Allan Saint-Maximin and N’Golo Kante bundle their way into the top 10… but has Cristiano Ronaldo done enough to topple Romelu Lukaku in our Premier League POWER RANKINGS this week?
- Sportsmail will bring you the top 10 hottest Premier League players each week
- Jesse Lingard came back to haunt West Ham in Man United’s win in east London
- Chelsea beat Tottenham in the London derby, while Arsenal won at Burnley
- Liverpool and Watford won handsomely but champions Man City only drew
The Premier League once again served up its latest set of thrills and spills with another bunch of enthralling fixtures following the first European games of the season.
Jesse Lingard came back to haunt former club West Ham by netting the winner for Manchester United, although the Red Devils did require a dramatic last-gasp penalty save from David de Gea to secure the win.
Chelsea delivered a ruthless second-half performance to beat London rivals Tottenham, while Arsenal recorded a second straight win with a hard-fought victory at Burnley.
Jesse Lingard came back to haunt his old club in Manchester United’s win at West Ham
Liverpool, Aston Villa and Watford also won handsomely but champions Manchester City put in a sluggish display in a stalemate on home soil against Southampton.
Every week, Sportsmail will be bringing you a Power Rankings table, listing the top 10 players in the Premier League after each weekend’s action is completed.
As the season continues to unwind, the rankings will provide a form guide with players moving in and out of the top 10 depending on both their performances in the previous fixtures and also in recent weeks.
So, with all of that taken into account, how have Sportsmail’s latest batch of Power Rankings taken shape, and do we have a new leader?
Chelsea won a London derby against Tottenham after three second-half goals from the Blues
LAST WEEK’S TOP 10
1. Romelu Lukaku
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
3. Paul Pogba
4. Mohamed Salah
6. Bruno Fernandes
7. Said Benrahma
8. Ferran Torres
9. Mason Greenwood
10. Demarai Gray
10. Mason Greenwood (down one)
After what has been a blistering start to the season for the Manchester United youngster, Greenwood put in arguably his most quiet performance of the last few weeks against West Ham.
Preferred to Jadon Sancho once more on the right-hand side of United’s attack, Greenwood failed to add to his goals or assist tally despite pieces of encouragement.
As ever, the 19-year-old was a threat to Aaron Creswell in particular down his side, but United ultimately struggled to pass him the ball with any kind of regularity.
He remained underused in the second half at the London Stadium as well, and was replaced by Sancho for the final 17 minutes before all the drama had kicked off.
Greenwood has made contributions – sometimes significant ones – to United goals over the last month, and a rather quieter display does not detract from that.
Moreover, the spotlight appearing to focus more harshly on Sancho could also help the youngster, with Roy Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both coming out to defend the £73million summer signing from Borussia Dortmund over the weekend.
Mason Greenwood was a threat for United but was underused before being substituted
9. Allan Saint-Maximin (new entry)
Newcastle may still be searching for their first Premier League win of the season, but Frenchman Saint-Maximin could have done little more to help his side break that duck.
Steve Bruce and his side looked to the 24-year-old when Raphinha had put Leeds into the lead at St James’ Park on Friday night, and he duly responded with the electric pace that has become synonymous with his showings in England.
Just 12 minutes after going behind, Saint-Maximin got the better of Junior Firpo, but Joelinton could not take advantage of the chance that was created from the Frenchman’s cut-back via the foot of Miguel Almiron.
Saint-Maximin therefore took matters into his own hands and bagged a glorious goal after dancing his way into the box and drilling the ball into the bottom corner to equalise.
Allan Saint-Maximin bagged a glorious goal in Newcastle’s draw at home to Leeds on Friday
He continued to be a threat in the second half and stung Illan Meslier’s hands twice in what was an extremely energetic performance from one of the most exciting livewires in the league.
Saint-Maximin has contributed to at least one goal in every top-flight fixture Newcastle have scored in this term, and has now scored in consecutive Premier League matches at St James’ Park, as many as scored in his first 30 such appearances there.
If the Magpies are to survive in this league, he will have to continue playing a major role throughout the remainder of the season.
8. N’Golo Kante (new entry)
Chelsea’s win at Tottenham has not been the first match Kante has transformed in his side’s favour, and it will not be the last either.
