Gameweek five of the 2021-22 Premier League season is done and dusted, with Chelsea and Liverpool maintaining their title charges with comprehensive 3-0 victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace respectively.
Arsenal had to rely on a piece of magic to get over the line in a 1-0 win against Burnley, while Newcastle United and Leeds United drew 1-1 on Friday before Saturday's early kickoff saw Wolverhampton Wanderers succumb to a 2-0 loss against Brentford.
Elsewhere, Aston Villa trounced Everton 3-0, Brighton & Hove Albion claimed an impressive 2-1 win versus Leicester City, and Watford came out on top against Norwich City in the battle of the newly-promoted sides.
Here, Sports Mole whittles down the best performers of the weekend to an 11-man squad for our Premier League Team of the Week.
After recovering from a particularly nasty bout of coronavirus, Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow strapped up the gloves and put in a commanding display on his return to action. While David de Gea's heroics against West Ham deserve a mention, Newcastle would not have gleaned a point against Leeds without Darlow and his nine saves on the day.
Another notable absentee from his side's backline in the early stages of the season, Thiago Silva has slotted back into the Chelsea defence like he never left. The 36-year-old rose highest to head home the opener against Spurs, nearly claimed an assist with a fabulous long ball to Marcos Alonso and won all four of his aerial duels during an ageless display.
Holding the champions to a goalless draw means that at least one member of the Southampton rearguard earns a spot in our team, and none stood out more than Jan Bednarek. While the Saints may have felt aggrieved not to have taken all three points home themselves, Bednarek stood firm at the other end with four interceptions, three blocks, two tackles and a 94% pass accuracy against Pep Guardiola's men.
Completing the three-man rearguard is the dominant force that is Virgil van Dijk. The Liverpool man claimed an assist for his headed flick towards Mohamed Salah against Palace and was an immovable force at the back, winning seven out of seven aerials and making five clearances to preserve his side's clean sheet.
The ever-versatile James Milner was forced into a right-back role against Palace with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Neco Williams both out of contention, and the 35-year-old put in an exemplary performance. With four tackles, three interceptions, an 85% pass accuracy and eight ground duels won, Milner continues to prove his worth to the Anfield outfit in his golden years.
Aston Villa were hardly expected to sweep aside Everton in the manner that they did, and midfield maestro Douglas Luiz was a key factor in that memorable afternoon. The Brazilian's perfectly-weighted first-time ball to Matty Cash sent the right-back on his way to score the opener, while he also won nine ground duels and made five key passes in front of the Villa Park faithful.
Arsenal's inability to kill the game off once again came to the fore against Burnley, but a moment of brilliance from Martin Odegaard ultimately propelled the Gunners to their second win in succession. Stepping up to the plate for the free kick, Odegaard's effort sailed into the top corner to hand Arsenal all three points, and with three out of five ground duels won and two tackles at Turf Moor, his permanent capture is proving to be an excellent bit of business from Edu and co.
At one point, Marcos Alonso's Chelsea career was seemingly dead in the water, but the Spaniard continues to keep Ben Chilwell out of the team week in week out. Alonso's corner found the head of Silva for the opener before he ended the game with four key passes, four interceptions and was extremely unfortunate not to find the back of the net himself.
Despite links with Liverpool in the most recent transfer window, Ismaila Sarr remained loyal to Watford and was reaping the rewards at Carrow Road on Saturday. The 23-year-old was in the right place at the right time to score his first of the day before pouncing on a loose ball to double his tally, and the Watford man completed five successful dribbles out of five attempts during an eye-catching performance.
It has taken a bit of time for Ivan Toney to get going in the top flight, but the Brentford man was instrumental in his side's win over Wolves. A dominant force aerially and on the ground with a total of 16 duels won, Toney's coolly-taken penalty set Brentford on their way to victory and he could have hit a hat-trick on the day without VAR, while his perfectly-timed pass for strike partner Bryan Mbeumo's finish capped off a dominant display.
The final spot in our XI goes to centurion and record-breaker Sadio Mane. After witnessing Mohamed Salah net his 100th Liverpool goal the week before, Mane was on hand to crash home his landmark goal for the Reds against Palace, which also represented the ninth Premier League game in a row that he had scored against the Eagles - a new top-flight record for the Senegalese superstar.
Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Week
Sports Mole's Premier League Team of the Week (3-4-3): Darlow; Bednarek, T. Silva, Van Dijk; Milner, D. Luiz, Odegaard, Alonso; Sarr, Toney, Mane