Premier League best XI for matchweek 7, featuring Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and David Luiz, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Eden Hazard’s dominance of Premier League defenses continued in the season’s seventh week. Hazard teased and tormented Liverpool as two title contenders played out a thrilling 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea didn’t just have Hazard to thank for the point, as oft-criticized center-back David Luiz put on a masterclass of distribution from deep.
Liverpool were able to rescue a point thanks to Daniel Sturridge’s late wonder strike. Yet the man most responsible for the keeping the Reds in it was goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
The Brazil international stopper made a series of excellent saves in one-on-one situations to underline how much he’s improved what was a shaky back five.
Find out who else makes the team of the week:
Goalkeeper: Alisson, Liverpool
Liverpool paid Roma £66.8 million in the summer for a keeper competent with his feet and commanding in one-on-one situations. Alisson has proved to be both, particularly after his heroics at the Bridge.
He stood tall twice against an onrushing Hazard, thwarted Willian and made a fine save to deny N’Golo Kante. Those stops prevented Chelsea from building on the early lead Hazard had created.
Alisson kept Liverpool in touching distance of a result long enough for Sturridge to come off the bench and equalize in spectacular fashion.
This was the kind of formidable display between the posts the Reds have lacked for too long. Having a goalkeeper who can salvage points in difficult fixtures is a big reason belief is growing Liverpool can win the title.
Defender: David Luiz, Chelsea
Questions will persist about his defensive chops, but nobody can doubt the quality of Luiz’s passing. The Brazilian effortlessly sprayed the ball over the top of the Liverpool defense and into the path of grateful runners all game.
His first long-range connection sent Willian clear, only for a poor touch to let the forward down. Luiz also released Hazard with a precision pass from the back.
All of Chelsea’s best moves started with arcing passes from the boot of Luiz. His classy and pinpoint distribution was vital because it helped the Blues bypass Liverpool’s relentless pressing.
Letting Luiz indulge his radar adds crucial variety to Chelsea’s style of play. His passes can act as the counterpoint to the steady, short-range distribution of midfield playmakers Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.
Defender: Rob Holding, Arsenal
Two steady performances in a row mean Rob Holding has improved Arsenal’s defense since Sokratis Papastathopoulos suffered injury against Everton last week.
Holding was combative, decisive and assured throughout Saturday’s 2-0 win over Watford. He made up for the now weekly series of gaffes from fellow center-back Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal needed to be resolute, particularly in the air, against Watford strikers Troy Deeney and Andre Gray. Holding didn’t win every aerial duel, but he did stick to his tack enthusiastically.
The 23-year-old was also on hand to make a key block to chalk off what would have been a goal for the visitors. Holding’s proactive style has been missing from the Gunners’ back four for too long.
Given the money Arsenal spent on Mustafi and Sokratis, it’s ironic the player former boss Arsene Wenger signed from Bolton Wanderers for just £2 million in 2016 may turn out to be the club’s best central defender.
Defender: Danny Rose, Tottenham
Danny Rose has travelled a long road back into Tottenham’s good graces, but the 28-year-old was excellent during the 2-0 win over Huddersfield.
Rose was tireless raiding forward and offering the man in possession an outlet. His runs didn’t just work the wing, they also took him between defenders and into central areas.
One such run led to the England international drawing a foul for a penalty Harry Kane converted to double the lead. Aside from his varied movement, Rose also regularly got into dangerous crossing positions.
The final ball still needs work, but the player who has missed a lot of football the last two seasons remains Tottenham’s best left-back.
Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea
Chelsea’s pocket-edition purveyor of brilliance was a twisting, turning conundrum Liverpool couldn’t solve at the Bridge. Hazard drifted freely between the midfield and forward lines to always stay a step or two ahead of any markers.
He wasn’t content to simply hug the left touchline as if it were a security blanket. Instead, the Blues’ magical No. 10 roamed centrally and frequently ran beyond striker Olivier Giroud.
One such run took Hazard clear to score in the 25th minute. It was a move he started with a deft flick on the halfway line.
