If you've been following and watching along this week, you'll have heard that the Premier League is back. Commentators and Pundits have been screaming 'football is back'. On the whole, the public have been starved of football which means that eyeballs have been on the league. Having watched the bulk of the action, we pick our Team of the Week of players that made a positive impact during the second week of top-flight football's return with Gameweek 33. All aboard.
Team of the Week (GW33): Midweek in the Heat
The structure of our Team of the Week is quite simple. We have a Starting XI and a 9-man bench, to reflect how Premier League squads have been during the Project Restart encounters. This article is purely subjective based on who we believe passed the eye-test having watched the majority of games that compromised Gameweek 33.
GK: Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
The English goalkeeper had a game to remember against Manchester City on Sunday evening. This was a game broadcast on the BBC, and it was an entertaining encounter with Man City unable to break down the Southampton defence. When they did, McCarthy was there to stop them. McCarthy was a composed figure in goal, and frustrated Pep’s team every time the blue attacking line crossed, shot, or passed into the box.
LB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Chelsea ran out a pedestrian win over Watford, and with rotation keeping the Blues fresh, Azpilicueta went to left-back to deputise for Marcos Alonso, with Reece James starting on the right. Azpilicueta was unphased by the change and was at his influential best to help stop Sarr from being a factor in the game, and even provided an assist alongside his clean sheet in a real display of leadership as captain of Chelsea.
CB: Jan Bednarek & Jack Stephens (Southampton)
You can’t have one without the other this week, and as a pair the Saints central duo were magnets for most of what City delivered into the box. We can’t remember the number of times the commentators confirmed one of defenders either blocked or intercepted the ball from Man City. Stephens was exceptional against City, he looks so much more comfortable as a centre-back than out on the right, and alongside Bednarek who had a no-nonsense game as the safety out of the two, it was a dynamic that Ralph Hasenhüttl will be smiling over.
RB: Tariq Lamptey (Brighton)
Chelsea sold Lamptey to Brighton in January, judging that with Reece James breaking through that Lamptey was surplus to their plans. Since moving to the South Coast, Lamptey has been phenomenal for Brighton. Despite his size, he uses his low centre of gravity to his advantage to win and retain the ball. He is quick, works back, and can join the attack. Based off his performance since the restart, Brighton have acquired one of the best upcoming full backs in the league. He displayed all of his traits against Norwich, and the Canaries targeted Lamptey thinking he was the weak link in their defence due to his size, but that was Norwich’s mistake as he had another brilliant performance to once again keep Norwich searching for a goal.
CM: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Everyone saw this one coming, the Portuguese once again had another standout performance for Manchester United, and with a superb free-kick goal and two open-play assists, the midfielder was the body blow to Bournemouth’s fighting performance at Old Trafford. Fernandes ran the show, leaving us wondering why Jose Mourinho didn’t want his countryman at Spurs, or why City didn’t follow through on their interest.
CM: Naby Keita (Liverpool)
Liverpool were still flagging in their performance following their Premier League title confirmation, and the hangover was still evident against a fighting Aston Villa. Naby Keita was brought to Liverpool to provide some much-needed creativity in a defence minded midfield three, and after Wijnaldum and Henderson were brought on, it unlocked Keita to make driving runs into the Villa penalty area. Keita was responsible for breaking the deadlock with a piercing ball through the Villa defence for Sadio Mane to give Liverpool the lead. Keita was the best of a lagging Liverpool outfield on the weekend.
CM: Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard has a constant battle in his mind over what exactly is the best midfield combination for his Blues side. With rumours of Kai Havertz being on Chelsea’s radar, Ross Barkley reminded everyone why he was considered one of the rising stars of the Premier League. Barkley was the creative force that sunk Watford, forcing the issue with a measured through ball for Giroud’s opener, and even got on the scoresheet with a thunderous strike that Foster watched go in. Barkley is giving Lampard a lot to think about.
LW: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)
The American has started to find his feet in the Premier League after the restart and has now started to make himself indispensable to Lampard’s plans. Pulisic one again won the penalty for the third week in a row for Willian to slot away and is a real handful in the opposition box. Pulisic could have more if his teammates were more clinical, and with Werner and Ziyech on the way, Pulisic is fighting to keep his place.
RW: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
The Manchester United Academy has produced another quality player, and Greenwood keeps surprising his critics. Greenwood played on the right of a front-free that ran riot over Bournemouth, and both of his finishes were sublime. The young Englishman is making things easy for his manager to keep selecting him and looks as comfortable on the wing as he does through the middle.
ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
Just when you think people were on the verge of catching Vardy for the Golden Boot race, the Leicester forward struck back with two goals of real quality. Vardy also joined the Premier League 100 goals club, and is currently on 101, and 21 goals this season it looks like he is going to clinch the Golden Boot. Leicester needed Vardy to turn up to turn around their poor form, and with two deft finishes Vardy has been a late bloomer in the restart and now looks back to his best.
Other Considerations (TOTW Bench):
Alisson (GK, LIV), James Tarkowski (DEF, BUR), Leandro Trossard (MID, BHA) Miguel Almirón (MID, NEW), Kieran Tierney (DEF, ARS), Bukayo Saka (MID, ARS), Sadio Mane (MID, LIV), Anthony Martial (FWD, MUN), Danny Ings (FWD, SOU)
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