It is time for the MFF October Premier League Team of the Month. Due to another international break, it was a shorter month for some teams than others, with some playing three games and some playing four. As usual however we have dug out eleven of the best performers to form our team. This months’ team has a 4-2-3-1 formation, that could actually also play as a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 due to the versatile players selected. And here is a spoiler; two men who scored hat-tricks in October have not made the team.
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
Frank Lampard finally lost patience with Kepa Arrizabalaga. Him and new signing Mendy could not have made a better beginning to life at Stamford Bridge. He made his debut at home to Crystal Palace in the first game of the month. However, he did not have much to do as Chelsea strolled to a 4-0 win. Mendy missed the next match, which was a 3-3 draw at home to Southampton. Ironically in October, this was the only game the Blues conceded a goal in. Mendy then returned for the goalless draw away at Manchester United.
He bounced back from almost scoring an own goal, to make three key saves. Firstly, he made a really good stop with his feet from Marcus Rashford. He then turned away a curling shot from Juan Mata in the first half. In the second half he dived well to his left to deny Rashford once again. In their last match against Burnley, he survived a first half scare from Ashley Barnes to secure another clean sheet. 3 starts, 3 clean sheets, a great start.
Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)
After starting the season with a back four, West Ham manager David Moyes is currently playing a back five. Naturally Cresswell is a left back of course. Moyes is now using him as the left-sided centre half of a three. This allows Arthur Musuaku to play as the left wing-back. The one October game Cresswell played at left wing-back, was at the start of the month when the Hammers shocked Leicester with a 3-0 win at the King Power stadium.
Cresswell assisted twice here; the first was a great cross to Michail Antonio, after Antonio had originally found him with a quickly taken free-kick. Cresswell then volleyed the ball up field for Pablo Fornals to score the second goal. He was assisting again as West Ham came from 3-0 down to slvage a 3-3 draw with Tottenham. West Ham then got a creditable 1-1 home draw with Man City, before losing to Liverpool to end the month. Cresswell’s versatility will be vital for them.
Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
With Chelsea bringing in veteran Thiago Silva and Nice’s Malang Sarr at the back, some thought Zouma might struggle to hold a place down in central defence. Chelsea however have loaned Sarr to FC Porto, as well as that another man who featured a lot last season Antonio Rudiger seems to have been exiled by Frank Lampard. Therefore the Frenchman has been a mainstay whether they have used four or five at the back.
Chelsea kept three clean sheets in their four October games, but Zouma was not just helping out defensively, he produced at the other end too. He scored the Blues’ second goal with a header as they beat Crystal Palace 4-0. Zouma did not enjoy the best of games as Chelsea let a 3-goal lead slip at home to Southampton. He did finish October well however, scoring another header as Chelsea won 3-0 away at Turf Moor against Burnley.
Max Kilman (Wolverhampton)
After Wolves were beaten 4-0 away at West Ham to end September, coach Nuno Espirito Santo sought for change. Max Kilman had been on the bench to start the campaign, but was drafted into the team to start October off, and he has not looked back since being used as one of the three centre backs. Wolves had three shutouts in their four October games, only conceding a goal at home to Newcastle, in their third contest. They began with a 1-0 home win over Fulham. Then they were able to pick up a big three points with a late win at Leeds. And it was actually Kilman who assisted the winner for Raul Jimenez and also ended up being the ‘Man of the Match’. After the aforementioned Newcastle game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Wolves ended the month holding fort with a 2-0 home victory over Crystal Palace. Will Kilman’s rise continue?
Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
Marcos Alonso’s last few seasons at Chelsea have been inconsistent, especially defensively, and this prompted them to spend big on Leicester’s Ben Chilwell. After recovering from a foot injury, Chilwell made his first start for the Blues in their opening October game at home to Crystal Palace. In the 4-0 win; Chilwell opened the scoring with a volley, before crossing for Kurt Zouma to make it 2-0. As if that was not enough, he also harried and helped win the ball from Andre Ayew, and Chelsea eventually won another penalty for their 4th goal from it. Chilwell assisted again, as he set up Timo Werner’s first goal in Chelsea’s 3-3 collapse at home against Southampton. It seemed like the £50m fee was a tad bit hefty, but Chilwell looks at home already. If he continues the way he has started they will greatly reap the benefits, as also England will at international level.
