Only one summer signing made it into our Premier League Team of the Week but more than one man makes the cut following a return to the top flight from the lower echelons of English football.
Cardiff City were undoubtedly the story of the second round of matches, their dramatic 3-2 toppling of many people’s favourites for the title, Manchester City, stealing the headlines while two men in particular distinguished themselves.
Fraizer Campbell, let go by Sunderland in January to help push Malky Mackay’s side over the Championship promotion line last season, made an explosive comeback to the top level with two decisive goals at Cardiff City Stadium, heading home twice from corners. His game consisted of so much more than the opportunistic finishes, however, as he harried a fine back line all afternoon and earned his standout 4.5 match rating – a sweet afternoon indeed for the former Manchester United man.
Though many of his Bluebirds team-mates have a case for inclusion in our XI, club-record signing Gary Medel (4) makes the grade. The Chilean is clearly settling into life in English football quickly, putting on a magnificent defensive display in midfield to marshal City’s creative forces.
Another promoted side to secure an important first win of the season were Hull City Tigers, who shut down the much-reinforced Norwich City forward line to bank three points. James Chester (3.5) made some key tackles at the back and the former Man Utd youngster represents Steve Bruce’s side in our team of the week.
The weekend’s action kicked off on Saturday lunchtime at Fulham, where Arsenal continued to fight back against their critics with a dominant performance. Santi Cazorla (4) provided the inspiration with a brilliant show in the playmaker role, displaying shooting intent and a killer pass for the third goal in a 3-1 win.
That third was scored by Lukas Podolski (4), who also demonstrated his predator’s instincts with the opener, both left-footed strikes. The German combined well with Olivier Giroud as he shook off talk of a move to Schalke.
When it came to Monday night, there was less excitement on offer as Manchester United and Chelsea ground out a 0-0 draw but Nemanja Vidic (3.5) at least had a game of which to be proud. Though the Blues did not field any of their most prominent strikers from the off, the Serbian dealt astutely with the pace of Andre Schurrle and did more than most to ensure no chances of note for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Behind Vidic in our XI is goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (4). Looking to secure his No.1 status after Simon Mignolet’s summer departure to Liverpool, the Sunderland man made a star of himself with a series of fine saves against a Southampton side desperately trying to claw themselves back from an early goal. From the routine to the spectacular, Westwood was unfortunate not to come out of his performance a winner.
On the other side of the pitch, however, was an equally impressive figure in Southampton teenager James Ward-Prowse (4). Enjoying an attacking role on the right flank in the early stages of the season, the latest academy-grown Saints starlet was a constant threat with his deliveries and got his reward as he set up Jose Fonte’s equalising header with a free kick.
Though few attackers looked like breaking through in a dogged match at St James’ Park, Newcastle full-back Davide Santon (3.5) was the pick of the bunch in their 0-0 draw with West Ham. Offering the most forward instinct of arguably anyone in a Magpies shirt, the Italian continues to grow in stature on Tyneside.
Buoyed after a promising-but-in-vain loan spell at QPR last season, Andros Townsend (4) looks like having a greater influence at Tottenham this year and he showed his worth in a tight game against Swansea City. Brimming with confidence, the young winger was constantly running and shooting – and it was he who won the decisive penalty as Spurs kept up their winning start.
Finally, the forward line is completed by the only man who returns from our week-one TOTW, Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge (4). Flourishing in the continued absence of the banned Luis Suarez, the England international tested Aston Villa throughout and scored the difference-making goal with a classy finish after rounding Brad Guzan. The 100 per cent TOTW record is still on…