Garth Crooks’ team of the week: De Gea, Lindelof, Baldock, Son, Rashford, Kane
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Premier League leaders Liverpool won again as they beat Bournemouth while Manchester United stunned rivals Manchester City in the derby.
The defeat for City means they are now 14 points behind Liverpool and six behind Leicester, who claimed a club record eighth successive Premier League win with victory at Aston Villa.
Elsewhere, Sheffield United came from behind to beat Norwich while Tottenham put in a five-star display to see off Burnley.
Here’s my team of the week – have a read and then select your own below.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea (Manchester United)
David de Gea: It’s in games like Manchester derbies you need nerves of steel and goalkeepers you can rely on. David de Gea is one of those keepers.
Martin Dubravka’s performance for Newcastle saved the day against Southampton and Vicente Guaita was responsible for Crystal Palace keeping a clean sheet away at Vicarage Road. However, neither fixture contained the same temperatures as the Etihad Stadium.
De Gea was the coolest man on the pitch and produced two saves in the latter stages of the game that, under the circumstances, were world class. That’s why he’s a world class keeper.
Did you know? De Gea made four saves during Manchester United’s 2-1 victory at Manchester City, helping the Red Devils to all three points.
Defenders – Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United), Mason Holgate (Everton), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: I’ve been banging on about Aaron Wan-Bissaka for nearly two years now. I saw him play for Crystal Palace against Fulham at Craven Cottage, and Roy Hodgson didn’t want to talk about the player after the game for fear of attracting too much attention to the lad.
I also said he was a Manchester United player if ever I saw one. His defending in the Manchester derby was nothing short of outstanding. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold might be better on the ball but there isn’t a better defender in the country on his day than Wan-Bissaka.
Did you know? Wan-Bissaka made five tackles against Manchester City, the most of any player in the game.
Mason Holgate: I never saw Mason Holgate as an imposing central defender but I thought he was amazing in the rejuvenated, never-say-die Everton team against Chelsea.
The block in the first half on Christian Pulisic was important but his overall contribution to his team’s efforts was quite brilliant. The question is why couldn’t Everton give Marco Silva some of what they gave Duncan Ferguson? What I did see was a football team playing in the same image of their interim manager. The players clearly understood what was required and boy did they give it to Chelsea.
Did you know? As well as making more blocks than any other Everton player (two), Holgate gave the ball away on fewer occasions (six) than any other Toffees player. Indeed, he also completed four tackles – only once before has he managed more during a Premier League match (five v West Ham in April 2017).
Victor Lindelof: The block by Victor Lindelof on Kevin de Bruyne was crucial if not a game changer.
Manchester United were 2-0 up after 64 minutes when De Bruyne’s shot was destined for the back of the Red Devils’ net, with plenty still on the clock, before the Swede produced the intervention of the match.
This victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t just about winning the Manchester derby but about his survival. Beating Spurs and Manchester City in a matter of days suggests that with a full complement of players, and not filling the team just with kids, Solskjaer has something.
Did you know? The Swedish defender made a team-high four blocks in Manchester United’s win at the Etihad.
Midfielders – George Baldock (Sheffield United), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
George Baldock: I wasn’t sure if it was George Baldock or George Best!
I thought I was seeing things when I saw Baldock drag the ball back, pirouette and strike a glorious shot past Tim Krul. The finish – not to mention the skill – was superb along with Sheffield United’s performance.
Blades fans have been telling me I’ve been a little hard on their team recently and not giving them the credit they deserve. How many players do they expect in my team of the week?
Did you know? Only Liverpool duo Alexander-Arnold (seven) and Andy Robertson (six) have been directly involved in more Premier League goals this season amongst defenders than Baldock (five – three goals, two assists).
Jordan Henderson: This player has been outstanding for Liverpool during the past few weeks and continued his excellent form against a Bournemouth side that were never in Liverpool’s class.
Jordan Henderson’s pass for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to score was sensational. It might have helped the Cherries if they had a player within 10 feet of the Liverpool captain.
Henderson may not be the most adroit practitioner with the ball at his feet but even he will kill you if you give him that much room. The Reds go marching on.
