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

At the end of each Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will be on hand to deliver his Team of the Week.

Who did he choose this time? Check it out and then choose your team below. And, as always, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

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Jose Sa (Wolves)

When teams are struggling it’s essential that your goalies win games and not lose them.

Jordon Pickford has had a great season for Everton of late, but his mistake cost him the game against Spurs and his England debut.

Jose Sa, on the other hand, came to Wolves’ rescue when they needed it against Nottingham Forest. Brennan Johnson’s penalty, although well taken, didn’t do the trick and the Portuguese keeper made an excellent save. The best goalkeepers will save you points and win you games, not the other way around.

The defenders

James Milner (Liverpool)

Milner has been playing for so long that he’s got a terrible tendency to forget he was at Manchester City. No one thought he would go on to greater things when he left the Etihad for Anfield, but he did.

His performance against his former club in the 1-0 win at Anfield on Sunday was exceptional. Milner is unstoppable, reliable and, above all, an exceptional professional, and I’m not at all surprised that Jurgen Klopp refuses to let him out of his sight.

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

Joe Gomez (Liverpool)

If there was one player in Liverpool’s defensive line that you could have had in a weak game against City, it would almost certainly have been Joe Gomez. He was not expected to start in the first game, but more importantly, he has struggled with his form this season.

Man City dominated this match, but in no way overpowered Gomez. The defender looked back at his focused and committed best. Indeed, the game brought out the best in the England defender and in this form he is vital for Qatar.

Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

Chelsea made hard work of Aston Villa in the first half, winning 1-0 at Villa Park. I don’t care what Marc Cucurella is doing at the club, I don’t quite understand him on the pitch at Villa Park.

Graham Potter, after selling the player when he was manager at Brighton, has now inherited it at Chelsea, but the Spaniard is not our main defender and it is showing.

Thiago Silva, on the other hand, is not only a top defender, but he needs Kalidou Koulibaly and Trevoh Chalobah to mentor him 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 a difficult opponent in Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, especially as the Red Devils played Omonia FC in the Europa League in midweek and the Cypriot side also lacked momentum.

The only player Erik ten Hag relies on these days is Lisandro Martinez. He struggled in his first two games with United but so did the whole team.

Since then, one of the Premier League’s smallest centre-backs seems to be not only adapting to the physicality of the league, but actively enjoying it. It was a game United could have lost under Ralf Rangnick, but he would not appear again.


Mason Mount (Chelsea)

Mount’s first goal was fortunate, but there was nothing lucky about Emiliano Martinez’s free kick in the Aston Villa goal. Mount was outstanding in Chelsea’s Champions League win over AC Milan in midweek and seems to be enjoying his football at the moment.

Villa were a little better than against Nottingham Forest last week, but I think manager Steven Gerrard is starting to run out of ideas. When players like Philippe Coutinho seem to have lost interest something is going terribly wrong.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham)

Everton needed to win 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before Spurs could get into any rhythm. It never ceases to amaze me when midfielders or defenders find themselves in one-on-one situations with the goalkeeper, get knocked down or have a panic attack.

If Amadou Onana or Demarai Gray had kept the slightest bit of composure in front of goal, Everton could have pulled something off.

Hojbjerg, meanwhile, showed 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 great part of the team and has been quietly consistent for a long 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 against Leeds was abysmal.

Scoring goals has always been the most difficult goal to achieve on the football pitch, even if it is a penalty. Therefore, whenever your team is awarded a penalty, make sure you give it to someone who knows what they are doing.

Your best striker isn’t always your best penalty taker as Patrick Bamford and Leeds will no doubt testify after failing to witness.

And why Gabriel saw his red card overturned for violent conduct is a complete mystery because that was it, regardless of what the video assistant at Stockley Park said. At one time the referee’s decision was final, VAR has changed that.


Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth)

What a poor decision by referee Graham Scott not to award Ryan Fredericks a penalty for Bournemouth defender Tim Ream’s pull on the Fulham draw. When there is a clear and obvious error, isn’t it fair that we were told VAR would step in, or has this been a victim of the observer policy of trying to find incidents that no one else has seen?

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

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

Toney’s first goal in the win over his side Brighton was pure impertinence. As for his second, well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player take a penalty as confidently as the Brentford striker. He doesn’t just take penalties, he sends the keeper the wrong way.

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

As for the clash between the two managers, I have a lot of time for Brentford manager Thomas Frank, but there’s no point touching the ball when an opposition player is trying to recover. 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 against Rangers in midweek in the Champions League and it was the same against City.

It was Joao Cancelo’s cross-field mark that put Salah in the goal, but you have to ask why they weren’t marking Manuel Akanji or Ruben Dias from Egypt? Once Salah was one-on-one with Ederson the game was over. A great game of football brilliantly refereed 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 suffered defeat at the hands of the Brentford striker on Friday.

in may Toney and teammate Rico Henry they said their families were racially abused after Brentford’s 3-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park. Meanwhile, Luton Town have reported “disgusting” racist abuse. Championship club striker Elijah Adebayo has been targeted by the Football League and the police after the striker scored twice against QPR at the weekend.

Those who played football in the 80s, when black players first exploded in any numbers, should be ashamed of themselves for allowing racists to use football fields as recruiting grounds.

After years of campaigning and the introduction of new laws, the game has been forced to act effectively and it has. These days, football pitches have been replaced by social media platforms for racists to abuse players.

Well, I know about these haters. There’s a lot more where Toney and Adebayo are coming from, so learn to live with it; otherwise, watching the modern game will continue to be a painful experience for you.

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