Underdog Weekend: Matchday 3 Team of the Week

It was a streak-breaking weekend for clubs outside the 6. Aston Villa led us off Friday night by dispatching Everton for their first win of the season and ending Jack Grealish’s 20-match Premier League losing streak.

Newcastle United upended Tottenham Hotspur at the most-hyped, gargantuan stadium in the world. It was the first time Newcastle beat a top 6 side in like 4 years.

And Palace! Crystal Palace, a club that got stomped out by newly-promoted Sheffield United last week went to Old Trafford and made history. It was the first since 1989 that the Eagles beat Manchester United at the Red Devils’ home ground.

But they didn’t just win. They did it in injury time. Patrick Van Aanholt scored the game-winner in the 92nd-minute thanks to a blunder by David de Gea. It was the first time an opposing side scored a game-winning goal after 90 minutes at Manchester United. PVA, man.

Not only were streaks broken, but it was also a big week for popping Premier League goal cherries. New striker signings Joelinton, Wesley and Sébastien Haller all opened their accounts.  

With Newcastle United and Crystal Palace entering the weekend as relegation fodder, they were the clubs that made the biggest statements by the end. Now let’s look at these individual performers.

Three Outside the 6 Stars of the Week

3. James Maddison, Midfielder — Leicester City

Imagine you’re 22. You’re ripping your way through Premier League competition and gracefully placing your team in the top 4 like you’re playing FIFA on semi-pro mode. You have the youthful glow of a young (and old, tbh) David Beckham. You’re also the straw that drinks the proverbial Leicester City. You’re James Maddison and every club outside the top 6 wishes they had you.

Leicester’s $25-million investment is turning into the next big thing.

The central attacking midfielder has expanded his role exponentially this season. After making a splash in 2018-19 and pushing for an England national team call-up, Maddison has found more space with the ball early this season. Brendan Rodgers has pushed Maddison near the wing to get him in more space. And he’s flourished.

Maddison has tripled his take ons per game to nearly 4 dribbles a game. And he’s done this without having his eyes buried toward the ground.

Maddison’s distribution hasn’t fallen off and he’s picking out teammates at nearly the same clip as last season by averaging just over 2 key passes a game. He’s also getting more shots off and currently leading the Foxes in that category.

This won’t be the last time he’s featured as one of the stars of the week.

2. Felipe Anderson, Midfielder — West Ham United

After a disastrous match again Manchester City that ended with an injury, Felipe Anderson returned to the lineup and showed Hammer fans why he was once the record-breaking signing West Ham dished nearly $45 million for in 2018.

Anderson, starting on his natural left-wing position, sparked the West Ham attack early by springing Sébastien Haller open with a lovely through ball. The new signing eventually found Manuel Lanzini in the box before he was taken down for a first-minute penalty.

Later in the first half, Anderson slipped a pass to Lanzini in the box. But the Argentinian spoiled a sure goal when he scuffed the shot.

Fast-forward to the 64th-minute and Anderson found himself dribbling the ball into the box again. This time he picked a better goal-scorer to setup. Haller. A simple cross from Anderson that was created by a darting run resulted in a tap-in for the new boy.

Oh and he hit the post. Dude was everywhere. We’ll see more of him and West Ham as the season goes along.

1. Sébastien Haller, Striker — West Ham United

What an introduction to the Premier League. Record scratch.

Okay, yes, his first game was against Manchester City, but a 5-0 drubbing is a tough introduction to English football.

Two goals for West Ham’s new record signing is exactly what the Hammer faithful ordered on Saturday. Both Haller goals happened with Chicharito-Esque killer instinct within the 6-yard box. 

However, Haller appeared to be more than a poacher — he’s a bendy, savvy shooter who is capable of contorting his body into multiple shapes to put the ball on net.

In the first half, he attempted a turn around back heal that looked like something out of Mortal Combat. But his finishing move didn’t come until Anderson slotted a perfect ball across the box. Boom. Haller’s account opened.

Haller’s next goal came with an over the head kick during a corner scramble. The least you could say is the kid has an eye for goal. Watch out, Premier League.

Outside the 6 Team of the Week: Matchday 3

Goalkeeper

Martin Dubravka — Newcastle United

  • Clean sheet
  • 2 saves
  • 1 big chance save

Defenders

Fabian Schär — Newcastle United

  • Clean sheet
  • 4 tackles and 2 interceptions
  • 7 clearances and 2 blocks

Patrick Van Aanholt — Crystal Palace

  • 1 game-winning goal in stoppage time (First from an opposing player at Old Trafford)
  • 3 clearances, 2 interceptions and 1 tackle

Çağlar Söyüncü — Leicester City

  • 1 assist on an 80% pass success rate
  • 8/10 in defensive aerial duels
  • 8 clearances, 4 tackles and 2 interceptions

Midfielders

Nathan Redmond — Southampton

  • 1 goal on 3 total shots
  • 11/16 attacking third pass success rate
  • 3 successful take ons
  • 2 tackles and an aerial win

James Maddison — Leicester City

  • 1 assist and 2 key passes
  • 4 total shots attempted
  • 5 successful take ons and 3 successful crosses

John McGinn — Aston Villa

  • 1 assist on an 82% total pass success rate
  • 13/16 attacking third pass success rate
  • 3 tackles and 2 interceptions

Moussa Djenepo — Southampton

  • 1 goal and 2 shots
  • 4/4 attacking third passes in 35 minutes
  • 3 tackles and 2 successful take ons

Felipe Anderson — West Ham

  • 1 assist and 3 key passes
  • 4 total shots and 1 off the woodwork
  • 9/13 attacking third pass success rate, 80% overall
  • 3 successful take ons

Forwards

Sébastien Haller — West Ham

  • 2 goals on 4 total shots
  • 5 attacking aerial duel wins and 2 defensive

Teemu Pukki — Norwich City

  • 1 goal on 2 shots on target
  • 1 key pass on 6 total passes (!)

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