LONDON — Manchester City is first in this week’s Associated Press global soccer poll after beating city rival Manchester United 4-1, and Sergio Aguero’s two goals earned him the top player vote.
City received 157 points out of a possible 180 in the team vote to finish 20 points ahead of Napoli. Aguero received 131 votes, five more than Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Sergio Aguero got a goal and an assist against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League and then scored a double in the derby game,” Paris-based Irish soccer writer Mark Rodden said. “Having netted the goal that won the league two years ago — and the winner against United last season — the Argentine can hardly be more popular with City fans.”
Napoli is second after opening its Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund before beating AC Milan by the same score at the San Siro.
Gonzalo Higuain, who scored Napoli’s winner in the game against Milan, is fourth in the player rankings with 71 points, three ahead of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
Rafael Benitez’s side have won all of its five games so far this season and again impressed this week’s AP’s panel of 18 voters.
“First, a convincing win over last season’s Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund and then a first away victory over AC Milan since the days of Diego Maradona,” Julian Bennetts of Hayters news agency said. “There is a real sense of momentum around Rafa Benitez’s side at present and they look genuine candidates for every competition this season.”
Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are once more recognized as the heartbeat behind Arsenal’s good run of form.
The midfielders are sixth and seventh, respectively, in this week’s rankings, falling from second and third place the previous week. Ramsey scored the opener in Arsenal’s 3-1 win against Stoke but Ozil received nine more votes (51) for an impressive display that included two assists.
“Ozil left his fingerprints all over Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Stoke City,” said Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post, while Orfeo Gonzalez of El Mundo said: “Arsenal is different with Ozil in the team, a ‘hors categorie’ player.”
While Ronaldo is in second place, his Real Madrid side was voted into sixth position in the team vote. Madrid is three points behind Barcelona. But Ronaldo has 58 points more than Messi, after the Portugal forward scored five goals in two games.
Barcelona’s Pedro is third in the player vote. Tied in 10th position are Everton defender Leighton Baines and Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who both received 27 votes.
Baines scored from two excellent free kicks in Everton’s 3-2 win against West Ham, while Reina became the first man to save a penalty from AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli, who had not missed in 21 previous spot kicks.
AP Global Soccer rankings (for week ending Sept. 24)
1. Sergio Aguero, 131 points.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, 126.
3. Pedro, 93.
4. Gonzalo Higuain, 71
5. Lionel Messi, 68.
6. Mesut Ozil, 52.
7. Aaron Ramsey, 41.
8. Yaya Toure, 38.
9. Victor Valdes, 32.
10. Leighton Baines, Pepe Reina (tie) 27.
1. Manchester City, 157.
2. Napoli, 137
3. Bayern Munich, 108.
4. Arsenal, 93.
5. Barcelona, 91.
6. Real Madrid, 88.
7. Atletico Madrid, 67.
8. Roma, 42.
9. Inter Milan, 39.
10. FC Basle, 37.