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Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Azpilicueta, Silva, Salah, Foden

Garth team of the week

Chelsea scored two late goals in a 3-1 victory over Southampton to get to the top of the Premier League while title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City delivered an exciting performance 2-2 tie.

Manchester United became one 1-1 draw against Everton while Brighton and Arsenal were done in a 0-0 Stalemate.

Brentford scored one goal in stoppage time 2-1 victory at West Ham while the Wolves beat Newcastle 2-1 and Leeds won 1-0 against Watford.

Tottenham rimmed to one 2-1 victory through Aston Villa, Burnley became one 0-0 draw from bottom group Norwich and Crystal Palace and Leicester City played a 2-2 tie.

Check out my Team of the Week, then make your own choices at the end of the article.

Garth Crooks' Team of the Week

Goalkeeper: David Raya (Brentford)

David Raya |

Losing a game at all is hard enough, but in the 94th minute West Ham has to let it go. One of the reasons the Hammers lost was due to the performance of Brentford’s David Raya between the sticks.

The Spaniard made three outstanding saves in a crucial phase that turned the game in Brentford’s favor. That result puts the bees above Tottenham, West Ham and Arsenal.

I said last week that the Brentford roster is so thin it will hardly survive the demands of the Premier League. With that outcome, Brentford could likely survive anything.

Did you know already? Including the play-offs, Raya has played in 101 of Brentford’s 105 league games since joining the club prior to the start of the 2019/20 season.

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea)

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Trevoh Chalobah (Chelsea)

Azpilicueta: VAR should really mind its own business. Clear and obvious errors have been reported to us. So why not allow Timo Werner’s header for Chelsea in the second phase of the game that had nothing to do with the previous phase. I assumed the referee kept waving when Cesar Azpilicueta tackled Kyle Walker-Peters ahead of Werner’s goal, but changed his mind when the VAR raised a red flag.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea captain and manager Thomas Tuchel went ballistic. Fortunately, Azpilicueta didn’t let the incident linger too long in his mind. He provided Werner with the pass of the game to score Chelsea’s second goal of the game and corrected what Martin Atkinson had clearly done wrong.

Did you know already? Azpilicueta has two assists in the Premier League in seven games this season and is already in line with his record from last season (in 26 appearances).

Lloret: Boy, did Leeds need this win. Diego Llorente’s reaction was that of a striker and it was enough to seal the points – but it shouldn’t have been. Once again, VAR gets into a situation it shouldn’t have been involved in, and when it did it still went wrong.

What is the point of this system? Watford’s unrecognized goal was wrong and almost certainly contributed to their manager Xisco Munoz is fired Hours after this result. It was Watford’s Christian Kabasele who was fouled in the penalty area and the goal should have been. I don’t know who operated VAR, but they should never be allowed near the technology again.

Did you know already? Only Liam Cooper (64) completed more passes for Leeds in Leeds’ 1-0 win against Watford than Llorente (60).

Chalobah: I am always fascinated by defenders who have a real passion for goal. Trevoh Chalobah scored a blast against Crystal Palace earlier in the season, but his goal against Southampton was particularly interesting.

His move away from the ball in the set piece was instinctual. He knew exactly where the ball was going to fall. Most defenders know how to attack the ball, especially in the air, but few know where it is likely to fall for a timely finish. Chalobah does. Read below why I think players should keep playing the ball in the Crooks of the Matter.

Did you know already? Chalobah has scored with just two shots in the Premier League against Crystal Palace and Southampton.

Midfielders: Andros Townsend (Everton), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Andros Townsend (Everton), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

City end:: Gosh, it looks like Andros Townsend is enjoying his football again. I don’t know if it’s the Merseyside air that did it, but whatever it is, it should keep doing it.

After a difficult period in his career at Spurs and Crystal Palace, he appears to be on top form for Everton. His goal against Manchester United was of the highest quality. His first contact with the outside of his left shoe was only achieved through a precise finish with his right foot. David de Gea was rooted.

Did you know already? Townsend has scored five goals in all competitions for Everton this season, three more than in his last two seasons for Crystal Palace (2 in 61 games).

