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Premier League Week 2 Team of the Week (Video)

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It was another exciting week in the Barclays Premier League with plenty of twists and turns.

Manchester City, who looked so good last Monday against Newcastle, lost at new-boys Cardiff City. An undermanned Arsenal side bounced back from last week’s devastation to defeat Fulham. And two teams that everyone thought would impress, Manchester United and Chelsea, did anything but that in yesterday’s nil-nil draw.

At the end of it all, Chelsea remains atop the standings with seven points with Liverpool and Spurs both hot on the Blues’ tail at six points each and a game in hand.

Here is the Team of the Week for Week 2 of the Premier League.

Goalkeeper – Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)

Ben Foster was sublime during Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton. The West Brom net-minder recorded eight saves in the effort, including a face-busting parry on Marouane Fellaini from two yards out. The Baggies could struggle going forward, however, as Foster suffered a foot injury in the 78th minute that will keep him sidelined for the next 12 weeks.

Defender – Kolo Toure (Liverpool)

Manchester City must be reeling at having let Kolo Toure go in the off-season. In his two matches at Liverpool Toure has looked every bit a lock down defender, boasting two clean sheets. Last weekend he put the clamps on Villa striker Christian Benteke, who entered the match with three goals in two league contests.

Defender – Jose Fonte (Southampton)

After securing his side a clean sheet in Week 1’s victory over Sunderland, Jose Fonte was at it again last Saturday, securing a draw for the Saints with an 88th minute header.

Defender – John Terry (Chelsea)

After an injury riddled 2012-13 campaign John Terry has come out of the gates this season looking young and sprightly. Against Manchester United he was the highlight player for Chelsea in an otherwise drab match, recording 11 interceptions and winning 5 aerial duels to preserve a point for the Blues.

Midfielder – Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)

After 9 loan spells in his first four seasons at Tottenham, Andros Townsend looked like a man marked for departure. But Townsend earned a start in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Swansea City and made the most of it, terrorizing the right wing and drawing the penalty that resulted in Spurs’ game-winning goal. The display impressed many, including England manager Roy Hodgson, who called Townsend into the senior squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova and the Ukraine.

Midfielder – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)

From the looks of it, Aaron Ramsey has finally arrived for Arsenal. The midfielder has been fantastic in both of Arsenal’s Premier League matches as well as their Champions League triumph over Fenerbahce.  Against Fulham, Ramsey was the best player on the field, orchestrating the Gunners to the 3-1 victory.

Midfielder – Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) 

Aron Gunnarsson was a hellion in the Cardiff City midfield on Sunday. With his box-to-box movement and defensive hunt, Gunnarsson frustrated the City attack while coming up with his biggest achievement to date, netting the Bluebirds first Premier League goal.

Midfielder – Sone Aluko (Hull City)

Sone Aluko was key to Hull City’s 1-0 victory over Norwich City on Saturday, chasing down defenders and providing a creative spark for the Tigers going forward. After Yannick Sagbo was sent off, Aluko continued to give the Canary defense headaches, helping to secure his side’s first Premier League victory.

Forward – Frazier Campbell (Cardiff City)

Frazier Campbell was sensational in Cardiff City’s 3-2 triumph over Manchester City. The former Manchester United striker scored twice in the second half and embarrassed world-class defender Pablo Zabaleta while doing so. As to the $930,000 (£600k) transfer fee that Cardiff paid Sunderland for Campbell last January? Yeah, that’s looking like a pretty savvy investment.

Forward – Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

For the second consecutive week Daniel Sturridge made Liverpool fans forget about Luis Suarez as the Englishman bagged the winner in a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Sturridge’s goal was one of pure class, dragging the ball across Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender Antonio Luna before cleverly toe-poking into the roof of the net.

Forward – Lukas Podolski (Arsenal)

After being relegated to a substitute role against Aston Villa in Week 1, rumors began to circulate that the German forward may be on his way out of North London. But after his brace against Fulham suddenly those voices have quieted and everyone around Arsenal is keen on one thing – keeping Podolski happy. Funny how that works.

Honorable Mention – GK Allan McGregor; D James Chester (Hull City); D Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion); D James Collison (West Ham United); Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur); M Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur); M Etienne Capoue (Tottenham Hotspur); M Charlie Adam (Stoke City); M Theo Walcott (Arsenal); M Santi Cazorla (Arsenal); F Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.