Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Who showed no mercy? Who is getting the job done for Spurs?

Garth Crooks

At the end of every Premier League weekend BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will be on hand to give you his Team of the Week.

But who has he picked this time? Take a look and then pick your own team below. And, as ever, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' team of the weekGoalkeeper

Jordan Pickford (Everton)

It was a cracking Merseyside derby at the weekend. There were three fabulous saves by Pickford from Roberto Firmino and yet it was the stop from Darwin Nunez that had me applauding.

Pickford looks in good form at the moment and he was outstanding against Liverpool but that’s when I start to get very nervous about his performances. If he can retain this level of consistency then Everton and England will benefit enormously. Sadly, however, I can’t help feeling there’s always a mistake in Pickford especially when he’s been playing well.

Defenders

Conor Coady (Everton)

This lad has adjusted to his new environment very quickly. At Wolves, Coady looked commanding and I still can’t quite work out why they let him go. However he has slotted into the Everton back four very nicely and is starting to look as authoritative as he did when he was playing for the Wanderers.

The defender was unlucky to have a goal ruled out for offside against Liverpool by the video assistant referee and, had it stood, an Everton victory would not have been unreasonable.

As for Frank Lampard suggesting in his press conference that Virgil van Dijk “might” have seen red for his challenge on Amadou Onana, this is a matter for the referee and not him. You can read what I think about similar suggestions in the ‘Crooks of the Matter’ below.

Joe Gomez (Liverpool)

It’s good to see Gomez back in the Liverpool starting line up again. The player has suffered some horrendous injuries but has found the strength and shown the courage to come back from them.

His selection against Newcastle in midweek was telling, while his performance against Everton was composed in the white-hot heart of Goodison Park.

Van Dijk is not at his best at the moment and Klopp needs a cool head, and someone he can trust alongside the Dutchman and help him out until he gets his form back. Liverpool couldn’t get past Pickford, so a Liverpool clean sheet was the best they could hope for and Gomez was very much part of that effort.

Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)

For a player who didn’t even start the match, Chilwell seemed to end it very well. The England left-back’s trusted left foot played a major part in Chelsea’s controversial victory over the Hammers .

The substitute’s equaliser followed by his assist for Kai Havertz’s winner was a game changer against a West Ham side that have every right to be disgruntled about their defeat.

When will VAR learn? We were told that it would not interfere unless there was a clear and obvious mistake. Jarrod Bowen’s supposed infringement on Edouard Mendy was neither clear nor obvious and West Ham’s goal should have stood.

Midfielders

Philip Billing (Bournemouth)

What a strike by Billing against Nottingham Forest. Bournemouth had nine goals put past them against Liverpool two games ago and it cost them their manager. However, their performance against Wolves in midweek and their impressive victory against Forest, having been 2-0 down, suggests there is something in this team that previous manager Scott Parker couldn’t draw out.

As for Forest, they have a deep and troubling issue taking place at the City Ground. They seem to have an owner who thinks, by simply throwing money at a Premier League club, he can save it from relegation. I can name him numerous clubs that have tried that and lived to regret it.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham)

This wasn’t Tottenham’s greatest performance against Fulham and Hojbjerg is not one of Tottenham’s greatest players but both seem to be getting the job done.

The Danish midfielder’s goal was not just well taken but epitomised the grit Antonio Conte has added to this Tottenham outfit. Spurs sit third in the table, a point behind Arsenal, who are top.

Talk of either team winning the title is hyperbole but great for North London chitter chatter and the prospect of thrilling derby when the teams meet for the first time next month.

Christian Eriksen (Manchester United)

I saw an element of aggression return to the Manchester United team, the like of which I’ve not seen for quite some time. It was certainly absent in the defeats against Brighton and Brentford but there has been a gradual return to hostilities since the stinging criticism the team received after their first two losses of the season and Arsenal got the brunt of it.

Eriksen was the player who provided the touch of class required to open Arsenal up and he did it on more than one occasion. For 60 minutes Arsenal played the best football I’ve seen them play this season.

Perhaps with a little more patience from their manager the Gunners might have come away with something. Having five substitutes doesn’t mean you have to use all of them.

Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton)

I haven’t seen a Brighton side play like this since the 1980s. Their performance against a Leicester team, at the foot of the table and in trouble, was very impressive.

This Brighton team have no stars but they do have a very effective football team. The free-kick by the two-goal Mac Allister capped an excellent all-round performance by the Argentine.

As for Leicester, they have an excellent manager and talented players but if they think they are too good to go down it’s only as crazy as saying they couldn’t win the Premier league title – and they did that.

Forwards

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

It would appear that Rashford has won the battle with Cristiano Ronaldo to start games for Manchester United. Erik ten Hag has made the right decision of course.

Rashford is part of United’s future and Ronaldo, sadly, is part of United’s past. It comes to all great players of course. However it’s time to see if Rashford can take United back to the glory days. That is what he must achieve if he is to lead United’s attack and leave Ronaldo on the bench.

To do that Rashford must score goals and plenty of them. He looked good against Arsenal and took both his goals well but in order to be the best he will need to keep focused to maintain the consistency that was lacking last season.

Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Nottingham Forest were eaten alive by Haaland in midweek and Manchester City were only getting started. Away against a gallant Aston Villa, City found it far more difficult largely due to the home side having better players and a much more sophisticated game plan.

Haaland’s goal was met with the same glorious precision as Kevin De Bruyne’s cross. However, no team with the amount of possession Manchester City had against Villa should ever leave a football match with just a point.

Kyle Walker should be put in stocks for shooting when he should have squared the ball to Haaland in the first half.

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

The penalty given for the tackle on Toney was dubious but there was nothing remotely doubtful about the way the Brentford striker put away his hat-trick against Leeds.

Each goal was brilliantly taken but his third was quite special. The vision was only matched by his composure, and the execution of the chip that exposed Illan Meslier’s mistake. It left the entire Leeds defence at Toney’s mercy – and the striker showed none.

As for talk of Toney playing for England – I don’t see why not. If he can stay as calm playing for England as he does for Brentford then he’s a must. As for the decision by referee Robert Jones not to give Leeds a penalty for the tackle on Crysencio Summerville seemed absurd. Hardly surprising Leeds manager Jesse Marsch completely lost it.

Short presentational grey line

The Crooks of the Matter

Is this what it’s come to? Players accepting interviews in order to squeal on other professionals about their challenges in a football match? The last time I looked players were paid to play but it would appear Wolves captain Ruben Neves wants to be judge and jury as well.

Besides, the incident was dealt with by the referee; Newcastle’s Fabian Schar was booked for his tackle on Pedro Neto in their game on 28 August.

Yes, the challenge was high and it was late too, but to say it “nearly broke his leg” is like suggesting a woman is nearly pregnant – and by the way when did Ruben Neves qualify as a doctor or physiotherapist? How would he know?

Every challenge ever made on a football pitch has the potential of causing irreparable damage to a another player. A professional footballer has no business being on the pitch if he’s not prepared to accept the risks connected with playing the game.

What makes the game so engaging is its passion and, on occasions, tackles that appear on the edge or worse. However, the person responsible for dealing with those incidents is the referee.

Players can argue and disagree with him but to use your time in a post-match interview to whinge about an opponent’s challenge, and why he thought that player was no longer worthy of remaining on the pitch, is pathetic.

It was also well outside the standards of professional football etiquette between players. I’m astonished Neves didn’t know that or the communication team at Wolves didn’t tell him.

Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.

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