- Team of the Week
Unlikely lads Puncheon above their weight
Norwich's superb defensive performance to keep out Manchester United sees John Ruddy, Michael Turner and Javier Garrido called up to Team of the Week, while Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla are in following Arsenal's 5-2 derby victory over Tottenham.
John Ruddy was Chris Hughton's rock on Saturday evening. Whatever Manchester United had to throw at him, which to be honest wasn't an awful lot by their standards, he was more than equal to. Time after time, Ashley Young whipped balls into the box and Ruddy was always there to collect. He also made a superb stop to deny the winger in the first half, while in the game's closing stages he saved Sebastien Bassong's blushes with some expert reflexes before later reacting quicker than Paul Scholes to deny the midfielder an equaliser with the last kick of the game.
Wilfried Zaha may have made the headlines recently with his stunning form for Crystal Palace rewarded with a call-up to the England squad, but another of the Eagles' youth products is having an equally impressive campaign. Now with Southampton, Nathaniel Clyne is improving all the time and he continued his steady rise with a faultless performance against Queens Park Rangers. Solid at the back, never letting his opponent past him, and equally impressive up the other end of the pitch too.
It has already been noted how John Ruddy did all he could to secure a clean sheet on Saturday but if he happens to have a clean-sheet bonus written into his contract then he owes a percentage to one of the men in front of him, Michael Turner. The centre back was consistently at the right place at the right time during United's half-hearted second-half onslaught, getting his head on the end of many a cross and putting his body in the way of many a shot. Turner was the heart and soul of a spirited defensive display by the Canaries.
Arsenal's recent defensive problems have been well documented and they produced another horror show in allowing Tottenham to open the scoring on Saturday. It was Per Mertesacker and not Laurent Koscielny, however, who was to blame. The France international had a long-overdue impressive performance at the back, using his pace to cover captain Thomas Vermaelen on more than one occasion and producing a vital last-ditch slide tackle to prevent Aaron Lennon getting in on goal. If Koscielny - one of Arsenal's standout performers last season - can continue like this he could well put a stop to the Gunners' leaking of goals.
That three out of the back five here are from the Norwich side gives you an idea of just how well they really did defensively against Manchester United. While Ashley Young had a fair bit of joy on the other flank, managing to send a number of crosses into the box, Antonio Valencia was rendered almost anonymous by Javier Garrido. The left-back was also a real threat going forward and sent the delivery of the game into United's box for Anthony Pilkington's winner.
When Theo Walcott gets things right, he tends to get them very right. Everyone knows he can be the most frustrating and inconsistent of players but against Tottenham on Saturday, he was a like a man possessed. The first 45 minutes at Emirates Stadium were among the best he has ever seen in an Arsenal shirt. He was a thorn in the opposition's side all game (particularly Kyle Naughton's), proving he can cross with a peach of a ball for Mertesacker's goal and doing his hopes of playing as a striker no harm with a fine strike to cap off his and Arsenal's performance. If the Gunners have learnt anything from the selling of their best players then they must do everything in their power to make Walcott sign a new deal.
Santi Cazorla was hailed by pretty much everyone in the early stages of the season as the signing of the summer. His electric start was dampened somewhat after he appeared to go off the boil, but he returned to the top of his game against Tottenham. His touches were outrageous and his passes sublime, while he scored a fine goal and somehow got an assist after originally falling on his backside. All this after a round-the-world trip to Panama with Spain.
Jason Puncheon was released by then newly promoted Queens Park Rangers last summer, deemed not up to the standards required of the Premier League. So what better way for Mr Puncheon to stick it to his old team than by scoring one and having a hand in the other two on his first return to Loftus Road. Coming in a game of such importance makes it all the sweeter.
Roberto Mancini said last week that his strikers weren't providing him with enough goals. Well his words obviously seemed to have the desired effect on Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero, as both players netted a brace against Aston Villa. Tevez gets the nod ahead of his compatriot here, though, thanks to effectively grabbing a pair of assists on top of his double salvo, and also for having the better of the celebrations. He had his driving licence confiscated by police earlier this week and after scoring at Eastlands, Tevez sat on the floor and mimed driving a car. A nice touch.
Should Chelsea finally lose patience with Fernando Torres then they could do a lot worse than sign a player who showed the £50 million man on Saturday how to really play the striker role. The ever-improving Shane Long had a great game and played a key part in inspiring the Baggies to victory over the European champions. Always working hard, Long scored a real poacher's header at the back post and produced a fine pass for Peter Odemwingie's strike. Torres, take note.
Once again Luis Suarez was there to score the goals to fire his side to victory this season, this time with two delicious finishes against Wigan. The Uruguayan has scored 59% of the Reds' league goals this term and if he were to be missing, it would be disastrous news for the Anfield club. With four yellow cards to his name then, Brendan Rodgers will be holding his breath every time the striker goes in for a tackle from now until the end of the season, or at least until January.
You always want to get one over your old club and our Manager of the Week goes to a man whose side did helped him do just that this week: Steve Clarke. His opposite number Roberto Di Matteo, who was axed by West Brom 18 months ago, went on to win the Champions League and optimistic Baggies fans may be dreaming that Clarke can do same for them with hise side currently sitting in the dizzying heights of fourth, after their fantastic win over Chelsea. Whether or not they make it to the Promised Land has yet to be seen but, for now at least, Clarke can enjoy this result over his old Blues team-mate; not to mention the West Brom's best start to a league campaign since 1982.