Two months of the Premier League season are now behind us, and whilst the extended summer temperatures seem to finally be drawing to a close, in the English top flight things are only just beginning to heat up.
As one might expect, there’s been drama and storylines aplenty in September, but certainly none more notable than Cristiano Ronaldo’s blockbuster return to his spiritual home of Manchester United. Whilst his return to the Old Trafford field has come with all of the pomp and glamour that anyone could’ve predicted, he isn’t the only late summer signing to already be making waves in the Premier League.
New faces may certainly be making a name for themselves, but the composition of our September Team of the Month, as well as the tightness at the top of the table, proves that stars from seasons gone by are determined not to be overshadowed by the new guns. Read on and see for yourself in our September XI, which certainly has a strong ‘Big 6’ presence to it.
September Team of the Month in Premier League
GK: Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Did Bernd Leno deserve to be dropped for Arsenal’s dreadful early season form?
Perhaps not, but since the opportunity to claim the number one spot has been presented to new goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, young England ‘keeper has flourished spectacularly.
There was much scepticism from Arsenal fans at signing Ramsdale, following his two successive relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United, but Ramsdale has been brilliant since coming into the side, conceding just once in three matches and impressing with his no-nonsense passing and authoritative command of the penalty area. A last-minute wonder save to keep Tottenham at arm’s length in the North London Derby has only further enhanced his popularity.
Regardless of Arsenal’s unpredictable form, one thing that is for certain is that right now Ramsdale is rapidly winning over his doubters, and Leno now has a massive fight on his hands to try and reclaim his spot in the team.
RB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal)
On the topic of new Arsenal signings, Aaron Ramsdale hasn’t been the only one making a significant impression. In fact, it is Ramsdale’s new teammate Takehiro Tomiyasu who joins him in our team of the month at right back.
Since joining the Gunners from Bologna, Tomiyasu has slotted seamlessly into his new team and league, representing a vast upgrade for Arsenal over the likes of Hector Bellerin and Cedric Soares. With excellent speed, defensive intelligence and a willingness to join in on the attack when needed, Tomiyasu helped Arsenal achieve back to back clean sheets in his first two appearances for the club and produced a man of the match display in the North London derby, keeping the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min quiet.
It’s early days, but at just 22 years of age, the Japan international appears to be another who can help Arsenal progress in the long run.
CB: Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
After Tottenham achieved a flawless defensive record in August, this month it was Manchester City who managed to keep clean sheets in all three of their league matches. Unsurprisingly, it was that man Ruben Dias who has been the conductor behind this stunning defensive record.
A star since arriving in Manchester one year ago, Dias has maintained the form that saw him earn the Premier League player of the season award in his debut season, leading City to statement wins over the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City in September. In fact, the Citizens have now not conceded a Premier League goal since falling victim to a strike from Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min on opening day, and Dias has played every minute since.
The image of Dias celebrating the Champions’ win over Chelsea whilst wearing the captain’s armband for the first time has since become iconic, the type of image that we’ll no doubt become used to seeing in years to come as his immeasurable influence continues to grow over this team.
CB: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Chelsea may have fallen to their first defeat of the season in the final league match of September, but that result doesn’t detract too much from another strong month for the Londoners, particularly at the back.
Continuing the trend so far established under Thomas Tuchel, the Blues remain a tough nut to crack, conceding just once in September, and the colossal Antonio Rudiger was central to their excellent defensive work. The German centre-back, one of several defenders revitalised under Tuchel’s reign, was a key player as the Blues recorded back to back clean sheets over Aston Villa and Tottenham, and even scored the third goal in the derby victory over the latter.
His fine form saw him earn a nomination for the official Premier League player of the month award, placing him in some esteemed company.
LB: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
Moving back up to Manchester for our last defender, in the left back spot we find the exceptionally versatile Joao Cancelo, another lynchpin of City’s watertight defence this season.
Whilst much of the attention is rightly focused on Ruben Dias, his compatriot Cancelo is arguably every bit as important to the Citizens’ backline, being the only player other than Dias to play every minute in the league for City so far this season. The fullback was typically solid against Leicester City and Southampton and simply brilliant in the monumental victory over Chelsea, keeping the Blues at arm’s length and even claiming a fortuitous assist for Gabriel Jesus’s winner.
City have notably struggled to fix the left back position for a number of years now, but every time Joao Cancelo plays there he looks to be a more than capable solution.
CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton)
Venturing into the centre of the park, our first midfielder is Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has enjoyed a terrific start to the season along with his club, who sit just one point off the top of the table as September draws to a close.
The French midfielder has produced some typical all-action displays in recent weeks, with an impressive end product, to help the Toffees claim two wins from three this month. Doucoure claimed two assists in the victory over Burnley, and although the first of these was nothing more than a simple pass that set up Andros Townsend for a wonder goal, his pinpoint through ball to Demarai Gray moments later was what sealed the Everton victory. A fine run and finish against Norwich sealed another comfortable victory in Everton’s final game of the month.
