The Weekend's Best XI - 15 August | Virgin Media
The Weekend's Best XI

The Weekend's Best XI

15/08/2016Sport

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The Premier League returned for its first of 38 gameweeks on the weekend, and it didn’t disappoint.

There was loads to sink your teeth into, with new signings, new managers, new kits aplenty and the usual array of great goals, terrible mistakes and controversy to go around.

Jose Mourinho got off to a winning start as Manchester United manager, with everything going to plan against Bournemouth.

But the game of the weekend was, without question, at the Emirates, where Arsenal shared seven goals with Liverpool in an end-to-end thriller.

So, in among all the mayhem, who were the best performing players?

Goalkeeper: Maarten Stekelenburg (Everton)

The Dutch keeper is a real favourite of Toffees manager Ronald Koeman, having played under him at both Ajax and Southampton, so it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him wind up at Goodison Park this season.

Stekelenburg appears to have sealed a first team spot ahead of Joel Robles, and his performance against Tottenham showed why. With the score at 1-1 he made two world-class reflex saves – from Vincent Janssen, one from Erik Lamela – to earn his side a point.

Right-back: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Right-back has been a bit of a problem position for United over the past few seasons, with Louis van Gaal playing virtually every outfield player there. But Valencia has shown remarkable signs of improvement over the last few months to make the position his own.

He was strong, dynamic and full of running for his side on Sunday, and has already developed an uncanny cross-to-shot relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

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Centre-back: Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

Bailly was the lowest-profile of United’s four summer signings but has arguably been the best so far. The Ivorian centre-back slipped somewhat under the radar after his £30m move from Villarreal, but his performances have ensured he has not stayed there.

Against Bournemouth he dominated the strikers, read play well and looked comfortable on the ball. A second competitive start; a second successive Man of the Match award. Not a bad way to get underway at a new club.

Centre-back: Jake Livermore (Hull City)

Livermore is a central midfielder by trade. He is more comfortable further up the pitch, spraying passes left, right and centre and firing in long-shots. But Hull’s chaotic off-field shenanigans meant he was drafted into defence, with Mike Phelan only able to call on 13 first-team players.

The former Spurs man was excellent alongside Curtis Davies, mopping up Leicester attacks and intercepting passes to help the Tigers produce a surprise 2-1 win over the champions. To perform so well out of position in a threadbare squad against quality opposition was seriously impressive.

Left-back: George Friend (Middlesbrough)

Middlesbrough made a solid start to their Premier League campaign after promotion and their understated captain was a large part of their play against Stoke.

Friend won every tackle, aerial duel and all but one of his attempted take-ons, offering a robust, dependable outlet on the left-hand side of the pitch, while also combining solidity in defence.

Centre-midfield: Idrissa Gueye (Everton)

Another debutant, another stand-out performer. Gueye somehow managed to impress in Aston Villa’s terrible season and earned a move to Everton in the summer.

Playing alongside Gareth Barry, the central midfielder was tidy in possession and has the happy knack of finding himself in the right place at the right time. Toffees fans will be encouraged by his performance. 

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Centre-midfield: Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)

“If he plays like he's playing now, the fans have to love him. He's being so important for us.” – The words of Mourinho after United’s 3-1 win. Not about any of his expensive new signings – rather the much-maligned Fellaini.

The Belgian was chosen to start in midfield ahead of Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick and misplaced just one pass all afternoon to help his side get off to the perfect start.

Left-midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

The top goal scorer of the weekend, Coutinho was simply superb against Arsenal, threatening at every turn with his trickery, pace and intelligent passing.

With his side initially struggling to get into the game 1-0 down, he curled in a wonderful free-kick to send them in level at the break. He and his team mates then pressed their foot to the accelerator, and he got across the box well to powerfully turn in Nathaniel Clyne’s shot. 

It was a match-winning display from the little Brazilian. 

Right-midfield: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Coutinho’s partner in crime – in the Arsenal game and the rest of the season – was £34m signing Sadio Mane, who became one of five former Southampton players to score at the Emirates in a helter-skelter game.

The Senegalese winger’s pace, strength and tenacity caused Nacho Monreal all kinds of problems and he capped off an electric second half with a great goal, chasing a hopeful ball before skinning two defenders and smashing into the top corner on his weaker left foot. 

Think you can know better than Klopp? Have a go at your own Liverpool XI with the Virgin Media Line-up Builder!

Striker: Nathan Redmond (Southampton)

Yet another debutant, the £10m signing from Norwich, bought partly to replace Mane at Southampton, Redmond enjoyed an excellent second half in the 1-1 draw with Watford.

Saints manager Claude Puel has decided Redmond is in fact a striker, not a winger, and the Frenchman would have been pleased to see him be proved right with a strong showing.

Redmond volleyed in the equaliser from a corner and used his pace to good effect, firing off several shots on goal and seeing a strike ruled out for offside. A promising display in a new position at a new club.

Striker: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

No surprises here. The man that has won league titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France comes to England in pursuit of another to add to his collection and gets off to a flying start.

Ibrahimovic isn’t one to be left out of the party, and he rifled a low shot into the bottom corner to give United three goals against Bournemouth and ensure a seventh straight game in which he’s scored. The big Swede looks the real deal. 

This XI was compiled by Felix Keith at Squawka.com