Did you know? As well as registering an assist for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener, Henderson recorded the most successful passes in Liverpool’s match with Bournemouth (140) – indeed, that was also his most passes ever made in a Premier League match.
James Maddison: This might have been a completely different result had Aston Villa’s medical team done their job. To let Tyrone Mings back on to the field after he had suffered what was a clear hamstring injury was suicide. By the time Villa had regrouped they were 2-0 down and James Maddison was running the show.
There is no doubt in my mind that the title is going to Anfield but Brendan Rodgers has got Leicester playing better than when they won the Premier League and look odds-on to finish runners-up. Remind me where Arsenal are currently?
Did you know? Maddison created five chances against Aston Villa, with one of those being an assist for Jonny Evans.
Son Heung-min: The last time I saw a goal scored of this quality it was by His Excellency the President of Liberia. He was then of course just George Weah playing for AC Milan.
To run practically the entire length of the pitch, outrun a posse of defenders prior to putting the ball in the back of the net is quite extraordinary but that is what Son Heung-min did.
The South Korea international left a group of Burnley players in his wake and scored what must be an early candidate for goal of the season. Quite an achievement to have something in common with the President of Liberia.
Did you know? Son was directly involved in two of Spurs’ five goals against Burnley, scoring one and assisting another.
Forwards – Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Marcus Rashford: The challenge by Bernardo Silva on Marcus Rashford was about as reckless as the player’s social media posts about his team-mate Benjamin Mendy. Silva went crashing into Rashford in the penalty area like a bull in a china shop. If the tackle itself wasn’t a giveaway, the player frantically waving his hand in mitigation to the offence certainly was.
Rashford, nevertheless undeterred by Silva’s bully-boy tactics, got to his feet, brushed himself off, and amidst the white-hot heat of a Manchester derby sent the City keeper the wrong way. Now that’s a top class striker.
Did you know? Rashford has scored 13 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions this season – equalling his best goalscoring return for Manchester United in a single season (13 goals in 47 apps in 2018-19 and 13 goals in 52 apps in 2017-18).
Harry Kane: Two superbly taken goals scored by Harry Kane looks like business as usual. The difference being that Spurs scored five goals and conceded none.
Admittedly Burnley were poor and can’t win a game home or away to save their lives. Jose Mourinho has certainly stopped Spurs from sliding into the abyss but how long is he going to keep up with this utterly facile charm offensive and start turning this Tottenham team into a side that can win the big games away from home?
Hearing Roy Keane even suggest that Spurs lack the ‘mentality’ to win those games is enough to make a Tottenham fan want to lie down with a cold compress on the forehead in a darkened room.
Did you know? Kane netted both of his shots on target against Burnley, while also creating two chances for his team-mates.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin: The lad is not what I would call a natural finisher but Dominic Calvert-Lewin definitely makes things happen.
Everton have had five permanent managers in six years which tells you all you need to know about where they are as a club at the moment. I saw more passion, desire and endeavour against Chelsea than I’ve seen in the past six years. It was like Goodison Park back in the ’80s.
If that is the Duncan Ferguson effect then give him the job at least until the end of the season. You will know then whether he’s up to it. Calvert-Lewin certainly is.
Did you know? Calvert-Lewin scored his first ever Premier League brace in his 92nd appearance in the competition, and his first league brace overall since October 2015 for Northampton Town against Carlisle in League Two.
Now it’s your turn
You’ve seen my selections this season. But who would you go for?
Crooks of the matter
I saw it but I could hardly believe it. Fans hurling missiles and one fan appearing to mimic the actions of an ape towards Fred as he was trying to take a corner. Let’s be clear here, Raheem Sterling plays for that club doesn’t he? I wouldn’t be playing for them much longer if there was a repeat of that behaviour from my fans. I can only imagine what he made of it. I saw what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and thousands of watching football fans around the world saw. We all saw it. The question is what to do about it?
Manchester City have made a good start by insisting they will ban fans for life if found guilty of these actions. We had this nonsense before in the ’70s and ’80s and the game spiralled into decline. We simply can’t afford to return to those days. Football authorities must act now and insist they get help from the government.
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