Team of the Weekend: Martial Art and the Nacho Man

Team Of The Weekend

Happy Monday to you all, or whatever day it is that you are reading this. Another weekend of white-hot Premier League action is in the bank and it’s been a real treat, where very few of the bottom half sides won and most of the top ones did. So how did the best league in the world arrive at such a conclusion this week? Here’s a rundown of the good, the bad and the unfortunate.

Goalkeeper

Willy Caballero – Silly Willy has made a name for himself as a penalty expert after his shootout heroics in midweek, but he was called into league action on Saturday with Thibault Courtois stricken by an ankle injury. It is fair to say Willy had a mixed afternoon, combining some sublime saves with some ridiculous flapping at corners. All in all, a clean sheet and a bit of fun. Maybe not so silly Willy.

Defenders

Nacho Monreal – I WANT TO BE, THE NACHO MAN! Monreal returned from his injury layoff and breathed new life into the Gunners by scoring one and assisting two in a ridiculous opening 20 minutes against Crystal Palace. It was brave of Wenger to bestow creative powers on his left back but in the absence of Alexis Sanchez, somebody had to step up and we’re all pleased it was the Nacho man. To top it off, he came off before half-time with an injury. That was Nacho time everybody, he’ll be back soon.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – It’s always nice to see a father and son on the pitch at the same time, and we got that on Saturday when Man City named De Bruyne’s son at the left back. I jest, of course, they merely look vaguely similar, but as usual, I am short of defenders for this super team, so Zinchenko is in. He played ok I suppose.

Davinson Sanchez – I always feel a bit cruel including your bog-standard own goal as a reason but it had all the ingredients. Soaking wet surface, low cross, desperate slide, off the post and in. This was quite possibly the only way Southampton were going to score

Midfielders

Eden Hazard – Fresh from only being involved in only the final 20 or so minutes of the VAR show on Wednesday night, the magic Belgian had Brighton on toast from pretty much the first whistle on Saturday lunchtime, scoring twice and creating countless other opportunities. He even made Batshuayi look competent, which is no mean feat. Hazard hasn’t had the reward of goals or even assists in recent weeks for his excellent performances but it all came together on Saturday ahead of an important looking second leg with Chelsea on Wednesday.

James McCarthy – This was an absolutely horrific looking injury and a complete accident, so I just wanted to wish McCarthy all the best with his recovery as unfortunately, he is going to be sidelined for some time.

Anthony Martial – Two goals in a week for the Frenchman who may find his place under threat from the arriving Alexis Sanchez. His finish on Monday certainly rivalled his effort at Burnley on Saturday, though you can’t deny it always looks cooler when it goes in off the crossbar.

Riyad Mahrez – I have no affinity with Leicester but I really enjoy watching Mahrez play when he is on form. His hair is stupid, I can’t deny that, but there are not many players I’d least like to face one on one than Mahrez for his ability to drop a defender with a stepover is incredible. He scored Leicester’s second on Saturday and, yes, the goalkeeper decided to make himself as small as possible but we’ll look past that and say it was a good finish.

Forwards

Peter Crouch – It’s been a strange week for football, with VAR being the most talked about issue in the world, but I’d argue the oddest happening this week was Chelsea making a bid to sign Peter Crouch. I get it, Conte loves a big man, but Peter Crouch is 35 and plays for Stoke. I also love the fact that Andy Carroll was his first choice and when that fell through it was Dzeko or Crouch. Is there nobody else? Bloody hell man. The saddest thing is that it looks like it isn’t happening. Boo to that.

Sergio Aguero – I wrote in my Fantasy Football article this week that Aguero always scores against Newcastle and usually in high numbers, so some of us were less surprised than others when he left the Etihad with the match ball on Saturday evening. I still say he was nowhere near De Bruyne’s cross though, but you don’t become a record goalscorer by not claiming everything within 5 yards of you. He’s still brilliant and I can’t understand the rumours that Pep wants rid of him in the summer.

Michael Obafemi – Southampton threw on 17-year-old Obafemi for the last 10 minutes of their clash with Tottenham for a Premier League debut, and no doubt the young man will have gone to bed dreaming of a chance to score coming his way. Like most good comic books, the dream came true, but in keeping with Southampton’s season, the youngster fluffed his lines and barely made contact with the ball. Chin up lad, your time will come.

Manager

Paul Lambert – I did not expect to be writing Paul Lambert’s name in here this time last week, but as the old saying goes, “When Quique Sanchez Flores says no, call Paul.” He got off to a great start with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield who are sinking fast. Lambert must be pleased with his contribution, some acrobatic fist pumps will get the fans onside and they’re already out of the bottom 3. Job done? Stoke will stay up, it won’t even be close for them. We’ll also give special mention to Marco Silva, cut down in his prime by Watford after an indifferent run of form. His replacement has been announced as Javi Gracia – which I mistakenly read as the former Man City midfielder. Hmm.

That’s all from me this week but I’ll be back with some FA Cup shenanigans next weekend. Bye for now.