Garth Crooks Team of the Week: Martinez, Diop, Gundogan, Neto

Manchester City increased their lead at the top of the table to seven points with a victory over Tottenham.

Fighting Fulham beat Everton 2-0 while Arsenal defeated Leeds with tough win 4-2 and Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners against Newcastle.

There were also victories for Wolves i Burnley while Brighton v. Aston Villa ended goalless.

Take a look at my team of the week, then make your own selections at the bottom of the article.

Garth team of the week

Goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)

Emiliano Martinez

Emiliano Martinez: Saving Leander Trossard in the early exchanges of this game against Brighton gave some indication of what form Martinez is in at the moment. My particular favorite was to save Dan Burn, whose header seemed like a sure goal had it not been for Martinez’s athleticism. Joel Veltman was the next to be turned down, followed by an extraordinary rescue with an excellent shot by Danny Welbeck on a close stop that surprised everyone but Martinez. The Argentine looks like a foursome guard at all times, and if he can’t achieve that with Villa, I suggest he do it with someone else.

Defenders – Matthew Lowton (Burnley), Joachim Andersen (Fulham), Issa Diop (West Ham)

Matt Lowton, Joachim Andersen, Issa Diop

Matthew Lowton: Burnley’s re-growth in the Premier League cannot be underestimated. The Lancashires have beaten three and drawn one of the last six relegations in the league, with eighth of the points from the last three places. They looked dead and buried two months ago. The man of the match against the uninspiring Crystal Palace was Burnley’s player Matthew Lowton, who normally knocks out the goalkeepers, but he accepted his goal brilliantly. I have great respect for Roy Hodgson, but I hope to call him at the end of the season and under his terms. The Palace needs to go further, and Eddie Howe is an absolute must. Howe could be their next Steve Coppell.

Joachim Andersen: What a result for Fulham and Scotty Parker. Everton is another team that is chasing the glory of the FA Cup and that can go to the detriment of four places in a season in which everything seems possible. Fulham took full advantage of the Everton team, which in the middle of the week looked dull from the nine-goal thriller against the Spurs. However, the star of this show was Joachim Andersen, who scored every header and seemed to intercept every ball that entered Fulham’s penalty area. This was a victory, and a particularly clean one, to sound the alarm bells for Brighton, Burnley, and especially Newcastle, who were slowly but surely drawn into the battle for relegation.

Issa Diop: I must be dreaming. West Ham among the top four? Well, it was a brief moment after the win over the Sheffield United team that for the first time looked like a team starting to accept their fate. Hammers do exactly what Sheffield United is not, and that is scoring goals, keeping goals clean and winning football games. Issa Diop is back on his side after being forced to get injured in his previous game and looked like he had never been there. Excellent defensive game guy.

Midfielders – Jesse Lingard (West Ham), Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)

Jesse Lingard, Ilkay Gundogan, Bruno Fernandes, Harvey Barnes

Jesse Lingard: The way Jesse Lingard currently plays for West Ham calls into question the wisdom of Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to let him go on loan to East London at all. David Moyes from his days at Old Trafford will know all too well what the guy is capable of and play him in a role that suits the English international perfectly. When he is in form, and he is at the moment, his ability to switch the game from defense to attack is a good thing I have seen from any player and he showed it great against Sheffield United. Sure, Manchester United have Bruno Fernandez to do it, but if anything happens to him, they could regret letting Lingard go.

Ilkay Gundogan: Well, I’ve been talking about Ilkay Gundogan for a while. The German international is remarkable from Kevin de Bruyne’s injury and has carried City to the top of the table on his shoulders. I know that anyone with the most modest intelligence could notice his brilliance, but regardless of that, he was wonderful to watch. The question now is whether the strain of the groin that Gundogan suffered against Tottenham has kept him alone for some time, can Phil Foden take over the cloak and fulfill the potential that everyone has taken over? As for the Spurs, Jose Mourinho doesn’t convince anyone when he tries to tell Tottenham fans that his team is fighting for him or united in a goal, when they conceded eight goals in two games.

