What a delight it is to be back! The Premier League returned with a bang in August, with five Matchweeks being crammed into an action-packed opening month.
Of the 20 teams in the league, only Arsenal managed to make it through the month with a perfect record and 15 points on the board, albeit with champions Manchester City and North London nemesis Tottenham Hotspur close behind. On the flip side, it was a wobbly start for the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, and most surprisingly Liverpool, whilst last season’s European challengers West Ham have disappointed and Leicester City have been simply awful.
From an intriguing first few weeks of the campaign, here is our first team of the month for the 2022/23 Premier League season.
GK: Nick Pope (Newcastle United)
We begin, as always, between the sticks, where our attention is fixated on a shrewd signing by Newcastle United. For Nick Pope, who had just been relegated with Burnley, the call from Newcastle represented a golden opportunity to continue playing at the highest level, a challenge that he has risen to spectacularly.
The England international made 19 saves in five matches throughout August, keeping three clean sheets. His performances in the 0-0 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion and the 3-3 draw with Manchester City, in particular, were both exceptional.
Newcastle’s start to the season may have been a bit mixed, but Pope’s certainly hasn’t been.
RCB: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
Nick Pope wasn’t Newcastle’s only England International to enjoy an excellent run of form in August, with defender Kieran Trippier also enjoying a strong start to the campaign.
Like Pope, Trippier also played every minute of the opening month, featuring five times in total for the Magpies. In addition to his usual defensive tenacity, Trippier also scored a stunning free kick in Newcastle’s 3-3 draw with Manchester City, and began to take on the captain’s armband during these games. His efforts helped his side achieve six points in the opening five games.
It’s no secret that Trippier has been Newcastle’s talisman ever since he arrived at the club in January, and now he is developing into the leader to drive them forwards as well.
CB: William Saliba (Arsenal)
It feels like Arsenal fans have been waiting an age to see exciting young centre back William Saliba in action after various loan moves, and having finally gotten his chance in the team, Saliba certainly hasn’t disappointed.
The France international played every minute of Premier League football in August, helping Arsenal to emerge as the only team in the top flight with a 100% record from the opening five games. Saliba’s performances helped the Gunners achieve two clean sheets in that run, and although he scored an unfortunate own goal in the victory over Leicester, the young defender made up for it in the very next game with a stunning strike against Bournemouth.
In summer of heavy investment for Arsenal, it turns out to be one of the players already at the club who is making such a huge difference.
LCB: Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur)
Arsenal may have been the only team to maintain a perfect league record in August but North London rivals Tottenham have been hot on their heels, beginning the season with three wins and two draws.
In that run their defence has been solid, and long-time servant Ben Davies has continued to be a reliable figure in the Spurs backline. Regularly deployed on the left of Antonio Conte’s trademark back three, Davies featured four times in August, helping his side achieve two clean sheets and even assisting Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s goal in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
Yet another Tottenham player who seems to be enjoying life under Conte.
RM: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
You feel that Crystal Palace were beginning to show some encouraging signs of progress in their first campaign under Patrick Vieira, and there have been further glimpses of the team’s steady progression in the opening month of the new season.
Unsurprisingly, the talismanic Wilfried Zaha has once again been at the heart of Palace’s success in front of goal. The Ivorian winger featured four times in August and bagged four goals, including a brace in Palace’s 3-1 victory over Aston Villa and a stunner in the 1-1 draw with Brentford.
Now that it is confirmed that Zaha will be staying at Selhurst Park, it’s looking like he could be en route to one of his most productive seasons yet with Crystal Palace.
RCM: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne enjoyed a sensational end to the 2021/22 Premier League season that concluded with another Premier League winners medal, and it has been no surprise to see the Belgian maestro pick up exactly where he left off in the new campaign.
De Bruyne featured in all five matches for the Citizens in August, and bagged a goal and three assists throughout the month. His assist to Bernardo Silva in particular during the 3-3 draw with Newcastle epitomised his unmatched quality in passing.
With a world-renowned goalscorer now in front of him, expect to see even more assists from Kevin De Bruyne this season – but more on that later.
