This week a common theme emerged amongst the Team of the Week members. Nearly every single one of the players had to prove themselves to their manager at some point or another, some more recently than others, and after finally being given a chance to shine the player and manager are now both receiving the benefits again. After nearly every player in Gameweek 11’s Team of the Week was either a Chelsea or Liverpool player, this week takes quite a different turn as not only is there no player from either of those two sides but shockingingly four Sunderland players make the cut instead and the other seven players come from seven different clubs. This is The Mastermind‘s Team of the Week for Gameweek 12 in England’s top flight!
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford makes his third team of the week appearance so far this season after a stunning display in Sunderland’s first home win of the season. Pickford has been a silver lining in Sunderland’s side up until this point in the season and with everybody else starting to get their feet off the ground as well, David Moyes’ side could be set to continue to flourish these next few weeks. Many Sunderland players were fantastic on the day in providing Moyes’ with his first home win in the league as Sunderland manager but Pickford was certainly one that stood out from the rest yet again. The British goalkeeper who says he wants to emulate Joe Hart made 5 stunning saves to keep Hull out, including the one pictured above on a Diumerci Mbokani header that certainly would have gone in had he not gotten his fingertips to it. The Sunderland man also made a stunning 10 cross claims and had more than three times as many touches on the ball than Sunderland goalscorer Jermain Defoe. Jordan Pickford has been brilliant so far this season and with his stunning performance against the Tigers he has now made more Mastermind team of the week appearances than any other goalkeeper in Europe. Rating: 9.5/10.
Right Back: Seamus Coleman
Seamus Coleman was one of the best right backs in the league a couple of seasons ago but after two tough seasons under Roberto Martinez his progress has slowed. However, this season under Ronald Koeman the old Seamus Coleman is back again and the Irishman is really starting to show signs of the same type of play he exhibited when he made the PFA Team of the Year back in 2013-14. Coleman was great in Everton’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City, whipping in 5 crosses, winning 3 duels in the air and scoring a goal from his only shot on target to the tie the match late on. Without Seamus Coleman’s fabulous header, Everton might have lost this game and Bob Bradley would have been given his frist win as Swansea manager. But Coleman spoiled the party, got the late goal and earned his side a deserved 1-1 draw.
Centre Back: Nathan Ake
Nathan Ake was arguably Watford’s best defender last season as he played a massive role in helping them avoid the drop. But this time his loan spell from Liverpool at Bournemouth hasn’t worked out quite as well with Eddie Howe deciding to go with other options in his back four every other game in this season. However on Saturday the Dutch defender was finally given a run out in the side and on top of everything wonderful that he did for his side in defense, he also scored the game winning goal to help his side claim a 1-0 victory. But as already mentioned Ake was also brilliant in defense, helping his side keep a clean sheet and dominate over the likes of Wilfried Bony and Bojan Krkic. Ake himself made 2 tackles and 15 clearances, more than any other player this weekend. Going into the next match Nathan Ake has now given his manager a selection headache as his first ever performance in the Premier League for Bournemouth was an incredibly sucessful one. Rating: 9/10.
Left Back: Patrick Van Aanholt
Things hadn’t been going right for Van Aanholt and Sunderland for a long time and the Dutch defender even had to be withdrawn from a match vs. Spurs at the last minute due to a heart scan revealing a potential problem. But, the Dutch defender is seemingly okay again and had a key influence on his team’s first win of the season, a 3-0 victory over Hull City. Van Aanholt’s always been an attacking option for the Black Cats down that left side but took the meaning of attack-minded defender to a whole new level on Saturday, popping up in all kinds of positions to provide his side with potential opportunities for goals. He created 3 chances, delivered 2 crosses and assisted Anichebe’s fantastic goal. But defensively the Dutch defender was also brilliant, making 2, yes 2 clearances off of the line to keep the Tigers out at the death. If Sunderland are going to continue what is now a two game win streak, players like Patrick Van Aanholt are going to need to be on top of their games like they were against Hull week in and week out. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Midfield: Etienne Capoue
After a strong start to the season Etienne Capoue went queit for a little while in the Premier League but is back again with another goal to his name as Watford continue to skate their way up the table. Capoue scored the Hornets’ opening goal after just 33 seconds of play, ending Leicester’s fantastic run of form immediately with a fabulous finish. But it wasn’t just the goal; Capoue was a constant presence going forward for Walter Mazzari’s team, creating 5 chances and delivering 6 crosses over the course of the match. He also helped out in defense with 3 tackles and 3 clearances as Leicester could not find a way back into the match. Watford weren’t expected to come out as victors in their match this weekend against the Champions Leicester City but because of Capoue and a few other key players, Mazzarri’s side managed to grab a surprise 2-1 win to help them keep their surprising position of 8th place in the table.
Centre Midfield: Yaya Toure
Give players a chance. Yaya Toure’s career at Manchester City seemed to be over until Pep Guardiola finally decided to give the Ivorian his chance in the side out of the blue. With Ilkay Gundogan away, Toure could play and play he did, scoring two goals to win his side the match by a score of 2-1. Toure’s body language was much improved from what we saw earlier on in the season in Joe Hart’s last match at City in the UEFA Champions League and his attitude was clearly much improved as well as he did everything to win his side this match. Toure completed nearly 90% of his passes on Saturday, completed 100% of the take-on’s he attempted and scored from his only two shots on target to give City the win. Yaya Toure’s inclusion in Pep Guardiola’s side this weekend came as a shock to everyone but after delivering on all fronts, nobody is shocked any longer. Rating: 9/10.
