Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Alisson, Trippier, Maddison, Salah, Zaha

At the end of each Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will present his Team of the Week.

Who did he choose this time? Take a look and choose your team. As always, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' Team of the Week
Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

the doorman

Alisson (Liverpool)

How refreshing is it to see a goalkeeper catch a ball in mid-air for a change?

Most of them parry or hit, but it was essential on both occasions victory at Tottenham Alisson did neither but caught the ball with both hands as it fell to the ground.

Anything less could have cost Liverpool the game. I rank the Brazilian in my top three goalkeepers in the country and my top five in the world. Playing Spurs away was a difficult game for Liverpool, but when you have a goalkeeper like Alisson between the sticks it makes life a lot easier. A top goalie if ever there was one.

The defenders

Kieran Trippier (Newcastle)

Trippier’s interception and Joe Willock’s brace to score Newcastle’s third goal in Southampton’s win signaled that the right-back should be considered for Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

Among other things, he is playing the football of his life and taking places in Newcastle not seen since the days of Kevin Keegan in charge.

Saints needed to get something out of this game, but they didn’t because of poor finishing and choices in front of goal. Che Evans needs a senior partner next to him to share the load. Southampton have been unable to replace Danny Ings since his move to Villa Park.

William Saliba (Arsenal)

There was only one team to win this London derby and it was Arsenal. If anyone has any doubts about how serious the Gunners are about their Premier League title challenge, then you only have to look closely at the way they celebrated their victory after the game at Chelsea.

It was a statement if ever there was one. Saliba, Gabriel and Ben White were rock solid looking at Saliba’s team selection. This kid is essential for France’s World Cup squad.

Chelsea, on the other hand, was tired and out of ideas. They may be doing well in the Champions League, but finishing outside the top four is not a good look for Chelsea. Worrying times for Graham Potter.

Lucas Digne (Aston Villa)

It should have been a free kick by Frenchman Digne to beat David de Gea from 25 yards. On the face of it, Manchester United should never have lost this game at Villa Park when you compare the players of both teams, but Villa were the better side on the day.

However, the arrival of new manager Unai Emery clearly boosted Aston Villa’s performance, but the question is for how long. They seem to get these spikes every time a new director comes on the scene, but then they disappear.

Digne is a good player and the type that could appeal to Emery. I’ll be very interested to see where Villa ends up under Emery – who stays and who goes.


Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Last week, De Bruyne secured three points for Manchester City against Leicester City after a difficult midweek Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund.

The Belgium international did the same this weekend, as he was just as brilliant against Fulham after sending Sevilla off in midweek, unable to cope with De Bruyne or a 10-man City squad.

Pep Guardiola’s side continue to pick up valuable points in the Premier League after impressing in midweek European fixtures.

If City can beat Chelsea, in the EFL Cup, and Brentford, in the Premier League, at home in Qatar before the World Cup kicks off, it will be very difficult for any team to stop them from doing something special in the second half. Erling Haaland was fit and rested for half the season.

James Maddison (Leicester)

Leicester City fans began to show signs of panic at their team’s performances at one stage of the season and even booed manager Brendan Rodgers after a few games. Now they don’t do that.

They played against Everton, unable to compete with Leicester’s quality in midfield, which was quite excellent if not emphatic in the end. Maddison was outstanding and is starting to show the type of game that England can benefit from in Qatar.

Adam Lallana (Brighton)

His goal was beautifully executed while his assist to Kaoru Mitoma was superb. Lallana is playing the type of football he produced at Southampton.

I felt he never played the type of football he was capable of at Anfield. He always worked hard at Liverpool but failed to reproduce the artistry we saw at St Mary’s.

He seems to have regained that touch of class at Brighton and the Seagulls are playing some of the best football I’ve seen them play at the top level.

Wolves, on the other hand, are everywhere. There is no manager, no established strikers, due to injuries and suspensions and dropping points as they will go out of style. The new coach Julen Lopetegui, who will start work on November 15 when the World Cup league is suspended, it takes a lot of work to turn things around.

Crysencio Summerville (Leeds)

Bournemouth should have put this game to bed with a 3-1 win at Elland Road, but they weren’t ruthless enough. By the time Leeds equalized there was only one winner.

Jesse Marsch has to take some of the credit for this exciting comeback. The Leeds manager made significant changes to a struggling side and those changes worked especially for Wilfred Gnonto – who looks like the strongest 19-year-old I’ve ever seen.

The star of the show was once again Summerville, who put Liverpool to the sword last week. The young Dutchman remained a constant threat for the Cherries and eventually cost them the game.


Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)

He played his part in Chelsea’s undoing last week, but Mitoma’s performance against Wolves was nothing short of impressive. The Japan international has all the makings of a top player.

Mitoma has a very similar game to Tottenham’s Son Heung-min. He is not afraid to take on people, sees the pass and wants to score goals. What form he will take after the World Cup is anyone’s guess, but make no mistake, Brighton have a player here.

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Is it me or is Zaha’s finish improving? He took the goal brilliantly in the win against West Ham. I’ve seen Zaha play as a center forward before and while Haaland isn’t in that position, he looks a threat.

For such a talented player I have always thought that Zaha should score more goals and after watching him perform against the Hammers, playing as a great striker can give the player more scoring opportunities. Definitely worth considering.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

If you’re going to go head-to-head, you’ll most likely do it away from your goal and not behind you, especially when you have no clue what position your goalkeeper has taken. Eric Dier, for some inexplicable reason, decided to do just that and Spurs never recovered.

Tottenham took too long to get going in this game and looked a shadow of the team that beat Marseille in the Champions League a few days ago. Liverpool have been very inconsistent this season, but luckily for them they have the Salah striker.

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The Crooks of the Matter

Last week, I said that if Australia were so offended by the World Cup being held in Qatar, they shouldn’t go. This week FIFA wrote to the 32 teams competing in the tournament saying they “must now focus on football” after a controversial development. Meanwhile, a sponsor has removed his name from one team’s jerseys to avoid being associated with the tournament. French authorities refuse to allow fan parks in their cities to show matches and team captains are required to wear armbands in solidarity with human rights issues.

FIFA may have the power to organize the world’s best football competition, but it can’t stop people from voicing their opinions. This could ultimately be hugely embarrassing for Fifa and even more so for the hosts.

The letter, signed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, stresses that the players “must not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle”. It’s pretty funny considering the world governing body did this at the time Qatar was awarded the World Cup.

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