It is Week 9 in the ever exciting Premier League and the major battle ground shifts to Stamford Bridge this weekend in a game perfectly set up as Jose Mourinho returns to the ground where he has tasted both sour and glorious moments. It’s a fixture where big name players are on parade for both sides, De Gea or Courtois in one of the unending debates, Costa or Zlatan to lead the attack? Conte’s 3-5-2 formation or United’s 4-3-3. As we preview the weekend big games, Halftimeng has compiled a combined eleven of the two sides based on form, stats gathered and appearances thus far this season.
Goal Keeper – David De Gea (Manchester United)
There is an unending war on social media over how good De Gea really is, United fans loosely term him as the ‘best goalkeeper in the world’ whilst fans from the other side think he is still ‘learning work’ when compared to Belgian safe hands, Thibaut Courtois. This list is not one seeking to end that debate but stats shows that De Gea edges it this season, conceded a goal less than his Chelsea rival, and made twice as many saves in comparison, make of that what you will especially in the light of an unsettled back-line at the Bridge.
Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)
Again holding down the right back position is the Ecuadorian captain, Antonio Valencia, his opposite number Ivanovic has had a horrible start to the season, coupled with injury and has featured in less games. Valencia has earned this spot as he has been assured, solid and making decent forward runs.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Back in 2014 in preparation of a Champions league game, Jose in his post-match interview said ‘Azpilicueta is the kind of player I like a lot. I think a team with 11 Azpilicueta’s probably can win the Champions league’…. Two seasons later and these words still ring true as whilst the Chelsea defense has been in sixes and sevens especially after the injury to John Terry, Azpilicueta has been the Mr. Dependable and even when called upon to slot in at his favorite right back position in a 3-5-2 system, Cesar has been sterling.
Eric Bailly (Manchester United)
With every passing week, Eric Bailly seems to be the pick of United’s big summer spending this season, many swore that he would not go five games without amassing three red cards, but he has not only featured in all United’s game thus far, he has also fared exceptionally well with 29 interceptions, one of the highest by any defender in the league.
Daley Blind (Manchester United)
This is one position that will likely raise some form of arguments, but here are the facts. Based on stats, Blind is actually United’s highest rated player this season, factoring his tackles, interceptions, passes completion and the defender also has two assists to his name, the likes of Gary Cahill have not shown enough consistency or good performance thus far whilst David Luiz is yet to have enough games to stake a claim.
N’golo Kante (Chelsea)
The modern day Claude Makelele with modern day passing abilities, when Leicester City won the league, Kante was voted in some quarters as their player of the season ahead of the likes of Mahrez and Vardy, happenings at the Kings Power may have proved that right. The Frenchman whilst having been below par in some games has been an indispensable force for the blues this season, his ability to read the game well, interceptions and tackles, all round energy, ball retrieving and passing skills which many overlook makes him a solid weapon for any side.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
My favorite United player makes the list based on his recent performances and more importantly aided by the fact that the likes of Fabregas and Oscar are yet to get their season going. Outside being the man of the match in the game against Liverpool, Herrera could easily lay claim to being the midfielder of the week following a season high 11 interceptions in a single game, seven tackles, six successful completed dribbles and a pass accuracy of over 70%.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Last week, I put the Frenchman in my Liverpool/ United combined XI and It led to a bit of debate in certain quarters, his two goals last night in the Europa league may have gone some way in calming the voices but Pogba has earned his place in this list and should have been credited with a glorious assist in the game against Liverpool if only Zlatan had his header properly directed.
Almost tempted to go with Victor Moses on this one, following his last two starts as Conte’s team took a new shape and he capped it with his beautiful goal in the game against Leicester City but bar being allowed to go on leave following his family loss, Willian has been one of the Blues most consistent performers this season starting all seven games before last week and has created the most chances per game by any Premier league player this season.
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Again this is not a list over who a better player is but one strictly guided by form and consistency, so it should come as a no-brainier really for Costa to take this place ahead of the big man Zlatan. I watch Costa play every week and despite many not liking his person based on his physicality or antics, the Brazilian who chose to play for Spain is the man you would want leading the front-line for your favorite team. He can play effectively as a lone forward with his strength and ability to hold up play, also good playing in a two man attack and with seven goals and two assists to his name already including the beautiful curler in the last game, no one is taking that number nine shirt from him.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The golden boy of two seasons ago where he was the star when Jose Mourinho led the team to their last league title is slowly rediscovering that form that earned him his player of the season award. He seems to be flourishing in his new found free role, three goals to his name already and his runs keeping defenders on the edge.