An ankle injury had forced him to sit out two Blues fixtures against Aston Villa and Zenit, having reaggravated the issue in the 1-1 draw at Liverpool prior to the international break.
But he was called on by Thomas Tuchel at half-time when Chelsea were in need of inspiration on Sunday after an opening 45 minutes the German boss later admitted he was ‘absolutely not happy with’.
Enter Kante, who 11 minutes after his introduction scored his first top-flight goal in 49 appearances to put the Blues two up after Thiago Silva’s goal.
N’Golo Kante scored his first Premier League goal in 49 appearances at Spurs on Sunday
The goal perhaps did not reflect the quality of the player who would score it, with the shot deflecting in off both Spurs defender Eric Dier and the woodwork. But Tuchel recognised its importance.
‘If you have N’Golo, you have something that everybody is looking for,’ added Tuchel in his press conference. ‘You have everything that you need in midfield. You have work-rate, intensity, ball-wins, skilful play, off the ball, with the ball, dribbling, drive and, today, even a goal.
‘I see this every day in training and it’s hard to believe how good he is. Don’t make the mistake of reducing him to ball-wins. He plays excellent in every possession game we have in training. ‘He’s a unique guy. ‘N’Golo is N’Golo, he’s fantastic.’
Kante – whose last goal prior to his strike on Sunday came against Manchester City in 2019 – also said he was ‘feeling better’ and has managed the injury well. If Chelsea can keep him fit, he will drive what has the potential to be a colossus title challenge.
7. Ismaila Sarr (new entry)
Unlike Saturday’s opponents Norwich, Watford kept their star man, and Ismaila Sarr demonstrated the benefit of retaining your best players to make his way back into our rankings for the first time since week one of the season.
The 23-year-old netted a second-half brace — after Teemu Pukki cancelled out Emmanuel Dennis’ early opener — to help Xisco Munoz’s men climb up the table, and he simply dazzled throughout against a side that lost Emi Buendia to Villa in the summer.
Manchester United loanee Brandon Williams endured an afternoon to forget on against the Senegalese, who did show he can become more ruthless after hesitating when facing just Tim Krul and allowing the Canaries keeper to smother the ball.
Ismaila Sarr netted a brace for Watford as they beat bottom club Norwich on Saturday
But he did not need a second invitation and found the net after being set up by Joshua King, before adding another by prodding home a rebound after Krul saved King’s shot.
‘Sarr was very good,’ said Xisco. ‘But the whole team matured and controlled the game. It’s perfect as it’s one step forward.’
Liverpool, Manchester United and Aston Villa were all interested in Sarr in the summer of 2020 prior to a season in the Championship, where he scored 13 goals in 2020-21.
Should he continue such form, it is not impossible that at least some of those clubs will come calling again in the upcoming transfer windows.
6. Said Benrahma (up one)
The result may not have gone West Ham’s way, but Benrahma was involved in parts of what they did well against United.
He worked tirelessly when his side did not have the ball and looked to create openings as well as starting many of the Hammers’ initial breaks.
His most significant contribution however came with his strike that took a wicked deflection off Raphael Varane and nestled into the corner of de Gea’s net to give the hosts the lead at the London Stadium.
The Algerian now has three goals in five top-flight games so far this season, as many as he managed across all competitions in 2020-21. Combine that with the two assists he has also notched, he is becoming a crucial weapon for David Moyes’ men.
Said Benrahma has now scored as many goals this season as he did throughout 2020-21
5. Bruno Fernandes (up one)
United fans saw the worst and very best of the Portuguese midfielder at the London Stadium.
Fernandes started sloppily and the waiving of his arms in frustration during bright Hammers spells threatened to derail his performance.
But once United had secured a real foothold in the game, the 27-year-old came to the fore, first striking the post with a wonderful left-volley half volley which Lukasz Fabianski brilliantly tipped onto the post.
And he well and truly found his mojo when he delivered an excellent cross for Cristiano Ronaldo, who poked home after his initial effort had been saved by the Pole.
Fernandes will not be able to claim an assist as a result, but he may have registered one at his international team-mate not produced a rare miss early in the second half.
