Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Salah, Toney, Mount, Silva, Martinez


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.

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.

Do you agree with Garth Crooks' Team of the Week?Goalkeeper

Jose Sa (Wolves)

When teams are struggling it is imperative that your goalkeeper wins you games and does not lose them.

Jordon Pickford has had a fantastic period for Everton recently but his error lost them the game against Spurs and he is England’s number one.

Jose Sa on the other hand came to the rescue for Wolves in their hour of need against Nottingham Forest. The penalty from Brennan Johnson, while well struck, didn’t do the trick and produced an outstanding save from the Portuguese keeper. The best keepers save you points and win you games not the other way round.


James Milner (Liverpool)

Milner has been playing so long you’re inclined to forget he was once at Manchester City where he achieved tremendous success. No one thought when he left the Etihad for Anfield that he would have gone on to greater things but he did.

His performance against his former club in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Anfield was extraordinary. Milner is unflappable, dependable and above all an exceptional professional, and I’m not in the least bit surprised Jurgen Klopp refuses to let him out of his sights.

Professionals like Milner only come around once in a generation and it is to Liverpool’s credit they have retained his services.

Joe Gomez (Liverpool)

If there was a player you might have targeted to be the weak link in Liverpool’s defensive line up against City it would almost certainly have been Joe Gomez. He wasn’t expected to start the game in the first place but more importantly, struggled with his form this season.

Man City dominated much of this encounter but at no time did they dominate Gomez. The defender looked backed to his focused and committed best. In fact, the game brought out the best in the England defender and on this form is a must for Qatar.

Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

Chelsea made hard work of it against Aston Villa in the first half having gone 1-0 up at Villa Park. What Marc Cucurella is doing at the club never mind on the pitch at Villa Park I don’t quite understand.

Graham Potter, having sold the player when manager at Brighton, has now inherited him at Chelsea but the Spaniard is not a top-our defender and it is showing.

Thiago Silva on the other hand is not just a top-class defender but is having to mentor Kalidou Koulibaly and Trevoh Chalobah in the process. The Brazilian is calm, cool and sophisticated, and head and shoulders above anyone in the Chelsea back line.

Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)

Newcastle proved to be difficult opposition for Manchester United in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, especially as the Red Devils played Omonia FC in the Europa League in midweek and the Cypriot side proved to be no pushovers either.

The one player Erik ten Hag seems to be relying on these days is Lisandro Martinez. He struggled in his first two games for United but so did the entire team.

Since then one of the smallest centre-backs in the Premier League doesn’t just seem to be coming to terms with the physicality of the league but actively enjoying it. This was a game United might have lost under Ralf Rangnick but not any longer it would appear.


Mason Mount (Chelsea)

Mount’s first goal was a little fortunate but there was nothing remotely lucky about his free-kick which flew past Emiliano Martinez in the Aston Villa goal. Mount was outstanding in Chelsea’s midweek Champions League victory over AC Milan and seems to be really enjoying his football at the moment.

This was a slightly better performance by Villa than the one last week against Nottingham Forest but I sense manager Steven Gerrard is starting to run out of ideas. When players like Philippe Coutinho look like they have lost interest something is going terribly wrong.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham)

Everton should really have been 2-0 up at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before Spurs got into any kind of rhythm. It never ceases to amaze me when midfield players or defenders find themselves in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper they go into meltdown or suffer a panic attack.

Had Amadou Onana or Demarai Gray retained the slightest composure in front of goal Everton could have come away with something.

Hojbjerg on the other hand showed the control and composure, not always associated with the Denmark international, to seal the points for Spurs in a 2-0 win. I don’t know why I was so surprised, Hojbjerg has been a brilliant addition to the team and quietly consistent for some considerable time.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Four goals in the last three games for Saka. His goal against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League in midweek was impressive but his finish in the win over Leeds was outrageous.

Scoring goals has always been the most difficult objective to achieve on a football pitch – even if it’s a penalty. That’s why whenever your team is presented with a penalty make sure you give it to someone who knows what he’s doing.

Your best striker is not always your best penalty taker as Patrick Bamford and Leeds will no doubt testify after his miss from the spot.

And why Gabriel saw his late red card for violent conduct rescinded is a complete mystery because that’s what it was – regardless of what the video assistant referee at Stockley park said. There was a time when the referee’s decision was final, VAR has changed that.


Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth)

What a bad decision by referee Graham Scott not to award Ryan Fredericks a penalty for Tim Ream’s pull on the Bournemouth full-back in the draw at Fulham. When there is a clear and obvious error, isn’t that precisely when we were told VAR would intervene, or has that fallen victim to the searchlight policy of trying to find incidents no one else has seen??

I don’t know what caretaker manager Gary O’Neil has done to Bournemouth since the departure of Scott Parker but it seems to be working. The Cherries are looking a decent outfit at the moment especially Dominic Solanke up front. The striker is really starting to look like a Premier League player.

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

Toney’s first goal in his side’s win over Brighton was nothing short of impertinence. As for his second, well I don’t think I’ve seen any player who is as confident taking a penalty as the Brentford striker. He just doesn’t just convert penalties, he sends the keeper the wrong way.

Brentford’s David Raya was superb between the sticks but he still wouldn’t have made my selection as I thought Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga and Sa’s performance for Wolves were better.

As for the spat between the two managers, I have a lot of time for Brentford’s manager Thomas Frank but he has no business touching the ball when a player from the opposition is trying to retrieve it. Leave the ball alone.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

You couldn’t take your eyes off the Liverpool-Man City match and it was Mohamed Salah at his best. He scored a hat-trick in midweek in the Champions League against Rangers and so was in the mood against City.

It was schoolboy marking by Joao Cancelo that allowed Salah in on goal but you have to ask the question why weren’t Manuel Akanji or Ruben Dias marking the Egyptian? Once Salah was one-on-one with Ederson the game was over. A great game of football refereed brilliantly by Anthony Taylor.

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The Crooks of the Matter

I could hardly contain my alarm at the news of Ivan Toney receiving racial abuse from a fan after Brighton had suffered defeat at the hands of the Brentford striker on Friday.

In May, Toney and team-mate Rico Henry said their families were racially abused at Goodison Park after Brentford’s 3-2 win over Everton. Meanwhile, Luton Town have reported “disgusting” racist abuse aimed at the Championship club’s striker Elijah Adebayo to the English Football League and police after the striker scored two goals against QPR at the weekend.

Those that ran football in the 80s, when black players first burst onto the scene in any number, should hang their heads in shame for allowing football grounds to be used as recruitment centres by racists.

After years of campaigning and the introduction of new laws, the game has been compelled to act and done so effectively. These days, football grounds have been replaced by social media platforms for racists to hurl abuse at players.

Well, I’ve got news for these haters. There are plenty more where Toney and Adebayo came from so learn to live with it – otherwise watching the modern game will continue to be a painful experience for you.

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

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