Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Pickford, Lingard, Richarlison, Sterling



Garth team of the week

Manchester City extended their winning run to 18 matches with a 1-0 victory at Arsenal to stay 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United claimed a comfortable 3-1 win at home against Newcastle, while Leicester won 2-1 at Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, West Ham moved up to fourth with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham and Liverpool slipped to a fourth consecutive league defeat as they lost the Merseyside derby against Everton.

Chelsea drew 1-1 at Southampton, Burnley and West Brom played out a goalless draw and Fulham claimed a vital 1-0 win over bottom club Sheffield United.

Check out my team of the week and then make your own selections towards the bottom of the article.

Garth Crooks' team of the week

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Pickford: It is with some hesitation that I find myself selecting Jordan Pickford for my team of the week.

It was Pickford who put Virgil van Dijk out of the previous Merseyside derby with an awful challenge that went unpunished.

However, football moves on very quickly and Pickford seemed intent on inflicting even more pain on Liverpool, this time, on his return to Anfield. The England goalkeeper made a number of first-class saves, not least from Jordan Henderson’s volley.

I can’t imagine the reception Pickford would have received had Liverpool fans been in the ground. Like on so many occasions, the absence of supporters has made such a huge difference.

Did you know? Pickford made six saves during Everton’s win at Liverpool – the joint-most he’s managed in a Premier League game this season (also six in the other Merseyside derby).

Defenders – Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion)

Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Everton) & Kyle Bartley (West Bromwich Albion)

Ruben Dias: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game quite like it. A match played practically at walking pace at times and where the champions-elect were just allowed to coast by Arsenal.

There was even a moment when Ederson appeared so bored he totally unnecessarily volleyed a back pass off his goal-line straight back to the opposition for the fun of it.

This surely can’t go on. There was no attempt by Arsenal to mix it and play a game that would make nice ball-players feel uncomfortable, put them under pressure or even harass them. At this rate Ruben Dias will play the game until he’s 47.

The Portugal international is about to win the Premier League title without so much as a scratch and that can’t be right. Is somebody going to make it uncomfortable for City? What is the English game coming to?

Did you know? In 13 games in which Ederson, John Stones and Dias have started together, Manchester City have conceded just one goal, and that was a Mohamed Salah penalty.

Michael Keane: You have to go back to 1924 to find the last time Liverpool lost four consecutive league games.

One of the main reasons for this latest defeat was the performance of Michael Keane. This was without doubt the best game I’ve seen him have for Everton. His recovery after Andrew Robertson squeezed a reverse pass through his legs for Sadio Mane was out of this world.

The Senegal international was about to pull the trigger when Keane made the best one-footed tackle you’ll ever see and at a crucial time of the match. This was an outstanding performance by Keane and a historic one for Everton.

Did you know? Keane cleared the ball 13 times in the 2-0 victory over Liverpool, only Ben Mee (v Liverpool) and Joachim Andersen (v Manchester United) have made more clearances in a Premier League game this season.

Kyle Bartley: This lad was very lucky not to concede a penalty. Everyone I spoke to was as convinced as I was that referee Mike Dean had got the decision terribly wrong.

Dion Dublin on Final Score was certain. So too Martin Keown and Danny Murphy on Match of the Day, but not Dean.

It would have been a travesty as West Brom were by far the better side even with 10 men. Kyle Bartley was immense under the circumstances and although he rode his luck, the Baggies deserve a little at the moment.

Did you know? Bartley has made more clearances (95) than any other West Brom player in the Premier League this season and made more (five) than any other Baggies player against Burnley.

Midfielders – Jesse Lingard (West Ham), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)

Jesse Lingard, Mason Mount, Declan Rice & Harvey Barnes

Jesse Lingard: What was all that delay about? It was clear after the first replay that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the fabulous goal scored by Jesse Lingard.

The Manchester United loanee is having a ball in east London. David Moyes and Jose Mourinho are former managers of Manchester United and both know exactly what Lingard can do.

I find it particularly interesting that it is Moyes who has given Lingard a chance to rejuvenate his career, when it was Spurs who desperately needed him. Lingard is playing out of his skin.

Did you know? Lingard has scored three goals in four league games under Moyes for West Ham, as many as he netted in his 36 league appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

Mason Mount: When strikers make challenges in their own penalty area it’s a recipe for disaster and Danny Ings’ challenge on Mason Mount underlined the point.

Mount on the other hand is gaining confidence each time I see him. The England midfielder took his very first Premier League penalty and scored from the spot after an excellent assist from Callum Hudson-Odoi.

What I did not understand was why Hudson-Odoi was substituted having been brought on at half time. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said the player wasn’t doing as he was told but he had then used all his substitutes with 14 minutes to play plus added time, so there was plenty of time for things to go wrong.