James Rodriguez (Everton)
Many people had their knives out ready for James. The doubters believed his game would not be effective in the Premier League. It is still early days, but so far nevertheless they are being made to eat humble pie. James just missed out on our September team of the month to his teammate Allan, but this month he has got himself in. Everton were flying high in the league as they beat West Brom 4-2 to start October out with. James assisted Yerry Mina’s first half goal, before bagging a second half brace. He was then arguably the Toffees’ best player as they were fortunate to draw 2-2 at home to Liverpool. He assisted the first Everton equaliser when Michael Keane headed from his corner. Carlo Ancelotti’s men next faced Southampton in their last match of the month. It was clear how much James already means to them, as he was not fully fit for his game despite starting, because of this lacked ideas and were completely outplayed, losing 2-0.
Ross Barkley (Aston Villa)
Last season Aston Villa relied too heavily on Jack Grealish and they stayed up by the skin of their teeth. Now Barkley has joined, it has taken some of the creative burden off of Grealish’s shoulders. Villa are benefitting from having another man drive from midfield. The Villans started the month embarrassing Liverpool in a 7-2 romp at Villa Park. Barkley scored the 5th goal, and had earlier also won the corner that led to the third goal by John McGinn, as Villa continued to punish Liverpool’s high line. Though Grealish was clearly the star midfielder for Villa in that drubbing, he is edged out of the team of the month by his teammate because of Villa’s next game. Dean Jones’ men won 1-0 away at Leicester, and Barkley got the injury time winner with a low drive from well outside of the box. This was a huge win for them. They lost their last game of October at home to Leeds 3-0, but Barkley had already left his print on the month.
Wide men & Forwards
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
By the high standards he has set, even Sterling himself will tell you he started the Premier League slowly, but he is quickly getting nearer to his best. City themselves started the season well away at Wolves and then slowed down. When the England international is in top form, very rarely do you see City lose. Sterling gave Pep Guardiola’s men the lead in their first match against Leeds in a 1-1 draw. This was an end–to-end encounter that could have gone either way. After the international break; Sterling won the game for City as they held on to win 1-0 at home to Arsenal. Sterling followed in after Bernd Leno had saved Phil Foden’s shot. Next up; Sterling did not have the best game against West Ham. He was a constant threat, but when put through he could not take advantage on more than one occasion. Sterling albeit was still City’s best attacking player throughout the month.
Diogo Jota (Liverpool)
Liverpool fans had been crying out for another attacking option to provide thorough competition to their front three, as they felt they were too comfortable at times, (especially Roberto Firmino). When they sorted out a fee of over £40m for Jota, eyebrows were raised in some quarters, but so far, so good. He was not able to affect the game when he came on as a sub when Aston Villa smashed Liverpool 7-2. However he scored twice for Portugal on international duty, and after that at club level he was the impact the Reds needed. He almost won the game against Everton, but Sadio Mane headed his effort wide in the 2-2 draw. In his first league start at Anfield, Jota scored the winner as the Reds came from behind to beat Sheffield United 2-1. The Portuguese international was back on the bench for the visit of West Ham, but once again grabbed the winner, showing great composure when put through by Xherdan Shaqiri. Jurgen Klopp now has an interesting but welcome dilemma up front.
Heung-min Son (Tottenham)
Son was not even meant to be fit to face Manchester United to start the month. But he shocked everyone by starting the game, and did wonders as they smashed the Red Devils 6-1 at Old Trafford. He latched onto another Harry Kane pass to put Spurs 2-1 ahead, before repaying the favour by supplying the third for Kane. Son also scored the fourth when he slid the ball under David de Gea. Spurs then let go of a 3-0 lead against West Ham. Son initially had given them a 1-0 lead. The Korean then found Kane for Spurs’ second goal. Jose Mourinho’s men then snuck a late 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor to close the month’s proceedings. You do not even need to guess who got the goal, just like you do not need to guess who assisted it. Spurs got the three points, as Son headed in from Kane’s flicked header. Son is the joint top scorer in the league overall, tied on 8 goals with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Kane was assisting more than scoring in September, but he was back getting the goals too in October, as well as laying them on. England’s captain was at the double, as Spurs thumped Manchester United 6-1. He empathetically put away Son’s cut back for his first goal and then scored a second half penalty. Kane’s quickly taken free-kick had earlier put Son through to put Spurs 2-1 up. In their next game a 3-3 draw with West Ham; Kane’s ball over the top to Son put them ahead.
Kane then copped a brace as he first showed great footwork before driving a low shot from outside the box past Lukasz Fabianski. His second goal was virtually a free header as the Hammers’ defence went to sleep, and he put away Sergio Reguilon’s cross. He wrapped the month up by assisting Son’s winner against Burnley. In this game Kane also showed worth by making a crucial clearance off the line from James Tarkowski when the game was goalless.