• Kieran Horn

PREM TOTW: A 19-YEAR-OLD DEFENDER, A 30-YEAR-OLD KEEPER AND A 33-YEAR-OLD STRIKER!

Updated: Nov 4, 2020


Goalkeeper


Robin Olsen


For a goalkeeper to have a good game it often means they’ll have faced a lot of shots and a lot of the time it will mean they’ve conceded at least one and that was exactly the case for Robin Olsen.


Replacing the mistake-prone Jordan Pickford, Olsen couldn’t do much about Callum Wilson’s brace that was put beyond him, but what he did do was keep Everton in the game.


The Swedish International made a smart save to deny the in-form Allan Saint-Maximin to keep the game goalless.


Once Everton went a goal behind, Steve Bruce’s side turned up the pressure and Olsen produced a world-class reflex save to keep out Sean Longstaff.


Carlo Ancelotti may have said that Pickford would be back in next week, but after this performance from the Toffees second choice keeper he may well overtake Pickford in the pecking order.


Defenders


Kyle Walker


Kyle Walker doesn’t score often, with just eight goals in just under 300 Premier League appearances, but when he does, they tend to be absolute bangers.


Playing against his boyhood club Sheffield United, Walker struck in the 28th minute with a low driven shot which flew past Aaron Ramsdale, with the former Blades player choosing not to celebrate.


The 30-year-old was a threat all afternoon and his mazy run down the right-hand-side very nearly resulted in Kevin De Bruyne doubling the Citizens lead.


The normally reliable Manchester City attack have been flailing in recent weeks, not providing too many goals. But, the full-backs have added some attacking creativity to Guardiola’s team.


Kurt Zouma


No one really had any idea who would be the centre-back pairing for Chelsea this coming season, Thiago Silva soon established himself as a starter and it now seems that Kurt Zouma has followed.


Burnley didn’t have many forward opportunities in the ninety, with Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood being limited to half chances, mainly thanks to the dominance showed by Silva & Zouma.


The Frenchman got Chelsea’s crucial second goal leaping highest to power home from a Mason Mount corner.


After Chelsea’s bulk spending in the forward departments, the worries were there in a defensive aspect, but five clean sheets in their last six games would suggest it’s not a huge problem.


Gabriel


Many concerns have been raised about Arsenal’s defending in recent years, but now it seems Mikael Arteta has found his best formation with the best personnel and summer signing Gabriel is at the core of it.


The Brazilian was a towering figure in the Gunners backline and was instrumental in registering Arsenal’s first Premier League clean sheet since the opening day of the season against Fulham.


Manchester United were limited mostly to pot-shots from distance but when they did venture into the box, Gabriel put in a perfectly-timed challenge on Nemanja Matic to prevent a certain goal.


If Gabriel can continue these performances, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can consistently find the back of the net again, Arsenal will carry a serious top-four challenge.


Rayan Ait-Nouri


It doesn’t get much better than a goal and clean sheet on your Premier League debut, but that’s exactly what Rayan Ait-Nouri got in his first start for Wolves.


The 19-year-old, who was in the starting line-up at left wing-back ahead of Romain Saiss, made a huge impact after 18 minutes racing onto a Cheikhou Kouyate’s headed clearance, before firing a low-driven shot past Vincente Guita.


Wolves were much more clinical and threatening against Crystal Palace and it mostly came down the flanks with Nelson Semedo also impressing on the opposite flank to Ait-Nouri.

Midfielders


Thomas Partey


Patrick Viera is considered by many to be one of the Premier League’s greatest midfielders, and against Manchester United, Thomas Partey delivered a performance that perfectly embodied the Frenchmen.


Arsenal signed Partey on deadline day and ensured other talismanic midfielders Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba had little to no impact on the game.


His endless running and tenacious aggression made Arsenal tick against United, doing all the dirty work while also adding quality to the Gunners attacks alongside Mohammed Elneny, who has re-invigorated himself since the start of this season.


This midfield pairing seems to be the way forward for Arsenal as they dealt brilliantly with United’s diamond in midfield for the majority of the game.


Youri Tielemans


You don’t get many complete performances in the Premier League anymore, especially this season with its unpredictability, but Youri Tielemans certainly provided that against Leeds United.