The combination of wizardry, subtle movement and an insatiable appetite for goal makes Hazard the best player in England’s top flight. It’s also why manager Maurizio Sarri is setting lofty targets for his attacking talisman:
At this rate, the number may prove conservative.
Midfielder: Felipe Anderson, West Ham
Felipe Anderson hasn’t always resembled the player West Ham paid £36 million to sign from Lazio this summer. Fortunately for the Hammers, the Brazilian attacking midfielder chose Saturday’s visit from Manchester United to prove he’s worth the fee.
Anderson led United markers a merry dance as he glided into threatening pockets of space between the lines. He worked the left side well but never hesitated to pop up in the middle if the situation called for it.
West Ham’s record signing was in the middle when he turned in the opening goal with a cute piece of skill in front of David De Gea. It was the signature moment of a display offering hope to Hammers fans they have a flair player capable of taking the club to new heights this season:
The 3-1 win over United showed Anderson and Co. are headed in the right direction on the watch of shrewd and progressive manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Midfielder: Alex Iwobi, Arsenal
Few players made a bigger difference to their teams than Alex Iwobi did for Arsenal in Week 7. He came off the bench in the second half to replace Aaron Ramsey and immediately galvanized a sluggish attack.
Iwobi’s quick feet and direct movement helped create the first goal when his devilish cross was turned into the Watford net by Hornets defender Craig Cathcart.
Iwobi helped unlock the Watford defense again two minutes later. He slid in Alexandre Lacazette to tee up Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s second.
Iwobi has been showing intriguing natural talent ever since Wenger brought him out of the academy and into the first team in 2016. He’s now becoming a player head coach Unai Emery can’t ignore:
Ramsey’s uncertain future means Iwobi has the chance to make a regular starting place his own.
Midfielder: Mark Noble, West Ham
As good as Anderson was against United, Mark Noble was the man who held the Hammers’ midfield together. Noble ran the show with smart, steady and incisive distribution.
He rarely wasted a pass and never stopped looking for gaps between the lines. Noble’s vision, technique and understanding of space meant West Ham exploited the chasms of room through United’s midfield.
His eye for a pass came to the fore when Noble played in Marko Arnautovic to score the Hammers’ third and clinching goal.
Noble’s a loyal club servant who has seen his game revitalized since Pellegrini took over. He’s now tasked with conducting play from deep, a job the accomplished 31-year-old was born for.
Midfielder: Raheem Sterling, Manchester City
No player among the top six clubs has improved more than Raheem Sterling in recent seasons. The Manchester City winger has added efficiency in front of goal and the temperament to create chances to his game since Pep Guardiola took over in 2016.
Both qualities helped Sterling be the catalyst for Saturday’s 2-0 win over Brighton. He scored the first goal after ghosting beyond center-forward Sergio Aguero to turn in Leroy Sane’s cross.
Sterling later turned provider for Aguero, returning the ball after a slick one-two with the striker. Those contributions stood out most in what was a busy performance from the England international:
Sterling is no longer a player defined simply by his pace. He’s a creative forward as adept at manufacturing chances as he is at taking them.
Striker: Raul Jimenez, Wolves
Creating chances is coming easy to Raul Jimenez at the heart of Wolves’ forward line. The Mexico international teed up Ivan Cavaleiro for the first of Wolves’ goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Southampton.
It was the second assist in as many weeks for the cerebral No. 9.
Jimenez has the technique and flair to link well with wingers Cavaleiro, Diogo Jota, Helder Costa and Adama Traore. He’s also found the net twice and continues to drift into dangerous positions thanks to a subtle range of movement.
Securing Jimenez on a season-long loan from Benfica is perhaps the best piece of business Wolves did during the summer.
Striker: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Harry Kane is never out of the goals for long. A minor recent blip for the England international was brought to an abrupt and decisive end when Kane scored twice to beat the Terriers.
He met Kieran Trippier’s cross to net his first, then made good from 12 yards to effectively end the game as a contest. The goals gave Kane a unique distinction at Huddersfield’s stadium:
More important than quirky records is the return to form of Tottenham’s chief source of goals. Spurs are a threat to any of the title contenders when Kane is on song.