Here’s my team of the week – have a read and select your own below.
Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Jordan Pickford: This wasn’t the most scintillating performance by Jordan Pickford against Watford but it was good enough. I was told in no uncertain terms by former BBC presenter Ray Stubbs that I should have selected Pickford after his performance against Crystal Palace last week. Quite what he knows about it I’m not entirely sure!
However, I selected the England goalkeeper for his match-winning save from a Troy Deeney power-driver that hit him full in the face – although I’m not sure he knew a lot about it. Second consecutive clean sheet for Pickford and Everton.
Defenders – Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Joel Matip (Liverpool), Jack O’Connell (Sheff Utd)
Caglar Soyuncu: He saw off Olivier Giroud, then Tammy Abraham; Willian then came on, thought about it and didn’t fancy it. Caglar Soyuncu was clearly punching above his weight but that never seemed to bother him.
Leicester City’s centre-back out-battled and out-fought Chelsea’s big guns and both were sent packing by the Turkish international. This kid has a real battling spirit and I liked it.
Did you know? Soyuncu attempted 13 more passes than any other Leicester player in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
Joel Matip: Whenever Joel Matip plays for Liverpool he appears to be the one who is making all the last-ditch tackles, getting the ball smashed in his face and coming to Liverpool’s aid in a crisis.
Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk looks beautifully groomed, hair swept back in a ponytail, strolling around looking like he’s just returned from a week in Vegas! Matip must get Van Dijk to do his share of the heavy lifting when the Reds are up against it away from home.
I know Matip is the junior partner here but, come on, fair is fair. Good to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back.
Did you know? Matip hasn’t ended on the losing side in any of his last 30 Premier League appearances.
Jack O’Connell: This was a poor game of football as far as I was concerned. Sheffield United showed bags of energy and courage but they lacked quality. Oh how they could have done with former Blades hero Tony Currie.
Nevertheless, they won three valuable points against a woeful Crystal Palace. The star of the show for me was Jack O’Connell, who dealt with the aerial threat of Christian Benteke and the dazzling feet of Wilfried Zaha. There was nothing dazzling about Palace’s performance unfortunately.
Did you know? O’Connell made more clearances (11) than any other player in the match against Crystal Palace.
Midfielders – Dani Ceballos (Arsenal), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), James Maddison (Leicester), Bernard (Everton)
Dani Ceballos: Dani Ceballos’ involvement in a move to set up Reiss Nelson was superb. That was before that interfering, meddling, busybody called VAR poked his hi-tech nose in and ruled some wonderful work by Ceballos offside.
This lad can play. He seems to have a touch of the Aaron Ramsey about him, albeit a little more mobile. It will be interesting when Mesut Ozil returns to see if Unai Emery will accommodate both players.
With David Luiz in their defence, Ozil due to return once fully fit and Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front, the North London derby suddenly looks interesting.
Did you know? Ceballos had the most touches (97), created the most chances (4), and attempted the most passes (70) of any Arsenal player against Burnley.
Kevin de Bruyne: It was only a matter of time before Pep Guardiola handed Kevin de Bruyne the captain’s armband. The Belgium international is producing the most spellbinding performances again. We saw it two seasons ago when he replaced the irreplaceable Yaya Toure.
De Bruyne’s first assist was another one of those extraordinary passes that when it left his foot, only he and its recipient actually knew where it was going. In this case it was Raheem Sterling’s head and went straight into the back of the net.
De Bruyne is producing magic. In fact, he should be in the next Harry Potter movie.
James Maddison: Leicester City should have come away from Stamford Bridge the victors and James Maddison the hero. In the end Maddison had to settle for man of the match while his team settled for a point.
The development this lad has shown in the past 12 months has been startling. If Maddison continues to dominate games like this he’s an England certainty. In the second half he took the game by the scruff of the neck and with better finishing (the only weakness in his game) Chelsea would have lost. Frank Lampard has a lot of work to do at Stamford Bridge.
Did you know? Maddison has created 50 chances from set plays in the Premier League since start of last season – six more than any other player.
Bernard: This was a performance reminiscent of Everton legend the late, great Alan Ball. Bernard was full of energy and ingenuity. All 5ft 4in of him ran the show at Goodison Park against Watford.
Should the Toffees finish in the top six then their manager survives. Anything short of that then Everton’s fans will start asking their usual questions. It’s unfortunate for Marco Silva that Liverpool are doing so well but that’s what this is all about.
Did you know? Bernard scored Everton’s only goal and created more chances (3) than any other Toffees player in their 1-0 win over Watford.
Forwards – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Teemu Pukki (Norwich), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Arsenal are very luck to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He was messed around last season by Unai Emery and some players might have said ‘shove it’.
He was often the chief architect of Arsenal’s victories in the big games last season. Burnley are not a big club but they are not afraid of those that are. The Clarets had enough chances to get something out of the match and should have done.
However, with Aubameyang in his current form it was inevitable the Gabon international would put Burnley to the sword and he did.
Did you know? Aubameyang has been involved in 28 goals in 27 Premier League appearances at the Emirates (21 goals, 7 assists).
Teemu Pukki: Anyone who scores a hat-trick in the Premier League deserves high praise and Teemu Pukki’s efforts against Newcastle entitled him to nothing less. However, I said last week, in the Crooks of the Matter, that the departure of Rafael Benitez from St James’ Park left the Magpies up the creek without a paddle.
It’s only the second weekend of the Premier League season and Newcastle look absolutely rudderless.
Did you know? Pukki is the first player to score as many as four goals in his first two Premier League appearances.
Sadio Mane: It might have been the first time Sadio Mane has scored against his old club but even he had to celebrate it, such was its brilliance. The Senegal international was on top of his game again after a hectic summer of football in the Africa Cup of Nations.
While there has been talk of Mane not getting sufficient time off to recuperate from the tournament, he looked sharper and fitter than anyone else on the field.
Jurgen Klopp needs to be very careful not to overplay Sane. If he does and loses the player through injury, he could live to regret it.
Did you know? Mane has scored more Premier League goals in 2019 than any other player (15).
Now it’s your turn
You’ve seen my selections this season. But who would you go for?
Pick your Team of the Week
Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.
The Crooks of the Matter
It’s only the second weekend of the season and VAR is already bugging the hell out of me. The whole point of the introduction of the technology was to eliminate the errors. What VAR is actually doing is looking for them. VAR can spot a toe, a stud or even when a players’ tattoo is offside, but will not offer an opinion when a player has been clearly manhandled in the penalty area?
Tottenham’s Erik Lamela practically assaulted Manchester City’s Rodri in the box and VAR said nothing. Why? If Referee Michael Oliver did not see it then it was a clear and obvious error and VAR should have brought it to the referee’s attention. So no help there.
Did this technological ‘know it all’ not see what everyone else saw or did this scientific genius go for a comfort break? Of course not. VAR is a spoiler. It seeks and searches for error. He’s a show off! VAR comes into its own when it can combine the evidence with the facts. “Don’t blame me!” it shouts. “I’m just giving you the facts and attaching them to the evidence and the laws of the game.”
Meanwhile, the game has developed a virus but football doesn’t know it yet and it’s in danger of affecting the whole game. VAR’s decision to disallow Gabriel Jesus’ injury-time goal based on the new law, introduced this season, regarding Handball, was nothing short of laughable. The law is an ass but more worryingly the game is in danger of becoming a joke.