The autumn international breaks are never the most exciting time of the season, but with the first of the three gradually trudging along, it gives us a fine opportunity to look back on the first month of this season’s Premier League action.
After last August was reserved for the purpose of concluding the European club competitions, it was great to see the Premier League making its usual late summer return this year, helping domestic fans overcome their aching Euro 2020 hangover. 30 matches gone and we have seen Brentford make an encouraging top flight debut, witnessed West Ham fire in goal after goal, and observed North London rivals Spurs and Arsenal experience completely opposite fortunes to kick off the season.
As ever, the Premier League has quickly unearthed some early flops and success stories this season, springing a few surprises on both sides of the spectrum. Packed with a number of outstanding performances and consistency across the board, it’s time to reveal our first Team of the Month of the 2021/22 season.
Team of the Month – August 2021/22 season
GK: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Kicking off with the spot between the sticks, our choice is Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who could hardly have asked for a better start to 2021/22.
The Spurs captain has kept three clean sheets out of three to start the season, playing a vital role as his team secured three hard-fought 1-0 wins to top the table at this early stage.
Lloris may seem an obvious choice, but the league isn’t the only table where he currently sits top; the French goalkeeper is also top of the Premier League saves table with 12, and a particularly vital 1-on-1 save from Wolves Adama Traore springs to mind when thinking of the contribution he has made to Tottenham’s season so far.
An excellent month to remind the world that Lloris still stands alongside the best goalkeepers in the world.
RB: Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham Hotspur)
Whilst Hugo Lloris has been excellent, he hasn’t been the only contributing factor to Tottenham’s early defensive success. As the Frenchman continues to perform at a high level, young right back Japhet Tanganga has simultaneously continued along the path that marked him out as such a promising young player for Spurs last season.
The defender made a name for himself on opening day by excellently marshalling both Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, a nightmare task for most fullbacks, as Tottenham triumphed over champions Manchester City. Tanganga deservedly retained his spot against Wolves and Watford, regularly combining his pace and tenacity to make Spurs’ right flank look far more safe than it has done in recent times with Serge Aurier and Matt Doherty.
With Tanganga progressing nicely and Emerson Royal joining the north London club in recent days, Tottenham’s right back problem may finally be on the mend.
CB: Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Sticking with Spurs, we go from the rise of one player to the possible redemption of another. Eric Dier, maligned last season and expected to be one of those booted out of White Hart Lane this summer, has surprised everyone by not only holding down a place in the team, but by thriving in it.
Having been made a target of fan frustration last season, often due to Tottenham’s failure to hold onto slender leads, Dier has played his part in bucking this trend in the opening three matches. Three successive 1-0 wins have highlighted the solidity of the Spurs back four, in which Dier has returned some dominant displays at the heart of the defence.
His efforts saw him nominated for the Official August Player of the Month accolade, and some performances of this nature will certainly have made him a central figure in new boss Nuno Espirito Santo’s thinking.
CB: Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Moving across London to the home of the European Champions, we find another central defender who has undergone something of a revival but over a much longer period than that of Eric Dier’s recent upturn in form.
For Andreas Christensen, our second centre-back and Dier’s partner in our team of the month, it’s been a case of picking up where he’d left off towards the very successful ending of last season. Two commanding performances in relatively straightforward opening matches were followed by an individual and collective defensive masterclass at Anfield, as 10-man Chelsea escaped with a point.
The Blues are yet to concede a goal from open play this season, which is of little surprise given how Christensen has started the campaign. Once a player who was falling far short of the required consistency, he is now indispensable to the Chelsea back line.
LB: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
An injury to Ben Chilwell was very much a cause for concern among Chelsea fans as the team started to gear up for the new season, but those fears have somewhat rescinded following some strong displays by the deputising Marcos Alonso.
Well known as a set-piece specialist, Alonso struck a beautiful free kick on the opening day to net Chelsea’s first goal of the season, and played every minute as the Blues defence kept out Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
Although the wingback was partially at fault in the goalmouth scramble at Anfield that led to Reece James’ red card and Liverpool’s equaliser, Alonso achieved a level of redemption by playing his part in Chelsea’s second half defensive masterclass.
Strength in depth is a cornerstone of any successful title challenge, and Alonso’s Premier League Player of the Month nomination demonstrates that Chelsea are certainly strong in the left wingback position.
CDM: Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Many were surprised at the lack of suitors for Brighton’s Yves Bissouma, following a stellar campaign with the Seagulls last time out. Since the curtain rose on the new season, the midfielder has only reminded us what an excellent player he is.
