If you enjoyed the notion of midweek Premier League football, I have good news – it’s happening again in a few weeks. For now though, let’s focus on what we’ve just seen. There might have been a lot of rotation but that didn’t stop the goals flying in. I’ve gone 3-5-2 this week, and there’s a manager to keep them all in check. Let’s see who made the cut.
Joe Hart – PENALTY SAVER. I’ll be honest, evil Dave and Saint Dave stood on either shoulder. Saint Dave suggested Pickford, as he saved a pen, kept a clean sheet and won. Evil Dave however said Joe Hart as he saved a penalty first. Yes, the rebound went in, but we’ll ignore that. We’ll also ignore that Hart gave away the pen. He also got beaten from over halfway. Wow. Look, rules are rules, and I’m not going to break them.
Benjamin Mendy – Mendy has a torn ACL but the passion he showed to celebrate that 96th minute winner cannot be ignored. He can’t play for a while yet and I wouldn’t advise this as a recovery method but we all love a last gasp winner
Ashley Young – Defender? Midfielder? Wingback? Whatever you want to call his position, Young is worthy of a place this week. Not only did he score directly from a free kick (which as we all know automatically qualifies him) but he scored one from open play too. Subscribers to the “former player rule” will no doubt have called this, but even the most optimistic of Ashley Young supporters wouldn’t have predicted a double from the former Hornet. Young continues to bang on the door for a squad place next Summer.
Antonio Rudiger – Rudiger has had a mixed bag of a time since arriving at Chelsea in the summer, but Wednesday was his night. A clean sheet is always a defender’s main prerogative but it’s nice to pop up with the winner when your more attacking colleagues are spurning chance after chance.
Riyad Mahrez – When Mahrez picked the ball up out on the right wing, everybody knew what was going to happen. That is of course with the exception of the Spurs defence, who ushered the Algerian onto his trusty left foot for him to curl the ball into the corner. How nobody has cottoned on to keep him on his right yet is a mystery, but then again Arjen Robben has made a career out of it, so maybe it’s his fault.
Matt Ritchie – When you’re not particularly good, set piece delivery can be everything. In Newcastle’s case it was worth two goals on Tuesday night, as a pinpoint Ritchie corner resulted in Ciaran Clark pulling one back before a free kick later in the half was whipped in and resulted in an own goal. Note the Premier League gave this as an own goal but gave Kevin De Bruyne the Man City goal. I’ll never understand.
Raheem Sterling – I’m getting pretty sick of Sterling scoring late winners. Look Raheem, we’re desperate for there to be some sort of title race, so just stop, ok? In fairness you can’t deny Sterling is massively improved and his goal scored in the early hours of Thursday was very nice indeed.
Renato Sanches – Back in August, the phrase on everybody’s lips was “How have Swansea got him!?” Whereas now the real question is how he ever got a move to Bayern Munich in the first place. Poor old Sanches was hooked at half time on Wednesday having passed the ball to the Carabao logo at one point. Danny Murphy excused it. It’ll be nice for him to have a Premier League relegation on his CV at such a young age. It’ll build character.
Mesut Ozil – He’s made it again! Ozil climbed off his sick bed to score and provide two assists in 5 rampant second half minutes. When Arsenal hit their stride they are beautiful to watch, and they are now above Spurs again. Wenger in?
Wayne Rooney – I’m willing to overlook Rooney missing a pen, seeing as he scored the rebound then netted from his own half for good measure and to seal his hat-trick. It makes it all the stranger that Unsworth hasn’t utilised Rooney more during his time in charge, but that’s no longer big Dave’s problem. This was a sickening look at what life might have been like if Big Sam had stayed as England manager and Wayne Rooney still played for his country.
Mo Salah – Yes, yes he’s in again. There were many eyebrows raised when Klopp rested Salah and Coutinho on Wednesday night but that just acted as a challenge to our favourite Egyptian, who still netted twice in the short amount of time he was afforded. So he can do it on a cold Wednesday night at Stoke, but to be honest there doesn’t seem to be a lot he can’t do. He’s far and away the league’s top scorer and my prediction of a few weeks ago that he’d have 20 by Christmas might come true.
Mark Hughes – As we welcome professional gobshites Allardyce and Pardew back into Premier League life, spare a thought for Mark Hughes who spends 98% of his time complaining. A stopped clock is right at least twice though and I think Hughes had a point that Mignolet should have been sent off, but it’s funny to see him get annoyed and I think the Stoke faithful are running out of patience with him. He’s in an exclusive race with Paul Clement (and Moyes, who is always in every race) for who will be next to leave.
That’s it for this special midweek addition of Team of the Weekend, but I’ll be back on Sunday with the more traditional version.