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The ‘Football-Talk Big Six’ Team of the Weekend: Game-Week Two

After Arsenal eased the pressure on Wenger, a dour United vs Chelsea, and Man City’s shock defeat to Cardiff, Tom Gatehouse selects hisTeam of the Weekend.

Game-week two of the new Premier League season brought with it the first meeting between two of the big boys: Manchester United and Chelsea. While the match was about as explosive as a fireworks night in a monsoon, it held within it so many intricate sub-plots that there was plenty for fans and pundits alike to fill their boots with.

Indeed, it was a low scoring affair overall this weekend, with only Arsenal victorious by more than a one goal margin. The Gunners continued their brisk march towards a recovery from that most shocking of starts last week against Villa, and their 3-1 win away over Fulham was a perfect remedy alongside a resounding 5-0 aggregate win in the Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahçe.

Man City’s 3-2 defeat to Cardiff was undoubtedly the game of the weekend; with Manuel Pellegrini’s new side suffering from a disturbing lack of centre-back cover for the injured Vincent Kompany, and an enormously spirited display from the newly promoted Welsh team.

Here is ‘The Big Six’ Team of the Weekend for Game-Week Two,

Simon Mignolet, Goalkeeper, Liverpool

Mr Mignolet finds himself in a second successive Team of the Weekend after yet another solid display between the sticks for Liverpool. While there was no need for a repeat of his opening day heroics against Stoke, his contributions in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa helped maintain Liverpool’s 100% record in the Premier League. Reina’s exit to Napoli looks less and less damaging as the weeks go by.

Branislav Ivanovic, Defender, Chelsea

The irrepressible Serb is known for his dependability and swashbuckling antics at the back for Chelsea. While always likely to pop up with a goal, it was his solidarity that earns him a place in the Team of the Weekend, with Chelsea coming away from Old Trafford with a hard earned point.

Always ready to aid an aging John Terry at the back, he was quite adept to chasing down Danny Welbeck on the right, and ensuring Jose Mourinho’s famous defensive tactics were shown in full force on Monday night.

Bacary Sagna, Defender, Arsenal

Playing as an emergency centre back due to Laurent Koscielny’s suspension, the French full-back demonstrated his useful malleability at the back with an assured performance in the 3-1 derby win against Fulham. With speculation rife over the possibility of new defensive signings for the Gunners, ‘Bac’ accredited himself well in this unfamiliar role.

Gary Cahill, Defender, Chelsea

Gary Cahill continued his powerful start to the new season with another solid performance against the Champions at Old Trafford. In an all English centre-back pairing, Cahill shone ahead of his esteemed colleague, John Terry, with a series of crucial blocks, interceptions, and tactical defensive plays.

His pile driver from way out was a clear highlight in what was otherwise a rather dismal attacking match-up between the two giants of the game. Cahill’s presence was key in ensuring that 0-0 final score, and with it, a decent point for the Blues.

Jose Enrique, Defender, Liverpool

The bulky left-back sent out a message to new Liverpool signing, Aly Cissokho on the weekend, with an energetic performance, culminating with an assist for Daniel Sturridge for the only goal in the 1-0 win over Aston Villa. Cissokho, a loan signing from Valencia, will not be guaranteed a first team birth with the presence of Enrique, especially if the Spaniard continues to provide such a fluid attacking outlet for the free-flowing Anfield outfit.

Andros Townsend, Midfielder, Tottenham

After keeping his place in the Spurs starting XI following his devilish performance in the first leg Europa League qualifying victory over Dinamo Tbilisi in Georgia, Townsend continued his hot streak, winning a penalty for Roberto Soldado to score the only goal in the win against Swansea.

The match-winning spot-kick was a just reward for the Englishman’s efforts, who this week earned his first call-up to the senior England squad. Townsend tore at the Swansea defence all afternoon; giving Spurs boss further food for thought, as wingers remain the main talking point among the echelons of the North London club.

Aaron Ramsey, Midfielder, Arsenal

The much maligned Welsh midfielder continued his fine start to the 2012-13 season with a solid display away to Fulham. The 22-year-old has been showing his worth at the club amidst the transfer cloud that hangs over the Gunners; and his goal scoring exploits against Fenerbahçe over the two legs have earned him rave reviews. His inadvertent assist for Olivier Giroud’s opener on Saturday was the icing on the cake on the day for the midfield man, who ran the show, and is well on the way to proving his detractors wrong.

Michael Carrick, Midfielder, Manchester United

Carrick’s cultured midfield talents were recognised last year after he was shortlisted for Barclays Premier League Player of the Year; and the England man hasn’t let a summer of relaxation slow his highly tuned, footballing brain. Despite the low entertainment value of United’s draw on Monday against Chelsea, Michael Carrick took the opportunity to show off his passing and overall vision in the largest of stages. His performance earned the praise of former Arsenal defender, Martin Keown, who wrote in the Daily Mail,

Michael Carrick impresses me more and more each time I see him.

“He is punishing with his passing, often playing balls right down the middle of the pitch into feet. Carrick is much more confident these days.

“If there is a pass on, he does not turn his back on it like in the past. He can play passes with his left foot, his right foot, the outside of the foot. He’s got everything.”

Daniel Sturridge, Striker, Liverpool

The man with swagger, Daniel Sturridge, cannot stop scoring. Now with eight goals in his last seven Premier League games, it was he who came up trumps once more on the weekend, with the match-winning strike against Aston Villa. The England man is making his case strongly to national team coach, Roy Hodgson, and it would take a brave man to bet against Sturridge continuing his goal scoring streak, especially with the likes of Coutinho and Gerrard pulling the strings in the Liverpool midfield.

Lukas Podolski, Striker, Arsenal

The German attacker bagged two goals in the win against Fulham on Saturday, ensuring the Gunners returned to form after the previous weekend’s calamities. Easing the pressure off of Arsene Wenger, the 28-year-old was a thorn in the Cottagers’ side all afternoon, showing the Arsenal boss that he is a decent asset for the season to come.

Wayne Rooney, Striker, Manchester United

The man of the moment, Wayne Rooney, put in a consummately professional performance against suitors, Chelsea on Monday. Despite failing to break the deadlock, his was a show of endless running, tireless enthusiasm, and dangerous forward play.

He had the most promising chances for the champions, and his brilliant tackling of speed-demon, Ramires down the left in the second half put paid to any concerns about his fitness, attitude and footballing appetite.

The clock is ticking for Wayne to make his decision; United or Chelsea? Judging by the performance on Monday, and the United fans’ reaction to it, surely the future remains Red for England’s golden boy?

What do we think? Have I missed a crucial cog in the Team of the Weekend? Who is your ‘Big Six’ player of the weekend? Let me know in the comments below!

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