Premier League Team of Week 3: Salah, Walcott and Bellerin feature

25th August 2018, Anfield, Liverpool, England; EPL Premier League football, Liverpool versus Brighton and Hove Albion; Mohamed Salah of Liverpool (photo by David Blunsden/Action Plus via Getty Images)
25th August 2018, Anfield, Liverpool, England; EPL Premier League football, Liverpool versus Brighton and Hove Albion; Mohamed Salah of Liverpool (photo by David Blunsden/Action Plus via Getty Images) /

Premier League best XI for Week 3, including Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, Everton winger Theo Walcott and Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin.

Mohamed Salah’s awesome goalscoring run at Anfield continued to give Liverpool a third win in a row in the young Premier League season. Salah’s goal downed Brighton on Saturday, but the Reds’ attacking talisman was aided by an efficient midfield and a terrific performance between the posts.

Those loyal to the blue half of Merseyside weren’t as happy after 10-man Everton blew a 2-0 lead away to Bournemouth. At least the Toffees got another strong performance from Theo Walcott, with the former Arsenal attacker firmly back among the goals.

Walcott’s old club earned a first win under head coach Unai Emery on Saturday. It came courtesy of a nervy 3-1 triumph over West Ham at the Emirates Stadium, where Emery’s Gunners were inspired by raiding right-back Hector Bellerin.

Find out who else makes the second the team of the week of the new campaign:

Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker, Liverpool

Liverpool paid £67 million to acquire Alisson from Roma. It looked like a King’s ransom, but the Reds are steadily starting to get their money’s worth.

Although he wasn’t the busier of the two goalkeepers on Saturday, Alisson made clutch saves when it mattered. No stop was more important than the terrific save to deny Pascal Gross’ header at the near post a minute from time.

It was enough to preserve all three points for the rampant Reds. The late stop also underlined Alisson’s growing importance at Liverpool.

This is a team built to boss possession, stay on the front foot and pile on the pressure. It means their defense will be tested less than most, putting the onus on the men at the back to stay focused for when they’re needed to protect a lead.

Alisson is so far proving up to the task.

Defender: Willy Boly, Wolves

Wolves taking a point off champions Manchester City owed a lot to the tactical nuances of manager Nuno Espirito Santo. He set his team up in a 5-4-1 shape and exploited the spaces between City’s raiding full-backs and wide forwards on the counter.

Yet for all of Santo’s scheming, Wolves wouldn’t have earned a 1-1 draw without some brave performances at the back. No defender was more determined not to be beaten than Willy Boly.

The French center-back was formidable in defense, quick across the deck and commanding in the air. He also proved a menace at the other end, most notably by bundling in a controversial goal, perhaps via his hand, to give Wolves the lead on 57 minutes.

The goal highlighted a complete performance from the rugged 27-year-old:

With this much resolve at the back, Wolves should pinch a few more points off the division’s big boys.

Defender: Harry Maguire, Leicester

Harry Maguire didn’t get his summer move to Manchester United, but the England international hasn’t let it harm his performances. Maguire was Leicester’s best player during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Southampton, delivering a complete performance from center-back.

The Foxes could count on Maguire to be typically rugged in the air and physical on the deck. He snuffed out danger, tracking mobile striker Danny Ings astutely. Maguire was also alert to the movement of winger Nathan Redmond, who was a consistent threat to the Foxes.

There were also moments of trademark bravery as the 25-year-old threw his body into the path of several shots. Even so, there was little Maguire could do about Ryan Bertrand’s long-range stunner to give the Saints the lead.

Fortunately, there’s much more to Maguire game than stifling the opposition. He’s also useful going forward, never afraid to push on from defense, thanks to the confidence and technique to play out from the back.

Those qualities were invaluable for England during this summer’s World Cup in Russia. They also helped Leicester pinch all three points on the south coast.

Maguire started and finished the move, neatly exchanging passes, before striding on to place an angled shot into the bottom corner.

The combination of brawn and elegance, destruction and creativity, is why United considered paying £75 million.

To his credit, Maguire hasn’t let the speculation shift his focus, telling BBC Match of the Day (h/t Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star Sunday):

"There was obviously a little bit of interest. The owners spoke with me and reiterated I wasn’t for sale at any price.I respected their decision because they gave me the chance to come to Leicester and play for such a great club. I just want to get my head down and get on playing the season for Leicester."

In an era where players routinely send not-so subtle messages through the media about their desire to change clubs, Maguire’s attitude is more than refreshing. Ironically, it’s also another reason why big clubs are likely to continue circling.

Defender: Hector Bellerin, Arsenal

It’s not often Arsenal’s defenders merit plaudits, so it’s fitting Bellerin’s inclusion is more about what he did going forward. The full-back was a relentless runner who tormented the Hammers with electric pace.

Emery instructed both Bellerin and left-back Nacho Monreal to play high up the pitch, an instruction the former took to heart. He was regularly the furthest player forward, offering the Gunners an obvious and dangerous outlet.

The danger was summed up by Bellerin’s contributions for two of Arsenal’s three goals. He teed up Monreal to score the Gunners’ opener, before picking out substitute Danny Welbeck to seal the points in stoppage time.

Next. Arsenal look flawed but get result against West Ham. dark

Both assists were clever pull-backs across the deck. They proved Bellerin is improving his end product, not always a strength of the 23-year-old’s game.

Bellerin will get plenty of opportunities to perfect his deliveries, given how Emery loves his full-backs to be key members of the attack. His Sevilla side took Liverpool apart in the 2016 Europa League final thanks to the running of Sergio Escudero and Mariano.

While Bellerin is still suspect defensively, he at least offers Emery the forward instincts to recreate the formula at Arsenal.

Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Eden Hazard made his first start of the season count by tying defenders in knots during Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday. Hazard was the creative inspiration behind all the good things the Blues produced in the final third at St James’ Park.

Quick feet and trickery routinely took him past markers and fashioned shooting opportunities. The Belgium international also showed off his nous as a provider by setting up chances for others with a range of deft flicks and impish back-heels.

Although he hasn’t played under him for long, Hazard looked a natural fit for manager Maurizio Sarri’s progressive and slick soccer. His combinations with Mateo Kovacic, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho were easy on the eye and incisive in the areas of the pitch that matter.

Scoring from the penalty spot opened Hazard’s account, and Chelsea fans should expect ample moments of brilliance from a player this gifted operating in such an expansive system.

Midfielder: Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool

Quietly, very quietly, Georginio Wijnaldum has become Mr. Reliable for Liverpool. While he’s never offered the attacking impetus to justify the £25 million the Reds paid for him in 2016, the ex- Newcastle and PSV star has redefined his game to become a useful holding midfielder.

Wijnaldum impressed in the role late last season, and was terrific against the Seagulls. He anchored midfield superbly at the base of a trio also featuring James Milner and Naby Keita.

What stood out most was how the Netherlands international took care of the ball:

Technical accomplishment, intelligence and purpose were evident in his passes. The efficiency kept Liverpool in possession and provided a natural counterpoint to the frenetic pace and pressing of their forward line.

A calming influence is essential to balance the high-octane approach manager Jurgen Klopp preaches. Wijnaldum provides it, making him important enough to keep his place in the starting XI even once summer signing Fabinho is ready to feature.

Midfielder: Felipe Anderson, West Ham

He’s been slow to get going, but Felipe Anderson finally showed West Ham fans exciting glimpses of his talent. The Brazilian was the Hammers’ best player in north London, producing a masterclass in how to find and exploit spaces between the lines.

Progressive manager Manuel Pellegrini let his £36 million signing take up a free role in support of striker Marko Arnautovic. The former Lazio forward relished the freedom, roaming all across the final third, showing for the ball and dragging Arsenal defenders out of position.

There was more than just movement to his game, though, as Anderson showed off his pace and power in the build-up to Arnautovic’s goal. His strong run and clever one-two teed up the frontman to sweep a terrific low shot into the bottom corner.

Anderson could have added another assist when he astutely picked out ex-Gunners striker Lucas Perez late on. Sadly, the latter’s tame and indecisive cross-shot dribbled harmlessly wide.

West Ham have endured a tough start with away games against both Arsenal and Liverpool. Yet on this evidence Anderson is a flair player capable of conjuring the same magic Dimitri Payet and Arnautovic produced in recent years.

Midfielder: Roberto Pereyra, Watford

Watford fans who feared the worse when Richarlison was sold to Everton earlier this summer can rest easy. Roberto Pereyra is proving a more than able replacement for the Brazilian after netting his third goal in as many matches.

Pereyra sent the Hornets on their way to a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace on Sunday by opening the scoring in the 53rd minute. The goal was typical of the Argentinian schemer’s class, showcasing cute footwork, deceptive strength and flawless technique.

Such contributions are becoming the norm from the former Juventus man who has emerged as the creative fulcrum of a surprising Watford team. The Hornets’ three wins from three owe a lot to Pereyra staying fit and letting his talent do the rest.

Midfielder: Theo Walcott, Everton

Walcott tends to keep scoring once he gets a taste for goals. One week after scoring and assisting in a win over Southampton, Walcott got Everton up and running against the Cherries.

His goal was classic Walcott: Blistering pace, direct running and a quick, rasping shot arrowed into the bottom corner. It was yet another frustrating reminder of how good the 29-year-old could be if he had the consistency and desire of a top player.

The same pace saw Walcott draw the foul from Bournemouth’s Adam Smith that saw the right-back red carded. It evened things at 10 men apiece after Richarlison had earlier been sent off for a perceived head-butt.

In terms of movement, pace and finishing quality, Walcott has 20-30 goals in him every season. Injuries stunted his development earlier in his career, but he is also culpable for rarely showing the drive and aggression to develop his game and seize his moments.

Coaxing an appetite for greatness from Walcott was beyond Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Now it’s the headache of Toffees boss Marco Silva.

Next. 25 best club soccer teams of all time. dark

Striker: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham

Fulham’s decision to turn Aleksandar Mitrovic’s loan move into a permanent switch looks a wise one after the powerhouse striker scored twice against Burnley.

Mitrovic’s brace sent the Cottagers en route to an impressive 4-2 triumph. Fulham’s nuanced approach relied on Mitrovic’s ability to play with his back to goal and link with forward-thinking midfielders.

His knock-downs and precise touches kept Jean Michael Seri and Tom Cairney on the ball. They made the big Serbia international a prime target for deliveries out wide, leading to a pair of headed goals.

Later, a Mitrovic shot cannoned off the post allowing Andre Scurrle to tap in.

On this form, Fulham have a striker prolific and creative enough to help them settle quickly in the division.

Striker: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

There’s no doubt Salah is a player gifted enough to carry Liverpool to a first league title since 1990. The ruthless and relentless forward once again proved the match-winner.

Salah put the Reds in front after 23 minutes thanks to a deft and cushioned shot into the bottom corner. The finish was decisively taken and expertly placed, showing how much Salah has improved when chances come his way.

Scoring his 29th goal in 29 games at Anfield offered obvious proof of his significance. Salah also proved there are more strings to his bow:

Forwards prolific scoring and creating can decide title races. It’s what Thierry Henry did during Arsenal’s peak years under Wenger. Salah has now taken on the same mantle for Liverpool.