Who is a real hero? Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

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

Alisson (Liverpool): Liverpool are currently sitting pretty one point clear at the top of the table and they owe it all to Alisson. His performance at Selhurst Park on his return from injury was quite outstanding. His save from Jefferson Lerma, which he managed to push on to the post in the first half, was amazing.

But the Brazil goalkeeper saved the best for last with an unbelievable stop when he got his hands to a Joachim Andersen header that looked a certain goal.

Liverpool have somehow fought they way to the top with sheer grit and determination. Some pundits fancy Manchester City for the title, while others have gone for Arsenal and even Aston Villa think they’ve got a chance. However, I’m starting to lean towards Liverpool. They’ve got the right goalkeeper for it.


Marcos Senesi (Bournemouth): He rose above Harry Maguire brilliantly to head home his second goal for Bournemouth in four days. Senesi scored in their midweek victory at Crystal Palace too, where they also achieved a clean sheet. The Cherries have put together a superb run of games but none have been quite so impressive as their 3-0 win over Manchester United.

Bournemouth’s defending as a team at Old Trafford was incredibly impressive. What was patently obvious was that the visitors were putting their bodies on the line for their manager, while the United players are clearly letting their manager down.

Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham): Fulham have scored 10 goals and kept two clean sheets in consecutive Premier League fixtures. They made life very uncomfortable for Nottingham Forest with their 5-0 midweek victory that cast even greater doubt over their manager Steve Cooper’s future.

They then score another five, this time against West Ham, and ruin what was looking like a very promising week for David Moyes after their recent victory over Tottenham.

However, the player who has stood out in defence for Fulham in both their games has been Adarabioyo. His goal against the Hammers was absolutely superb as he towered above Kurt Zouma to head home a sensational effort.

Milos Kerkez (Bournemouth): I knew that Bournemouth were showing signs of a recovery in recent weeks but what took place at Old Trafford was more like a resurrection. I haven’t seen a Bournemouth team play like this for years.

The double block by defender Kerkez in the second half was sensational and epitomised the determination and this new-found belief that seems to running through veins of the Cherries at the moment. Not only did they put three goals past United and thoroughly deserve their win, they did so with a clean sheet.

As for United, there are players who shouldn’t even be there and if boss Erik ten Hag intends to stay at the club he needs to do something about that very quickly.


Lewis Cook (Bournemouth): What a performance by Cook against Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Sofyan Amrabat. The Englishman destroyed them. It all started when he won a ball he had no right to win, before bursting past three United players and producing the perfect pass for Dominic Solanke to put the visitors ahead.

It was Cook’s pass that split the United defence again moments later to find Solanke unmarked, but the striker’s effort hit the post. Bournemouth put the ball in United’s net on five occasions and claimed three goals. However, the one by Dango Ouattara, that was eventually disallowed by VAR for handball, was nothing short of a disgraceful decision. The rule is shameful and a stain on the game.

James McAtee (Sheffield United): What a goal he scored with a free-kick against Brentford – and he meant it. McAtee looked up, saw what was possible, and nailed it. What then followed was something that looked like a football team that had suddenly found it’s way again. Sheffield United took the game to Brentford and won the battle.

What was even more impressive than McAtee’s stunning winner was United’s first clean sheet of the season. I’m not entirely sure of the merits of bringing Chris Wilder back for a second spell at the club, and so soon after his departure. But if he can keep the Blades up then that’s all that matters. Although I must say I can’t see it myself.

Bernardo Silva (Manchester City): The outcome of Manchester City’s game at Luton was never in doubt – even without the injured Erling Haaland in their side. They have had two difficult games against Spurs and Aston Villa recently and been found wanting in both, but City were comfortable winners at Kenilworth Road.

While expected to win, it was important for City to re-establish the fact they are not a team that is suffering from mental fatigue. They have played a lot of games in the past four years and won a magnificent Treble last season.

Only Pep Guardiola would regard their season as a massive failure if they were to miss out on retaining the league title. Fortunately for them they have Silva in their ranks. His goal was superb and, what’s more, he ran the show. If they were to lose him though for any reason – with Kevin de Bruyne still injured – City would have a problem.

John McGinn (Aston Villa): What a week this has been for Villa. Not only did they beat the champions City in midweek they went on to put their most dangerous title challengers to bed. City may have been having a bad time but Arsenal were not.

Villa’s victory over the Gunners is a good indicator of how far they have come under Unai Emery. Remember this was a man who managed Arsenal not so long ago and was shown the door. The real hero of the side at the moment is their captain McGinn. The Scot is playing the football of his life and can slot into almost any role required of him.

However, talk of winning the title is sheer fantasy. There’s more chance of Prince William taking charge of Villa’s remaining fixtures than them winning the Premier League.


Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): A very special number for a very special player, said Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool’s win at Crystal Palace and he’s right. Salah clocked up his 200th goal for the club at Selhurst Park and it helped galvanise a victory that saw them finish the day top of the table. To score 200 goals in your career is a remarkable achievement, but to do it at one club is quite astonishing.

Meanwhile, Palace have every right to be aggrieved. Not least due to Andrew Madley’s awful refereeing performance. To send Jordan Ayew off for a genuine attempt to win the ball, as it was not a cynical bid to stop a counter-attack, deserves some discretion and it received none.

The rule was introduced in the first place to stop cynical fouls, not genuine tackles. It’s a poor referee that can’t distinguish between the two.

Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth): Solanke’s goal at United means he now has eight league goals to his name, one more than he managed in the whole of last season. That in itself provides a real indication of how much the player has progressed.

And his one-touch sidefoot finish, in front of the Stretford End was taken with outrageous calm and smacked of a player right on top of his game. Solanke was unlucky not to get a second with a superb strike that hit the post, with an outstretched Andre Onana nowhere near it.

This was a classic case of United’s players not taking Bournemouth seriously and thinking they were pushovers, having beaten Chelsea in midweek. They have now put themselves back under enormous pressure with this result and they only have themselves to blame.

Son Heung-min (Tottenham): I said at the beginning of the season Newcastle may have a little too much on their plate. Playing Champions League football and expected to retain a top-four position in your own domestic league is about as demanding as it gets. Kieran Trippier, who has featured so prominently this season for the Magpies, was taken apart by Son and eventually substituted.

I don’t think for one second it would have happened under normal circumstances, but this is no ordinary season for Newcastle. Spurs, on the other hand, can be shockingly inconsistent but brilliant when they get it right and against Newcastle they got it spot on.

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The Crooks of the Matter

Journalists being banned from press conferences by Manchester United is nothing new. I saw Sir Alex Ferguson make quite an example of another reporter by giving him his marching orders, prior to a press conference at their Carrington training ground, after his team had been portrayed in a bad light.

Erik ten Hag, however, is a different animal entirely, but he was prepared to show his teeth this week by insisting journalists from Sky, ESPN, the Manchester Evening News and the Mirror were excluded after reporting some players were unhappy with the Dutchman’s managerial style.

“If the players have a different opinion of course I will listen, but they haven’t told me” insisted ten Hag – and I think he has a point.

If players are unhappy with the state of affairs at a club then have that conversation, as difficult as it might be, in the dressing room. Or find a quiet place with a cold beverage and thrash out your differences among your team-mates and manager if needed.

Should the United players attempt such a manoeuvre, they will almost certainly find their problems are less to do with Ten Hag and more to do with their poor attitude and application in recent games.