Top Men: Deadly duo lead the line again


After every round of Premier League fixtures, we pick our team of the weekend, explain our selections and then invite you – our loyal army of readers – to pick your team of top men. We’re looking for the players who caught your eye with dazzling displays or powerful performances on Matchday Ten (November 3-5). You can choose any formation and there’s no limit on how many players you can pick from each team – so have a think, then get involved.

TEAMtalk’s Top Men (4-3-3): McCarthy; Whittaker, Collins, Clark, Evra; Fellaini, Hernandez, Hoolahan; Suarez, Odemwingie, Van Persie.


Alex McCarthy – Reading: Reading may still be looking for their first victory since returning to the Premier League, but McCarthy did all he could to see them over that particular line on Sunday. The Royals were eventually forced to settle for a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Queens Park Rangers, but things could have been worse were it not for a couple of spectacular saves from McCarthy – most notably from Esteban Granero and Adel Taarabt.


Steven Whittaker – Norwich City: Making your Premier League debut is never easy, even for a seasoned professional who has turned out in the UEFA Champions League and has 15 caps for his country. Whittaker was handed his Norwich bow on Saturday, and he fared admirably as the Canaries picked up another welcome three-point haul on home soil. The Scottish full-back helped Chris Hughton’s men to a clean sheet as they kept Stoke City at a bay in a 1-0 success.

James Collins – West Ham United: Manchester City started with Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli at Upton Park on Saturday, and introduced Sergio Aguero off the bench, but a combination of their attacking talents could not find a way through a dogged West Ham defence. Collins, alongside Winston Reid, marshalled the Hammers’ back four brilliantly and restricted the reigning Premier League champions to a number of half-chances and wild efforts which failed to trouble the target.

Ciaran Clark – Aston Villa: Aston Villa came back to haunt former boss Martin O’Neill on Saturday, with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland doing little to lift the gloom on Wearside. Sunderland have struggled for goals this season, but Clark and co still had to be alert to the potential threat they faced. Villa were able to secure just their second shut-out of the season at the Stadium of Light, with Clark producing one vital clearance to deny Stephane Sessegnon.

Patrice Evra – Manchester United: Evra goals are something of a collector’s item, with the French full-back having netted just four times in over 200 Premier League appearances. The latest of those arrived at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Evra grabbing what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal. Manchester United were rarely troubled by the Gunners, with their goal arriving with the last kick of the game, and Evra will be delighted to have influenced proceedings at both ends of the field.


Marouane Fellaini – Everton: Everton will feel as though they should have left Fulham with all three points on Saturday, with David Moyes’ side dominating at Craven Cottage. A 2-2 draw does, however, keep them inside the UEFA Champions League places and stretches their unbeaten run to seven games. Fellaini has been an influential figure for Everton so far and bagged a brace in the capital over the weekend to take his tally for the season to five in nine appearances.

Pablo Hernandez – Swansea City: Seeing how quickly Hernandez has settled into his new surroundings at Swansea, it is difficult to understand why a player of such obvious talent has won just four caps for his country. The 27-year-old is another victim of an all-conquering Spain side that is brimming with attacking talent and could name a starting XI made up entirely of creative playmakers if it so wished. Hernandez offered another timely reminder of his ability on Saturday as he lashed home a spectacular late leveller in Swansea’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea – a result which prevented the Blues from returning to the top of the table.

Wes Hoolahan – Norwich City: Hoolahan has not always been guaranteed a starting berth at Norwich since their return to the top flight, with it difficult to see how his ball-playing abilities fit into a system designed to make life difficult for opponents. He is at his most effective when given freedom to get on the ball and dictate play, with a deep-lying striking role allowing him to drift into dangerous areas. He proved how destructive he can be against Stoke on Saturday, with the Potters struggling to keep him quiet as Norwich continued with their recovery from a slow start.


Luis Suarez – Liverpool: Love him or loathe him, you just cannot keep Suarez out of the headlines. The Uruguayan frontman produced a moment of brilliance against Newcastle on Sunday to earn Liverpool a point in another frustrating encounter for the Reds on home soil. The Anfield faithful are fully aware of what their South American striker is capable of, but a sublime first touch which allowed him to then stroll around Tim Krul and slot home had the Kop on its feet in awe.

Peter Odemwingie – West Brom: We are now 10 games into the 2012/13 campaign, and West Brom have collected more points than Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool and the same amount as Everton and Tottenham. Steve Clarke has done a remarkable job since taking the reins from Roy Hodgson, with a 2-0 victory over rock-bottom Southampton on Monday keeping the Baggies on the fringes of the top four. Odemwingie was the star of the show against the Saints, with the Nigeria international grabbing a deadly double to pile pressure on Nigel Adkins’ side.

Robin van Persie – Manchester United: It took just three minutes for Arsenal supporters’ worst nightmare to come true at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Gunners old boy Van Persie breaking the deadlock in an eagerly-anticipated encounter. There was a sense of inevitability about the whole occasion, with a defensive error from the visitors allowing Van Persie to bundle a volley into the bottom corner. The Dutchman, who refused to celebrate against his former employers, could have had a couple more later in the game, but he will be delighted to have already moved into double figures in all competitions for his new employers.

So that’s our team of Top Men – now pick yours!