Serie A returned this weekend and all the other major European leagues were in action too. Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba headlined the first team of the week and there are again some big hitters featured. Sunday night was a crazy one, whether it be the barbaric scenes between Nice and Marseille on and off the field or that Fiorentina and Levante both saw their goalkeepers sent off, there was a lot too take in. Here is the second TOTW of this season!
GK- Lukas Hradecky, Bayer Leverkusen
Last week it was Gladbach’s Yann Sommer between the sticks following a superb display against Bayern, but he scored an own goal in a 4-0 defeat to Leverkusen this time around. It is the man at the other end of the pitch who takes the gloves from him, Finland international Lukas Hradecky. His side looked great going forward and Hradecky himself was excellent; a penalty save from Lars Stindl at 2-0 being the standout moment.
LB- Tino Livramento, Southampton
Starting on the left side of defence and although this isn’t the position that Tino Livramento played, he was a shoe-in. Many neutrals are casting doubt on Southampton following the departure of both Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard to Aston Villa and Leicester respectively. They welcomed a Man United side fresh off of pasting Leeds to St Marys though and got a point from the fixture. Livramento is one of the new arrivals on the south coast and he certainly impressed against Ole’s men, a sign of what is to come maybe, earning himself a spot in this TOTW.
CB- Brandon Cooper, Swansea City
It was another great display at the back for Swansea even in the absence of last year’s stalwarts; goalkeeper Freddie Woodman and centre-back duo Marc Guehi and Ben Cabango. Along with the missing players, they are now in uncertain times a.k.a. the post-Steve Cooper era but that didn’t show against Bristol City on Friday night. Jamie Paterson performed well on his return to Ashton Gate amidst the boos but Brandon Cooper in the back three was the standout. Last week it was Ryan Manning in the TOTW and this time around it is Cooper. Facing Chris Martin and Andreas Weimann is far from ideal but they were managed very well throughout.
CB- Miles Robinson, Atlanta United
Going stateside to MLS and the Rob Valentino era was crowned off superbly well by Atlanta United. He was only an interim manager but he’ll certainly go down in the club’s brief history. They travelled to the nations’ capital to face DC United and it was a surprisingly good display at the back given the attacking nature of the line-up. Both Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes excelled at the heart of defence and whilst it is what we have come to expect from the former, he earns this spot over Walkes. This is for the simple fact that he looked more comfortable and brought the ball out from defence more naturally. He will certainly be a gem in the USMNT crown for many years to come…
RB- Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
Back to England now and was there ever any doubt of how elite Trent Alexander-Arnold is? The Liverpool fullback was dropped from Southgate’s England squad at points last year and although he worked his way back in for the Euros, an injury ruled him out of that momentous summer. Any questions about his ability are rendered extinct once again though, this display against an ardent Burnley side being another headliner. Both Alexander-Arnold and Tsimikas on the other flank were great, getting an assist each and working well going both ways. The England man was more polished though, whether it be that early clearance off of the line or his wicked deliveries, he truly is the best in the world in his position, he is one of the stars of this TOTW.
CM- Yves Bissouma, Brighton and Hove Albion
There have been rumours linking midfielder Yves Bissouma with a move away from the Amex for what feels like forever now. The Malian is still a Brighton player though and he was so, so immense against Watford on Saturday evening. 10 tackles and interceptions is no joke plus it was his pressure that allowed Neal Maupay to open the scoring and seems inevitable that Bissouma will be playing at the very top, sooner rather than later. From Bissouma to Maupay, Solly March to Adam Webster, it was a great performance from Graham Potter’s side all round. Bissouma was far and away the man of the match whilst Shane Duffy should certainly have been sent off.
CM- Alex Mowatt, West Bromwich Albion
Alongside Bissouma in midfield is one of the best new signings in the Championship. Alex Mowatt following manager Valerien Ismael from Barnsley to West Brom is a great move for both player and club, he is proving his worth already. He scored a thunderous goal in the win over Blackburn on the weekend but having not watched that game, it is the mid-week fixture that earns him a TOTW spot. The Baggies travelled to Bramall Lane where they put a Sheffield United side yet to score (at that point) to the sword. Mowatt netted the third in an emphatic 4-0 win over Slavisa Jokanovic’s side but his performance went beyond that. He ran the midfield and showed just how classy he is, on and off of the ball, once again.
CM- Jordan Veretout, Roma
The third and final man in the middle is a former Aston Villa player operating under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho. No it’s not Roma’s new bumper signing Tammy Abraham but instead Frenchman Jordan Veretout. Talking of Tammy and he contributed two assists on his dramatic debut in the Eternal city, one for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the other for Veretout. Veretout scored twice to put a tight game to bed, despite an early red for Fiorentina goalkeeper Dragowski, the Giallorossi struggled to add to their advantage. Then in a matter of minutes, Nicolo Zaniolo was dismissed to level up the numbers before Fiorentina skipper Nikola Milenkovic made it 1-1. Finally, Veretout came to the fore and got Jose’s tenure up and running.
LW- Moussa Diaby, Bayer Leverkusen
As previously mentioned, Bayer Leverkusen put fellow top four hopefuls Borussia Monchengladbach to the sword, beating them by four goals to nil. Hradecky starred in goal, hence his TOTW inclusion and there were a few standout names going forward too. Exequiel Palacios looked good in midfield but one can’t look beyond Patrick Schick and Moussa Diaby. The former announced himself to the world at the Euros, scoring some superb goals for Czech Republic whilst the latter was unable to find a spot in a star-studded French squad. The wide-man got his goal just before the hour, but he was causing problems throughout. He assisted Schick’s early strike and was a general nuisance. His speed and willingness to drive at defenders will have left the Gladbach players having nightmares for days to come.
RW- Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution
On the other flank is another young trickster and it seems certain that he’ll be playing in Europe sooner rather than later. Tajon Buchanan has been an ever-present threat for MLS side New England on their mission to the top of the standings and many clubs are taking note, Club Brugge reportedly leading the race. The Canadian opened the scoring against a poor FC Cincinnati team and provided an assist for Emmanuel Boateng too. He never stopped running with the ball at his feet and similarly to Diaby, he was wreaking havoc left, right and centre.
ST- Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea
The man leading the line is far from unknown and he starred on his second Chelsea debut, a game which featured in the big games preview. There aren’t many bigger arrivals this summer across world football, let alone in the Premier League, than Romelu Lukaku and his return to England- he is straight into the TOTW. It was a London derby against a troubled Arsenal side to get things started for the Belgian and he smelt blood at the Emirates. The first goal of the game saw a mixture of woeful defending and lethal attacking, Reece James firing the ball across, beyond Bernd Leno’s reach, for Lukaku to tap in. A fairly simple but equally satisfying way for the member of the PL 100 Club to open his account on the season. Lukaku continued to throw Pablo Mari around like a rag doll and it is a surprise that he only scored once in truth, a superb Leno save denying him from heading home a second. Is he the favourite for the Golden Boot already?