Every single week The Mastermind will be bringing you an exclusive EPL Team of the Week, starring the best eleven players of the round. The criteria for making the XI will include a players’ impact on their team’s performance and result compared to other players around the league. This is the Team of the Week for the opening round of fixtures of the brand new 2017-18 Premier League season.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
The 23-year old goalkeeper dominated his penalty area, won absolutely everything that came his way and was so good in his decision making, picking the right moments to come for the ball and similarly when to stay on his line. The British goalkeeper also came up with a crucial save at the end of the game to preserve his new team a 1-0 victory. Pickford made an instant impact this weekend at Everton and it is fairly safe to say that he will continue to do so all season long. Rating: 8.5/10.
Right Back: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was significant and influential in both attack and defense against Leicester City as he starred in a 4-3 win. Giroud and Lacazette may have grabbed all the headlines but Chamberlain was the best player on the pitch. The Englishman made 3 tackles, 3 interceptions and 4 clearances; highlighting his competence in defense and also contributed to Arsenal’s attack, completing 8 take-on’s, creating 2 chances and taking 6 shots. This season definitely looks set to be a big one in the making for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Ahmed Hegazy
Another defender who contributed significantly in both penalty areas, Ahmed Hegazy was West Brom’s star man in their 1-0 win over AFC Bournemouth. The 6-5 Egyptian defender was colossal at the back for the Baggies, winning 4 duels in the air and completing 10 clearances, never letting anything get by him and staying so defensively aware at all times. In addition to that, he scored West Brom’s game winning goal. Hegazy looks to be the perfect Tony Pulis player and could prove to be a massive signing for the club this season. Rating: 9/10.
Left Back: Daley Blind
Daley Blind started the 2017-18 season where he left off in 2016-17, holding down the left-back spot in Jose Mourinho’s team and performing to perfection in that role. So very versatile at the back, left-back probably is Blind’s best position and he proves that every time he plays there. He was so crucial in combining with Marcus Rashford on Sunday, allowing the young Englishman to play freely and getting forward himself to whip in eight crosses and take three shots. Defensively he was also sound, winning 2 tackles and making 5 clearances, while also making Marko Arnautovic look relatively anonymous. Daley Blind really does have the ability to be one of Manchester United’s best players and this season could be a stalwart in Jose Mourinho’s side as they look for the title. Rating: 8.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: Granit Xhaka
Arsenal’s midfield beast Granit Xhaka looks set to have a massive season at Arsenal Football Club. The defensive midfielder controlled the Gunners’ play against Leicester City and also simultaneously acted as play-maker, assisting two goals! His defensive play was solid, not amazing, but his role in attack was absolutely immense as he was a constant source for chance creation, making five key passes and having 100% of his shots on target. Granit Xhaka really does look likely to be one of Arsenal’s key performers this season and begins the season as one of the league’s leading assist men. Rating: 9/10.
Defensive Midfield: Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic absolutely ran the show for Manchester United against West Ham United and it is the Frenchman who secures a role in this week’s Team of the Week. Matic was probably the better player on the day but then Pogba popped up with a late goal, bringing a whole host of optimism that this could be the year he truly shines for Manchester United. His role all game long was pivotal, creating 2 chances, completing 6 take-on’s, 87% of his passes, dominating everything in midfield and scoring one fantastic goal. If he can perform to that level every single game, Paul Pogba might be Manchester United’s most important player this season as he attempts to lead them to Premier League glory. Rating: 9.5/10.
Attacking Midfield: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s movement and mobility might be unrivaled in the Premier League. He was everywhere in Manchester United’s 4-0 win against West Ham and never even looked tired, gliding across the field with ease and always picking out the right pass. The Armenian was the understated reason behind the club’s big win this Sunday, assisting two goals and being a constant source of chance creation and attacking play. Mkhitaryan created six chances and completed three take-on’s against West Ham as they could just never grab hold of him. The variety in the chances he created was also superb as the first goal he assisted was off of a free kick while the second was a fantastic split-pass between a group of defenders right into the path of Martial. Even despite all the fancy passes he was trying to pull off he still ended the game with a pass success rate of 90%! Henrikh Mkhitaryan was massive for Manchester United on Sunday and looks well and truly back to his best again. Rating: 10/10.
