Our very own England U21 stopper is still raw, but he has every tool to be a top-class ‘keeper. His save from Erik Lamela to tip a curling ball around the post on Sunday was as good as it gets, and with twenty saves in just three starts in the Premier League this season, he pips Hugo Lloris to my number one shirt.
Just going to throw a disclaimer in here – I will be waxing lyrical over the work Pep Guardiola has already done in his short time at Manchester City throughout this article. The way he used his full-backs against us on the opening weekend was something I had not seen before in the Premier League, and Sagna’s understanding of the role, coupled with the ability to carry it out expertly, gets him the right-back berth.
The Belgian has been the best centre-half in the Premier League since his move to Spurs last summer. He times his tackles with precision, is seldom seen out of position and organises the Spurs defence impeccably. His side have only conceded two goals in their first five matches, and Alderweireld’s role in marshaling his defence is the main reason for that.
Since making his debut for Palace in the Premier League, Scott Dann has scored ten goals at a ratio that is better than one in nine – a return that the Jozy Altidores, Danny Grahams and Jon Steads of the world could only dream of. Since signing for a measly £1.5m in January 2014, Dann has turned into one of the most reliable centre-halves in the league and captains a Palace side that will be happy with their start to the season.
Kolarov is one of a number of City players who seem to have become infinitely better footballers since Pep’s arrival. So far this season he has shown himself to be a supremely composed centre-half with a ridiculous range of passing, something that would have seemed unthinkable during his last few years at the club. Guardiola has obviously identified strengths that others didn’t, and Kolarov has seized his opportunity with both hands.
NB: I know I have him playing left-back – I’m trusting my manager (guess who…) to get the best out of him here, too.
Arguably the best signing of the summer on the evidence provided so far. Gueye was one of the more consistent performers in an atrocious Villa side last season that quite simply didn’t stand a chance, with only N’Golo Kante making more interceptions. Not only has Gueye made more tackles than anyone else this season, his overall contribution has been superb, showing the ability to pick out incisive passes and deliver telling crosses for Romelu Lukaku.
The Frenchman played thirty-three Premier League games for Watford last season without finding the net, and had one goal in fifty-seven games in the Premier League prior to the opening day of this season. Capoue has four in five already, showing an unerring ability to arrive late in the opposition area and a clinical composure in front of goal. Walter Mazzarri has clearly identified an aspect of Capoue’s game that was being suppressed, and full marks to him for that.
Eight goals in twenty-six league appearances last season was a good return for a man who was primarily deployed as a wing-back, but Slaven Bilic could surely not have envisaged Antonio’s start to this season in his wildest dreams. The wide-man has scored five in five, all of them headers. Unfortunately for The Hammers, he has been the only shining light in an otherwise dismal start to their campaign.
Kevin De Bruyne
KDB is the most complete player in the Premier League by some distance at the moment. He was a joy to watch anyway, but he seems to have found another level under Guardiola. His weight and timing of the pass is sublime, his vision and intelligence unwavering and his composure in front of goal is ice-cold. The first name on this team sheet.
Guardiola, class, blah-blah, getting the best out of players etc. Raheem Sterling has sharpened his game under Pep already, showing a ruthlessness in the final third that has plagued his short career thus far. He is still very young, but Guardiola has clearly eroded some of the rawness from his game, improving his decision making and ultimately his effectiveness. How England could have done with this Sterling in June.
Five in five for Costa so far, and he sits atop the scoring charts with the aforementioned Antonio. The Polarizer’s first two league appearances this season were as typical a Costa performance as you could imagine. Upset every player on the opposing side, and be lucky to still be on the pitch before notching a late winner. Standard. He doesn’t so much as toe the line, but brazenly crosses it and dares anyone to do something about it. He’s always in control of his actions, and he is either loved or loathed by football fans. I’m a huge fan.
Manager – Pep Guardiola
Who else? I was a bit sceptical about City’s chances of winning the league this season, mainly because Pep was still going to be relying on a lot of the supposed deadwood from the end of Manuel Pellegrini’s reign. Instead of dispensing with it, he’s turned some of it into superb footballers. City have played football from another planet so far, and their players are 100% in tune with Guardiola’s ideas. The speed at which they counter is terrifying, and it frightens me how many Sergio Aguero will score this season when he’s not injured or leaving elbows in.
NB: Special mention to Ronald Koeman too, who has consistently shown during his time in England how astute of a manager he is.
Subs: Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Robert Snodgrass, Eden Hazard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic