It’s a bit early for match postponements, isn’t it?
We’re just over a third of the way into the season, and Matchweek 13 has already brought us our first such match cancellation between Burnley and Tottenham due to snow in the North West. That wasn’t the case for Manchester City and Leicester City though, who battled to victory through terrible pitch conditions as the winter weather badly affected Sunday’s three fixtures outside the capital.
Back to the football though, it was these two sides that put on two of the weekend’s most entertaining matches, especially the latter, who brushed Watford aside 4-2. Among this Matchweek’s other notable games, Steven Gerrard continued his 100% start as Aston Villa manager, Arsenal claimed a 2-0 win over an ever-deeper sinking Newcastle, and Brighton failed astonishingly to put their chances away in a 0-0 draw with Leeds. Nine matches, five star picks – let’s get into it.
Stars of the Week in Matchweek 13
Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier (Leeds United)
A below-par Leeds took a battering at the hands of Brighton on Saturday, but despite clearly being second best, the Whites miraculously managed to escape with a point.
Whilst some awful Brighton finishing was the main culprit behind the draw, credit must also go to the away side’s goalkeeper, Illan Meslier. The Leeds No.1 pulled off a stunning save to push Leandro Trossard’s effort onto the post in the first half, and then tipped over a deflected shot from Solly March during the second 45. Meslier had to be alert once again late on when another effort from March hit the goalkeeper after bouncing back off the post and could’ve gone anywhere.
Leeds didn’t have too many positives to draw on from this performance, but they can thank Meslier for earning them a potentially vital point.
Defender: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
After a humbling defeat at Anfield last week, a home tie with bottom-placed Newcastle represented a fine opportunity for Arsenal to get back on track, one that they took with a comfortable 2-0 win.
The fullbacks were the stars of the show for the Gunners, and it was right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu who stood out the most for the home side. Blending his usual qualities at both ends of the pitch, the Japan international had perhaps his best game for the club so far, winning seven duels and creating three chances to underline his diverse qualities.
Not only that, Tomiyasu’s lobbed pass ended up being the perfect ball to substitute Gabriel Martinelli, who finished superbly.
Replacing Hector Bellerin at right-back was never going to be easy for Arsenal, but Tomiyasu has been a fine addition so far.
Midfielder: James Maddison (Leicester City)
Leicester have struggled to get going in the Premier League of late, with some particularly poor performances at home by their high standards.
However, in a snowy stadium on Sunday it was their two main attacking threats who got the Foxes hunting again, beginning with James Maddison in midfield. The number 10 finished an early chance on the half-volley following a terrible error from Watford’s William Troost-Ekong and dug out a brilliant over-the-top through ball from which Jamie Vardy scored a flicked finish to restore Leicester’s lead. Maddison found Vardy again from a corner just a few minutes later to earn him another assist and put the game beyond the visitors.
After an indifferent start to the campaign, this was much more like it from Leicester and Maddison, who are now back in the top half of the table where they should be.
Forward: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
We already spoke about James Maddison for Leicester on Saturday, but what about that performance from the ever-brilliant Jamie Vardy? A four-game goalless drought in the league came to a spectacular end here, and whilst we’ve already highlighted James Maddison’s superb lobbed ball to Vardy in the first half, the veteran striker made a tricky finish look extremely easy.
Another brilliant goal came Vardy’s way just before half time, as a near-post leap and clever flicked header found its way into the far corner of Daniel Bachmann’s net.
Every time you think the Leicester icon may finally be on the decline, he will invariably prove you wrong and did so again here. That’s nine Premier League goals for the season now, putting him just two behind the sensational Mohamed Salah.
Manager: Steven Gerrard (Aston Villa)
Many observers anticipated a quick start when Steven Gerrard took over the reins at Aston Villa nearly three weeks ago, but to have two wins from two already is surely better than even the most optimistic Villa fan could’ve hoped for.
The club’s 2-1 win away at an in-form and free scoring Crystal Palace on Saturday really was a terrific result for the new Villa boss. Having cleverly exposed the home side’s set piece fragility to take the lead before adding a brilliant second late on, Villa showed a level of game management that simply hadn’t been there under Dean Smith recently, limiting Palace to few opportunities despite their overwhelming possession of the ball.
The hosts may have grabbed a late consolation goal, but it didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things – this was another excellent day for Villa, with some hugely positive signs emerging already in the early days of the Gerrard era.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.