Championship Players of the Week: Matchday Five

Leeds United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford and Wigan Athletic stars were the outstanding performers on Championship matchday five.

GK - Marco Silvestri - Leeds United

23-year-old Silvestri has suffered a slow start in English football since joining Leeds from Serie A side Chievo. The former Italian Under-21 international had conceded eight goals in his first four games going into Saturday’s visit of Bolton, although his performance at Elland Road was deserved of the clean sheet he kept - and the man of the match title he was awarded.

The youngster was in exceptional form, and managed to keep out all eight shots on target that Bolton had. He made some incredible point blank saves, as well as one exceptional double save to aid his teammate to an impressive rearguard victory. In what was a submissive performance by the Whites - they only had 45% of the ball, and Bolton had 22 total shots to their eight - Silvestri had to be at the top of his game to guarantee their second league victory of the season - and their first since the departure of former manager Dave Hockaday midweek.

DF - Lewis Dunk - Brighton and Hove Albion

Whilst part of a defensive unit culpable for conceding two goals, Dunk singlehandedly claimed a point for his team with two powerful headers, equalising the game with Charlton in injury time. The 22-year-old central defender played his part in the questionable defending committed by the Seagulls, although his attacking instincts were enough to win him the man of the match award.

Both goals Brighton conceded came from a combination of bad positioning and tackling by the defensive unit, although this game was something of a one off, with the Seagulls having conceded just three goals in their opening four games of the Championship season. Whilst scoring two goals is a brilliant return for a central defender, the real positive to take from the last minute equaliser is the passion and desire that the Brighton team showed to claim a point from the game. Despite being one goal down, Dunk stayed in the opposition box to get on the end of a cross and head the ball into the net. An impassioned performance from the young defender. 

MF - Almen Abdi - Watford

The standout performer of the weekend, 27-year-old Abdi netted twice in Watford’s 4-2 victory over Huddersfield Town, as well as registering one assist with a perfectly placed corner. The six-time capped Switzerland international suffered a stop-start 2013/14 season due to severe injury, although he appears to have started the current season in the vein of form that saw him win the clubs Player of the season award in 2013.

His first ever brace for the Hornets came in a dominating performance from the midfielder, who could have netted a hat-trick were it not for a remarkable save from Huddersfield’s Alex Smithies, who denied Abdi’s free-kick. Not only he did perform in an attacking capacity, the fan favourite willingly put in a superb defensive performance following the dismissal of central defender Gabriel Tamas. Leaving the Hornets with 10 men, Abdi committed four tackles and blocked three shots to ensure that victory was found - something he assured with his injury time finish.

ST - Callum McManaman - Wigan Athletic

The first game of the current season that has allowed Wigan to show off attacking aptitude had 23-year-old McManaman featuring in a different position than he would usually appear. Rather than focusing upon wing-play, or lining up as the focal point of the attack, the former Everton youth star dropped deep into midfield and played as a classic number 10 - linking play between the midfield and attacking phase of play.

He scored two goals from his two shots on target, completed four successful dribbles, and played two key passes - although neither of them registered as an assist. Dropping deep allowed him to influence the play around him, rather than waiting for the ball to arrive at his feet. He had more than double the amount of touches than his strike partner did, and it was the profligacy of his teammates that meant the Latics didn’t add to their four-goal haul. Whilst it has been a rough start to Wigan’s season, with striking targets failing to arrive, if McManaman can continue to perform with such resourcefulness, he may be the answer to all their problems.

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