Attacking Midfield: Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney was Everton’s leading factor behind their 1-0 victory over Stoke this weekend, making the perfect start to his return to Goodison Park. He ran himself into the ground and Ronald Koeman still couldn’t take him off all game long because of how influential of a role he had on all the players around him. With two chances created, 100% of his shots on target, 3 clearances and one fantastic goal, it was a great performance for Wayne Rooney and he looks set to lead Everton all season long. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Steve Mounie
Steve Mounie had a dream debut at Huddersfield Town this weekend, leading David Wagner’s side to a 3-0 win in his first match in the Premier League. The Frenchman looks to be a massive signing for the club and both of his goals were such clinical finishes, with no chance of the goalkeeper ever stopping them. The 22-year old also won seven duels in the air, troubling Palace’s tall and towering defense with ease, and he helped out in defense with 5 clearances. Steve Mounie could be one of the signings of the summer and judging by the first result alone, could be set to lead Huddersfield to a surprisingly stellar season. Rating: 10/10.
Centre Forward: Sam Vokes
Sam Vokes was clinical in the air for Burnley this weekend, leading them to a massive 3-2 win over the Premier League title-holders Chelsea. Vokes’ movement was excellent, breaking free of his marker time and time again before finding the back of the net on two occasions and also allowing him to win seven duels in the air between both attack and defense. He also drew three fouls and also bullied Chelsea’s defense around with four fouls of his own. Sam Vokes probably won’t score this much on a regular basis but his role in leading Burnley to a 3-2 victory this weekend was vital and Sean Dyche’s men could not have done it without him. Rating: 9.5/10.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku could not have asked for a better debut at Manchester United in the league. The Belgian forward gracefully finished off two chances to bag himself a brace and also linked up with Rashford, Mkhitaryan and the rest of his supporting cast and crew better than any other forward this weekend. His movement was incredible and it culminated in West Ham’s back-four never grabbing hold of him and never knowing who should be marking who. He won 6 duels in the air, scored 2 goals from 5 shots, created 3 chances and troubled Slavan Bilic’s side all game long in what was a perfect debut for the 24-year old. Rating: 10/10.
Formation: 3-4-3: Pickford, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hegazy, Blind, Xhaka, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Rooney, Mounie, Vokes, Lukaku
Substitutes: Hugo Lloris, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Aaron Mooy, Christian Eriksen, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy
Player of the Week: Romelu Lukaku
Looks set to be the signing of the season even despite his hefty fee given how massive he was in leading Manchester United to victory this weekend. Two great goals, three chances created, six duels won in the air and a constant thorn in West Ham’s side, Romelu Lukaku was a beast against West Ham and linked up better with his teammates than any other forward in the league this weekend.
Manager of the Week: Jose Mourinho
Not only did Jose Mourinho put together a tactical masterclass against West Ham United, his team just came out of the gates right away with so much energy, vibrancy and attacking intent. Every single player was full of desire; hungrier than their opponent. The Red Devils looked destined to win every single ball because of how much more they wanted it than the Hammers and it helped Mourinho’s men to just completely embarrass and annihilate Slavan Bilic’s side. His team sheet was absolutely spot on. Dropping Lindelof, Darmian and Smalling for Bailly, Jones and Blind turned out to be an amazing decision as the three men at the back were three of the team’s best players on the day. Matic and Pogba dominated midfield and playing Mkhitaryan in front of them was just like a trio made in heaven. Rashford and Lukaku also benefited each other’s games greatly while Mata’s calmness in possession of the ball allowed United to always look dangerous in the attacking third. It really was just a magnificent performance from Jose Mourinho and Manchester United against West Ham United and the Red Devils fully deserved their 4-0 victory.
So there it is! The Premier League’s Team of the Week for Matchday 1. Like what you read? Click the follow button or check The Mastermind out on Twitter. Make sure to be back in one week’s time for another edition of Team of the Week and also make sure to check out all of our Team Guides. See you soon!