Garth Crooks' Team of the Week: De Gea, Foden, Saka, Ronaldo

Tue, Oct 11, 2022
By editor


AT the end of every Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will be on hand to give you his Team of the Week.

But who has he picked this time? Take a look and then pick your own team below. And, as ever, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' Team of the Week
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David de Gea (Manchester United)

He could do nothing about the strike by Everton’s Alex Iwobi, but having been beaten by the Nigeria midfielder he wasn’t going to allow a similar effort to beat him again. The save from James Garner in the dying seconds of United’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park didn’t just keep the ball out of the net but also prevented Amadou Onana heading it in. It has been some time since United came back from a goal down away from home and went on to win a match. Then again, when you’ve got De Gea in goal he will, on average, save you ten points a season – and in a good season even more.Defenders

Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

He took his goal brilliantly, but his overall contribution to Manchester City’s 4-0 demolition of Southampton was very telling. This gifted full-back can play in any position on a football pitch he is so comfortable on the ball.

It was honest of Ralph Hasenhuttl to admit he played the wrong tactics. His high line might have worked if it hadn’t been so easy for City to get out. This result left the Saints with seven points and two above Nottingham Forest, who were bottom of the table before they played Villa.

These are worrying times for Hasenhuttl, particularly as rumours circulate that his job at Southampton may soon be coming to an end, and it would be irritating for me when I’ve just learned to pronounce his name properly!

Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)

Kalidou Koulibaly has had to convince new manager Graham Potter he is worthy of a place in Chelsea’s starting line-up.

The arrival of Wesley Fofana, who was impressive in their 3-0 Champions League victory against AC Milan midweek, has made success in the Premier League for the Senegal captain even more difficult. However, in Chelsea’s 3-0 win against Wolves, Koulibaly looked comfortable in a back three and showed why he had been so successful in Italy. He is an instinctive defender, and given time I think he will be as important to the Blues as Antonio Rudiger eventually became before his departure.

Craig Dawson (West Ham)

How many times did Andreas Pereira think he could block Craig Dawson’s run into Fulham’s penalty area without the referee taking action? Three times is the answer, and on the fourth occasion referee Chris Kavanagh decided, with Pereira not heeding the warnings, to award West Ham a penalty which set them on the way to a 3-1 win.

What was worse, not one of his Fulham team-mates told him to refrain from such activity, or even changed places with Pereira to make the situation less problematic. To then see the entire team surround Kavanagh in horror and disgust at awarding West Ham a penalty makes you wonder if the Cottagers had lost the plot. The only sensible person in that scenario was Dawson, who handled the situation brilliantly.Midfielders

Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle)

Brentford and Ivan Toney looked a shadow of the side who destroyed Leeds a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Bruno Guimaraes is playing out of his skin for Newcastle.

The Brazilian’s performance in the 5-1 thrashing of the Bees was quite outstanding. He intercepted the ball from the halfway line for his second goal, dribbled to the edge of the Brentford penalty box and struck a lovely shot past David Raya. The Bees goalkeeper, who had a shocker by the way, needs to learn who not to give the ball to when his team is under pressure. And Ethan Pinnock needs to understand that there is no shame in telling your goalkeeper you don’t want the ball in certain situations.

Phil Foden (Manchester City)

He scored a hat-trick last week against Manchester United and is looking every inch the player people said he would be when he first burst on to the scene. I must confess I wasn’t convinced, but he certainly looks the part now.

The big question for me is can Foden replicate his club form on the international stage and influence England’s chances at the World Cup when it starts next month?

There will be Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and even his team-mate Jack Grealish fighting with him for places.

Yet none of them have shown either the level of consistency in their overall performances or his clinical finishing. Should Foden have a good World Cup and establish himself in the England team then we will know for sure just how good he actually is.

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle)

Why are defenders trying to play in and around their penalty area when they don’t have the technical ability to produce clever football?

They aren’t Gerard Pique or Carlos Puyol, defenders who have been schooled in the art of possession football in the white-hot pressure cauldron of Barcelona’s Nou Camp. So why try it away at St James’ Park when you’re under the cosh and your job is simply to defend your goal? Giving players the licence and responsibility to play outside their comfort zone cost Brentford three points against Newcastle. Miguel Almiron on the other hand was in great form and made Brentford pay dearly for such folly.

Cheikhou Kouyate (Nottingham Forest)

Nottingham Forest’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa wasn’t a classic by any means but it was worth a watch. For the first time this season Forest looked like a team that just might come to terms with life in the Premier League. A point against Villa was enough to take them off the bottom of the table but the question is for how long? What sort of impact Steve Cooper’s new contract had on their performance is hard to tell, but what Forest lacked in guile and craft they made up for with sheer endeavour. Cheikhou Kouyate provided much of the energy to keep Forest going against Villa and his performance deserved a mention, but if they are serious about surviving in the league then they are in desperate need of more quality.Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

Casemiro was having a nightmare for Manchester United when he redeemed himself and set up his former Real Madrid team-mate for his 700th club career goal.

The finish by Cristiano Ronaldo was as crisp as I’ve seen from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner. It was as if the moment he was put through there was no doubt he would score. If Casemiro can come to terms with the pace of the Premier League, especially in the big games, then he might prove to be a valuable asset for United – but more importantly for Ronaldo.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

I said that his penalty miss in the Euros would be the making of this kid. Granted, he had already put Arsenal ahead against Liverpool in an extraordinary game between two fabulous teams, but the penalty that won the Gunners the game didn’t even come close to the pressure he experienced from the spot against Italy.

In fact he will have stayed awake some nights wishing for a similar moment to arise where he could redeem himself.

And boy, when it came, did he relish the moment. Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2 in a classic encounter to go back to the top of the Premier League, and I must tell you I am not enjoying this one bit.

Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

If Chelsea are still looking for a number nine, I think they might have found him if they are bold enough. Kai Havertz is starting to find himself in top-flight football.

With two goals for Germany against England recently, he’s also starting to find the back of the net in his Chelsea colours as well. Havertz looks altogether much more composed around the goal these days.

So too is Armando Broja. The Albania forward looks particularly comfortable at Stamford Bridge these days and I wonder if Graham Potter would consider playing them as a pair. It would certainly give teams something to think about. Perhaps even Manchester City.

The Crooks of the Matter

One year into the controversial Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United and there’s not been one mention of Mike Ashley. Ask most Geordies about the takeover and they only want to talk about the future and the possibilities. There was a feeling that Amanda Staveley and her consortium might have been a little out of their depth having originally tried and failed to buy the North East club.

Some even thought she may have acted in haste having bought Newcastle, only to see Chelsea suddenly become available, which might have been seen as a more attractive business proposition by some.

However, what has taken place since the arrival of Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben at St James’ Park has been nothing short of remarkable. It started with the astute appointment of Eddie Howe, followed by the arrival of the former Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth.

There have also been the signings of a number of carefully selected players who haven’t cost a fortune, at least at modern-day prices, and are there for the long haul. What is most impressive is the owners have got on with the business of running the club quietly and effectively. At this rate a Premier League title is not out of the question in four years. What a prospect.

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