Saturday, April 17, 2021
HomeUncategorizedGarth Crooks' team of the week: Jota, Jesus, McNeil, Rudiger, Stones, Dunk

Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Jota, Jesus, McNeil, Rudiger, Stones, Dunk

Garth team of the week

Manchester City continued their march towards the Premier League title with a 3-0 win at Fulham as Manchester United strengthened their top-four hopes with a 1-0 victory against West Ham.

Leicester City remain a point behind United in third after thrashing bottom club Sheffield United 5-0 while Chelsea were held 0-0 at Leeds.

Everton’s European hopes were dented by a 2-1 loss at home to Burnley, while Arsenal edged the north London derby by the same score against Tottenham.

Meanwhile, Brighton secured a valuable 2-1 win at Southampton, Crystal Palace won 1-0 against West Brom and Newcastle and Aston Villa played out a 1-1 draw.

On Monday evening Liverpool moved up to sixth with a 1-0 win over Wolves.

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

Team of the week

Goalkeeper – Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

Edouard Mendy (left) saves for Chelsea at Leeds

It was the save from Leeds forward Tyler Roberts that made me sit up and take notice of Edouard Mendy’s performance.

The Senegal international somehow got his fingertips to the ball and pushed the effort onto the crossbar. His second save from Raphinha was not quite as impressive but nevertheless just as important.

I haven’t been totally convinced by Mendy’s career at Stamford Bridge since his arrival from Rennes (although he has made my team on previous occasions) but Chelsea have only conceded two goals in 12 games under Thomas Tuchel and Mendy has featured in the majority of those games.

Did you know? Mendy has now kept 19 clean sheets for Chelsea across all competitions this season – only Manchester City’s Ederson (20) has kept more for a top five European league side in all competitions this campaign.

Defenders – Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), John Stones (Manchester City)

Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), John Stones (Manchester City)

Antonio Rudiger: When I saw Patrick Bamford limp off the pitch at Elland Road after a collision with Antonio Rudiger, I wasn’t surprised.

Most players who come into contact with Rudiger know that they have been in a game. Since the German international returned to the Chelsea line-up, their goal against tally has been as good as any defence in the league.

Earlier in the season they were leaking goals. I keep telling Chelsea fans that Rudiger may not be pretty but he is the best defender at the club.

Did you know? Chelsea have conceded just five goals in the 13 league games Rudiger has appeared in this season, conceding a goal every 234 minutes on average when he is on the pitch.

Jamaal Lascelles: This was a game where Newcastle had most of the play but couldn’t finish. In the end it took the captain, Jamaal Lascelles, to produce a brilliant header to provide Newcastle and Steve Bruce with a reprieve.

The Magpies are in a relegation battle and the manager is fighting to retain his job. If they want to survive then they have to get Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron all fit and back on the pitch pronto.

Did you know? All eight of Lascelles’ Premier League goals have been headers, including his late equaliser against Aston Villa on Friday – he is the top scorer in the competition’s history to net 100% of his goals with his head.

Lewis Dunk: This was a gutsy performance by Brighton. I was critical of the Seagulls at West Brom when they wasted a hatful of chances. But this was a very different Brighton, who were full of enterprise and prepared to take risks and it paid off. Lewis Dunk scored a super header to set the victory up but the quality of defending that followed was as good as I’ve seen.

In light of what is happening below them, Brighton were desperate for the points against the Saints. Meanwhile, Fulham, Newcastle or Brighton are in great danger of joining my relegation certainties, Sheffield United and West Brom, in the Championship next season. The problem is I can’t call it.

Did you know? Dunk has now scored 20 league goals for Brighton (excluding play-offs), with 15 of those being headers.

John Stones: It may have been his fifth goal of the campaign but that doesn’t tell the whole story about the season John Stones is having.

I’ve seen lots of goals scored but not by a centre-back with the composure to attack a ball that sat up and finish like a striker. Stones is so full of confidence at the moment, it’s scary. The response from his Manchester City team-mates, I’m convinced was largely because of the sheer quality of the finish. It also broke down a resilient Fulham side, who provided fight and commitment but couldn’t compete with City’s class.

Did you know? Having scored just one goal in his first 170 Premier League appearances, Stones has since netted four in his past 10 games in the competition.

Midfielders – Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)

Dwight McNeil (Burnley), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)

Dwight McNeil: Burnley had only won three league games away from home all season and I was certainly not expecting them to win their fourth away at Goodison. This was not Everton’s finest hour by any stretch of the imagination and the absence of Abdoulaye Doucoure isn’t helping either.

However, this was about a Burnley side that has got over the club’s boardroom politics and rediscovered its appetite for the battle on the pitch. They now look almost certain to retain their status at least for another season in the top flight. Two fabulous strikes sealed this game for the Clarets. I must say the goal from Dwight McNeil was a bit special.

Did you know? McNeil has scored four Premier League goals from outside the box – the most of any Burnley player in the competition.

