A blockbuster month of football is now underway. After enduring a disrupted September that was topped off with an unwelcome international break, the return of the Premier League couldn’t come quickly enough. Luckily, matchweek 8 was poised perfectly to deliver the drama we had all been missing with two of the league’s biggest derbies taking place on the same weekend.
The hotly-anticipated fixtures certainly didn’t disappoint, with Arsenal emerging 3-1 winners over Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby on Saturday, and Manchester City demolishing Manchester United 6-3 just 24 hours later. As always though, there was plenty of entertainment to be found beyond the headline fixtures, and Newcastle United’s thumping 4-1 win over Fulham and Brighton’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool were among the other great games of the weekend.
As always, from the ten matches that took place, we will pick one outstanding goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward and manager to make up our Premier League Stars of the Week.
Goalkeeper: Illan Meslier (Leeds United)
From the high of a thrilling Manchester Derby in Sunday’s early kick-off came the low of a comparatively drab affair between Leeds United and Aston Villa later that afternoon, which finished goalless.
However, the game wasn’t completely devoid of drama, and following a red card to Leeds United’s Luis Sinisterra early in the second half, a fine display was required from goalkeeper Illan Meslier to keep the hosts in the game. The Leeds ‘keeper made six saves throughout the game, emerging victorious in what became a personal battle between him and Villa striker Ollie Watkins by making a number of sharp stops.
In the end, a mix of excellent goalkeeping by Meslier and incredibly wasteful finishing from the Villans proved to be enough for Leeds to earn their second clean sheet of the season and another point on the board. The Whites now sit in 12th after a steady start to the campaign.
Defender: Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United)
A string of frustrating draws which have plagued Newcastle United of late finally came to an abrupt end on Saturday afternoon, with the Magpies demolishing Fulham 4-1 on the road to claim their first league victory since the opening weekend.
As has so often been the case already this season, Kieran Trippier was once again the engine for Newcastle United at both ends of the pitch. From an attacking perspective, although he finished the game without a goal or assist to his name, it was his pinpoint crossing that created both the first and third goal for the away side. Defensively, the right back didn’t have too much to do given that Fulham were a man light from the eighth minute of the game, but still made two tackles and one interception to stem the hosts’ meagre attacking threat.
He’ll have been disappointed to lose the clean sheet in stoppage time, but it goes down as a fine day nonetheless for Trippier and Newcastle.
Midfielder: Leandro Trossard (Brighton and Hove Albion)
An awful lot has changed since Brighton and Hove Albion last took to the field back on September 4th, namely in the managerial department, where the sudden departure of Graham Potter was swiftly rectified with the appointment of Roberto De Zerbi.
De Zerbi faced a daunting first game in the dugout, with Brighton taking on Liverpool at Anfield, but a sensational performance from winger Leandro Trossard helped the new era to get off on the right foot. Playing in an attacking midfield role behind striker Danny Welbeck, two thumping finishes from Trossard early in the game gave Brighton a dream start.
It looked like the visitors were going to throw it away as Liverpool turned the game on its head to go 3-2 up in the second half, but another measured finish from Trossard at the back post late on rescued a point.
The Belgian’s hat-trick was the first by a visiting player at Anfield since 2009, and there was no better way than this to showcase his steadily improving goal output in the top flight throughout 2022.
Forward: Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
Another week, another record broken by Manchester City’s Erling Haaland. Just where do you start with him?
Going into his first Manchester Derby as a City player, expectations were high, and the day really could not have gone any better for the Norwegian. Haaland opened his tally for the afternoon with a header from Kevin De Bruyne’s corner that narrowly crossed the line, and just minutes later diverted home another excellent De Bruyne pass on the stretch. A brilliant cross from Haaland himself then found Phil Foden, who put City out of sight before the half time whistle had blown.
Before setting up Foden with another assist in the second half, Haaland managed to complete his hat-trick by firing home Sergio Gomez’s cross, with the hosts running out 6-3 winners over their local rivals.
It was the first time ever that a player had scored hat-tricks in three successive Premier League home games, and fittingly came in the highest scoring Manchester Derby of all time. Just another fixture in English football to already have Haaland’s name rubber-stamped all over it, and at this rate, who knows how many more times he might do that this season.
Manager: Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
We’ve already mentioned the achievements of Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and Newcastle’s Eddie Howe this week, who would both be worthy candidates of Manager of the Week alongside Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta.
However, there can only be one, and this week’s winner is Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, whose team produced a breathtaking attacking performance, even by their incredibly high standards. In all his years in English football, Pep has never made a Manchester Derby look quite so easy, with City operating like a perfect machine to dismantle Manchester United completely within one half of football. Even in the absence of defensive stalwarts Rodri and Ruben Dias, the hosts were incredible on the ball, and Pep’s favoured front three of Haaland, Foden and Jack Grealish cut through United time and again in the astonishing 6-3 victory.
Such was City’s dominance that key players were taken off with the score at 6-1, which allowed United to take slight advantage of the hosts’ uneven defensive structure and notch a couple of late consolation goals. Regardless, this was City’s best performance of the season so far and Pep’s greatest Derby moment, getting a packed October off to a perfect start.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.