This season in the Premier League is shaping up to be a photo finish by the time we reach Week 38. Through eight games, we already have storylines more compelling than anything we saw last season.
Chelsea has continued to struggle. Liverpool fired Brendan Rodgers. The Manchester clubs continue to compete at the top, while Arsenal’s dismantling of United has many fans believing they could win their first title since Thierry Henry’s stint with the club.
As always in the Premier League, stars, new and old, have emerged. Here’s three of the best from Week 8.
Mesuit Özil, Midfielder, Arsenal
Arsenal fans have waited for Mesuit Özil to take over a big game since he arrived at the Emirates, and Sunday against United was the moment they’ve coveted. Özil was by far the best player on the field against the Gunners’ Manchester rivals, scoring one goal and assisting on another just eight minutes into the game. When Özil plays with that level of technicality and grit, he’s nearly impossible to contain, and he used his trickery to keep the United defenders on their heels all game long.
With their 3-0 victory on Sunday, Arsenal has many fans believing that they could challenge for the Premier League title. Though their struggles in Europe will likely lead to an early exit in the Champions’ League, Arsenal looks poised to make some noise in the league, and its easy to foresee the Gunners and Manchester City duking it out at the top of the table in May.
Sadio Mane, Striker, Southampton FC
Mane was the best player on the field when his Saints took on Chelsea this Saturday, as he slotted one goal in the back of the net, while assisting on another with teammate Graziano Pelle. Mane frustrated the Chelsea defenders all game, and after switching flanks early to avoid Cesar Azpilicueta, Mane became virtually unstoppable as he bounded down the wing towards the Chelsea goal.
Twice, he was brought down in the box, but could not earn a penalty, and instead earned a yellow card for diving. Nonetheless, Mane was phenomenal against the Blues, and will be key as the Saints try to progress towards another Europa League birth.
While Southampton seemed to have lost their rhythm after selling defensive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United this summer, the play of Mane and a few others has rejuvenated the Saints. Southampton has secured 10 points from their past five games, after gaining just two from their first three.
At that pace, the Saints will be right back in contention for a spot in Europe, which is where the southern club should find themselves after the incredible talent they’ve produced and sold over the past few years.
Sergio Aguero, Striker, Manchester City
I’m starting to feel like I should just permanently include Aguero as a fixture amongst the three stars. Honestly, how could I possibly exclude the man who scored five goals on the weekend? The Manchester City striker did just that in only 20 minutes against Newcastle, demonstrating the incredible skill of the Argentinian striker.
While Newcastle is hardly the class of the Premier League, scoring five goals against any top division side is quite the feat, and Aguero’s performance was unmatched by any in the Premier League this week.
While Manchester City has been anointed the prohibitive title favorites early, they have some serious competition in the form of United and Arsenal. City will almost certainly rely on the stellar play of Aguero to help win their third title since the new ownership took over.