Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Diogo Dalot, Jeremy Doku and Erling Haaland

23 October 2023 0 By Total Football News
Garth Crooks' team of the week

After every weekend of the Premier League, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks gathers his thoughts and gives you his Team of the Week.

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

Garth Crooks' Team of the weekGoalkeeper

Gugliemo Vicario (Tottenham) What a save by Vicario from Joao Palhinha's header in the opening exchanges against Fulham. The save was an important one and set Spurs up for their second clean sheet in consecutive games. The Italian goalkeeper made another excellent save in the second half when Raul Jimenez had his shot parried by the keeper with the goal at his mercy. Clean sheets win titles and whilst I am not suggesting for one minute Spurs will win the league, they currently sit two points clear at the top of the table and deservedly so. Vicario has finally brought a calm stability back to the Tottenham penalty area.

Defenders

Diogo Dalot (Manchester United): What a strike by the Manchester United defender. The two-touch finish was as clean as I have seen from a full-back. It was a pity for Sheffield United as this was the best performance I've seen from them this season and I thought they were worthy of a point. Manchester United meanwhile continue to splutter their way through the season, picking up points here and there without playing anything like the football their fans expect. Come to think of it they haven't done that for some time.

Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool): Was Everton's Ashley Young's sending off for a second bookable offence really necessary? If it was then Liverpool's Ibrahima Konate had to go. Young's tackle was a genuine one to try and win the ball. Konate's challenge on Beto was cynical and crude and what the yellow card was designed for but the Liverpool defender didn't receive one for the challenge in question. Fortunately for Liverpool they have Virgil Van Dijk in defence who is slowly coming back to some kind of form.

Kieran Trippier (Newcastle): The volleyed pass from Kieran Trippier for Jacob Murphy to score was nothing short of outstanding. The Newcastle captain is capable of delivering a ball as well as anyone in the Premier League. Newcastle are on a roll and dismantled Crystal Palace with the minimum of fuss. The Magpies are starting to behave like a team that is really starting to believe in itself. The speed in which Eddie Howe has taken Newcastle United from a struggling Premier League outfit to a team that is to be taken very seriously is quite astonishing. I hope for Newcastle's sake Gareth Southgate doesn't lose his job anytime soon - Howe is the only serious England candidate to replace him.

Midfielders

James Maddison (Tottenham): This player was made for this club. Not since Christian Eriksen have Spurs had a real football technician in midfield. He scored his first goal at home for the club against Fulham but this is a player who should be scoring on a far more regular basis. He does however have the ability to carve open the opposition almost at will and create openings for others to put the ball in the back of the net. He's a lovely footballer and has Spurs playing proper football again.

Declan Rice (Arsenal): The decision by referee Chris Kavanagh to award Chelsea a penalty for the attempted headed clearance by William Saliba was worse than awful. What exactly the referee expected the defender to do with his arms in that situation I can't begin to imagine. It was hardly surprising Mikel Arteta looked utterly perplexed. The faceless bureaucrats who created this rule, and have put referees in an impossible position, have something to answer for. Fortunately for Arsenal, Declan Rice was on hand to score what was a brilliantly taken goal and provided the inspiration the Gunners needed to bounce back. No thanks to the people who changed the rules.

Douglas Luiz (Aston Villa): The penalty was never in doubt once Douglas Luiz stepped up to take it. Villa fans know only too well my thoughts on the Brazilian. He has the same influence on his team as Dennis Mortimer did during the club's golden period in the early 80's. This was another scintillating performance by Aston Villa who completely dismantled West Ham. Villa now find themselves just outside the top four. I'm not sure they are good enough for the Champions League but I said that about Newcastle and look what they are doing.

Jeremy Doku (Manchester City): What a mismatch. What was manager Roberto De Zerbi thinking? The decision to ask James Milner to mark Manchester City's newly signed 22-year-old Jeremy Doku, a renowned speed merchant, means he has either never seen Doku play or is blissfully unaware that Milner is 38 on his next birthday. Let's be clear here, Milner has had a distinguished career with Newcastle, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City, but asking him to deal with Doku without providing reinforcements was like asking him to keep pace with Usain Bolt. This was clearly not a good idea and it cost Brighton dearly.

Forwards

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Referee Craig Pawson's inability to show some discretion in the Merseyside derby exposed him once he failed to exercise any consistency. Neither was it helped by Luiz Diaz who rolled over at least five times for dramatic effect after Young had fouled him. Meanwhile Mo Salah is back to his brilliant, unselfish and supportive best and has erased the sort of antics now effecting Luiz Diaz. It's time Salah had a word with Diaz.

Erling Haaland (Manchester City): If scoring goals means as much to Erling Haaland as it clearly showed when he put Manchester City 2-0 up against Brighton then I think their recent difficult period may be over. The Norway striker seems to have recovered his appetite for goals again with a glimpse of the kind of ruthlessness that has made him one of the most feared strikers in the world. City face BSC Young Boys in the Champions League in midweek and it is a chance for him to add to his goal tally. I'm convinced that Haaland needs the constant flow of goals and without them he's like a fish out of water.

Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford): What a strike by the Cameroon international. Brentford have had to wait for their first home win of the season but when it came it was worth it. Three superbly taken goals and a clean sheet is about as good as it gets in the Premier League. The star performer for me was Bryan Mbeumo. Who, I think in the absence of Ivan Toney, has been quietly impressive. The question now is what do Brentford do with Toney? If the rumours are true, and Arsenal are interested in buying him, he would be considerably cheaper than when he starts scoring goals again. Arsenal need an assassin up front if they are serious about snatching the title from City and at the moment they don't have one.

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The Crooks of the Matter

The thought of Nelson Mandela meeting Sir Bobby Charlton and sharing their stories would make any modern day podcast a listening treasure. Their friendship was well known and I've no doubt the former South African president, who was a keen football follower, would have been just as interested in Sir Bobby's favourite football moments as the rest of us.

I had the privilege of working with the Manchester United icon during the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain as a BBC panellist. At the time I was playing for Spurs, having my first taste as a rookie TV pundit, and found myself providing commentaries alongside the much more experienced England legend.

Our first major assignment was previewing the match between Italy and Brazil before making our way to the Estadio Sarria, the home of Espanyol, to watch the match.

A draw for the South Americans, who were very much the favourites, would see them through to the semi-final of the competition. I sat in stunned silence as I watched the Italians celebrate a historic victory and turned to ask Sir Bobby what he thought of the match only to see tears running down his face. He noticed my concern, and said; 'this was the best football match I have ever seen'. I was shocked by the response. How could a former player who had done it all still be so affected by a game?

After the match we walked through the streets of Barcelona back to our hotel with Sir Bobby congratulating every Italian who recognised him and commiserating with Brazilians in their hour of despair. Sir Bobby wasn't just a great player he was a great man. I'm not surprised he got on with Nelson Mandela.