Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Ederson, Robertson, Trossard, Richarlison and more

17 September 2023 0 By Total Football News

Garth Crooks' team of the week

After each team has played in the Premier League, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks gathers his thoughts and gives you his Team of the Week.

Who has he picked from this weekend’s matches?

Here are his choices. And as ever, Garth also discusses the game’s big talking points in the Crooks of the Matter.

An image of Garth Crooks' football Premier League team of the weekGoalkeeper

Ederson (Manchester City): He’s at it again: winning matches for Manchester City. Ederson’s save from Kurt Zouma, at arguably the most crucial point of their game at West Ham, was a match-winning save if ever I saw one.

Zouma couldn’t have done more with the header. His leap was superb and matched only by the power and direction of the header. West Ham’s Alphonse Areola might have made nine saves during the course of the game but he couldn’t win West Ham the match.

Ederson’s display earned City another three valuable points away from home and that is why City will be there battling it out for the title once again at the end of the season.

Defenders

Kyle Walker (Manchester City): He played – and scored – for England in a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Poland, and three days later featured for the entire match against Scotland at Hampden Park.

Walker then returned to his club and put in a sterling performance at London Stadium. There was even a moment in the match when Walker’s burst of speed down the right made Zouma look like he was running in treacle.

The England full-back is currently playing the best football of his career and in the best team in Europe. If he continues playing like this, he must be an early shout for footballer of the year.

William Saliba (Arsenal): There was a moment during the first half at Goodison Park on Sunday when Beto tried to run William Saliba down his left-hand side in order to get a strike in on goal. Well, the Everton striker should never have bothered.

Saliba ran Beto and the ball out of play with such ease that it was like taking candy from a baby. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an Arsenal centre-back look so comfortable under pressure. Saliba is also clever enough to know when to pull out of tackles he can’t possible win cleanly in the penalty area.

There was only going to be one winner here and it was Arsenal. As for Everton, it’s going to be another tough season – but fortunately for them, there are three teams I can think of who are worse.

Andy Robertson (Liverpool): It’s been some time since Robertson made my team but I thought his overall contribution to Liverpool’s victory at Wolves was well worth his selection.

The international break clearly had an impact on Liverpool’s excellent league form, especially in the first half. Robertson’s role as skipper for club and country seems to suit him, although I thought he might have done more to block Hwang Hee-chan’s shot, which resulted in the hosts taking the lead.

Nevertheless, the Scotland international was instrumental in keeping Liverpool’s run going with a well-taken goal. Liverpool are looking good, while their retention of Mohamed Salah is pivotal. All credit to Jurgen Klopp and the club. Few would have turned down such a lucrative offer from the Saudi Pro League.

Midfielders

Pascal Gross (Brighton & Hove Albion): I don’t think I’ve seen defending by a Manchester United side like that for years. Victor Lindelof looked unrecognisable from the player I saw in last season’s FA Cup semi-final and don’t even get me started on Lisandro Martinez.

However, this was an impressive victory at Old Trafford by Brighton, who ran all over United in a similar way to how Wolves did earlier in the season – except they didn’t get the result. Pascal Gross was the standout player and seems to have filled the gaps left by Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo with remarkable ease.

Any attempt to try to attach blame for United’s poor recent performances on the Glazers’ lack of ability to sell the club is utter nonsense. Whatever boardroom activities are taking place has nothing to do with a professional footballer once they cross the white line.

Rodri (Manchester City): Arguably the most important member of City’s team, Rodri is a permanent fixture in Pep Guardiola’s set-up – venturing forward and being more creative with every game.

During the second half, West Ham hardly saw the ball as Rodri pulled the strings and City controlled the match.

They have taken maximum points from five games and their past four haven’t included Kevin de Bruyne – no-one has even mentioned him, never mind missed him.

At this rate, City can take their time with the injured De Bruyne and wait until he’s fully fit before considering his return.

Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa): I thought that Crystal Palace assistant manager Paddy McCarthy’s analysis on the penalty awarded to Villa was spot on. Any referee who needs five minutes to make a decision must have sufficient doubts, but that didn’t stop Darren England from compounding his error of judgment.