Only Luke Shaw managed to create more chances than Fernandes’ three at the London Stadium, and having also assisted Ronaldo in midweek, there appears to be a blossoming partnership growing between the Portugal duo at club level.
Bruno Fernandes hit the post with an effort before setting up Cristiano Ronaldo’s equaliser
4. Paul Pogba (down one)
The France international has contributed seven assists in United’s first six games this season, but this was not one of his finer afternoons.
Initially deployed on the left-hand side of the three behind Ronaldo, the 28-year-old drifted inside and tried to control the midfield from there, particularly given Fred and Scott McTominay’s underwhelming performances.
He ultimately struggled to make an impact in the second half however, and misplaced passes as United looked to build on Ronaldo’s equaliser. He did also go down with a knee issue during the game but did manage to carry on.
Paul Pogba went down with a knee issue but carried on in an underwhelming display for United
His most significant moment came after the match when he was dragged down the tunnel by Michael Carrick after reacting to West Ham fans who told him to ‘shut your f***ing mouth’ as he left the pitch.
Pogba insisted the team’s consistency and not his assists record is the most important thing this season, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope on an individual level there are not too many similar performances from the World Cup winner.
But on face value it was simply an off day for Pogba, and his performances this season keep him in our top four in these rankings.
3. Romelu Lukaku (down two)
No doubt the Belgian will be frustrated not to have added to the four goals he has netted since re-joining Chelsea at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, particularly since he had starred in the wins against Aston Villa and Zenit in the past week.
But the 28-year-old still played a crucial role as the focal point of Tuchel’s attack, giving Cristian Romero and Eric Dier more than their fair share to think about at the heart of Spurs’ defence.
He could have had an assist to his name too had Timo Werner and Kai Havertz been more accurate with their finishing, while Lukaku’s only real effort was collected by Hugo Lloris.
Romelu Lukaku (left) gave Eric Dier (right) and Cristian Romero plenty to think about
So while he did not find a way past the French goalkeeper, Lukaku did serve up yet another reminder – as if the league needed one – of why he is one of the most feared strikers in European football.
‘He is a highest-level competitor – he loves training, he has a smile on his face, he wants to win every single competition. This is good. He leads by example,’ Tuchel said earlier this week when touting him as a potential future captain.
That would only go one step further to confirming what a crucial role he will hold at Stamford Bridge over the next five years.
2. Mohamed Salah (up two)
With every passing week, the Liverpool forward continues to demonstrate why the club must simply agree a new deal with him.
He was involved in pretty much all three Reds goals at Anfield as they beat Crystal Palace, with his header from a corner leading to Sadio Mane’s opener from a tight angle.
Salah then scored his 101st Premier League goal by stabbing home at the back post on the volley, and it was the former Roma star’s corner that led to Naby Keita’s sensational third.
Mohamed Salah showed once more why Liverpool must tie him down to a new contract
The Egypt international has now scored five times in six games in all competitions so far this season, and is once more crucial to Jurgen Klopp’s side’s chances of winning silverware again this season.
Reports suggest his representatives remain in talks with the Anfield club over a new deal, having entered the final two years of the current contract he signed in 2018.
What’s that about playing your best stuff when you’re looking for a bumper new deal?
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (up one)
There is a new leader in our Power Rankings after Ronaldo followed up his double against Newcastle and goal against Young Boys with a crucial equaliser against West Ham.
There had been very little to shout about for United and Ronaldo in the opening exchanges at the London Stadium, bar some fancy footwork from the Portuguese that brought some cheers and adulation from the crowd.
But that striker’s instinct came to the fore when he remained in the box after a corner had been half-cleared by the Hammers, and once Fernandes had the time and space to pick out a cross it was only ever going to be met by Ronaldo.
Ronaldo scored his fourth United goal since returning by stabbing home before the break
His first effort was saved by Fabianski, but the former Arsenal goalkeeper could do little as Ronaldo reacted first to prod home the rebound from a couple of yards out.
Ronaldo admitted he is relishing the battle for points in the Premier League and it seems to be bringing the best out of him, even at the age of 36, with his four goals since sensationally returning to the club from Juventus in the summer.
And that is bad news for the rest of the league, with the Portuguese having taken just two matches to match the goal returns of United flops Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez.
Share this article
Source: Read Full Article