Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Who is playing like a future Ballon d’Or winner?

Garth Crooks

At the end of every Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks will be on hand to present his team of the week.

But who did he choose this time? Take a look and choose your team. As always, Garth will have his say on the game’s main themes in The Crooks of the Matter.

Team of the weekGatekeeper

Ederson (Manchester City)

I will state before I go any further that there are many goalkeepers in the modern era that I think are very average. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in the era of Gordon Banks, Pat Jennings, Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence, Joe Corrigan, Phil Parkes; I could go on.

Most modern goalkeepers kick the ball when they should be catching it and try to catch it when they should be hitting it. Ederson, Alisson and David de Gea are exceptions.

Ederson, like all goalkeepers, is capable of making the odd mistake or having a poor performance, but he wins more games for his team than he loses. His save from Leicester’s Youri Tielemans on Saturday was another classic example.

Defenders

Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)

The longer this game went on, the more Manchester United had to dig in against a very determined West Ham side. I don’t like witch hunts and Harry Maguire was subjected to a few but he held his nerve. He passed the test against the Hammers as did Lisandro Martinez, who made another star and whose style of play reminds me of former Scotland defender Martin Buchan.

David de Gea played his part although I expected all his saves to be made by a goalkeeper of his class. The real star of the show was Diogo Dalot. If there was a header to be made, he made it. He defended brilliantly and at times in very difficult circumstances. United are now just one point outside the top four and look like a real team again.

Ben Mee (Brentford)

Ben Mee’s goal against Wolves deserved recognition, that’s why he entered my selection. At times, the defenders had inspired moments in the opposition penalty area, and Mee’s finish was as deliberate as it was brilliant. Why Mee was then caught in an argument with Diego Costa is another matter entirely. Costa has a reputation for being volatile, so Mee knew what he was getting himself into.

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Costa getting his head down into Mee’s face spelled trouble, but the Brentford centre-back dropping like a stone looked weak. If a centre-half wants to engage in battle, by all means do so, but do so with some dignity.

Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

I often thought Aymeric Laporte was Ruben Dias’ junior partner – well, not anymore. Laporte has become a very reliable defender for Manchester City with or without Dias by his side. It took the Spaniard some time to get used to a team without a passenger. He now looks like the real thing and was instrumental in City’s clean sheet against a very dangerous Leicester City. With Laporte, Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake and new starlet Manuel Akanji to choose from, they look almost impregnable.

Midfielders

Crysencio Summerville (Leeds)

Man, did Leeds need these three points. Nobody expected them to get them at Anfield, but not only did they get them, they deserved them. The safety of Crysencio Summerville has had an impact that Liverpool did not expect. The 21-year-old Leeds midfielder couldn’t have received a better birthday present than the winning goal.

Liverpool have dropped 19 points so far in the league already this season, and the fact that they only managed to drop 22 points in the whole of last season should tell us something.

This team has played a lot of football in the last three years and the new boys haven’t had the impact some expected, especially after the departure of Sadio Mane.

Thomas Partey (Arsenal)

Thomas Partey has been in outstanding form for the Gunners this season, but has often found himself second fiddle in my selections to Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard. Well, not so against Nottingham Forest.

The representative from Ghana was otherwise resistant, but he added a wonderful goal to his great performance. To be fair to the player, he has scored goals like this before.

Partey has the determination and steel of former Arsenal legend Peter Storey and the running power of David Price. Arsenal fans of a certain age will know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Manchester City seem to be one of the few clubs who have coped with the demands of Champions League football while at the same time maintaining some semblance of top form. Chelsea knocked in, while Liverpool suffered a very embarrassing home defeat. Of course, neither team has Kevin de Bruyne in their ranks.

The world’s best player at the moment took a free-kick so venomous that it kissed the post and hit the post with Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward still hanging in the air trying to get his hands on it. It’s time for this most wonderful player to win the Champions League, and thus the Ballon d’Or.

Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

Nottingham Forest came down to earth with a setback at Arsenal, having enjoyed a bit of the high life following their win over Liverpool last week. The Gunners gave Forest five goals, and it could have been 10. At one stage it looked like Arsenal were creating chances when they wanted.

Martin Odegaard walked around the Emirates Stadium carrying out most of Arsenal’s attacks and looking very composed and cultured while doing it. This win takes Arsenal back to the top of the league with two games to go before the World Cup break.

With any luck, that should end their momentum.

Forward

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Scoring 100 goals for Manchester United is a big deal. Marcus Rashford has worked hard in recent months to keep a regular place at United ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Against West Ham, Rashford looked like a player who has not only worked hard, but regained his confidence.

The question now is whether Gareth Southgate can trust the striker – should he be included in England’s final 26-man squad – to produce for his country? He would have been a brave man if he had left it out.

Callum Wilson (Newcastle)

If you were in any doubt about Newcastle United’s performance against Tottenham last week, rest assured it was no fluke after they absolutely destroyed Aston Villa at St James’ Park.

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Callum Wilson scored in both games and looks to be the perfect fit for a team that is improving under Eddie Howe.

This latest win takes the Magpies into the top four and they have done it with minimal effort – more reflective of their manager’s character. I’ve never seen Wilson as a top four forward, but that’s where his team is at the moment and I wouldn’t bet against them staying there in this form.

Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

There appear to be some suggestions that Graham Potter owes Brighton fans an apology for leaving the Amex Stadium so abruptly for Stamford Bridge. Apology – why? Brighton fans should consider themselves lucky to have had Potter for as long as they have. It was known in football circles that he turned down a number of offers before succumbing to Chelsea.

The problem for the Seagulls now is whether they can hang on to Leandro Trossard, who has destroyed Chelsea and made Potter very uncomfortable returning to his old club. It’s not unusual for good players to end up at bigger clubs – or managers for that matter.

Short presentation gray line

Thieves of things

I see the Socceroos have released a collective statement against Qatar’s human rights record, becoming the first 2022 World Cup team to do so. The video message criticizes the way the hosts of the World Cup treat migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people. I would have found this post far more convincing if Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal Australians over the years had not been so appalling.

The Aussies have qualified for the World Cup, but I suggest that if they feel so resentful of the way the Qataris are running their country, I can offer a humble suggestion – don’t go!

Actually boycotting the World Cup and not playing would make a far bigger statement and support their belief far more than mere platitudes. After all, they’re not going to win the tournament, so why go if you feel so strongly about it?

Choose your XI from our list and share it with your friends.

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