The only thing I can say in his defence that it was his error and his alone. The tackle by defender Chris Richards was superb and casts doubt in my mind as to whether Mr England knows the difference between a good and bad challenge.

The penalty was a big moment and a game changer. Douglas Luiz makes my team not just because he converts the penalty so emphatically but also as a result of his performance, which was thoroughly professional throughout. His calm, steady and consistent approach has helped to transform Villa since the arrival of Unai Emery.

Leandro Trossard (Arsenal): There can’t be many teams with the ability to lose a top-class player through injury and replace him with another. Arsenal had to take off Gabriel Martinelli after just 22 minutes at Goodison Park but had the luxury of bringing on Trossard.

The Belgium international made an immediate impact and slotted in past Jordan Pickford as part of the most exquisite move I’ve seen from Arsenal for some time. Trossard is very unlucky not to be in the Gunners’ starting line-up, as the selection process for Mikel Arteta is starting to get a little problematic.

Arsenal host PSV in the Champions League on Wednesday and Spurs in the north London derby four days later. Top players want to play in the biggest matches. Leaving Aaron Ramsdale out for David Raya when the England goalkeeper hasn’t put a foot wrong may come home to bite Arteta. The Arsenal manager needs to handle that situation with great sensitivity.

Forwards

Richarlison (Tottenham): A goal and an assist from a player who has clearly been struggling with his form since he joined Spurs changed the game against Sheffield United.

The movement by Richarlison for his headed equaliser was quite brilliant but it was his unselfishness and ability to pick out the pass for Dejan Kulusevski to score once inside the penalty area that won Tottenham the match.

This is a player I have previously criticised. I have, in the past, found his antics rather juvenile. However, to have played in midweek for his country, returned on time to play for his club amid suggestions about the state of his mental health, come on as substitute and had such an impact on a match speaks volumes about the Brazilian’s strength and courage. Long may it continue.

Jeremy Doku (Manchester City): How interesting that, having dispensed with the services of Raheem Sterling at 27 and more recently Riyad Mahrez at 32, City manager Pep Guardiola sold both players for a combined sum more than the price of Doku.

The 21-year-old looked electric against West Ham and City now have a player once again who is capable of beating full-backs on a regular basis in a way Sterling and Mahrez used to do. Doku set up two gilt-edged chances for Erling Haaland during the first half before slotting the most delightful goal past a stranded Areola.

Hammers full-back Vladimir Coufal did his best to contain Doku but the winger was just too good on the day.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): He might not be scoring goals in bucketfuls anymore but Salah is playing the best team football I’ve seen him play since his arrived at Anfield.

He was outstanding again against Wolves and hasn’t put a foot wrong since the Saudis tried to lure him to their Pro League with mind boggling amounts of cash. All credit to the Egypt superstar, who has conducted himself in a manner dignified and respectful to the club who have made him a world-class player. A model professional.

Short presentational grey line

The Crooks of the Matter

I felt compelled to respond to Luton Town manager Rob Edwards, who said my comments last week, about not being in a position to take the Hatters seriously and the team being down by Christmas, were “disrespectful”.

They are worthy of some context. I must admit, my comments certainly weren’t meant as a compliment but more as an early warning signal of what awaits the newly promoted club.

Luton Town Football Club have a proud history of producing some of the country’s top players and putting much bigger clubs to the sword. The first time I played at Kenilworth Road, Ricky Hill was a young, prodigious talent who went on to play for England.

He was followed by Brian and Mark Stein and a young John Hartson; strikers who could score against any opposition. So many goal threats, and that’s before I even mention Malcolm Macdonald.

Paul Walsh left Luton for Liverpool having produced some of his best football for the Bedfordshire club, supported by outstanding defenders such as Paul Price, Mal Donaghy, Paul Elliott and Steve Foster. And David Pleat and Mick Harford deserve lifetime achievement awards for their contributions to the club.

However, my problem with the current regime is that I see a club in the Premier League but with no serious intentions of staying there.

To survive in the toughest and most successful league in the world requires significant investment in player recruitment and infrastructure. I look at Kenilworth Road and Luton’s summer signings and it’s clear there has been only the bare minimum.

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