Premier League Team of the Week

Eden Hazard kept the smiles on the faces of Chelsea fans, while Arsenal supporters were left to wonder what could have been if Robin van Persie was still on their roster.

Gutierrez skips past Hazard...

There were draws galore in this round of the Premier League, with six teams forced to share the spoils.

It was a second stalemate in a row for Arsenal, as the Gunners fired blanks against Stoke, leaving manager Arsene Wenger absolutely flummoxed. Liverpool and Manchester City also earned a point each, though their match-up was discernibly more entertaining.

Three points were collected by City's title rivals Manchester United when they beat Fulham at home, while Chelsea maintained their hold on top spot with wins against Reading and Newcastle.

Undoubtedly the division's in-form teams, Everton and Swansea put three goals past opponents Aston Villa and West Ham respectively, securing second and third position in the table.


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GK: Ali Al-Habsi (Wigan)

After watching Southampton put two past champions City, Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi must have known he would have his hands full in their meeting with the Saints.

The Oman custodian was called into action as early as the 14th minute when he was forced to tip an impressive drive from Adam Lallana just over the crossbar. He kept up his heroics all the way through, keeping out a Danny Fox volley in the middle of the second half, moments after punching clear a Southampton corner. Al-Habsi deserved no less than his clean sheet and Wigan's first win of the campaign for his performance.

RB: Angel Rangel (Swansea)

Ever present in the Swans back four, Rangel has come a long way from his days as a performance contract player in League One, personifying his club's rise to prominence. The right-back is part of a rare breed of defenders comfortable in possession, and is often seen flying down the flank in support of Nathan Dyer.

Rangel's compatriot Michu has been stealing all the headlines for Swansea these days, but the 29-year-old takes his turn in the spotlight this week after striking Swansea's opening goal against West Ham. The Spaniard displayed excellent movement and attacking instinct to put himself in an ideal position to finish off the move.

LB: Leighton Baines (Everton)

The Toffees left-back featured in numerous editions of Premier League Team of the Week in the previous campaign, so it comes as little surprise to find him on the list once more.

Dominating his flank in attack and defence, Baines's crosses and set-pieces ensured David Moyes' squad threatened on numerous occasions.  The Englishman would have finished with four assists instead of just the one for Nikica Jelavic, had Sylvain Distin and the Croatian striker been a tad more accurate in their attempts.

CB: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal)


The Gunners squad is brimming with exciting attacking talent, making it easy to overlook the contributions of the Arsenal defenders.

Newly-appointed captain Vermaelen was his dependable self in front of substitute custodian Vito Mannone's goalmouth, challenging every aerial ball sent in by the Stoke midfield for the towering Peter Crouch. The Belgian also kept a close watch on the pacey Jonathan Walters, leaving the striker a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

CB: Alex Pearce (Reading)

The Reading centre-back might look out of place on this list, given that his squad conceded four goals against Chelsea. Unfortunately for Pearce, the score-line was not an accurate reflection of his endeavours.

The Scot threw his body on the line countless times to save the error-prone Adam Federici from further blushes, much to the annoyance of Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata. One of Reading's better players against the star-studded Blues, Pearce's performance was laudable, as he hustled and hovered around the Blues attackers the entire game.

Joe Allen (Liverpool)


Reds midfielder Allen was making his Anfield debut in the club's draw with City, but you would never have known from his composed performance.

The former Swansea player took Lucas Leiva's place deep in midfield, and while there was none of the Brazilian's hard-tackling tenacity, Allen retained and recycled possession tirelessly. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was gushing with praise for Allen after the match and the commendation was thoroughly deserved, as the midfielder's pin-point accuracy was vital to the team carrying out Rodgers' pass-and-move style effectively against City.

Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)

The Japanese was one of the Red Devils' better performers in their opening weekend loss to Everton, and Kagawa improved on his showing by getting his name on the score-sheet against Fulham this week. The former Borussia Dortmund man tempted and teased in front of the Old Trafford crowd, with the Cottagers defence never allowed a moment's peace, as he seemed to set up chances for his team-mates whenever he was on the ball.

As a player, Kagawa boasts the wonderful combination of speed, technical ability and intelligent movement. The ease in which he has slotted into the United first team suggests he might just be the missing piece of the club's title chase puzzle.

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)

Making your Premier League bow against the defending champions is no easy feat, but the experience proved to be little challenge for 17-year old Sterling.

In a shrewd tactical move by Rodgers, the young winger made full use of the space down the flanks left behind by City's three-man defence, becoming a source of endless trouble for the more experienced Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure. The Englishman could have capped off a lively performance with an assist for Fabio Borini, but the Italian volleyed Sterling's peach of a cross wide.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Once again, the Belgian has a spot in the Team of the Week, and if early form is anything to go by, Hazard is likely to be a permanent fixture. His silky skills fuelled Chelsea's attacking vigour, as Roberto Di Matteo's squad stormed up the table.

Premier League defences appear to have no answer to Hazard's quick feet and trickery, except to clatter him to the ground. It was perhaps apt then that the attacking midfielder recorded his first goal in a Blues shirt from the penalty spot in the game against Newcastle this week.

Despite possessing the ability to carve through oppositions on his own, the former Lille player showed that he was more than willing to work for the team when he teed up team-mate Branislav Ivanovic for Chelsea's fourth goal in the Reading match.

Fernando Torres (Chelsea)


The Blues striker's diligence is an unquestionable part of his game, but his efforts are more often than not rewarded with a scuffed attempt. However, Torres' recent performance against Newcastle hints that the instinctive and confident striker that lies within could be on the brink of bursting out once more.

There were already shades of superb dribbling in the mid-week clash against Reading, and while Brian McDermott had every right to be enraged by Torres' strike from an offside position, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was silenced by the Spaniard's cool finish into the top corner of Tim Krul's goal.  

Carlos Tevez (Manchester City)

The defending champions could have so easily slipped to their first defeat of the season, had it not been for the striker's perseverance and hard work. Tevez appeared to be everywhere in attack, sending in crosses at one moment, and getting on the end of Samir Nasri's through pass the next.

Capping his hard work with an equalizing goal after a sloppy back-pass by Martin Skrtel, Tevez's efforts were deserving of three points, but the same could not be said of his team-mates. 



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