Football is back! From the Bundesliga to the Premier League, Championship to La Liga, football is back! I watch a lot of football every weekend across a number of leagues and see a lot of standout performances. As a result, I will be doing a TOTW as a weekly article from the games I have watched. Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United feature this week after strong performances against Frankfurt and Leeds respectively. That and more below! What do you think?
GK- Yann Sommer, Gladbach
Starting in goal for this TOTW with Yann Sommer of Borussia Monchengladbach. He had a great Euros for Switzerland and has carried that form into the club season under new manager Adi Hutter. Defending champions Bayern Munich came to town and Robert Lewandowski would have had a hat-full if it weren’t for Sommer. He is a very experienced goalkeeper and was integral in his side earning a point against the Bavarian giants.
RB- Joe Scally, Gladbach
Sticking with Gladbach as Sommer wasn’t the only key man in Adi Hutter’s defence. From experience to youth as American Joe Scally was excellent at fullback. He operated on the left in this 1-1 draw with Bayern but he is known more as a right-back. Scally was up against Leroy Sane whose speed and trickery has fooled much better players, but the eighteen-year-old from New York was completely unfazed.
CB- Japhet Tanganga, Spurs
This next man isn’t technically in the right position in this TOTW. Japhet Tanganga is traditionally a centre-back but was used as a RWB in a five by Nuno. Tanganga was well up for the visit of Man City to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and he showed it from the off. Having Raheem Sterling running at you after how good he was at the Euros is a tireless task and yet Tanganga represented the intensity of this Spurs team. The headlines were all about Harry Kane and that maybe galvanised the Tottenham players, Tanganga showing this with some fierce challenges and composure beyond his years.
CB- Manuel Akanji, Dortmund
Tanganga’s centre-half partner for this TOTW is Manuel Akanji of Borussia Dortmund. Back to Germany and it was a great outing for Dortmund in this new era, Sancho has of course left and Marco Rose is the new man in charge too. The attacking exploits will be covered later but, even having conceded twice, Akanji gets the spot. He played alongside an out-of-position Axel Witsel and isn’t used to be the experienced man, Hummels’ absence not proving costly. Akanji played no role in either goal conceded and he headed and cleared every ball throughout, whilst playing out from the back smartly when needed.
LB- Ryan Manning, Swansea
The final defender of this TOTW played in a back five like Tanganga did. Swansea and Sheffield United played out a 0-0 on Saturday night, one which lacked a whole lot of attacking impetus. Both sides have undergone huge change in the off-season whether it be a new manager, losing key players or even relegation in the case of the Blades. Marc Guehi not returning weakens Swansea’s backline, but this expansive play under Russell Martin saw Ryan Manning thrive. As left wing-back, he was able to shut down Rhian Brewster or whoever else came out to his flank.
CM- Vitaly Janelt, Brentford
Moving up into midfield and my, oh my was Brentford’s first ever Premier League game one to remember. The atmosphere at the new stadium was very special and this was met by the performance of the players. It is easy to talk about how poor Arsenal were but the Bees, to a man, were a credit to the passionate Thomas Frank. It was a team performance at heart so maybe Vitaly Janelt’s inclusion in this TOTW is a token gesture, but someone had to feature. From Canos to Janelt to Jansson, the game plan was executed perfectly and Janelt in particular stood out to me. The German at the heart of that midfield provided such energy and composure.
CM- Paul Pogba, Manchester United
Joining Janelt in this TOTW midfield is a Manchester United duo. First, to Paul Pogba. It was a special, special return to Old Trafford for Ole’s tricky reds as they put on a clinic against an open Leeds side. There were many standout performers but watching Pogba at his best, like he often is for the national team, is one of the best sights in football. He bagged four assists and they were all pretty spectacular, the vision and technique was evident of one of the best players in world football. If Pogba can play to this level more regularly, the critics will be eating their words!
CM- Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United
Pogba in my eyes was the man of the match, but Bruno Fernandes was given the award. One can’t begrudge him that though, Fernandes is often criticised too and after a quiet summer with Portugal, he netted his first ever Man United hat-trick. The first strike was deflected, the second was smart and then the third was just a thing of beauty. It was only one performance but the pair proved just how good they are, and they did this without Cavani and Rashford plus Sancho and Martial were on the bench. United truly are going to be there or there abouts this season.
RW- Mo Salah, Liverpool
From the red half of Manchester to the red half of Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp’s men getting off to a winning start too. Liverpool have often succeeded against Norwich on the opening day and that remained the case this time out, they managed the game professionally. Van Dijk was back in defence, it was nowhere near their strongest midfield but Mo Salah and co were on it up top. Jota played well and scored, the same going for the Egyptian, assisting Jota’s goal as well as Firmino’s. Given the Kane situation, Salah is leading the way when it comes to the Golden Boot for me.
LW- Said Benrahma, West Ham
On the other flank is another African in Said Benrahma. It was a quiet first season in the Premier League for the Algerian but the departure of Jesse Lingard from the London Stadium piles up the expectation. Benrahma was excellent for Brentford in the Championship and enjoyed a promising pre-season, but can he continue that into the league? Yes he can. He looked very good against Newcastle in a very entertaining 4-2 win, contributing a goal and an assist. He won’t score many headers but his general performance is a taste of what is to come.
ST- Erling Haaland, Dortmund
The man leading the line in this TOTW sees us go back to Dortmund. Marco Reus deserves a shoutout, he scored a very clever goal only for it to be ruled out. Reus misses out but Erling Haaland is a shoe-in, picking up from where he left off instantly. His running and finishing is just second-to-none, he scored twice and assisted the other three in a hugely entertaining 5-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. He is always a threat and he is never isolated because he can create something out of nothing by himself. Could Lewandowski be dethroned as the Bundesliga top-scorer?
Finally then to the honourable mentions for the TOTW. A few cropped up when discussing other players, including Michail Antonio and Marco Reus who thrived in their respective wins. Also, you have Lucas and Dele in the Spurs win over Man City, La Liga duo Angel Correa and Gerard Pique both getting on the scoresheet plus Pique led from the back for the most part. Finally, it is an MLS trio, George Bello defending so, so well at a young age for Atlanta United against LAFC and being ever-dangerous going the other way, Taty Castellanos scoring a brace as NYCFC beat Inter Miami and finally, Jonathan Klinsmann son of Jurgen making seven saves, some of them spectacular, as LA Galaxy edged out Minnesota United 1-0.