To the joy of virtually all football fans, the tedious September international break concluded to give way to the return of the Premier League last weekend.
The big story of Matchweek 4, of course, was the occasion of Cristiano Ronaldo’s second Manchester United debut – a moment always destined for the headlines that would ultimately overshadow the rest of the weekend’s action.
But did the rest of the Premier League shy away from its usual entertainment amidst this moment? Of course not. Aside from Ronaldo’s return, the Premier League served up a treat of a Matchweek with Crystal Palace putting Tottenham to the sword, Liverpool dismantling Leeds and Chelsea seeing off a battling Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.
From these games especially, we were given our selection of standout players from September’s first round of matches.
Stars of the Week in Premier League – Matchweek 4
Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
We mentioned that Aston Villa gave Chelsea a tough match on Saturday evening, and it was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who became the rock solid foundation upon which the Blues were eventually able to triumph.
Having also played brilliantly in Matchweek 3, Mendy was at it again here, pulling off six saves against Villa and matching his tally from last time out against Liverpool as the most he’s ever made in a Premier League fixture. A stunning first half double save from Tyrone Mings and then Ezri Konsa was his finest highlight, an act that helped to preserve a then-slender lead for the Blues.
It’s early days, but Mendy has undoubtedly been the standout goalkeeper in the 2021/22 season so far.
Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
From West London to West Yorkshire, the attention now turns to Leeds United’s Elland Road where visitors Liverpool made life a misery for the hosts on Sunday, driven by the performance of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Reds right back was at his marauding best as Liverpool took the game to Leeds, creating three chances in the first half alone and setting up Salah for the opening goal from a signature overlapping run. With the hosts largely subdued and playing below par, Trent had all the freedom to overload the Leeds left, who had no answers to deal with him.
After a difficult season last time out that culminated in EURO injury heartbreak, Trent looks like he means business this year, and is ready to propel Liverpool forwards once again.
Midfielder: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)
Mendy secured the clean sheet and Romelu Lukaku fired in the goals, but at the very heart of the team it was Mateo Kovacic who stole the show for Chelsea, and who stood out as this week’s star midfielder.
The Croatia international carved Aston Villa open with a stunning pass through to Romelu Lukaku in the first half, with the Belgian duly firing into the back of the net to give the Londoners the lead. Kovacic then showed off his exceptional work rate in the second half, harrying Tyrone Mings into a poor back pass which he himself latched onto to clip the ball past Villa’s stand-in keeper Jed Steer.
For Chelsea, Kovacic’s midfield masterclass just set him out as another player in their star-studded ranks capable of being a match winner, and with the whole squad playing at a similar level this season it’s difficult to imagine how they can be stopped.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Who else was it ever going to be?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s place as our star forward for this week was certainly challenged by the displays of Lukaku and Crystal Palace’s Odsonne Edouard, but in this case, it really was an instance of the performance matching the pre-destined headline.
The Portugal captain couldn’t have asked for a better start against Newcastle United, scoring a simple tap-in after Magpies keeper Freddie Woodman spilled Mason Greenwood’s deflected shot. A Luke Shaw through ball in the second 45 found Ronaldo once again, whose left footed drive found the back of the net through the legs of Woodman.
It was a truly iconic comeback from United’s number seven, a moment that surely ranks up there in Premier League history. Knowing Ronaldo, you suspect that a performance like this is only the beginning.
Manager: Patrick Vieira (Crystal Palace)
It undeniably feels harsh leaving new Palace striker Odsonne Edouard out of our Stars of the Week, especially after the striker enjoyed a dream debut of his own with two late goals against Tottenham. Instead, there is a space for his manager, Patrick Vieira, whose career as Crystal Palace boss lifted off spectacularly in Saturday’s matchup with Tottenham.
The signs of improvement against West Ham last time out evolved into a spectacular performance this time around, even following the disruption of the international break. Vieira’s Palace dominated Spurs, who were scarcely able to muster a shot on goal.
Even before the brainless sending off of right back Japhet Tanganga, Palace outclassed Spurs all over the park, and the Eagles’ three goals late in the game was the least that they deserved as Tottenham’s 100% start to the season vanished.
Having faced several doubters already at Selhurst Park, this was the perfect statement of intent from Vieira, and all of a sudden Palace look like they’re right back on track.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.