Who gave their heart and soul? Garth Crooks' Team of the Week

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Garth Crooks' team of the week

After every Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks gathers his thoughts and gives you his Team of the Week.

Here are this week's choices and, as ever, Garth also discusses the game's big talking points in the Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' team of the weekGoalkeeper

Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa): To beat Arsenal took a superb team performance by Aston Villa from start to finish and it was a wonderful return to Emirates Stadium for manager Unai Emery. His team couldn't have performed any better than a 2-0 win away from home. As far as tactics go Aston Villa carried them out to the letter and it started with Emiliano Martinez.

Playing out from the back, and when Arsenal are pressing, you have to have nerves of steel. Martinez remained unshakeable throughout this entire fixture.

However, he is a goalkeeper first and foremost and when he was called on to produce something special he did precisely that. His point-blank save from Leandro Trossard at a crucial stage in the match was a turning point in the game and Villa never looked back. This is a team and a manager who look like they might be going places.


Fabian Schar (Newcastle): Fabian Schar should have been booked in the first few minutes against Tottenham for his tackle on Son Heung-min and so should Dan Burn for pulling back James Maddison. If referees are going to be lenient in the opening exchanges, and I detect more officials are giving players a little latitude, it should not be for deliberate or premeditated offences.

Let's not go back to the days when it was accepted a defender could have a free hit at a striker and the official would turn a blind eye. Having said that, the fixture was never in doubt once Newcastle realised that their visitors were never up for the battle. This was a poor show by Tottenham but an impressive performance in the end by Newcastle.

From his very first tackle, Schar was determined to leave an impression on the game and he did just that.

Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace): To win at Anfield was a magnificent result for Crystal Palace and Joachim Andersen was at the heart of this victory for the Eagles. The Denmark international was outstanding alongside Nathaniel Clyne, Jefferson Lerma and Tyrick Mitchell, who between them kept an impressive clean sheet.

The result almost certainly means that Palace will now avoid being sucked into any sort of scrap with Everton, Nottingham Forest or Luton, who are all desperately trying to avoid relegation. Meanwhile, Liverpool's Mo Salah was well off the pace and has been for some time. Jurgen Klopp's team looked like the midweek defeat against Atalanta in the Europa League had taken too much out of them and they appeared to be running on fumes.

Whether Liverpool can recover from dropping points in their last two league fixtures and still mount a credible title challenge remains to be seen, but I think they may have blown it.

Josko Gvardiol (Manchester City): He scored his first goal for the club at the Bernabeu in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in midweek and then along came his first Premier League strike against Luton Town just four days later.

Both were quite superb, although the finish against Real Madrid would have carried far more significance. Nevertheless, the way the Croatia international has seamlessly slotted into the Manchester City set-up is incredibly impressive. Gvardiol's success since he burst into the team has given City options.

The full-back is as comfortable on the ball as Joao Cancelo was when he was occupying the position and seems just as capable of scoring goals. City, who went two points clear at the top of the table, now look ominous. With six league games left to play in the Premier League, a second Treble is still very much on the cards.


Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest): If Nottingham Forest are to stay in the Premier League this season they must keep Morgan Gibbs-White fit. He was their inspiration in the 2-2 draw against Wolves and his headed goal epitomised how the lad is not afraid to get in where it hurts in order to score goals.

I'm not entirely sure whether the player's motivation was fuelled by the fact that he was playing against his old club and had a point to prove, or whether it was purely down to Forest's perilous situation. Whatever it was, he certainly wasn't afraid to make his point.

Having scored, he confronted the Wolves fans, with his hands cupping his ears as if to say 'what have you got to say now?'.

Cole Palmer (Chelsea): Everton were 3-0 down before they even got started at Stamford Bridge. Sean Dyche looked somewhat red faced on the touchline and so did club owner Farhad Moshiri as he watched uncomfortably from the stands. The cause of their embarrassment was the 20-year-old Chelsea phenomenon Cole Palmer.

The former Manchester City player, who left the champions because he got fed up waiting for game time, moved to south-west London and hasn't stopped scoring since his arrival. He produced the most sensational hat-trick against the Toffees, each goal with its own touch of spontaneous magic and got a fourth with a penalty.

The game comes effortlessly to this lad and Chelsea need to build a team around him. However, when you get team-mates fighting over who is going to take a penalty you question the leadership at the club.

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United): Whatever you may think of Bruno Fernandes, he does give his heart and soul whenever he plays for Manchester United. Bournemouth should and would have wrapped this game up but for the never-say-die attitude of Fernandes.