We all know how well Everton started last season, and for some it could feel like déjà vu before another feared collapse. But, with Doucoure pulling the strings of this team with such style, they may just avoid that outcome this time around.
CM: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea)
From the blue of Merseyside to the blue of West London, Doucoure’s midfield partner in our team is Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic, whose performances have caught the eye in the middle of the park.
The Croatian ran the show for the Blues in the middle of the park during their 3-0 victory over Aston Villa, claiming an assist with an inch perfect defence splitting pass for Romelu Lukaku, and getting on the scoresheet with an opportunistic finish from a terrible back pass. Kovacic would later claim another assist with a simple pass to N’Golo Kante in the derby against Tottenham, with Kante rifling in a long-range effort via a deflection.
Now an indispensable figure in an ever-developing Chelsea side, Kovacic’s importance has grown to match that of Kante and Jorginho, with his well-rounded and all action displays in recent weeks underlining his influence.
CAM: Ismaila Sarr (Watford)
Just outside of London, newly promoted Watford have gotten off to a more than the respectable start, sitting 12th at the end of September with one win, one draw and one loss in the month’s fixtures.
Winger Ismaila Sarr, who showed some promise when the Hornets were last in the top flight two seasons ago and spearheaded their fight to return, has quickly established himself as the team’s talisman with a very successful September. The Senegal international bagged two goals in his side’s vital 3-1 victory over Norwich with two opportunistic finishes, and his good positioning paid off once again with an excellent header from a corner to rescue a point against Newcastle.
Sarr’s excellent start to the season means that he now sits just one goal off the top of the scoring charts after six games, and it looks like he could be in for a fantastic individual campaign with Watford.
CAM: Allan Saint-Maximin (Newcastle United)
As many anticipated, it’s been another miserable start to the season for Newcastle United, who remain winless and sit near the foot of the Premier League table. But in spite of the Magpies’ struggles, fan favourite Allan Saint-Maximin has proven to be a ray of light in this team, offering entertainment in a place where it is otherwise sorely lacking.
With his side faring badly, Saint-Maximin has still managed to offer attacking returns as good as anyone in September, claiming two assists and a goal in the Premier League and being involved in 100% of Newcastle’s Premier League goals this month in the process. His mesmerising trickery followed by a rocket of a shot against Leeds United was typical Saint-Maximin magic, bringing his side level out of almost nothing.
If Newcastle are to have an upswing in form and move away from the relegation zone, then Saint-Maximin will undoubtedly be key to that, with the team’s reliance on him seemingly increasing by the week.
ST: Mohammed Salah (Liverpool) (C)
It’s been an impressively strong start to the season for Liverpool, who sit top of the table by a point two months in and remain the only unbeaten side in the league.
Whilst performances have been strong across the board for the Reds, rather than a small handful of players carrying the team forwards, the ever-brilliant Mohammed Salah has been a beacon of consistency this month for his side. The Egyptian has scored in all three league games this month, the only Premier League player to do so, and in the process surpassed a century of goals in the English top flight.
Despite finishing the month with a slight wobble at Brentford, Liverpool have decisively proven that they’re not to be taken lightly this season, and with Salah firing in the goals on a consistent basis yet again, another title charge could well be on the cards.
His consistency earns him the captaincy of our side and therefore our player of the month award.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
How’s that for a return to English football?
After Cristiano Ronaldo shocked the footballing world by returning to Manchester United in a whirlwind move in late August, it’s fair to say that he hasn’t been disappointed since coming back to the Theatre of Dreams. The Portugal captain got off the mark almost instantly with two simple finishes in a 4-1 demolition of Newcastle in his second United debut, before scoring again a week later to help his side overcome a battling West Ham at the London Stadium.
His understanding with compatriot Bruno Fernandes already seems to be bearing fruit and working as anticipated, as United also look to put together a serious title challenge. With three goals in three appearances since returning, it’s almost like Ronaldo had never been away.
Manager: Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
What a difference a month makes.
Bottom of the league and seemingly on a knife edge at the end of August, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has really started to turn things around in September. The Spaniard is the only Premier League manager to win all three league fixtures this month, with his side showcasing both defensive ruggedness and free flowing attacking football to claim maximum points with victories over Norwich, Burnley, and North London rivals Tottenham.
It was tough for Arteta last month, who had to contend with several injuries, but the mix of players returning and a couple of new faces coming into the side seem to have rejuvenated a previously flagging Arsenal team. With a few performances of this nature, particularly in the North London Derby, Arteta has achieved some desperately needed results.
From being on the brink of the sack a few weeks ago, there might just be life in his reign yet.
Manchester City and England fan. Writer of opinion and features on all things Premier League and beyond.