LCM: Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
We’ve already mentioned Arsenal’s flying start to the new campaign, and whilst several of the new faces at the Emirates have been making an impression early on, much of the Gunners’ success has come through midfielder and new captain Martin Odegaard.
The Norwegian has led by example in his new role, scoring three goals across five August fixtures, including a crucial strike in Arsenal’s comeback win over Fulham during the latter part of the month. On the occasions where the cutting edge isn’t there, Odegaard’s exceptional work rate still serves as an example to his team mates, proving a key factor in the team’s excellent start.
Arsenal’s captaincy issues in recent years have been well publicised, but could they finally have found a solution?
LM: Pascal Gross (Brighton and Hove Albion)
An excellent start to the season saw Brighton and Hove Albion end the opening month in the top four, continuing their excellent form from the tail end of last season.
Fan favourite Pascal Gross was one of the driving forces behind Brighton’s strong finish, and the midfielder has continued that form early on in the new campaign. A brace in the opening day victory over Manchester United meant that Gross already matched his goal tally from last season after just one game, and this was followed up by an assist against West Ham and another goal against Leeds United as Brighton stormed out of the blocks in August.
Could a European push be on the cards for Gross and Brighton?
CF: Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
Onto the forwards now, where we’ve certainly had no shortage of success stories in the opening month. One such story has been Gabriel Jesus at Arsenal, who is settling in brilliantly well to his new surroundings in North London.
Having left Manchester City during the summer in an attempt to nail down a central striker position elsewhere, Jesus is already showcasing his quality at his new club, registering three goals and three assists in five August matches. The Brazilian’s best performance of the campaign so far came in Arsenal’s 4-2 victory over Leicester City on Matchday 2, in which he had a hand in all four goals.
If Arsenal are to get back into the Champions League this season after a few near misses in recent years, it looks like Gabriel Jesus will be key to fulfilling that ambition.
RS: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
After enjoying a record-breaking season with Fulham in the Championship last season, a question that was on everybody’s mind before the campaign kicked off was whether Aleksandar Mitrovic would sink or swim in the Premier League, having endured some mixed fortunes in the top flight through the years.
This time around, however, Mitrovic couldn’t have started much better. The Serbian striker smashed home five goals for Fulham in August, including an opening day brace against Liverpool and a last-minute winner against London rivals Brentford.
A missed penalty against Wolves on Matchday 2 was Mitrovic’s only blot on an otherwise brilliant opening month, and helped Fulham scoop eight points in the opening five games. If they are finally going to break their annual streak of promotion followed by relegation, it looks like he’ll be the key to doing so.
LS: Erling Haaland (Manchester City) (C)
The opening month of the Premier League season has been dominated by one man and one man only.
When it became known that Erling Haaland was joining Manchester City, it’s fair to say that an avalanche of goals was expected to follow. Even so, few could’ve expected Haaland to start this explosively – in just five matches throughout August, the Norwegian bagged an incredible nine goals, including back-to-back hat-tricks over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest. Even in the clash against Bournemouth, where the former Dortmund striker failed to score, he still chipped in with the assist for Ilkay Gundogan’s opener.
It’s been a simply fantastic start for the Premier League’s new superstar, and it looks like this is only the beginning. Our player of the month without a shadow of a doubt.
Manager: Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
We conclude, as always, with our manager of the month. Whilst Graham Potter deserves a mention, realistically Mikel Arteta can be the only winner, after leading Arsenal to a perfect start to the campaign.
Having strengthened his squad considerably following last season’s heartbreaking conclusion, Arteta’s new look Arsenal side have raced out of the blocks. As well as the usual flair exhibited in the team’s straightforward 3-0 win at Bournemouth, there seems to be an increased grit and staying power about the Gunners in the early days of this campaign, as seen in the narrow victories over Fulham and Aston Villa.
It’s early days yet, but Arteta’s young side looks like it’s starting to come together, and he could not have wished for a better start. Now, the challenge will be maintaining this form throughout the season.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.