Premier League, and while he may not have been happy to be replaced by Leroy Sane after 56 minutes, the City forward’s early departure was surely a sign that his manager wanted to save him for the Champions League in mid-week. His replacement on the field didn’t do too badly either with two goals off the bench to turn the home team’s victory into a proper rout.
Attacking midfielder: Pascal Gross
The scorer of Brighton & Hove Albion’s first-ever Premier League goal who followed up his landmark strike with a second before setting up Tomer Hemed to make it three for the Seagulls. Signed as the top creator in the Bundesliga last season, the German will be a major coup for Chris Hughton’s side if he continues to show his ability to open defences up to make up the difference for one of the weakest attacks in the league.
Left wing: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
A lively player for Schalke in the Bundesliga, Choupo-Moting can also be something of an inconsistent threat up front and yet he could not have hoped for a better way to open his account in the Premier League. His two goals for Stoke at home against Manchester United not only secured Mark Hughes and his team a point but made it clear that the Cameroonian is a player for defences to fear in the air or on the deck.
Striker: Sergio Aguero
A goal and an assist for the Argentinian who more than justified his manager’s decision to start the striker alongside Gabriel Jesus in a 3-5-2 formation that has been criticised this season for failing to allow City to bear their teeth against weaker opposition. Liverpool actually started the game stronger at the Etihad. In the opening 15 minutes seemed to have been set on edge by the aggression of their opponents, pressing from the front.
However, once Aguero stepped up to pounce on a Jordan Henderson error, and get on the end of a De Bruyne assist, Guardiola’s game plan clicked into place and the rest of his team gained the composure they needed to take on the visitors. Sadio Mane’s red card certainly helped City on their way. However, without the Argentinian’s opener, the hosts could have crumbled before the Senegalese forward had the chance to be dismissed.
Goalkeeper: Fraser Forster
Slow to react to both of the Watford shots that flew past him and into the Southampton goal, Forster was panned for his performance in goal St. Mary’s Stadium. The Saints suffered the ignominy of recording the lowest save percentage in the Premier League last season with 61.3%.
He has now conceded four goals from nine attempts to stop shots. With Joe Hart also struggling for form, Forster no longer looks like a solution for England between the sticks but another part of the problem.
Right-back: Cuco Martina
Ronald Koeman favourite Cuco Martina was one of four Premier League players to make a defensive error this weekend in an Everton side that lacked width and power down the flanks, especially out on the right where Curacaoan roamed for the Toffees. The 27-year-old failed to win a single individual duel as Goodison Park witnessed the home side receive a mauling from Tottenham Hotspur.
Centre-back: Phil Jones
Lauded for his performances of late for England and Manchester United, the 25-year-old came unstuck at the Britannia as Choupo-Moting and Stoke City took advantage of the visitors and their surprisingly fragile defence. Jones hardly put a foot wrong on the ball.
He completed 98% of his passes and won 60% of his duels. It was what he did off the ball that was the problem. Jose Mourinho and United will have to hope this was merely a blip and not a signal that the Englishman will struggle to build upon his strong start to the season.
Centre-back: Ragnar Klavan
Another player guilty of making a defensive error this weekend, Klavan was a controversial choice to start against Manchester City at the Etihad, and unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp his selection was a call that did not pay off. He played his part in allowing Aguero to rip through the defence to score the opener and only piled on the problems for Simon Mignolet, who had a better game than the 5-0 scoreline suggests – no thanks to his centre-backs, especially Klavan.
Centre-back: Tyrone Mings
The Bournemouth defender ended up rowing his own goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, and the communication problems at the back were laid bare for the Cherries as Arsenal streamed through their ranks to leave their opponents looking like relegation candidates.
A header and a block is all the Englishman managed as the visitors were overwhelmed and the reaction from the Bosnian to Ming’s complaints summed up his own team mate’s thoughts on the centre-back’s performance.
Left-back: Lee Chung-yong
De Boer’s fate was sealed as Lee made a comically poor back pass that effectively doubled-up as a through ball to play in Chris Wood who scored the goal to kill off the Dutchman’s reign in South London and seal victory for Burnley at home. Woeful from the South Korean who not only gifted his opponent the winner but got his manager sacked.
Central midfielder: Jordan Henderson
Any one of Liverpool’s three midfielders at the Etihad would have been worthy of a mention here but Henderson was again poor as the rest of his team fell apart around him, especially after failing to deal with De Bruyne and Aguero’s double act to wrong-foot the visitor’s defensive line in the first half. He won zero individual duels as City poured forward to score another four goals to humiliate the Reds.
Central midfielder: Dan Gosling
Bournemouth’s midfield made Arsenal look far better than they actually are, even with Arsene Wenger finally deciding to deploy his best players in their best positions. Gosling was one of the key culprits as the Cherries offered very little in the way of service to their forwards or pressure to smother their opponents.
He completed 68% of his passes and created zero chances. The Gunners had a wonderful time of it playing and passing through Eddie Howe’s team.
Central midfielder: Harry Arter
Usually the midfielder who sets the tone and seizes the initiative for the Cherries in the middle of the park, Arter summed up Bournemouth’s toothless display as he created nothing and made a total sum of zero defensive actions.
Wenger must not have been able to believe his luck as Arsenal were free to treat their match as a glorified training session – just the tonic for a club low on confidence and composure. The visitors couldn’t have done them a greater favour had they been asked.
Striker: Wayne Rooney
Everton are finding it hard going up front without Romelu Lukaku, and despite showing signs of life in his first few weeks back at Goodison Park, problems off the field during the international break, and a failure to make an impact against Chelsea, appear to have dulled Rooney, who was totally ineffective against Spurs.
No shots on target, more fouls than chances created (two versus one) and a yellow card for his troubles, the former England captain didn’t get the service he needed and failed to contribute much to his team’s efforts in other areas.
Striker: Christian Benteke
It was a close call between Benteke and West Bromwich Albion target man Salomon Rondon but while the Venezuelan may have flopped in his side’s 3-1 loss to Brighton, the price of failure for the Belgian was De Boer’s job as Crystal Palace manager. He had the chance to score his team’s first goal of the season against Burnley but didn’t take the shot and has the worst shot accuracy in the division for forwards to have attempted more than five shots.