At the end of each Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will be on hand to introduce you to his team of the week.
But who did he choose this time? Take a look then choose your own team. As always, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.
Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
It hasn’t been easy for Arsenal to find a number one goalkeeper and they have nothing to compare with David Seaman. However, in Aaron Ramsdale, it looks like they’ve found a keeper who complements the type of team Mikel Arteta is trying to create. No heroism and certainly no temper tantrums – just an honest caretaker willing to do what’s needed. He is particularly good at spreading in one-on-one situations and did it very well against Brentford. He reminds me of legendary Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who was a great team player. If Ramsdale can handle big pressure moments as well as Wilson, Arsenal’s time at the top of the table might not be as short as some would like in north London.
John Stones (Man City)
What a strike from the Manchester City defender. If Jude Bellingham’s arrival for Borussia Dortmund was any indicator why he should be in England’s starting line-up, then why not John Stones – especially during a time when Harry Maguire can’t come in in the Manchester United squad and the national team seems to be struggling for centre-backs? Against a top-notch European side, Stones looked as competent as any defender on the pitch, and the same was true in the game against Wolves at the weekend. As for scoring top goals against top opponents, it’s proof of the confidence the player has gained by staying at City. Stones is the only England centre-back showing consistent form at the moment.
Manuel Akanji (Man City)
He hardly made a mistake throughout the match. In fact, he was so quietly effective against Wolves that I couldn’t wait to find out why I hadn’t noticed this player before. Manuel Akanji, a Swiss international with a distinctive Nigerian surname. If only Nathan Collins was half as calm as Akanji. The Wolves defender dropped Jack Grealish with what can only be described as a flying karate kick to the stomach. Referee Anthony Taylor fired Collins without a second thought, and rightly so. As for Akanji, it looks like we could see a lot more centre-backs this season for City.
Guillaume Saliba (Arsenal)
I must say that I expected a little more from Brentford, as from Ivan Toney given his recent selection for the England team. However, Brentford and Toney had to contend with William Saliba, who looks very dangerous in the opposition penalty area and rock solid in his own. If Toney is to be taken seriously as a national team starter, he’s going to have to make life much harder for defenders like Saliba. It was a walk in the park for the Frenchman. It’s not always about scoring goals for the forwards, but it’s about showing off sometimes.
Jack Greish (Man City)
To hear Jack Grealish admit that the criticism he has received over his lack of goals and assists since joining Manchester City was right was not only refreshing but very honest. Against Wolves, the England international put in his best performance for City since leaving Villa Park. It wasn’t just his willingness to get into the six-yard box where it hurt that was impressive, but his link-up play with Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland was telling – another indication that he is no longer intimidated by his surroundings and finally begins to settle down and produce his best work.
Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)
Manchester City took all the points and there was absolutely nothing Wolves could do about it. Three goals for City and two assists for De Bruyne – the job is done. The ball into the box for Grealish to score was nothing short of sensational, while the pass for Phil Foden’s goal was simply irresistible. You get to a point where you start to wonder: how does De Bruyne continually produce such extraordinary quality? It’s already five assists this season and more are sure to follow. I bet De Bruyne gets as many assists this season as Haaland gets goals.
Joao Palhinha (Fulham)
The goal was spectacular and the victory over Nottingham Forest impressive. Fulham are a very different team under Marco Silva than they were under Scott Parker, and that continues to show in their performances. Silva has put together a team that is not afraid to face the opposition and take risks, and that is precisely what they did against Forest. Meanwhile, I feel a touch of fatalism with every post-game interview Steve Cooper gives and that the task at hand might be too big. The owner didn’t help by bringing players to the club in August when they should have been there in July. Cooper must now build a squad in September and October which, after the World Cup in November, Forest may well be ready to compete in the Premier League in January or February – by which time they may be too far behind to avoid any to fall. .
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
I don’t like Granit Xhaka. I find him aggressive, overly aggressive and downright irritating. Nevertheless, in his time, he is a very good player. He should have left Arsenal years ago. However, for some reason, he not only stayed at the club, but also occasionally wears the captain’s armband, such is his popularity these days. Against Brentford he looked very impressive, as did Arsenal. I would love to know why Brentford didn’t seek this game but the Gunners were so good that I rather suspect that even if they had it it wouldn’t have made a difference – Arsenal were so good. The most worrying.
Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
From the moment Gabriel Jesus put on an Arsenal jersey, he has been playing like a man possessed. His enthusiasm and appetite for the game is immense. He doesn’t just score goals for the Gunners, but he leads the line. His movement around the pitch is fantastic and he plays the game with an infectious arrogance that is spreading through the Arsenal squad like wildfire, and the reason why they currently sit at the top of the Premier League. How Jesus generated enough power, off a beautifully flown ball from Xhaka, to beat David Raya in the Brentford goal gave insight into Jesus’ form and strength. Why Brazil didn’t select him for their national team during the international break is a total mystery to me.
Erling Haaland (Man City)
Everything he touches at the moment seems to fly into the net. His goal against Wolves at the weekend was a misfire, and there was a lot of talk about his finish against Borussia Dortmund in midweek; some even dared to compare it to Johan Cruyff’s goal against Brazil in 1974. It was not in the same category, let alone the same competition. Haaland’s late winner against his former club in the Champions League, while vital in Manchester City’s quest to win the elusive European title, was a scruffy lunge in a desperate attempt to make contact with the ball. Cruyff, on the other hand, was a brilliantly controlled side-foot volley as the player remained upright and suspended in the air. Sure, goals are goals, but some are better than others.
Son Heung Min (Tottenham)
He waited what felt like an eternity for a goal and suddenly he scored three in 14 minutes. Spurs manager Antonio Conte insisted Son was rested for the game against Leicester but the reality was the South Korea international was out of favour. What a way to regain your confidence, and at the same time stick two fingers to the manager. To be fair to Conte, he brought on Son after 59 minutes in hopes the player could seal the game for Spurs – and that’s precisely what he did. Spurs now have options with Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski and Ivan Perisic available, and Son will have to fight for his place – but this victory for Spurs sets up the North London derby beautifully. As for Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, he will be lucky to see the international breakout.
The material crooks
It somehow seems wrong to resume season matches after a short delay without first acknowledging why they were stopped in the first place. Much has been made in some quarters about the good and bad of postponing weekend fixtures in honor of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Some of these comments were made by individuals who weren’t even a figment of the imagination in 1952 when a young queen ascended the throne. However, League fixtures have been suspended so that the national sport pays tribute – and rightly so – to the royal family and the passing of the monarch.
There were other competitions like Test cricket, a sport much less likely to evoke feelings or chants likely to offend, which paid a very moving tribute to the Queen who had been out of action for 24 hours. Football had reason to do the same, but chose to step aside and create a space for quiet reflection and families across the country to offer their condolences. Some of them gathered outside the gates of Balmoral, on the streets of Edinburgh and London to Buckingham Palace, just to catch a glimpse of the motorcade. Or just reminisce about when Her Majesty presented our greatest ever captain Bobby Moore with the World Cup trophy. The game has now tip its hat to its longest-serving monarch in the best way it has known. We can now resume hostilities over executive dismissals and the incompetence of VAR and its officials. The pause was a small price to pay for a ruler who gave a nation 76 years of spotless service.
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