The Mali international played well in Brighton’s opening day comeback win at Burnley, before a magnificent performance against Watford in week 2 saw him claim an assist for Neal Maupay with his quick thinking and opportunistic pressing.
Despite suffering a loss to Everton to round off the month, it has been an excellent start to the season for Brighton, with Bissouma playing a starring role from the centre of midfield.
CAM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
It’s been an extremely busy summer at Old Trafford, with Manchester United sanctioning plenty of transfers in both directions. Amidst the comings and goings, it has been midfield icon Paul Pogba who has caught the eye for the Red Devils in the season’s opening matches.
Pogba turned in a definitive playmaking display in United’s opening day demolition of Leeds, claiming an incredible four assists to set the Red Devils on their way to a huge win, and helping teammate Bruno Fernandes to score a brilliant hat trick. This was followed by another assist in the following match against Southampton, as United claimed a point from a goal down.
Although the team’s performances have so far been mixed, five assists already represents an outstanding return for Pogba. Whoever said anything about him wanting to leave?
CAM: Said Benrahma (West Ham United)
After an exceptional season last time out, many thought that West Ham’s failure to permanently sign Jesse Lingard would considerably knock the club backwards. However, the mercurial Said Benrahma has had other ideas.
Now fully integrated into both the team and the league following a relatively quiet first season in East London, the Algerian is absolutely flying for West Ham, stepping into the void left by Lingard’s return to Manchester.
Benrahma has so far chipped in with two goals and two assists from the opening three fixtures, already an improvement on the one solitary strike he netted last season. An excellent understanding with striker Michail Antonio is also developing nicely, and it’s no surprise to see the Hammers’ attack scoring so regularly.
RF: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
A strong finish to last season may not have been enough to earn Mason Greenwood a place in Gareth Southgate’s EURO 2020 squad, but the young forward has responded in the best possible way at the start of this season by catching the eye in Manchester United’s forward line.
A lethal finisher with both feet, Greenwood has scored in all three of United’s Premier League games so far this season. A quick snapshot finish against Southampton was sandwiched between two brilliant strikes across the goalkeeper against Leeds and Wolves respectively, the latter of which sealed a narrow but crucial victory for the Red Devils.
Even with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and now Cristiano Ronaldo in the United squad, the teenage Greenwood is holding his own in the first XI, and the presence of Ronaldo will surely only help his already razor-sharp finishing.
LF: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Manchester City may have failed this summer in their agonising quest to find a dependable new striker, but in the process they may have inadvertently found a fantastic new option on the wing.
Gabriel Jesus, often characterised as City’s backup striker and as someone who could even have been sold this summer, has shifted into a role as a winger in recent matches, with some outstanding results. After forcing Norwich ‘keeper Tim Krul into scoring an own goal, Jesus provided two further assists against The Canaries, before bagging a goal and another two assists in the 5-0 demolition of Arsenal.
The Brazilian forward has reportedly decided he now wants to stay as a winger, and on this evidence, there’ll be very few questioning that decision.
ST: Michail Antonio (West Ham United) (C)
The final member of our team, and our pick for the August Player of the Month, is of course the exceptional Michail Antonio.
West Ham’s Number 9 has made a simply terrific start to the new season, already recording four goals and three assists, thereby being involved in seven of West Ham’s ten Premier League goals so far. In the process, Antonio has become West Ham’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League, became the first Hammers player to net 50 Premier League goals for the club, and his second goal against Leicester City especially will live long in the memory. If you missed our article related to the best of Michail Antonio’s goals in the Premier League, you can check it here.
Make no mistake; Antonio isn’t just a fully-fledged Number 9, he’s one of the best in the business within the English top flight.
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo (Tottenham Hotspur)
Manager of the month is a tricky choice, with Brentford’s fighting start making Thomas Frank an appealing option, and similarly for David Moyes at West Ham. However, it is Tottenham’s new boss Nuno Espirito Santo who takes the honour for August, having made a dream start to life in North London.
After three matches, Nuno’s side remain the only Premier League outfit to maintain a 100% record to start the season, and are one of only two teams in Europe’s top 5 leagues who haven’t yet conceded a league goal in 2021/22.
All of this has been achieved amidst constant questioning and intense media attention surrounding Harry Kane’s future at the club, a matter that Nuno has navigated extremely well and which clearly hasn’t affected the team on the pitch.
With Kane now staying at Spurs, things are really looking up for the club, and for Nuno.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.