The Premier League season has hardly gone according to expectations, with reigning champion Chelsea hanging on for life at times and upstarts Leicester City and West Ham staking a place at the top of the table.
Leading the way for Leicester has been Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, the latter of which has gained the admiration of English national team supporters.
The 28-year-old Vardy currently leads the league with 11 goals and his teammate Mahrez is tied for second with seven.
It didn’t take long for Anthony Martial to settle in at Manchester United, and the 19-year-old talent is quickly making other managers take notice during preparations.
Before United’s Halloween match against Crystal Palace, Palace manager Alan Pardew told the Daily Mail “We felt that if we could stop (Martial), we could stop (United)’s creative angle.” That’s high praise on a roster that features Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay.
Finally, it’s hard to call Kevin De Bruyne a surprise due to his performance for Wolfsburg and subsequent transfer saga with Manchester City, but the Belgian has made an instant impact at the Etihad.
According to Whoscored.com’s match ratings, De Bruyne has been the second-best player for City this season besides David Silva, with an average match rating of 7.68. That’s better than Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and splash signing Raheem Sterling.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham
The Gunners will look to rebound after receiving a 5-1 thrashing from Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Tottenham will surely hope to add to their rivals’ misery in the North London Derby. 10:00 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports.
Stoke City v. Chelsea
The Blues showed a bit of life, and a lot of support for Jose Mourinho, during a midweek win over Dynamo Kiev. Whether that will translate to league success against burly Stoke is another matter. 11:30 a.m. Saturday on NBC.
Golazo of the Week
A goal that is merely the best of the week here may prove to be Chelsea’s goal of the year.
After allowing Dynamo Kiev to draw level at 1-1 midway through the second half of its Champions League matchup, the prospect a group-stage exit was becoming more and more of a reality for Chelsea.
But along came Willian, who swooped in with a masterful free-kick goal to save Mourinho and his Blues in their darkest hour. The Brazilian has quietly been Chelsea’s best player this season by developing into a free kick maestro and fending off every replacement the Blues have bought for him.
National team update
For whatever it’s worth, the United States Men’s National Team dropped to No. 33 in this month’s Fifa World Rankings. They were previously ranked No. 29.
The rankings, which function more as power ratings based on a team’s recent performance, reflect a poor October where the United States lost to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup and Costa Rica.
The USMNT’s slide means little in the grand scheme, but you know times are tough when you’re ranked below heavyweights like the Cape Verde Islands and Iceland.