The long anticipated return of the Premier League happened this past weekend and we weren’t disappointed but who made the Premier League Team of the Week for Matchday 1?
Goalkeeper: Martin Stekelenburg (Everton)
Everton’s summer signing Martin Stekelenburg showed his worth in the opening game of the season against Tottenham helping the Toffee’s earn a 1-1 draw. The former-Fulham goalkeeper will be looking to establish himself as the number one choice at Goodison Park this season following the retirement of veteran keeper Tim Howard.
And he certainly made a good start to his Everton tenure particularly in the second half making two brilliant saves from Vincent Janssen and Erik Lamela. Stekelenburg managed to keep Janssen’s effort from close-range out with one hand before tipping over Lamela’s deflected shot.
Left-back: George Friend (Middlesbrough)
George Friend made his Premier League debut this past weekend and didn’t look out of place after helping Middlesbrough to promotion from the Championship last season. Friend was strong in defence against the likes of Marco Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mame Biram Diouf who all attempted to use their pace to beat Friend.
The left-back also offered Middlesbrough a lot going forward bombing down the flank and linking up with Stewart Downing well. Expect Friend’s crossing ability to be a key play for Middlesbrough this season with the powerful Alvaro Negredo in the box.
Centre-back: Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
When Jose Mourinho brought Eric Bailly to Old Trafford in the summer many people questioned the price-tag however so far the Ivorian has performed well for the Red Devils. On Sunday he played in the centre of defence alongside Daley Blind and helped United to a comfortable 1-3 win at Bournemouth.
Bailly looked calm and composed in defence and dealt with everything Bournemouth mustered up in attack. The 22-year-old also played out from the back and was precise and clever with his choice of passing which will excite Manchester United fans after their complaints of the football under Louis Van Gaal last season.
Centre-back: Curtis Davies (Hull City)
Heading into the first game of the season many expected crisis club Hull to suffer defeat to Premier League champions Leicester City however the Tigers managed to come away with a shock victory. Captain Curtis Davies was key to the newly promoted clubs victory at the King Power Stadium.
Davies was solid in defence and led from the back throughout the game. Last season Leicester were renowned for their attacking ability and frightening pace going forward however Davies managed to keep the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez quiet as well as dealing with multiple set-pieces.
Right-back: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Antonio Valencia isn’t a natural full-back even though he has been used there on occasion but at the weekend he showed that he is more than capable of adapting to the position and excelling on the right side of the back four.
Bournemouth’s attack possess a lot of pace with the likes Joshua King and Jordan Ibe however Valencia was equal to any threat the Cherries posed down his side. In attack Valencia used his abilities as a midfielder to take on the Bournemouth full-backs and his crossing talents to create openings for United.
Midfield: Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Manchester City were far from exceptional in Pep Guardiola’s first fixture as a Premier League manager however defensive midfielder Fernandinho did perform. Since signing for City Fernandinho has been reliable and solid for the Premier League title contenders. He’s added some steel and composure to an attack minded midfield.
In City’s 2-1 win against Sunderland Fernandinho dictated the pace of the game well and was calm when the home side had possession. Defensively he swept up any loose balls in midfield and prevented Sunderland mounting any serious pressure on City’s defence.
Midfield: Robert Snodgrass (Hull City)
While Curtis Davies controlled the defence it was Hull City midfielder Robert Snodgrass who took command in the middle of the park in Hull’s 2-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday. Snodgrass was brought down in the area inside the second half and managed to put the penalty he earned past Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to give the Tigers the win.
Despite scoring the winning goal Snodgrass was a consistent performer for the whole ninety minutes. Snodgrass’ work throughout meant that Leicester, in particular Mahrez, struggled to break Hull down and his positional play in the middle made it difficult for the Foxes to execute their trademark counter-attack.
Midfield: Phillipe Coutinho (Liverpool)
The Player of the Week award has to go to Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho who scored twice in a fascinating game at the Emirates Stadium as Jurgen Klopp’s side overcame Arsenal 3-4. Coutinho curled in an inch perfect free-kick on the stroke of half time to take the Reds into the break level. A second followed as well as playing a pivotal role in Adam Lallana’s goal in the second half.
The Brazilian playmaker was central to Liverpool’s fifteen minute spell which saw them score three goals and blow Arsenal away. When the 24-year-old was taken from the field Liverpool began to struggle and conceded twice however they did hold out for the victory.
Left Wing: Saido Mane (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s big money summer signing was Saido Mane which led to many fans raising their eyebrows on whether Mane could be a consistent performer for Liverpool. Mane mixed spells of excellence with weeks of silence at Southampton however he made noise in his Liverpool debut at the Emirates this past weekend.
The winger scored Liverpool’s fourth goal smashing the ball home but he was dangerous throughout the game. His pace and dribbling ability proved too much for an Arsenal defence who simply couldn’t get to grips with Mane. Throughout the game the link-up play between himself and Coutinho looked as though it could develop into something special for Klopp’s side this season.
Right Wing: Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
With Mane leaving St Mary’s it was up to summer signing Nathan Redmond to step up and deliver and he managed to do so in Southampton’s opening day draw against Watford. Southampton manager Claude Puel had been praising Redmond in the lead up to the game and even indicated that the young Englishman could end up playing as a centre forward at St Mary’s.
And Puel may be even more tempted to play Redmond up top after he managed to find the net on his Southampton debut. Redmond volleyed Dusan Tadic’s corner into the net to earn the Saints a draw.
Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
Jose Mourinho will be very pleased with his summer business with both Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic shining bright on the opening weekend of the Premier League season. Ibrahimovic is finally plying his trade in the Premier League and it took him just over an hour to score his first Premier League goal. A stunning strike from 25-yards out flew past Artur Boruc and was an immediate indication of what Ibrahimovic can, and will, do in the Premier League.
The Swedish forward led the line well for United and his power and presence was too much for the Cherries defence and Ibra’s goal just rounded off a strong Premier League debut.