Football365’s weekly awards – November 2

Matt Stead

Premier League player – Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Two goals, one assist, four chances created, 58 passes, 91.4% pass accuracy, and a central midfield of Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and Darren Fletcher made to look like, well, a central midfield of Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and Darren Fletcher. Winners and losers put it rather more eloquently, but how the f**k did Manchester City sign him for just £20million?


Football League player – Glenn Murray (Brighton)
Glenn Murray scored three goals on Saturday. Glenn Murray completed 11 passes on Saturday. Glenn Murray helped Brighton beat fellow Championship promotion contenders Norwich on Saturday. Glenn Murray has now scored as many league goals this season (nine) as Derby. Vincent Janssen wishes he was this good.


European player – Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Almost a year to the day since his professional debut, Gianluigi Donnarumma produced the kind of performance against Pescara on Saturday that leaves Italy convinced they are in safe hands when his namesake Buffon eventually retires. That he cannot legally drink in his home country until February – and therefore cannot celebrate saves such as the below – is just cruel.


Best goal – Diego Costa (Chelsea)
It can often be shrouded by dickhousery of the highest order, but Diego Costa is pretty good at football. Given a new lease of life at Chelsea under Antonio Conte, the Spaniard struck a sublime curling effort into the far corner of Southampton’s goal to secure a 2-0 victory on Sunday. It was only his second Premier League goal from outside the area.

(EDIT: This was written before Mesut Ozil made me feel feelings in particular places on Tuesday. Oh my.)


Best save – Tom Heaton (Burnley)
The former Manchester United keeper was a force to be reckoned with against his old side, inspiring Burnley to a 0-0 draw on Saturday. Heaton made 11 saves at Old Trafford which, ladies and gentlemen, is rather a lot. The finest of his collection was undoubtedly the sprawling effort to keep out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic strike from six yards out. “That was Peter Schmeichel-eseque,” exclaimed commentator Jonathan Pearce, without a hint of embellishment. The Great Dane himself even had his say, describing the save as “one of the best in Premier League history”. So yeah.


Best pass – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
It did not lead to a goal, nor even technically a shot at goal, but N’Golo Kante’s cross-field 30-yard pass while under pressure to Marcos Alonso in the second half of Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Southampton continues a welcome trend. After his all-tackling, all-intercepting performances of last season, the Frenchman has added control of the ball and forward thinking in possession to his game. He is resembling the complete midfield player with every passing week.


Best tactical move – Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
Arsenal must have been fearing the worst. They had squandered an opportunity to assume sole ownership of the top spot in the Premier League with a goalless draw against Middlesbrough in their previous fixture, and history was threatening to repeat itself against Sunderland. David Moyes’ side undertook an infinitely more defensive approach compared to their north-east rivals, but it was proving just as effective. Try as they might, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi could not quite extinguish the hosts at the Stadium of Light.

As the clock reached 69 minutes on Saturday, Arsene Wenger faced a conundrum. Sanchez’s goal had been cancelled out by Jermain Defoe’s penalty, and Sunderland were beginning to grow in confidence. The visiting manager looked to his bench, and sent on a striker who had scored in just two of his last 20 Premier League games. Plan A had not quite worked; Olivier Giroud represented Plan B. He reprised his role as central striker, while nominal centre-forward Sanchez replaced Iwobi on the left wing.

Within two minutes, the Frenchman struck his first goal of the season; Arsenal were in the lead. Five minutes later, he scored his second. And within nine minutes of Giroud’s introduction, the Gunners had turned a problematic 1-1 draw against the league’s bottom club into an impressive 4-1 victory. A simple tactical switch, but an effective one.


Worst tactical move – Tony Pulis (West Brom)
This section of the awards includes a weekly look into precisely where one particular manager employed an ineffective approach, made a lamentable substitution or chose the wrong player in the wrong position.

Previous winners include: Alan Pardew, for playing Connor Wickham as a winger; Jose Mourinho, for starting an injured Jesse Lingard and a struggling Henrikh Mkhitaryan; and Antonio Conte, for being outsmarted by Arsene Wenger. Each manager have their decisions carefully examined through an analysis as thorough and in-depth as it is lengthy. But sometimes, the shorter the message, the more impactful it can be.


Premier League loan player – Takuma Asano (Stuttgart)
A first goal in European football for the 21-year-old, as he opened the scoring for Stuttgart in their 3-1 2. Bundesliga victory over Karlsruher. He has probably jumped ahead of Yaya Sanogo in Arsenal’s pecking order as a result.


Fraud of the week – Pep Guardiola


Impression of the week
“I just want to say fantastic work from the referee, I will not say more than this” – Jose MourRui Faria.


Picture of the week


Response to transfer rumour of the week
“How many matches have we played? Nine, ten? F**king hell, ten matches and we talk about all this stuff” – Jurgen Klopp.


Nod of the week

It says nod. Nod. Not… it doesn’t matter.


Dembele of the week – Boubakar Dembele (Meyrin FC)
Karamoko maintained his monopoly over the Dembele headlines by continuing to be young while featuring for assorted youth teams, but it is Boubakar Dembele who can proudly display the award on his mantlepiece this week. The 34-year-old midfielder did not score in his league leaders FC Meyrin’s 7-0 demolition of basement club FC Bramois, but he received rave reviews for filling in at left-back for the full 90 minutes. A 30-something central-midfielder-turned-left-back? The Swiss fifth tier finally has its long-awaited answer to James Milner.


Compiler of the week – Matt Stead