Marcus Rashford would be the best player in the world if he had his captain's appetite and attitude towards the game. I have been one of Rashford's biggest fans over the years but he should be doing for United what Kylian Mbappe is doing for PSG right now, but somehow he seems to have lost the heart for the battle.

Sure, he does his bit, but he's far more talented than his recent performances suggest and seems to have lost his way. I'm amazed Fernandes or Casemiro haven't been able to fire him up or inspire him. That said, if you need motivating whenever you put on the red shirt of Manchester United then something has gone terribly wrong.

Andreas Pereira (Fulham): With top scorer Jarrod Bowen unavailable for West Ham against Fulham, and the team coming off a midweek defeat by Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League, the Hammers were leggy and lacking in inspiration.

A fresh Fulham, full of running and endeavour, took complete advantage of their hosts with what was a comfortable 2-0 win in the end. Andreas Perreira was the star of the show for the Cottagers with two superbly taken goals.

Notable mentions should go to Calvin Bassey and Tosin Adarabioyo who defended particularly well and never gave Danny Ings or Michail Antonio a kick all afternoon, while Alex Iwobi seems to be finding himself again after a difficult time at Everton.


Jeremy Doku (Manchester City): Let's be honest about this, the Luton game wasn't the greatest test for Manchester City.

Luton had 12 players who have tasted first-team football out of action due to injury so came out of this difficult fixture with their reputation still intact. I don't think a player can ask for any more than when your fans, who have paid good money to see you perform, applaud you off the field because you have given your best. Seeing Luton fans show their appreciation for their players in such a manner was telling.

Unfortunately for the Hatters, Jeremy Doku almost single-handedly tore the visitors to shreds.

This game was never part of Luton's points tally plan; however, the next five games are. They now face a monumental challenge and I believe they must win three games from five to stand any chance of staying in the division. I always felt that this division was always too much for the Bedfordshire club, but I can't fault their spirit.

Alexander Isak (Newcastle): Spurs were 3-0 down in less than 60 minutes. If ever there was a case of a team showing how desperately inconsistent they are, then Tottenham's performance at St James' Park was it.

The normally impressive Micky van de Ven looked like he was playing on skis, while James Maddison seem to go through the entire match as if the scoreline didn't matter, oblivious of the fact that his team were fighting for a Champions League spot, and getting hammered.

Newcastle's Alexander Isak took complete advantage of Tottenham's failings with two well-taken goals, and with a bit of luck the Sweden international might have had a third. Tottenham have increased their ticket prices for next season. With a Champions League spot looking increasingly unlikely as the season draws towards a close, can anyone offer a justification?

Matheus Cunha (Wolves): Forest-Wolves was a fabulous contest between two Midlands rivals. If Gibbs-White was the star of the show for Nottingham Forest then Matheus Cunha was the man of the moment for Wolves.

The Brazilian cut Forest to pieces on one occasion and then robbed them of two points on another. His first goal was like he was doing samba footwork as he danced around three Forest defenders before smashing the most exquisite shot past Matz Sels.

Wolves have had a magnificent campaign under Gary O'Neil and there is no reason why they can't push on next season with just a little investment. I think Forest will need nine points from their remaining games to stand a realistic chance of survival.

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Honourable mentions

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City): The City midfielder's return didn't help Luton one bit. His absence due to illness for the Champions League in midweek was felt, but within minutes at getting back on the pitch the Belgium international was feeding the kind of through balls Erling Haaland was starved of in Madrid.

Mateo Kovacic (Manchester City): He doesn't score many goals but when he does they tend to be beauties. Kovacic's 64th-minute strike against Luton was one of those goals you see a defensive midfield player score once in a blue moon - no pun intended.

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The Crooks of the Matter

I don't know how some clubs have got the nerve to charge their fans more in ticket prices when they are in receipt of more money than ever from television revenues.

Liverpool supporters announced their disapproval by refusing to take their usual flags and banners on to the Kop for the Atalanta game on Thursday night, having heard the news of a 2% increase in ticket prices at Anfield next season.

Is this the thanks they get for the magnificent way in which they support their team?

However, if you're a Tottenham fan it gets worse. Spurs have raised their season ticket prices by a staggering 6% for the 2024-25 season. One could argue that Liverpool's increase might be somewhat justified due to their fans being treated to the occasional trophy, and if that is the case, then it's hard to fathom precisely what Tottenham's reason could be.

It doesn't help matters when fans know how much money finds its way into the pockets of agents. Meanwhile, Premier League footballers get paid more money than they know what to do with.

Custodians of our football clubs - and that's all owners really are - are taking advantage of the fans like this is a mickey-take. Liverpool fans had every right to announce their displeasure and so they should.

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