Five-a-side TOTW: August 16th 2016

Picking an eleven is hard; picking just five is even harder.

The Premier League is back and we pick our 5-a-side team from the opening weekend.

Goalkeeper – Maarten Stekelenburg

Everton’s Stekelenburg has struggled for a full season’s football since leaving Roma – and may yet find himself ousted at Goodison Park – but a string of good saves in the closing moments of a 1-1 draw with Tottenham makes him the most acclaimed goalie of the opening fixtures. At 6”6 Stekelenburg would look strange marshalling a five-a-side goal but proved his reflexes were up to scratch when stopping compatriot Vincent Janssen from turning in a late winner.

Anchorman – Etienne Capoue

Yeah, I didn’t see this one coming either. Watford let Southampton rescue a point on Saturday afternoon but saw their undefeated streak in opening league fixtures continue. Capoue scored their only goal – a good finish too – but provided much more to the game both with and without the ball. On paper, Watford’s first team should be nowhere near relegation and Capoue could play an integral part this campaign.

Playmaker – Philippe Coutinho

Our first ever selection contains a player who may, in fact, be better suited to five-a-side than he is the full pitch format. That being said, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to curl exquisite free kicks into the top corner as he did for Liverpool’s crucial first goal in their 3-4 victory over Arsenal. He’s a natural at weaving round the pitch and shimmies past challenges for fun. On Sunday he was instrumental between the lines and made things happen with a variety of flicks and chips.

The Runner – Anthony Martial

Wideman, wing forward, striker – wherever Jose Mourinho utilizes Martial this year he’s guaranteed to run the legs off the opposing fullback. He bagged two assists against Bournemouth and was a constant menace despite not getting on the scoresheet. Linking up well with a resurgent Juan Mata and inevitable goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimović, Martial will be hard to drop next match despite the talent on the Old Trafford bench. I think I even caught him smiling at one point.

The Finisher – Sadio Mane

Despite a familiar wobble inside the final twenty minutes, Liverpool’s fluid front five had a lot of fun. Mane grew into the game and soon began to cause real problems wherever he popped up. He became a valuable option for Coutinho and company and marked his debut with a wonderful solo goal, cutting inside Nacho Monreal and ripping the ball into the top corner.  He then took the potentially risky move of jumping on Jurgen Klopp’s back – luckily the reds were three goals up at the time at the German was in a fine mood.

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