Bruno Fernandes: Is Bruno Fernandes the only Manchester United player who believes he can win the title? What chances did they have to be five points behind rivals Manchester City. Valuable points begged against quite ordinary West Brom. Where were Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford? They never showed up. If there was ever a day when Fernandes needed a little help from his friends, then that was it. So United played the FA Cup in the middle of the week, but couldn’t have had a better league schedule than against the Baggies. If United try so hard to win matches like this, finishing in the top four could be a challenge, regardless of the title.

Harvey Barnes: Harvey Barnes created all the problems for Liverpool from the right. Visitors obviously didn’t think this new talent was worth paying more attention to than usual. Well, they must have paid for it. For most of the afternoon, Trent Alexander-Arnold could not cope with the lively Barnes. The winger was responsible for a free kick that created an opportunity for Maddison to score, created a great defense against an upset Alisson (before the goalkeeper collided with his own defensive player), and then put the game out of the champions with a brilliantly executed goal. Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers certainly had great pleasure in beating the team that showed him the door without ceremony.

Forwards – Timo Werner (Chelsea), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Pedro Neto (Wolves)

Timo Werner, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Pedro Neto

Timo Werner: Finally, a series of 14 goalless games came to an end, as Timo Werner finally hit the back of the net. In fact, it was Werner who changed the game for Chelsea to an assist for Olivier Giroud, after the Blues lost Tammy Abraham to a suspicious shot by Jamaal Lascelles, before turning around. With the celebrations that followed Werner, the popularity of the players with his teammates coincided with his quality.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The old adage “a happy player is a good player” seems to work very well with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Arsenal captain put the family in front of football by addressing a sick mother, but the problem became a little more complicated because he had to leave the Arsenal coronavirus bubble for that. There is no doubt that Arsenal suffer without him, but the Gunners reaped the reward upon returning to action with a wonderful hat-trick by the Gabonese star. However, if Leeds had started the game as he had finished, it might have been a whole other story.

Pedro Neto: This was a game that turned upside down with a shocking decision. Can anyone tell me what more is handball? The decision on the penalty awarded by Graham Scott against Ryan Bertrand of Southampton not only forced the game with the Wolves to come down to a farce, but practically gave the guests points. Pedro Net’s goal, however, was mere class. The Portuguese striker created a moment of magic to seal the match. However, the Premier League must take note, this new handball rule (like the offside rule) needs to be changed before the fans return. The generation of players will not be the only ones who will not tolerate this.

Crooks of Matter

There can be no greater fear than hearing the cracking of ice underfoot. However, it seems that the cracks began to become visible in the defense of the Liverpool title already in the opening game of the season. Leeds United ran champions shakily and had it not been for VAR and a bit of luck, Liverpool would have been embarrassed by the Premier League. Most of us heard the sound of an ominous crack that Saturday night, but she ignored the signs. Their 7-2 drumming away at Aston Villa shortly thereafter, a match in which the now injured Virgil van Dijk played, gave us all even more proof that something was simply wrong, but we decided to ignore the signs anyway. After all, this was Liverpool with a team full of world class players. But you don’t need to have a team of world-class players suffering from a crisis of confidence before the ship starts to descend – just one or two.

What we saw at Anfield, when Alisson seemed to be falling apart against Manchester City under the great pressure that comes with trying to retain the title, was the point where everyone suddenly sat down and noticed it. The reality was that we just ignored the obvious. As if the draws against Fulham away and West Brom at Anfield weren’t bad enough, losing at home to Brighton and Burnley should have told us that the Liverpool boat was not only damaged but also in danger of sinking. I have repeatedly said in my team this week that the relationship between Mohamed Salah and Sadi Mane was not ideal, while the capitulation of the team in Leicester is an additional cause for concern. Sure, their fans may have made a change, but what’s the point in guessing? They are not there.

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