Stats Zone's European Team of the Month: three in from the Premier League, but who?
Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
The Costa Rican shot-stopper was part of the biggest non-transfer story of the summer when he and David de Gea failed to swap places thanks to the incompetence of the world's two biggest clubs. Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez won't be too disheartened, though, given how Navas has performed in the following weeks. His one-handed save off a header from Espanyol's Gerard Moreno was exceptional, and there was little he could do to stop Sabin Merino scoring his first senior goal for Athletic Bilbao. Navas kept 5 clean sheets in 6 games before Sunday's Madrid derby draw, beaten only by Merino's goal at the new San Mames.
Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
The England right-back recovered well after scoring an own goal on the opening day of the season against Manchester United. Walker's attacking capability means that he often gets unfair criticism for his defensive responsibilities, but he has increasingly illustrated his tactical discipline in recent weeks.
He was part of the Tottenham back four that kept successive clean sheets against Sunderland and Crystal Palace, while ensuring that Branislav Ivanovic tormentors Bakary Sako and Raheem Sterling had relatively quiet matches in comparison. Walker recovered the ball 5 times against Manchester City and made 7 interceptions, but it was his 5 tackles against Palace that show the added solidity within his game.
David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Pep Guardiola's rotation in September led to variations in Bayern Munich's defensive system, with David Alaba the one consistent in the six matches they played. Last season he was the team's first choice left-back, but often used on the left-hand side of a back three. This year the Austrian has played predominantly as a centre-back alongside Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez. "David Alaba is always amazing, it doesn't matter where he plays," confessed boss Guardiola recently. He almost got himself on the scoresheet against Darmstadt, as his deflected shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Christian Mathenia. Alaba completed more than a 100 passes against Wolfsburg, Mainz and Dinamo Zagreb, the most of any player on the pitch.
John Stones (Everton)
A few eyebrows were raised at the money Chelsea were willing to part with in the summer for Stones. In hindsight the figures touted are looking justifiable, given the struggle that Jose Mourinho's side have faced at the back and how the former Barnsley defender has raised his game further since.
He showed the Portuguese coach first hand exactly what he was missing against the Blues at Goodison Park with some well-timed challenges on Diego Costa. His distribution was outstanding, while a Cruyff turn on Pedro was one of standout moments of the campaign so far.
"I think today he showed why he's going to be a future England captain," declared Toffees boss Roberto Martinez after the match. He helped his side to a clean sheet against Swansea, with his side then conceding two goals against West Brom when he was out injured.
Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina)
Left-back Alonso is finally beginning to fulfil his promise, after he was nurtured in the Real Madrid youth academy and then spent time at both Bolton and Sunderland (the latter on loan) without much fanfare.
The Spanish defender has been a constant menace with his crosses for the Viola this season, though, and his superb understanding with former Blackburn man Nikola Kalinic has led to two assists for the striker in as many matches. The 24-year-old had 5 shots against Bologna, made 5 interceptions versus Genoa and completed 3 tackles at Carpi. Alonso has played a crucial part in the Italian side's rise to the top of Serie A, as he provides balance in both a defensive and attacking sense.