Manchester City look unstoppable, having cruised to a maximum 9 point tally without even conceding a single goal. The sky-blue half of Manchester look dominant and could, on current form, settle the league by Christmas if Chelsea and Arsenal continue to play also-rans. Chelsea have finally begun to stem the rot with a hard-earned 3 points at West Brom, and Manchester United will secretly thank Lady Luck for not having fallen to a Newcastle strike on the counter.
It wouldn’t be too out of place to suggest this week’s team be exclusively comprised of Manchester City players, but there were quite a few bright spots in the other sides even if their respective teams continue to stutter and stumble as City’s well-oiled wheels keep rolling.
Goalkeeper – Jack Butland (Stoke City)
Stoke City have quite a young goalkeeper, and what a gem he has turned out to be. Playing with an injured finger, courtesy some rough play during training, Butland kept Stoke in the game as Norwich hunted for a winner in a partisan Carrow Road atmosphere. The 22-year old has now staked a claim for the role of England’s custodian, and Mark Hughes will be at his wits’ end trying to get Hodgson to let Butland’s finger heal first. Begovic’s absence was barely felt, and even the home support joined Stoke’s traveling faithful in serenading Butland as England’s No.1.
Left-Back – Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City)
Kolarov hasn’t let in a single goal all season, but the rest of City’s defense deserves considerable credit for that too. He’s also created 7 chances while rampaging up and down the left flank like nobody’s business. If that wasn’t enough he’s also helped himself to four shots. He may not be City’s biggest star, but with his indefatigable spirit in the side, Pellegrini can imagine he’s got 13 men on the field. Silence Kolarov’s menacing left foot and your team stands a chance. Let him run free, and he’ll hurt you on the counter as a competent Everton side found out this weekend.
Center-Backs – Vincent Kompany (M City) and Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle)
Kompany’s inclusion needs little explaining. At the heart of City’s defense, their captain Kompany has put behind the memories of the embarrassment that was was the 2014-15 campaign and begun afresh. With Mangala in tow, City have looked so dominant in a league that is notoriously disrespectful of league leaders, that you have to wonder if Barcelona, Madrid and Munich have begun to take note.
Coloccini is Kompany’s kindred spirit; Steve Mclaren’s biggest feather in his cap during the transfer window was getting the captain to sign on for another year. Any questions about where his heart might be were soon dispelled when Coloccini put in a virtuoso performance (due credit to Steven Taylor) to keep a hungry, desperate Manchester United side out in the cold.
Right-Back – Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle)
Few people would have given him half-a-chance against the likes of Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney and Adnan Januzaj, but the young Chancel Mbema not only came off without a howler, he also came off the winner in quite a few tussles. He made a total of 17 clearances, won 12 nervy duels and made 4 winning tackles while also winning 4 times in the air. The young Congolese star was dispossessed just once all afternoon; that is as proud boast as any for any first-time visitor to Old Trafford.
Left-Midfield – Bakary Zako (Crystal Palace)
Which Crystal Palace star had the worst day when his side beat Aston Villa? That would be Wilfried Zaha, who was unceremoniously taken off at half-time. Who had the best? Bakary Zako, who wrote his name into Palace history books with the match-winner on his debut. A left-footed shot from the right side of the box, with shades of a Mahrez goal in a game being played simultaneously at Leicester City. Awarded the man of the match, Zako adds to an embarrassment of riches on the left for Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew.
Central-Midfield – Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Technically, Toure isn’t a central midfielder. He’s more of a box-to-box midfielder who can be entrusted with coming up with a dozen goals every season despite his retreated position. Playing in tandem with Fernandinho, behind City’s imperious trio of Navas, Silva and Sterling, Toure kept the game firmly within City’s grasp by piling on the pressure. After Kolarov opened City’s account in the game, Toure ensured City wouldn’t sit back and he created the chance that substitute Samir Nasri scored off of. As Chelsea’s Matic and Fabregas struggle, Toure has shown he has what it takes to wrench the title back.
Right-Midfield – Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
Can anyone stop Riyad? The Algerian has been in sensational form taking his personal tally of goals to a Costa-like 4 in just 3 games. Mahrez will eventually see a game where he fails to get on to the scoresheet, but until then teams will continue to dread the sharpest tool in Ranieri’s shed. Tottenham had barely taken the lead when Mahrez made them pay dearly at the other end, in the 82nd minute. A Jamie Vardy header fell to the potent Mahrez, who made no mistakes with his left foot.
Strikers – Pedro (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth), Morrison (West Brom)
Pedro, formerly of Barcelona and nearly a Red Devil, might prove to be the signing of the season. With a terrific opening goal for Chelsea and with a much-needed assist for the second, the Spaniard has shown Mourinho what the team have sorely lacked for several seasons now. Pedro was in such fine form, that he made Eden Hazard look like just another squad player.
Morrison had an equally great game, except for an earlier missed penalty that might have seen West Brom walk away with at least a point. With two well-taken goals, against a world-class Courtois, Morrison has proven his mettle and will ensure West Brom approach their next few games with greater belief.
But the chief striker for the team, on the form of this past week, would have to be Callum Wilson. The talented 23-year old, whom Bournemouth bought from Coventry, is central to their continued success. Even without his penalty, which rounded off his hat-trick, Callum would have made the headlines for a devastating brace which left West Ham reeling. Wilson may struggle against superior opposition, but for now he deserves his moment in the sun.
Manager – Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)
This season’s fairy tale Bournemouth have impressed with their meteoric ascent from the depths of the English league structure to make it to the Premier League. And Eddie Howe who has masterminded their continued rise from 2012 onwards, deserves special plaudits.