Tuchel needs to be careful. Humiliating your player like that is also a very dangerous game.

Did you know? Mount has scored two goals in his past three games for Chelsea, as many as in his previous 26 appearances.

Declan Rice: The clearance by Declan Rice from Harry Kane’s driven cross was a massive turning point in the game.

The ball had been smashed across the face of the six-yard box, sending West Ham into panic mode.

But it was Rice who not only saw the danger but knew exactly what to do about it. It was a brilliant clearance. Spurs were worthy of a point in the end but once again came away with nothing. They are lacking something their manager was supposed to give them. Belief.

Did you know? No West Ham player made more tackles (four), made more interceptions (four) or regained possession more often (11) than Rice during their win over Spurs.

Harvey Barnes: When are teams going to start taking Harvey Barnes seriously?

I said last week after he ran Liverpool ragged that this was a player that could cause untold damage if he is not dealt with.

Well either Dean Smith ignored the warning or simply didn’t believe the hype because he destroyed Aston Villa.

In the past teams have always been most concerned about Jamie Vardy and quite rightly. However, the rate at which Barnes is developing his game has been impressive. I don’t think it is unreasonable to talk about his future England prospects. At this rate anything is possible.

Did you know? Only Vardy (14) has scored more goals for Leicester this season than Barnes (13), who has now had a direct hand in nine goals in his past 11 Premier League matches (six goals, three assists).

Forwards – Ademola Lookman (Fulham), Richarlison (Everton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Ademola Lookman (Fulham), Richarlison (Everton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Ademola Lookman: It was another spirited performance by Sheffield United but they need more than spirit, I’m afraid – they need goals.

In fact they’ve always needed goals. That’s been their problem.

Fulham on the other hand have started to find the net. Two against Everton recently and another one against Sheffield United, this time by a player who will be crucial to Fulham’s fortunes if they are going to survive in the Premier League.

Ademola Lookman can score goals and has Fulham’s sights firmly locked on Newcastle with only three points now separating the teams. Lookman has the ability to save Scott Parker’s Fulham side.

Did you know? Lookman has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other Fulham player this season (four goals, three assists).

Richarlison: If Liverpool’s title race was not entirely over after their defeat against Manchester City it certainly is now.

Jordan Henderson’s departure from their defeat against Everton has sealed that. The one player who might have galvanised a last-minute challenge to what seems an unassailable Manchester City lead might have been Henderson.

Once the England midfielder went off injured that was the end of that. However, Everton seem to have got Richarlison playing again.

The Brazilian looked like he enjoyed the freedom and the responsibility of being the lone striker. I wonder how that is going to play out with Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the future.

Did you know? Richarlison is only the third Everton player to score in back-to-back Premier League appearances at Anfield for the club, after Tim Cahill in March 2006 and Kevin Campbell in October 2000.

Raheem Sterling: This wasn’t a Premier League fixture or even a training ground match. It was a walk in the park for Raheem Sterling. Although that is not his fault.

In fact, I would be surprised if he even needed a shower after this game. Having scored so early in the fixture he could have added another two later in the game with Arsenal seemingly happy just to get through this contest and finish with a respectable scoreline.

It was another example of a team, who without their fans demanding they put themselves on the line, accepting that the opposition was too good and taking a defeat. The quicker fans come back the better. The game is dying without them.

Did you know? Sterling is the third player to score in three consecutive away games against Arsenal in the Premier League, after Nicolas Anelka (four games ending in May 2009) and Ian Harte (three games ending in May 2003).

The Crooks of the Matter

A referee should never use his head when he can use his cards. When I came across the incident involving referee Darren Drysdale, who has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after clashing with Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge, I immediately felt some sympathy towards the Lincolnshire official.

The player had, after all, tried to deceive Drysdale by making out he was fouled in the Northampton Town penalty area in the final minutes of the match and Drysdale was having none of it.

Judge was rightly booked for simulation but to see the referee confront the player and move his head towards him was quite alarming.

I’ve only ever seen confrontations of this nature in South America, nonetheless what I found particularly interesting, having seen the footage was that there were a number of players on both sides who, not only seemed startled by the incident, but also displayed some sympathy for the referee.

Since the incident, Drysdale has issued a fulsome apology to the club and the player, who by the way made it perfectly clear, he neither expected or asked for an apology.

However, it would seem the Ipswich manager Paul Lambert wants his pound of flesh. The former midfielder has reported the incident to the EFL explaining that if a player had behaved in such a manner he would be looking at a lengthy ban from the game.

What a pity Lambert feels so angry about the matter. Clashes between players and sometimes even managers in training is not unusual but soon forgotten. That this incident should have happened under the glare of the media spotlight is unfortunate.

I hope Drysdale is not treated too harshly but should it happen again, then I think it would be time for him to consider a career in another profession.

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