(with stats from WhoScored)
Sunderland’s #22, Simon Mignolet, was one of only four Premier League ‘keepers who managed to keep a clean sheet this weekend. Having conceded more than one goal on only two occasions thus far in the season, Mignolet pulled off 4 saves, including 2 close range headers from Robert Huth, one of which was in the 5th minute of added time. Aerial dominance was the key for Mignolet, as he claimed all 5 crosses sent into the box, for a 100% success rate in aerial duels. Additionally, he managed to block a Charlie Adam shot that was heading for the top corner to deny the Scot what would have been his first goal this season, and keep Sunderland level on points with Stoke City, with a game in hand.
Playing at right back for West Ham United, Englishman James Tomkins had a field day, with 6 attempts at goal, and one success. And even though it came in a 2-1 loss to Wigan, a 100% success rate in aerial duels, along with a 6 yard block will make it difficult for Sam Allardyce to overlook this impressive 23 year-old when preparing his team sheet.
At the opposite side of defence, we have Arsenal‘s Andre Santos, who was key to Arsenal’s clean sheet as he kept the combined attack of Bosingwa, and Wright Phillips at bay. With a 100 touches on the ball, 91% success rate in passing, 4 tackles, and some key interceptions, Arsenal’s newly established left back more than made up for his 33% success rate in the air.
In the centre of defence, we have Wigan Athletic’s Ivan Ramis accompanying Norwich City’s Michael Turner, who each had a goal to their credit over the weekend fixtures. While Turner played in a conventional 4-man defence, Ramis was on the right side of a back-3 being deployed by Martinez, and with a passing accuracy of 83%, carried out his duties admirably. While Ramis’ goal came in a winning cause, it was Turner who dragged Norwich from a one-goal deficit to a respectable draw against Aston Villa.
On the right side of midfield, not for the first time this season, we have Chelsea‘s Spanish wizard, Juan Mata. Having quickly established himself as the creative mainstay for the Blues this season, Mata bagged his third goal in two league matches this weekend, having bagged a brace against Tottenham the week before. With a total of 4 attempts on target, and a passing success of 90%, Mata will certainly consider himself unlucky to have wound up on the losing end of the fixture.
On the other flank, we have yet another consistent performer, Gareth Bale, who scored early against So’ton, to bag his third goal of the season. With all rumours over his contract issues with Tottenham buried for the moment, Bale has been slowly hitting the purple patch that he showed during Tottenham’s recent sojourn to Europe. This may well make the difference between AVB signing a better contract, or having to hunt for a new job at the end of the season.
At the heart of midfield, we have an unlikely combination of Mikel Arteta, and Wes Hoolahan, While Hoolahan set up the equaliser for Norwich, it was Arteta who scored the lone goal in Arsenal’s fixture against QPR, finishing off a goal with his left foot after he had crashed a header against the bar. While both players had a passing accuracy of 87%, Hoolahan had a commendable 5 successful dribbles, while Arteta won 100% of the aerial duels he went into.
It is two players from Manchester, who are almost equally hated by their former clubs, that make the front-two this week in the Premier League. Former Manchester United striker, Carlos Tevez, scored his 4th goal of the season to give Champions, Manchester City a slender 1-0 victory over Swansea in a match that failed to get the crowd off their seats. At the same time, in a match that was at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of controversy, and excitement, former Arsenal star, Robin van Persie returned to the joint lead in the Golden boot race, with his 7th league goal of the season. While Tevez had 4 attempts on target, van Persie had 6, and was involved in all three goals that United scored, making him the top outfield performer this week in the Premier League.