The first international break of the season may be upon us, but the Premier League certainly gave its army of fans an extraordinary send off by serving up a feast of entertainment in Matchweek 3.
Full of goals, drama, and controversy, the third round of matches provided those watching with enough talking points to sustain them until the league returns in two weekends’ time. From Manchester City’s annihilation of Arsenal, to Chelsea’s heroic defending at Anfield and Wolves’ astonishingly poor finishing against Manchester United, the five standout individuals of this week’s action have more than earned their place in our Stars of the Week.
Stars of the Week – Matchweek 3 – Premier League 2021/2022
Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)
Manchester United bounced back from their hiccup at Southampton in Matchweek 2 by securing a win against Wolves on Sunday. The scoreline didn’t tell the full story for the Red Devils though, who were incredibly lucky to make off with the three points.
In what was perhaps the first truly world class goalkeeping display of the season, United keeper David De Gea almost single-handedly dragged his team to victory amidst a show of shoddy defending. The Spaniard’s strong near post stop from Trincao kept Wolves at bay in the first 45, before an unbelievable double save from Romain Saiss helped maintain United’s clean sheet, becoming an early contender for save of the season in the process.
It was a performance that invoked memories of the David De Gea of old, and it seems that the competition with Dean Henderson for the no.1 spot is helping De Gea rediscover that level of form.
Defender: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Liverpool’s showdown with Chelsea on Saturday gave us the first blockbuster of the season between two of the league’s title favourites, and we learnt a lot about both teams as they battled out a 1-1 draw.
Following a controversial red card that left Chelsea with a man disadvantage for all of the second half, the Blues dug deep to get out with a point, and the star of their defensive masterclass was arguably Andreas Christensen.
The Dane was at the centre of a back three that managed to keep Liverpool out following the sending off of Reece James, playing a key role in keeping the team’s defensive shape and doing whatever was needed to stand firm against the Reds’ front three.
Christensen was chosen as man of the match for his rock-solid performance, as a new contract beckon following an excellent few months for the defender.
Midfielder: Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)
Goal-shy Crystal Palace sprung something of a surprise this weekend by holding free-scoring West Ham to a draw at the London Stadium, netting their first goals of the season in the process.
On-loan midfielder Conor Gallagher was the hero for the Eagles, netting both strikes as his side twice fought back from a goal down to earn a point. Gallagher did extremely well to squeeze a finish across Fabianski for his first goal in a Palace shirt, before he pulled off a brilliant piece of skill to find a yard of space in the box and rifle home a second.
It was a great performance by the England U21 midfielder, and a much more encouraging one for Palace as a whole. The South London side will have to manage without the injured Eberechi Eze for a little while longer, and whilst Gallagher is a different type of player, he could well do a job of filling that void until Eze returns.
Forward: Ferran Torres (Manchester City)
From a timid 1-0 defeat on opening day to back to back 5-0 wins, it’s fair to say that Manchester City’s failed pursuit of a striker hasn’t knocked them off the goal trail.
In their near faultless demolition of Arsenal, it was Spanish forward Ferran Torres, so often deployed as a striker towards the end of last season, who stole the show for the Sky Blues. The youngster made the most of some dreadful defending to tuck home Bernardo Silva’s delivery in the first half, before teeing up midfielder Rodri for the fourth goal with a simple but effective layoff. A late header in off the post heaped more misery on the Gunners, and capped a brilliant display for Torres.
As it stands, the striker role at City is very much an open question, and this was a statement of intent from Torres that he is a viable option there. If he can produce a few more performances like this then he could unquestionably be the solution, for this season at least.
Manager: Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
Manchester City were no doubt aided in their hammering of Arsenal by some repeatedly calamitous defending, but let’s not overlook the efforts of manager Pep Guardiola, who had the champions playing at their scintillating best to blow the Gunners away.
Even before Granit Xhaka’s foolish red card, Guardiola’s side had already knocked the stuffing out of Arsenal with two clinical finishes, and proceeded to keep their foot on the gas until deep in the second half. The usage of Gabriel Jesus as a winger and Ferran Torres as a striker brought devastating results for the opposition, much like last week, and City’s dominance was so complete that Arsenal ended the contest with just one recorded shot.
Even by City’s high standards, this was an exceptional display, and one that very clearly underlines their title credentials.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.