Luka Milivojevic: When 22 of your 28 goals for your club have come from the penalty spot, there are two things working for you.

Firstly, you are putting the ball into areas that matter and, secondly, you have someone who knows how to take penalties. Luka Milivojevic is a no-nonsense midfield player. He relishes the battle and would have been just as comfortable playing in the 1980s as he is playing in the modern game.

It’s great to have a player in your team that, when a penalty is awarded to you, you can rely on to take it. It’s an enormous weight off everyone’s shoulders.

Did you know? Milivojevic’s 22 penalties from 28 Premier League goals (79%) is the highest ratio of any player with at least 25 goals in the competition.

Emile Smith Rowe: If ever there was a game that typified Tottenham Hotspur then this was it. Last week Harry Kane and Gareth Bale destroyed Crystal Palace but it took them far too long to get going against Arsenal.

Erik Lamela scored a wonder goal and then promptly got himself sent off. I mean, what’s the point of that? Meanwhile, there is a young man in the Arsenal team so keen to make a name for himself he practically runs himself into the ground.

Emile Smith Rowe caused Spurs untold problems down their left-hand side along with his accomplice Kieran Tierney. Two of the youngest players on the pitch showing the greatest desire.

Did you know? Smith Rowe created four chances for Arsenal in Sunday’s north London derby – more than all of the Spurs players combined (three). He also became the youngest player to create four or more chances in a Premier League north London derby since Cesc Fabregas created six in April 2007.

Forwards – Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)

Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)

Diogo Jota: I enjoyed this fixture. Liverpool played like a team that wanted to win the game and Wolves looked like a team who had no intention of letting them.

The difference between the two sides was the man who Wolves sold to Liverpool last summer. Going back to your old stomping ground and facing your former team-mates is never easy but Diogo Jota made it look that way. His goal was well taken and enough to put the Reds back on track. Jota has been an inspired signing and had it not been for injuries to the Portugal international, Liverpool might still be in touch with another title challenge.

Did you know? Diogo Jota is the second player to score for and against Wolves in the Premier League after Stephen Hunt.

Gabriel Jesus: Now that’s how you finish. If Gabriel Jesus is going to take on Sergio Aguero’s mantle then he is going to have to show the same ruthlessness he displayed with his goal at Fulham.

A little less culture in front of goal and much more aggression will do just fine. At least that was what I detected against Fulham. Jesus has been criticised for not converting more of his chances into goals. However, the way he put his goal away against the Cottagers suggested to me he means business. I wonder if this kid is finally starting to mature?

Did you know? Jesus has been directly involved in 95 goals in his 114 starts in all competitions for Manchester City (73 goals, 22 assists), scoring eight and assisting one more in his past 10 starts. The Brazilian has never lost a Premier League game in which he’s scored in (P40 W38 D2 L0 – 48 goals in total).

Kelechi Iheanacho: If this performance by Sheffield United is anything to go by then the departure of Chris Wilder is very short-sighted.

It wasn’t the defeat that was so worrying but the manner of it. Five goals thumped past them away from home wouldn’t have happened on Wilder’s watch. The main cause of the collapse was Kelechi Iheanacho.

The former Manchester City striker was at his most clinical. His second and third goals were magnificent strikes. As for Sheffield United’s board of directors, I think they’ve made a poor decision allowing Wilder to leave which makes it all the more important that they get his successor right.

You can read more about what I have to say on Wilder in The Crooks of the Matter below.

Did you know? Iheanacho scored his first Premier League treble, becoming the fifth Nigerian to net a hat-trick in the competition (after Yakubu, Efan Ekoku, Nwankwo Kanu and Peter Odemwingie).

The Crooks of the Matter

When are two Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and a Scottish League Cup not good enough? When you are the manager of Celtic is the answer.

Watching Neil Lennon walk away from Parkhead having failed to win the title for the 10th consecutive season made me realise just how demanding the world of football can be at times. The Northern Irishman returned to the club, having played, captained and successfully managed the team, to stabilise things after Brendan Rodgers walked out on them, yet he still suffered an ignominious departure.

Celtic fans were so traumatised Rangers had won the title, they could not cope with the humiliation and Lennon went from hero to zero in a flash.

South of the border a taxi was also waiting for Chris Wilder. His credentials aren’t in Lennon’s league but the ex-Blades defender joined the Yorkshire club in May 2016 and took them from League One to the Premier League during that period and finished ninth last season in their first year back in the league. It is a record certainly not to be sniffed at.

So why have these men gone? There may be no other commercial enterprise that would allow these managers to leave under such circumstances.

But football is unlike other commercial enterprises in the world. That’s why it is so captivating. Lennon and Wilder deserve our praise and respect and I hope that is enough to sooth the indignation both men must be feeling right now.

However, I have no doubt that in time supporters will realise the enormous contribution they have made to their clubs and give them the credit they truly deserve.

Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.

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