As another month has closed it is time again for the MFF Team of the Month. September’s team is arguably the most balanced side that has been named as some former teams have been quite overloaded in forward positions. 3 of the back four can play in more than one position, and the forward line is also a versatile one. The formation in mind is a 4-2-3-1, and here’s a spoiler for you…a returning legend did not make it in.
Jose Sa (Wolverhampton)
A few goalkeepers could have made the cut this month. Manchester City’s Ederson did not concede a goal in three matches. Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez did not concede either in the two games he played, and Aaron Ramsdale settled in beautifully at Arsenal, but Jose Sa just gets the nod here. The Portuguese stopper kept two clean sheets in three outings as Wolves recorded their first two wins of the campaign. Sa is 4th amongst keepers with 20 saves made thus far and 9 of them came in September. 6 of those stops came in his standout performance in the 1-0 away victory over Southampton to close the month. Sa made a great double save in the second half as well as keeping out a low drive by Tino Livramento with his legs. To top off his solid display his well placed ball upfield to Raul Jimenez provided the Mexican with the winning goal. Sa is joint-2nd amongst keepers in clearances (Sweeper clearances) with 8 showing his vigilance.
Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
Cancelo has played every minute so far this term, which goes against the grain of Pep Guardiola’s infamous ‘Pep roulette’ by being a mainstay in the City back four. The Portuguese international has impressed as despite Guardiola persisting with a high line they have not conceded since their opening day defeat to Spurs. City got 7 points from a posssible 9 in the month and Cancelo was their best performer. The Cityzens scraped past Leicester first up, and it was Cancelo’s deflected shot which was eventually turned in by Bernardo Silva. Guardiola’s men then drew with Southampton, before ending the month with a massive 1-0 triumph over Chelsea. Cancelo’s shooting again led to the only goal, as his effort was controlled by Gabriel Jesus, who won the game with a deflected shot on the turn. Cancelo is 2nd in the league in passes with 461, only his teammate Ruben Dias has more. He is a very impressive 2nd in through balls with 7 made and with 13 interceptions he ranks 6th.
Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
There were question marks over Arsenal’s purchase of Japanese international Tomiyasu from Italian side Bologna, but he has looked really good so far. He made his debut against Norwich in Arsenal’s first win of the season as they kept their first clean sheet. Tomiyasu actually almost got on the scoresheet here as his right foot volley went just over the bar. Arsenal followed that up with another clean sheet as they won 1-0 again this time at Burnley. The Gunners completed the month with their third successive victory as they blew Tottenham away in the first half before winning 3-1. Tomiyasu did a great job at right back on Heung-min Son. Son was getting no change from Tomiyasu so had to drop deeper and deeper to find more time on the ball. Tomiyasu has won 14 aerial battles in just 3 games, as well as winning an impressive 19 duels. He also has 19 ball recoveries and has made 10 clearances.
Ethan Pinnock (Brentford)
Five years ago Pinnock was playing non–league football for Dulwich Hamlet. The Jamaican international now finds himself in the Premier League playing against some of the best players in the world and he does not seem fazed one bit. Brentford cruelly lost their first game of the season in their opening September contest as they fell to Brighton through a smartly taken last minute goal by Leandro Trossard. They bounced back with a professional performance in a 2-0 triumph at Wolves. After Shandon Baptiste was sent off just after the hour mark, the Bees defended resolutely to hang on to their clean sheet and Pinnock was exceptional. The month ended with a gallant 3-3 home draw with Liverpool and Pinnock opened the scoring before having to come off with a hip issue. Pinnock is joint-10th in the league in clearances with 25 (7th in headed clearances with 15, 13th in interceptions with 11 and 11th in aerial batttles won with 21.
Joel Veltman (Brighton)
Veltman came from Ajax last season for less than a million pounds and his experience has done wonders for Graham Potter’s backline. His vesatility has been vital and in September he more than showed his worth. Brighton snatched a late winner at Brentford to begin the month in which Veltman started at right-wing back. The Dutchman then played as the right-sided centre half in the back 3 as they got 3 points at home to Leicester in their second match. The Seagulls had the chance to go top of the Premier League when they travelled to Crystal Palace but fell behind to a Wilfried Zaha penalty. Brighton were heading for defeat to their bitter rivals when in the 95th minute Veltman had the presence of mind to play a clever ball through the middle as Palace pushed up the pitch and Neal Maupay produced a sublime finish to earn Brighton a point. Veltman is joint-20th in tackles with 15.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton)
We knew Doucoure had a bit about him when he was at Watford and many wondered if a bigger club would actually take a chance on him. When Watford were relegated at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Everton came in for him and he had a solid 2020/21 season. Now with Carlo Ancelotti having parted to return to Real Madrid, his succesor Rafa Benitez has made a good start to life at Everton, and Doucoure has been one of the standouts for him with his box-to-box play. September saw Everton come from behind to beat Burnley 3-1, and Doucoure assisted twice. He found Andros Townsend for a spectacular second goal and then produced a superb pass to Demarai Gray for the third. The Toffees were then comprehensively beaten at Aston Villa, but responded with a 2-0 home win over Norwich. Doucoure scored the second goal to put the game to bed after being played through by Gray. Doucoure is joint-15th in tackles with 15 made thus far.
Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)
Kovacic edged out Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva this month due to his vital moments in Chelsea’s victories. The versatile midfielder has enjoyed more playing time with N’Golo Kante having fitness issues in September and has produced the goods for Thomas Tuchel. The Croatian started the month with a goal and assist as Chelsea overcame a spitired effort by Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge to win 3-0. He setup Romelu Lukaku with a fine pass that split the Villa defence open for 1-0. He then scored the second as he seized on a poor back pass by Tyrone Mings and finished in off the post. Chelsea then produced a very good second half display as they beat Spurs 3-0, and Kovacic’s industry saw him win the ball and then assist the second for substitute Kante. Kovacic was one of Chelsea’s better performers in their last game but could not stop them losing 1-0 at home to Manchester City. He is 18th in passes made with 341 which is joint-5th amongst midfielders. He is also joint-11th in through balls with 4.
Ismaila Sarr (Watford)
Senegalese international Sarr was surprisingly not picked up by anyone when Watford dropped to the Championship. Now he is back in the Premier League he is showing why the likes of Liverpool have shown an interest in him. He has 4 goals this term and 3 of them came in September. The Hornets bounced back from a 2-0 home defeat to Wolves, with a 3-1 win at Norwich. Sarr missed a good chance in the first half before bagging a brace, he turned in a Josh King ball at the near post for his first goal. The rapid winger then followed up King’s saved shot for his second and Watford’s third. Sarr scored the equaliser in Watford’s last game which was a 1-1 home draw with Newcastle. Sarr reacted quickest to King’s flick-on from a corner to head in his 4th goal of the season.
Alain Saint-Maximin (Newcastle)
Newcastle were not able to get a win in September, as they drew twice and lost, but Saint-Maximin was involved in all three goals that they scored. Newcastle fell to the Old Trafford romanticism as Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice on his return to the Premier League. Ronaldo’s goals were interrupted by a Javier Manquillo goal that was assisted by Saint-Maximin. The Magpies then drew at home with Leeds after falling behind, and it Saint-Maximin who go them level with a brilliant solo goal. To conclude the month; Newcastle took the lead away at Watford through a long range goal from Sean Longstaff, and it was again Saint-Maximin with the assist. He could have had two more assists but Longstaff missed from his pass in the first half and Joe Willock was denied when he put him through in the seond period. Saint-Maximin is 6th in the league in through balls with 5, and months like this will just attract more interest in acquiring his services.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
You can say what you want about the ‘Egyptian King’ but he delivers. Salah has been ever-present this season in the league and was the only man to score in all his September games. He finished off Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cut back to give the Reds the lead in their 3-0 disposal of Leeds at Elland Road. This was Salah’s 100th goal in the Premier League as he became the fifth fastest player to do it. Next up; Salah’s header was saved and then the rebound was put in by Sadio Mane to give Jurgen Klopp’s men the lead at home to Crystal Palace. Salah then scored the second with a thumping volley from Virgil van Dijk’s flick-on as they won 3-0 again. Liverpool ended with a 3-3 draw at Brentford, Salah had an effort cleared off the line in the first half, before scoring in the second period. He was then guilty of a miss that would have got all 3 points but he still had an impressive month.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
If you thought Vardy was going to slow down this season then you were simply wrong. Despite Brendan Rodgers bringing Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho finishing the 2020/21 campaign like a house on fire, Vardy continues to find the net and keep them on the bench. Rodgers could easily go with two frontmen but Vardy has been the lone frontman, and now has 5 goals in 6 games. Leicester scored 3 times in September and they were all by Vardy. This contribution meant he just kept Cristiano Ronaldo who also scored 3 and Ivan Toney out of this months’ team. Vardy had a goal disallowed against Manchester City in the Foxes’ first game due to a tight offside call as they fell to a 1-0 defeat. Leicester were then beaten by Brighton, and Vardy applied the close range finish to a lovely team move for the consolation as they lost 2-1. In the last contest of the month; Vardy redeemed himself after scoring an own goal to twice get Leicester back into the game in a 2-2 home draw with Burnley.