Team of the Week – Game week 9 | Virgin Media
The Weekend's Best XI

The Weekend's Best XI

26/10/2016Sport

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There is only one place to start in gameweek nine and that is at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea thumped a sorry Manchester United, and former manager Jose Mourinho, 4-0.

Having conceded a goal after just 30 seconds, it did not get any better for United as their porous and ponderous defence was systematically torn apart.

Elsewhere things bunched up at the top of the league table, with Manchester City held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton, and Arsenal and Tottenham both drawing a blank against Middlesbrough and Bournemouth respectively.

Those results meant Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Brom sent them level with the leaders on 20 points.

So with another momentous weekend of top flight football out of the way, let’s have a look at the stand-out performers.
 

Goalkeeper: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough may have come as a disappointment, but it could easily have been worse had it not been for the regular interventions of Cech.

The veteran keeper was exceptional at the Emirates, keeping out a point-blank header from Gaston Ramirez, as well as efforts from Adama Traore and Alvaro Negredo.

In all he registered four saves to ensure a fourth Premier League clean sheet of the season.
 

Right-back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Azpilicueta has for a few seasons now been the dependable, versatile performer in Chelsea’s side, playing all across the back-line.

Against United he was once again deployed on the right-side of the three defenders in Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 formation, and the Spaniard put in a solid display.

Azpilicueta won all of his attempted tackles, successfully putting the shackles on the likes of Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.

Think Conte is choosing the right XI? Select yours here.

Centre-back: Simon Francis (Bournemouth)

The no-nonsense stylings of Bournemouth’s central defence, as opposed to their easy-on-the-eye midfield, means they perhaps don’t get enough credit.

However, Francis, and his partner Steve Cook came to the fore in the 0-0 draw with Spurs on Saturday, putting up stout resistance to the league’s only unbeaten side.

Son Heung-min, who has been in exceptional form of late, was completely isolated as Francis made more clearances than any other defender over the weekend to earn a valuable point.
 

Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)

The big Dutch defender is establishing a reputation as one of the best in the Premier League and his performance for an under-the-pump Saints side at the Etihad showed why.

Van Dijk is a colossus in the air and he won all of his headed duels against City, marshalling Sergio Aguero exceptionally, while also finding time to carry the ball out of defence to relieve pressure.  

Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)

Alonso was perhaps the least exciting of all Chelsea’s summer signings, but since the switch to a 3-4-3 formation, he may just be one of the most important.

Against Chelsea, and mirrored on opposite flank by Victor Moses, the Spaniard was creative in attack and solid in defence.

His positional understanding allowed him to provide an outlet going forward to disrupt United, while he also gave Marcus Rashford nothing to work with. 
 

Centre-midfield: N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Another player benefiting from Chelsea’s recent form is Kante, who has been exceptional in the last two matches.

He put in a typically energetic performance against United, adding the cherry on top of the cake by scoring his second Premier League goal, carving open the soft opposition defence with a run from deep.

That’s not to say he neglected his normal duties, making five interceptions to get the better of his international teammate Pogba.
 

Centre-midfield: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

After playing well in the first half, Southampton were forced to batten down the hatches in the second period against City, and if there’s one man you want for that job it is Romeu.

The Spaniard won seven tackles – more than any other Premier League player this weekend – to dominate the game against the manager who gave him his professional debut at Barcelona.

Romeu has blossomed with the responsibility at the base of Claude Puel’s diamond midfield and Sunday’s game was the best example so far of his improvement.

Do you know Stoke better than Hughes? Pick your XI here.

Right-wing: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)

Stoke finally appear to have turned the corner after a torrid start to the season and Mark Hughes would certainly love to rely on some more rockets from Shaqiri.

The Swiss wide player smashed in two long-shots in the win over Hull City – one in open play into the top corner and one free-kick into the bottom.

If the former Bayern Munich player can find consistency then we are sure to be treated to more of where those came from.
 

Attacking midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) 

Liverpool were excellent in the first half against West Brom, constantly breaking through the normally close-knit Baggies defence and chief among their tormentors was Coutinho.

The Brazilian is enjoying his best-ever form for Liverpool this season and his dummy in the build-up to the opening goal was a sublime moment of skill.

He followed that up later with a goal of his own, jinking into the area, placing the West Brom defenders on the floor before firing into the near post past Ben Foster.

Left-wing: Dimitri Payet (West Ham)

A West Ham win is generally propelled by a performance from Payet, and the 1-0 victory over rock-bottom Sunderland on Saturday was no exception.

Although the win came courtesy of a rare Winston Reid strike, Payet did his best to ensure it wouldn’t come to that, creating a weekend-high six chances.

The Frenchman’s delivery from dead-balls and in open play is unparalleled and how the Hammers want him to continue his form.
 

Striker: Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

If Coutinho was Liverpool’s star performer against West Brom, then Firmino was not far behind.

The roaming forward, who fits Jurgen Klopp’s system perfectly, was once again exceptional, creating four chances and registered an assist – and what an assist it was.

Firmino’s floated left-foot cross following a swift counter found Sadio Mane to put the Reds on the road to a vital win.

Write-up by Felix Keith for Squawka.com