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The ‘Football-Talk Big Six’ Team of the Weekend: Game-Week 3
Liverpool top the table! The Reds’ best start to the season since the 1995/96 season saw them defeat Manchester United on Sunday, 1-0, thanks to yet another Daniel Sturridge goal. The England man has scored the winning goal for Liverpool in each of the opening three games, and the Anfield outfit are yet to concede in what is now the only remaining 100% record in the English top flight.
Elsewhere, Man City were back to winning ways against newly promoted Hull City, but were made to fight for the points after Steve Bruce’s side put up a valiant display of unforeseen attacking venture, and came close to inflicting a shock defeat on Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Chelsea were out of action this weekend after taking part in the European Super Cup in Prague on Friday. Their defeat to Bayern Munich on penalties came after a highly entertaining game, where the Blues came from within seconds of triumphing over the reigning European Champions, only for midfielder Javi Martinez to snatch a wicked equaliser. It was the goal that sent the game to penalties, which was ultimately a step too far for Mourinho’s men.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham was the second of the big-name matchups this weekend, with the Gunners continuing their fine record against their fierce rivals with a hard fought 1-0 win on Sunday. Olivier Giroud, like Liverpool’s Sturridge, continued his rich vein of form, with his third goal in three games for the club.
Here is the ‘Football-Talk Big Six’ Team of the Weekend: Game-Week 3:
(Football-talk.co.uk covers six of the top teams in England; Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man Utd, and Man City. The fact that these six teams are the only English clubs covered by the site does not necessarily make them the best six teams in the league. Just to be clear!)
Hugo Lloris, Tottenham, Goalkeeper
Although being on the losing side, and conceding Spurs’ first goal of the campaign, Lloris had a fine game in goal. Known for his cat-like reflexes, and speed off the line, the Frenchman thwarted Arsenal many times throughout the close contest, with his inch-perfect tackle on Theo Walcott as he raced through on goal a clear highlight.
Pablo Zabaleta, Man City, Defender
With another assist to his name against Hull on Saturday, the buccaneering Argentine continues to show that there are not many other full-backs that give as much for their team as he. Defensively sound, banishing the hideous defeat to Cardiff last week, Zabaleta gave as much going forward as he did at the back in what is fast becoming a weekly performance of consistency and dependability.
Martin Skrtel, Liverpool, Defender
After Kolo Toure was ruled out through injury for the big game against United on Sunday, it was up to the big Slovakian to prove his worth to the Liverpool cause. Skrtel had been criticised last season for a number of inconsistent displays, which has seen him linked with an exit from the club this transfer window.
But the 28-year-old was a dominant presence in the Liverpool back line in the superb 1-0 victory over the Champions. If Skrtel can keep on performing, then he will give boss Brendan Rogers a conundrum of who to select each week for his high-flying Liverpool side.
Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal, Defender
Almost every area of the pitch has come under scrutiny as Arsenal began their season with a woeful defeat at home to Aston Villa. Since then however, the Gunners have gone from strength to strength, recording three straight victories over Fulham and Fenerbahçe twice in the Champions League qualifiers. They continued their run with a win over arch-rivals Tottenham, 1-0 on Sunday.
It was the first clean sheet of the Premier League season for the North London side, and Koscielny played a key role in keeping Spurs striker, Roberto Soldado as quiet as a mouse. The Spaniard was starved of service, as Koscielny shadowed him like a hawk, as well as cutting out multiple threats in what was another day of success for the revitalised Gunners.
Glen Johnson, Liverpool, Defender
The England right-back was part of the Liverpool defence that ensured Man Utd drew a blank on Sunday, thereby preserving their 100% record so far this season. United winger, Ashley Young enjoyed almost no success down the right flank, and was withdrawn to sullen applause as Johnson came out on top in what was a heartening win over the Champions.
Mathieu Flamini, Arsenal, Midfielder
When Arsenal announced the re-signing of Frenchman, Flamini last week, there can’t have been many Gunners fans that were too excited. With neighbours Tottenham bringing in a plethora of new and exciting talent for inordinate sums of money, the sight of the ex-gunner would not have raised many heartbeats.
But, the 29-year-old put in an excellent display when called upon to replace the stricken Jack Wilshere during the first half. He was vociferous, tenacious and passionate for the cause, and played a big part in winning the midfield for the Gunners, and ensuring the club left with all three points.
Yaya Toure, Man City, Midfielder
The big Ivorian seems to have practiced his free-kicks over the summer! With yet another clinical set-piece flying into the opposition’s net, this time against Hull on Saturday, Yaya Toure killed off the game, and assured the points for the Manchester outfit. Having been defeated by newly promoted Cardiff City last week, Toure worked his socks off to make sure a consecutive defeat to a promoted side remained in the imagination, rather than become a grim reality for his side.
Jordan Henderson, Liverpool, Midfield
Liverpool’s England midfielder has struggled to justify his big money move from Sunderland in 2011, but he has started brightly this season, and his showing against United was particularly impressive. While not as dynamic as Coutinho, or naturally charismatic as Steven Gerrard, Henderson’s tidy passing and developing vision makes him a decent go-between from the more defensive minded Lucas, and club captain, Gerrard.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool, Striker
Yet another goal scored for the England man, one of real ingenuity against Utd on Sunday, Sturridge is blossoming into a deadly goal-poacher for Liverpool.
Slighted at times during his career for a tendency to shoot rather than pass, the striker has been given licence to kill under Brendan Rogers, and the 24-year-old is reaping the benefits of being the main striker in the absence of Luis Suarez. A decent shout for the Premier League Golden Boot, there seems to be no stopping Sturridge at the moment.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal, Striker
Another striker who is experiencing a fantastic start to the season, Giroud is firing on all cylinders for Arsenal at present. Haunting the box like a keen-eyed predator, the Frenchman’s touch has been exquisite in the opening three games, and his finish against Spurs on Sunday was as tidy as they come. He could have added to his tally later on had it not been for the fleet footed Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal. He is Arsenal’s match-winner for the time being.
Alvaro Negredo, Man City, Striker
Despite having not started a Premier League tie for new club Man City, Negredo netted his second goal in three games against a dogged Hull, who frustrated the 2011 champions for long spells in the game. Negredo climbed off the bench at half time, and poached the opening goal of the game, with Man City fans everywhere breathing a collective sigh of relief.
The Spaniard may well start the next game, as Pellegrini will surely look to rotate his four star strikers, and Negredo may relish the opportunity to add to his growing collection of goals.
What do you think? Missed any star performers this weekend? Get involved in the comments below!