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 give you his team of the week.

But who did he choose this time? Get to know and then choose your own team. As always, Garth has his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

Team of the weekKeeper

Ederson (Manchester City)

Before I go any further, I will declare that there are many goalkeepers in the modern age that I think are very average. 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 and Phil Parkes; I could go on.

Most goalkeepers today hit 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 the odd mistake or a bad one, 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 targeted several times but he has kept his nerve. He stood the test against the Hammers, as did Lisandro Martinez, who produced another stellar performance and whose style of play reminds me of ex-Scotland defender Martin Buchan.

David de Gea played his part, although all his saves I would expect a keeper of his class to make. The real star of the show was Diogo Dalot. If a headline needed to be made, he did it. He defended brilliantly and at times in very difficult circumstances. United are now just one point off the top four and look like a real team again.

Ben Mee (Brentford)

Ben Mee’s goal against Wolves deserved the nod, that’s why he’s made my pick. Sometimes defenders have inspired moments in the opposition penalty area and Mee’s finish was as deliberate as it was brilliant. Why Mee then fell out with Diego Costa is another matter entirely. Costa has a reputation for instability, so Mee knew what he was getting into.

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It took effort for Costa to get his head in Mee’s face, but it looked weak for the Brentford centre-back to fall like a stone. If the center half wants to enter the fray, by all means do so, but do so with 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 Dias. It has taken the Spaniard a while to find his feet in a team that doesn’t carry passengers. He looks right now and was an important part of City’s clean sheet against the very dangerous Leicester City. With Laporte, Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake and new starlet Manuel Akanji to choose from, they look almost impregnable.


Crysencio Summerville (Leeds)

Boy, did Leeds need those three points. Nobody expected to get them at Anfield, but they not only got them, they deserved them. Crysencio Summerville’s assurance 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 in the league so far this season already, and the fact that they only managed to drop 22 points in their entire campaign last term tells us something.

This team has played an awful lot of football over the last three years and the new boys haven’t had the expected impact, especially since 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 the likes of Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard in my selections. Well, not so against Nottingham Forest.

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

Partey has the grit and steel of former Arsenal legend Peter Storey and the running power of David Price. Arsenal fans of a certain age 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 that managed to cope with the demands of Champions League football while retaining some semblance of top form. Chelsea attacked while Liverpool suffered a very unpleasant home defeat. Of course, neither team has Kevin de Bruyne in their ranks.

The best player in the world at the moment struck the free-kick with such venom that it kissed the post and hit the back of the net while Leicester keeper Danny Ward was still in the air trying to get his hands on it. It’s time for this most amazing player to win the Champions League and with it the Ballon d’Or.

Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

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

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

With any luck, that 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 only worked hard but had 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 deliver the goods for his country? She would be brave to leave him out.

Callum Wilson (Newcastle)

If you had any doubts about Newcastle United’s performance against Tottenham last week, rest assured it was no fluke when 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 the team that will finish under Eddie Howe.

This latest victory takes the Magpies into the top four and they have done it with as little fuss as possible – reflecting the character of their manager. I’ve never seen Wilson as a top four forward, but that’s where his team is right now and I wouldn’t bet against them staying there in this form.

Leandro Trossard (Brighton)

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

The problem for the Seagulls now is whether they can hold on to Leandro Trossardi, who destroyed Chelsea and made it very uncomfortable for Potter after returning to his old club. It’s not unusual for good players to end up with bigger clubs – or managers.

Short introduction gray line

The villains of the matter

I see the Socceroos issued a collective statement against Qatar’s human rights record, becoming the first 2022 World Cup team to do so. The video message criticizes the treatment of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people by the hosts of the World Cup. I think the announcement would be much more convincing if the 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 are so saddened by the way the Qataris are leading their country, I can offer a humble suggestion – don’t go!

In fact, boycotting the World Cup and not playing would make a much bigger case and support their convictions 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?

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