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 footballer Garth Crooks will be on hand to give you his Team of the Week.

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

The team of the weekGoalkeeper

Ederson (Manchester City)

I will state before I go any further that there are a lot of goalkeepers in the modern era that I think are very mediocre. It might have 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 hit the ball when they should catch it and try to catch it when they should hit it. Anderson, Alisson and David de Gea are the exceptions.

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


Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)

The longer this game went on, the more Manchester United had to dig against a very determined West Ham side. I don’t like witch hunts and Harry Maguire has been through enough but he has held his nerve. He stood the test against the Hammers as did Lisandro Martinez, who put in another star performance and whose style of play reminds me of ex-Scotland defender Martin Buchan.

David de Gea played his part, although all of his saves I expected a goalkeeper of his caliber to make. The real star of the show was Diogo Dalot. If he had to make headlines, he did. He defended brilliantly and at times in very difficult conditions. United are now just a point outside the top four and are once again showing a proper team.

Ben Mee (Bradford)

Ben Mee’s goal against Wolves deserved recognition, which is why he made my pick. Defenders have sometimes inspired moments in the opposition penalty area and Mee’s finish was as deliberate as it was brilliant. Why Mee then entered the dispute with Diego Costa is another matter. Costa has a reputation for being volatile, so Mi knew what he was getting into.

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Costa getting his head in Mee’s face was asking for trouble, but for the Bradford centre-back to then drop like a stone looked weak. If a center half wants to join a fight, by all means do it, but do it with some dignity.

Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City)

I’ve often thought that Aymeric Laporte was Ruben Dias’ junior partner – well, not anymore. Laporte has become a very reliable defender for Manchester City with or without Diaz at his side. The Spaniard took a while to find his feet in a team that does not carry passengers. Now he looks like the real deal 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 unbeatable.


Crescencio Somerville (Leeds)

Boy, did Leeds need those three points. Nobody expected them to get it at Anfield, but not only did they get it, they deserved it. Crysencio Summerville’s certainty has had an impact Liverpool never expected. The 21-year-old Leeds midfielder couldn’t have had a better birthday present than scoring 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 their entire campaign last season should tell us something.

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

Thomas Partey (Arsenal)

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

The Ghana international was his usual resilient self but added a wonder goal to a scintillating performance. To be fair to the player, he has scored goals like this before.

Party has the grit and steel of former Arsenal legend Peter Storey and the strength 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 appear to be one of the few clubs who have coped with the demands of Champions League football while still maintaining some semblance of top form. Chelsea took the hammer, while Liverpool suffered a very embarrassing home defeat. Of course none of their teams have Kevin De Bruyne in their ranks.

The best player in the world at the moment hit a free-kick with such venom that it kissed the post and hit the back of the net while Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward was still suspended in the air trying to get a hand to it. It is time for this most wonderful player to win the Champions League and with it the Ballon d’Or.

Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

Nottingham Forest came down to earth with a thump at Arsenal, having enjoyed a bit of the high life after beating Liverpool last week. The Gunners put five goals past Forest and it could have been 10. At one stage it looked like Arsenal were creating chances at will.

Martin Odegaard strolled around the Emirates Stadium carrying out most of Arsenal’s attacks and looking very composed and composed while doing so. This win puts Arsenal back at the top of the league with two games to play before the World Cup break.

With any luck, this should break their momentum.


Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

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

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

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

Calum Wilson (Newcastle)

If you were in any doubt about Newcastle United’s performance against Tottenham last week, you can be sure 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 fit in perfectly with a team going places under Eddie Howe.

This latest victory takes the Magpies into the top four and they have done so with the minimum of fuss – which probably reflects the character of their manager. I’ve never seen Wilson as a top-four striker, but that’s where his team is at the moment and I wouldn’t bet on them staying there in this form.

Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

There seems to be some suggestion that Graham Potter owes Brighton fans an apology for leaving the Amex Stadium for Stamford Bridge so abruptly. An apology – for what? Brighton fans should consider themselves very lucky to have had Potter for as long as they have. It was known in football circles that he had rejected several offers before succumbing to the lure of Chelsea.

The problem for the Seagulls now is that they can land Leandro Trossard, who destroyed Chelsea and made Potter very uncomfortable on his return 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

The tricksters of the issue

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 behavior of the World Cup hosts towards migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people. I would have found the announcement much more exciting 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 if they feel that upset about the way the Qataris are running their country, I can make a modest suggestion – don’t go!

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

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


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