The Belgian midfielder, alongside Dennis Praet, broke up multiple Leeds attacking moves in the first half which allowed Leicester to storm into an early lead.


Tielemans was the first to react to Illan Messlier’s reflex save from a Vardy header but his role changed ever so slightly in the second 45.


Leeds pulled a goal back and for a large part of the half, Tielemans was having to sit deep and protect the slender lead held by the Foxes.


Vardy, against the run of play, scored Leicester’s third to give them a bit of breathing room and Tielemans then dispatched a penalty confidently to round off his perfect evening.


James Ward-Prowse


Last weekend it was all about his tenacity and running power against Everton, but against Aston Villa James Ward-Prowse showed why he’s one of the best in the world from a dead ball situation.


The 26-year-old scored two almost identical rasping free-kicks in the first half at Villa Park, he also put a whipping delivery straight onto the head of Jannik Vestergaard for the Saints opener.


Following the injury to Ryan Bertrand, Ralph Hassenhuttl deployed his set-piece mastermind at left-back, a very unnatural position for someone with a killer right foot, but Ward-Prowse helped the Saints backline survive a late scare to move them up to fifth.


Attackers


Hakim Ziyech


Life in a Chelsea shirt got off to the worst possible start for Hakim Ziyech, picking up an injury in a pre-season match, but a first competitive goal for the Blues against Krasnodar in mid-week was followed up with a magnificent performance at Turf Moor.


The Moroccan International struck first for Chelsea with a cleverly disguised low shot from the edge of the box which completely wrong-footed Nick Pope.


In the second half, Ziyech set Timo Werner away with a perfectly weighted pass for the German to seal the points for Chelsea.


The former Ajax man popped all over the pitch against Sean Dyche’s side, relentlessly pressing the Clarets backline, showcasing great composure on the ball and provided some delightful switches of play.


An absolute steal at £32m in today’s market for Frank Lampard’s Blues.


Callum Wilson


Newcastle struggled in front of goal last season with many of their attacking players missing the end product, but the Magpies have picked up a lethal Premier League striker in Callum Wilson.


After signing from relegated Bournemouth in the summer, Wilson has already matched last season’s top scorer for Steve Bruce’s side with six goals, in just seven appearances.


He earnt and then converted the penalty which put Newcastle ahead against early season high-flyers Everton and then scored a simple tap-in following some wonderful quick dribbling from Ryan Fraser, a former teammate of his from Bournemouth.


They may not have been the most glamourous goals, but you need to have the confidence and be in the right position at the right time. And with all of his six strikes coming from inside the box, it just shows his penalty box prowess.


Jamie Vardy


Leeds United have made a positive start to life back in the Premier League, but in the final game from this weekend’s action Jamie Vardy terrorised the Leeds backline.


In the first half his pace and direct running were huge for Leicester on the counter-attack as he intercepted a pass-back from Robin Koch before squaring the ball to Harvey Barnes to tap home.


For Leicester’s second it was his run across the German defender, which allowed Youri Tielemans to fire in from a few yards out, following a diving save from Messlier.


Vardy had done everything but score at Elland Road but that soon changed when the duo who scored the winner at Arsenal combined again. Cengiz Under raced through on goal and unselfishly put the ball over to Vardy who had a simple tap-in.


Manager


Brendan Rodgers


Marcelo Bielsa has a very clear idea of how he wants his team to play, passing out from the back, a high press and an excellent work ethic, in Monday evenings game though, Brendan Rodgers took that philosophy and used it against the Leeds boss.


Within 21 minutes Leicester were two up and it was Leeds own mistakes that got them there. The Foxes broke on the counter and continued to press high, despite losing possession, which allowed Vardy to square for Barnes to make it 1-0.


In the second 45, Leeds were miles better and an early goal from Stuart Dallas set the precedent for the next 20 minutes, Rodgers allowed his side to soak up the inevitable Leeds pressure and hoped to hit them on the counter.


The former Liverpool manager introduced Cengiz Under and James Maddison to the pitch and his plan worked to perfection.


Leicester won the ball high up, Maddison showed his world-class movement and passing, releasing Under who set up Vardy to restore Leicester’s two-goal lead.


While the focus in the build-up to the game was on Marcelo Bielsa and his way of playing, in the post-match there is definitely going to be more focus on Brendan Rodgers and the tactics he deployed which worked perfectly.