Right Wing: Juan Mata
Who would have thought that Juan Mata would be Manchester United’s most important player this season under Jose Mourinho. Mata is proving his manager wrong for the way he treated him at Chelsea every single time the Spanish midfielder hits the pitch now and had another amazing performance this weekend. Mata was superb against Arsenal, running the show for Manchester United going forward and always being involved in everything created. A common and calming presence on the ball, the Spaniard had 57 touches on the ball and was always passing and moving, never being afraid to take opponents on with three completed dribbles (100% he attempted). Mata also helped out in defense with 2 interceptions, 3 tackles and of course scored Manchester United’s fabulous opening goal which should have been the game winner. When Jose Mourinho took him off after his incredible performance, 1-0 up in the 85th minute, Manchester United’s verve and ability to hold up the ball in Arsenal’s defensive third disappeared and the Gunners found a way back into the match. Jose Mourinho hasn’t got a lot of things right to start his Manchester United career but at the very least he has to be complemented for finally giving the Spaniard his chance to shine in the team and reaping the benefits of it. Rating: 9/10.
Attacking Midfield: Matt Phillips
Nobody would have predicted West Brom to beat Burnley by a score of 4-0 but somehow they managed to pull it off. One of the key factors to that massive 4-0 win was English winger Matty Phillips as he scored the opener and assisted Darren Fletcher’s goal with a fine piece of skill and a wonderful cross. Some of Burnley’s defending was shocking but Phillips was still absolutely on fire in sinking his opposition. The former QPR midfielder had 3 shots, created 1 chance and delivered two crosses on top of his goal and assist to help West Brom dominate over Sean Dyche’s Burnley. In all honesty it wasn’t the most influential performance ever from Matt Phillips, but he did have a massive impact on West Brom’s 4-0 win through directly contributing to two goals as the Baggies pulled off a surprise result. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Wing: Victor Anichebe
Victor Anichebe has been a revelation for Sunderland at left-wing ever since coming back into the side against Bournemouth. With Anichebe in the starting 11 it is now two wins from two matches for the Black Cats, their only two wins of the season, highighting his importance to their recent turnaround. The Nigerian forward was Sunderland’s key man in their 3-0 win over Hull City, netting two goals from five shots to hand the Black Cats their biggest victory of the season thus far. Anichebe was also a monster in the air, winning 8 aerial duels, and he helped out in defense with 4 clearances. His inclusion in the squad also did wonders for Jermain Defoe, freeing him up and allowing Defoe to stick in the sort of areas where he operates best rather than going back and having to help out in defense. Victor Anichebe for a long time has been someone that hasn’t really ever been given a regular run in a side but now that David Moyes has brought him back into his setup as Sunderland, he and his manager are reaping the rewards as Sunderland now look on their way to turning their season around. Rating: 9.5/10.
Centre Forward: Harry Kane
In the match of the weekend Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane led a late comback against West Ham United to give his side a massively important 3-2 win. Harry Kane has struggled to start this season but after scoring last weekend he was in full flow this Saturday against the Hammers, adding two more goals to his name and bringing his tally up to five for the season. On top of his two goals that won Spurs’ the match, Kane also troubled the Hammers with 4 aerial duels won and won 2 dribbles and 2 fouls. Although there was nothing else particularly amazing about his game on Saturday, two goals, one in the 89th and the other in the 91st minute, is certainly enough to give Harry Kane his first team of the week appearnace of the season. Without Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur would not have beaten the Hammers this weekend and this performance could be the one that finally kick starts his season. Rating: 8.5/10.
Striker: Jermain Defoe
Sunderland have started winning in the league again and perhaps a major reason why is the resurgence in form of Jermain Defoe. Defoe has now scored 3 goals in his last 3 appearances for the Black Cats and with the English forward in form, Sunderland will never be as bad as they were for the first few months of this season. The 34-year old was brilliant against Hull City, scoring 1 goal and assisting another as David Moyes’ side took the match by a score of 3-0. Defoe also created 2 chances and completed 90% of his passes to allow Sunderland to keep all the pressure on the Tigers’ back-line. Jermain Defoe is a brilliant scorer of goals and with a fabulous performance against Hull City he is now the 8th highest scorer in Premier League history.
Player of the Week: Victor Anichebe
I would have never thought I’d be writing Victor Anichebe’s name in this slot but after a fabulous all around performance against Hull City, the Nigerian forward has deservedly won this week’s Player of the Week award. Anichebe scored two fantastic goals, brought the most out of Jermain Defoe and contributed massively to Sunderland’s first home win of the season. After his wonderful performance at the weekend, somehow Victor Anichebe now looks set to lead his side to a better future.
Manager of the Week: David Moyes
I never thought I’d be saying this at any point during the 2016-17 Premier League season but David Moyes’ is this week’s Manager of the Week. The backroom staff has to be given credit for sticking with their man despite his poor start to the season but now with two wins from two Sunderland suddenly don’t look so bad. The British manager has been brilliant these past two matches, bringing players like Victor Anichebe, Jason Denayer and Paddy McNair that nobody was giving a chance back into the side reaping the rewards from it. The inclusion of Victor Anichebe in particular has worked wonders these past two matches and has seen Defoe begin to score again and Sunderland start to win again. Anichebe is the perfect partner for Defoe because he doesn’t need to score the goals or do the fancy stuff, he’ll win balls in the air that Defoe can’t get to because of his height, he’ll do the hard work in defense and he’ll uinselfishly link up with his teammate at every point he can. Converting Jason Denayer into a defensive midfielder these past two weeks has also proven to be a smart move while sticking with players like Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore and Patrick Van Aanholt that were failing him has paid off as well. David Moyes has had just about the worst start to his Sunderland career that he could have ever imagined but now after two wins, things are finally starting to look bright for the former Everton manager’s future at the club.
So there it is! The Team of the Week for Gameweek 12 in the Premier League! Make sure to be back soon for more Mastermind Award nominees and next week for another fantastic edition of Team of the Week!