West Ham United v Manchester City - Premier League

Premier League Team of the Week (Video)

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It was goals, goals and more goals this past weekend in the Premier League (34 in total), which provides a logical starting point for this round’s Team of the Week.

Goalkeeper – Asmir Begovic (Stoke City)

Begovic looks more and more like a keeper set for a move to a big club, possibly in the January transfer window, which would leave Stoke City in a precarious situation. This past weekend he was sensational for the Potters, keeping a clean sheet and deflecting notable attempts from Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano.

Defender – Dejan Lovren (Southampton)

Arguably the most important piece added in Southampton’s summer transfers, Lovren has been the glue in a Saints defense plagued by a leaky 2012-13 campaign. On Saturday it was his shot that Adam Lallana deflected to hand Southampton a share of the points against Manchester United.

Defender – Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion)

What Lovren is to Southampton, McAuley is to West Brom – a menacing physical presence in the defense that will be the key to the Baggies finishing in the top half of the table. On Saturday he and the rest of the West Brom defense kept their unbeaten streak alive with a clean sheet at Stoke.

Defender – Chico Flores (Swansea City)

Chico Flores stamped out any hope Sunderland had of finding its first win of the season, shutting down Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore. It was Flores’ 80th minute shot that Fletcher turned into the net for the Swans’ fourth goal of the match.

Midfielder – Jonathan De Guzman ( Swansea City)

De Guzman is one of the most underrated midfielders in the Premier League. Slick skills combined with tenacious fight and impressive fitness, De Guzman is the engine in the center of the park that keeps the Swans moving. On Saturday his calculated pluck from 20 yards out helped Swansea solidify its 4-0 win over Sunderland.

Midfielder – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Ozil is a force to be reckoned with. His two goals led to Arsenal’s 4-1 trounce of Norwich City proving why he is worth every penny of the $69 million Arsene Wenger shelled out to acquire him.

Midfielder – Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Gerrard calmly slotted home his 100th Premier League goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle. The Liverpool captain has had a been a bit subdued this season but a few quintessential Gerrard diagonal balls showed that he is still very much one of the best midfielders in the league.

Midfielder – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Hazard’s brace against Cardiff City showed that he is finally developing into the goal-scoring threat that was acquired from Lille in the summer of 2012. With blazing speed and swift foot skills, Hazard is one of Jose Mourinho’s mainstays in the Blues midfield.

Midfielder – Andros Townsend (Tottenham) 

Townsend has been all the rage the last few weeks and after his wonder goal for England this past week the Spurs man nabbed his club an early lead that provided some breathing room from a feisty Aston Villa team.

Midfielder – Kevin Mirallas (Everton)

Mirallas has endured a difficult start to the season but opened his scoring account for the season with a well-taken strike from distance to help the Toffees defeat Hull City 2-1.

Striker – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Along with Daniel Sturridge, Aguero looks the most likely to take down this season’s Premier League scoring title. Against West Ham the Argentine finished brilliantly on two occasions, once with his feet and once with his head.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.