Across the 2019-2020 season, we’re going to be posting a weekly Premier League team of the week. The team will,  of course, be largely stats-based. We’ll be looking at all the key metrics in each position: progressive passes for deep-lying midfielders, chances created for playmakers, conversion rates for forwards, take-ons for wingers and so on. However, we’ll also be doing the hard yards and interrogating the data. We’ll be asking: What was the quality of the opposition like? How consistent was a player’s influence in a game? How did the player impact decisive moments? What was their off-ball contribution like? The team will be influenced by data, but not deceived by it. Also, we’ll be putting players in their actual position – because nobody wants to see a back four consisting of four wing-backs!

So, let’s take a look at our inaugural Team of the Week!

GK – Ederson

Between the sticks we have Man City’s Ederson. His distribution was as tidy as ever (93% pass accuracy), and the Brazilian stopper made an unbelievable double-save 72 minutes in: anticipating Chicharito’s point-blank central effort before adjusting to claw Manuel Lanzini’s header from off the line. West Ham had a very respectable 1.02 xG against the Champions, but Ederson’s heroics secured his first clean sheet of the season.

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RB – Ainsley Maitland-Niles

The Arsenal youngster – who is naturally a  midfielder – stepped up admirably in Hector Bellerin’s absence towards the twilight of 18/19 and picked up where he left off on Sunday. The 21 year-old created the only ‘big chance’ of the game, ultimately assisting the decisive goal. He also ranked first among all Arsenal players for tackles won (4) and successful take-ons (4).

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CB – Harry Maguire 

All of a sudden, £80m looks like a steal! Harry Maguire’s impact on Manchester United’s defence on Sunday was immeasurable: the Englishman made more interceptions (4) than any other player on the pitch, and his ability to consistently come out on top in 1v1 situations allowed Man Utd to go man-to-man and then explode on the counter. He also started the move which resulted in Man Utd’s second goal – which felt like a match-deciding moment.

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CB – Virgil van Dijk

It was a routinely excellent performance from Liverpool’s main man at the back in the opening fixture of the season. van Dijk won 100% of his tackles, 75% of his aerial duels and made a match high 5 interceptions as well as chipping in with a goal. His intelligent whipped passes into the wide areas were key in Liverpool’s transition, too.

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LB – Erik Pieters 

Fair play to anybody who had the Dutchman in their fantasy football team! The former Stoke defender can thank some pretty horrendous saints defending for his two assists on Saturday, but equalling your best ever assist return over a season within seven minutes absolutely warrants a place in our XI. He didn’t exactly have much of a trade-off on the defensive end, either, winning 7 tackles; that’s more than any other defender managed across the opening weekend.

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RM – Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez had arguably his finest game in a Man City shirt on Saturday. Fresh from winning AFCON with Algeria, the mercurial wideman put in an impressive two-way performance: making 7 ball recoveries, winning 4/4 tackles, assisting two goals and winning a penalty. Whilst his shot contribution (3, 1 on target) was persistent but ineffective, Mahrez’s overall output impressed.

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CM – Fabinho

Putting in the hard yards in the centre of our midfield is Liverpool’s elite ball-winner Fabinho. The lanky Brazilian won a frankly ridiculous 8 tackles – 3 when covering the full-back areas and 5 when stepping forward to press. His importance in defending those wide areas and allowing Liverpool to attack with width can’t be overestimated. Tactically, Fabinho would also be the perfect partner to the second man in our two-man midfield…

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CM – Paul Pogba

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pulled Pogba back into a deeper role against Chelsea to great effect. The Frenchman was consistently on the look-out for Manchester United’s forwards, ultimately created more chances (4) than any other player in his side and being duly rewarded with a couple of assists. As Pogba and Rashford’s understanding develops, expect the pair to become one of the most dangerous combinations in the league.

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LM – Marcus Rashford

After the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan, there is massive pressure for Marcus Rashford to have the season of his career so far in 19/20. Based on Sunday’s performance, he looks ready to do just that! Interchanging from LW to CF with Anthony Martial, Rashford won and took the penalty that opened the scoring before making a perfectly-timed run to slot in Man Utd’s third. He also pressed very effectively, winning 3 tackles – only bettered in terms of teammates by tackle master Wan-Bissaka!

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ST – Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling didn’t take Manchester City’s penalty against West Ham on Saturday and had a goal ruled out by VAR – yet he still went home with the match ball. That tells you everything you need to know about the razor-sharp forward, who currently has the highest xG in the Premier League with 1.59. Expect the City star to put up characteristically ridiculous number yet again this season.

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ST – Harry Kane

It feels as though we haven’t seen a fully fit Harry Kane play in a long time, but Saturday’s late kick-off vs. Aston Villa felt like a rebirth. The Spurs talisman took a very healthy 8 shots against the Premier League’s new boys, with an impressive six of those coming from inside the box – and two finding the back of the net. The Harry Kane that broke through and blew everybody away was a shot monster, and it looks like he could be back.

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SUBS: 

Tom Heaton – Made some impressive saves to keep Spurs out early on but ultimately conceded three goals

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Had the right flank on lock-down throughout his Old Trafford debut; won 6/7 tackles

Lewis Dunk – Completed 7 long balls, bagged an assist and secured an unlikely clean sheet

John McGinn – Made more tackles tackles (8) than he completed passes (6) – how is that even possible?!

Rodri – Started quite laboriously but got up to speed with Pep’s system quicker than most –  flourished in the second half

Emiliano Buendia – Created 3 chances and registered an assist away at the reigning European Champions.

Ashley Barnes – Reacted first to Saints’ lackadaisical defending to bag a brace

Manager:

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – A 4-0 victory against a top six rival – what a statement!

 

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