PL Team of the Week
Last Updated: September 4, 2012 1:43pm
Team of the week
Brad Friedel - Tottenham
There have been a few surprising blunders from goalkeepers during the early part of the season but this weekend there were also some terrific performances, with the likes of Ali Al Habsi and Brad Guzan pushing hard for a place in the Sky Sports XI. We have given the nod to Friedel, though, who suddenly finds his place in the Tottenham side under threat following the arrival of France No.1 Hugo Lloris on deadline day. The American's response against Norwich on Saturday showed that he fully intends to extend his run of 307 consecutive Premier League starts, as he pulled off a series of acrobatic stops, including one remarkable leap to his right to deny Robert Snodgrass, to help Spurs grab a scarcely-deserved 1-1 draw.
Winston Reid - West Ham
West Ham proved far too strong for Fulham in a 3-0 victory over the weekend and it was a real team effort, with several of their players on top form. The success was built on a solid defensive foundation, with centre-back Reid barely putting a foot wrong with a succession of clearances, blocks and interceptions. The New Zealander's ball distribution was also good and he chipped in with the vital second goal when he went forward for a corner, powering a header past Mark Schwarzer.
Thomas Vermaelen - Arsenal
It may be too soon to draw many conclusions about Arsenal's defence but, after being criticised for years, the signs are positive. A third straight clean sheet was kept against Liverpool at Anfield and Vermaelen has been very much the main man, perhaps inspired by the added responsibility of captaincy. The Belgian centre-back picked up a Sky Sports rating of 8 out of 10 for a 'solid as a rock' display, while he was always willing to drive forward and get involved in attacks.
Gareth McAuley - West Brom
West Brom are another team defending very strongly at the start of the season and they managed on Saturday to shut out Everton, which is no mean feat considering the way the Toffees have been playing. The Baggies look very organised at the back under Steve Clarke and McAuley, alongside the likes of Jonas Olsson and Liam Ridgewell, subdued the threat of Everton with seemingly little difficulty at The Hawthorns. The Northern Ireland international then made sure that a coveted skysports.com Man of the Match award was his by flicking home a late header to seal a 2-0 victory.
Robert Snodgrass - Norwich
There are always doubts about whether players can make the step up to the Premier League after performing well at a lower level, but Snodgrass has been excellent since joining Norwich from Leeds over the summer. He has been challenged by Chris Hughton to score goals and he did just that against Tottenham on Saturday to clinch a 1-1 draw. It was a fine finish, too, as he showed expert technique to guide a volley past the previously unbeatable Friedel, and a fitting reward for a dynamic display.
Mohamed Diame - West Ham
Andy Carroll may have hogged the headlines after a great debut for the Hammers against Fulham, but it was Diame who provided the midfield inspiration and helped Sam Allardyce's men control the game. The 25-year-old Senegal international, signed from Wigan in June, appeared to cover every blade of grass as he turned in a terrific shift. Battling hard to win the ball and break up Fulham possession, he would then threaten the opposition goal at every possible opportunity in an exceptionally hard-working performance.
Abou Diaby - Arsenal
A player often likened to Patrick Vieira in terms of playing style, Diaby has been plagued by too many injuries in the past to fully realise his potential. However, back to full fitness and entrusted with a more important role than ever at Arsenal following the departure of Alex Song, Diaby looks one of the most formidable central midfielders in the league this season. A swashbuckling colossus, he was at the heart of most of the Gunners' best moments as they swept aside Liverpool to pick up a first victory of the season.
Yaya Toure - Manchester City
Diaby has said that he has more in common with Toure than Song, and there were certainly similarities between the two over the weekend as they both delivered superb displays. Manchester City were again given a fright by Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium but Toure was a dominant figure in the centre of the field and broke the deadlock with a powerful shot in the 16th minute to set them on their way to a 3-1 success.
Santi Cazorla - Arsenal
The third Arsenal player to make our Team of the Week, Cazorla showed against Liverpool that he has a cutting edge to go with the style that he had already demonstrated in the first couple of weeks of the season. The Spanish playmaker has great vision and also a cool head, picking out the perfect pass for fellow summer signing Lukas Podolski to open the scoring at Anfield. He then got in on the act himself with a goal in the second half after a one-two with Podolski, to leave the Gunners faithful optimistic about their prospects for the remainder of the campaign.
Robin van Persie - Manchester United
He may have failed to put away a penalty against Southampton with one of the worst spot-kicks of his career, but the fact that Van Persie still walked away with the match ball after netting a hat-trick speaks volumes for his class and also his character. The Dutchman's embarrassing moment came with Saints leading 2-1, after he had scored with a typically well-taken finish in the first half, but it did not affect his confidence and he ruthlessly capitalised on two late chances to secure a dramatic victory.
Steven Fletcher - Sunderland
Another striker enjoying a great start to life at a new club, Fletcher netted a double on his Premier League debut for Sunderland in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Swansea. The odd eyebrow might have been raised about the reported £12million fee paid for the Scot but he was lethal in front of goal against the Swans as he punished Ashley Williams for a defensive mistake with a precise strike into the bottom corner and then added a second from close range.