Höjbjerg: He was never one of my favorite players when he played for Southampton, but I have to say that since joining Spurs he has grown. He is one of the few Tottenham players who has the courage to play.

You can trust him in a fight and sometimes the game against Aston Villa turned out to be just that. What was impressive, however, was the way Hojbjerg scored his goal. He did it with perfect composure and in a way that suggests that Tottenham or their manager is under no pressure at all – and we know that is not true.

Did you know already? Hojbjerg scored with his single shot, made more passes (59) and gained possession (10) more than any other Spurs player against Aston Villa.

Silva: I’m not in the habit of picking Bernardo Silva over Kevin de Bruyne, but on that occasion I feel like I have to. Silva was brilliant throughout the game against Liverpool and for much of that game De Bruyne was not.

Silva was also booked in the match because of a real false duel, but it was neither cynical nor calculated. However, James Milner’s duel against Silva towards the end of the game was both. Milner should have received a second yellow card, but didn’t. Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola hinted in his post-game interview that he wasn’t surprised by the referee’s decision, after all, it was Anfield. It’s true and it happened in my time and it’s time for it to stop.

Did you know already? Silva made more passes in Liverpool’s half than any other Manchester City player (26).

Son: It’s been a tough week for Spurs and especially for their manager Nuno Espirito Santo. Against a very dangerous Aston Villa team, the team and the coach kept their nerves in a very tricky game. Harry Kane looked a lot more like himself, but it was Son Heung-min who provided two key assists to Hojbjerg and Lucas Moura, who for some reason had been attributed to Villa defender Matt Targett. I can’t understand why. Targett doesn’t want an own goal besides his name and Moura longs for one. The good news is that the Tottenham Hotspur pressure cooker has, at least for now, been deprived of some of the heat.

Did you know already? Son Heung-min ended a streak of nine Premier League games without a template and set up Tottenham’s first goal against Aston Villa

Forwards: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolves), Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Hwang Hee-chan (Wolves), Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Not correct: It’s official: Mohamed Salah is back at his best and the player I saw at Anfield four years ago. Regular readers will know that I had my problems with Salah thinking that the moment the first ball of the season was shot, he would be chasing the golden boot. No longer. Against Manchester City he was selfless, showed a rapid pace and a great finish. The ball for Sadio Mane was sensational while his own goal was breathtakingly brilliant under such circumstances. Nice to have you back, Mo.

Did you know already? Salah has scored seven games in a row in all competitions, making his best run with Liverpool for the first time since April 2018.

Hwang:: It looks like the wolves have found a finisher for Raul Jimenez. Both men were in disastrous form against Newcastle, which no fish meal could have finished. Granted, Jeff Hendrick came along and scored a great hit for the Magpies, but if you can’t take the simple risk, you’re going to have trouble winning games.

Meanwhile, Hwang finished brilliantly twice and both came courtesy of the Bang in the form of Jimenez. Wolves look so much better with a fit Jimenez on the team, but Hwang’s ability to finish could be a huge advantage.

Did you know already? Hwang Hee-chan became the first Wolves player to score a brace in a Premier League game since Diogo Jota in February 2020 against Norwich

Foden: He missed two golden chances in the first half and I am convinced that a Sergio Agüero or Gabriel Jesus would have earned one of them. Whenever Pep Guardiola asks Phil Foden to lead the attack, he’s not getting the best out of him.

Put him on the left side of a three man attack and you have a completely different player. His goal against Liverpool showed that with a little more time, he can not only finish, but also select players who are in better positions to score goals. The last time I saw Foden play at Anfield Road he scored a similar goal. He clearly likes the big occasion.

Did you know already? Foden (21 years 128 days) is the youngest player to score in three consecutive Premier League games against Liverpool since Romelu Lukaku in November 2013 (20 years 194 days).

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

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The crooks of matter

I was intrigued by recent comments from former England captain Terry Butcher who suggested removing the header from the game entirely. I was a little surprised by his statement, not least because the former Ipswich center-back was pretty good at it.

His reasons were of course because of research results that professional footballers are more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease if they repeatedly head the ball. The discovery is worrying, if not entirely surprising. The head is not designed to hit an object repeatedly, much less when driving at high speed. So why do I disagree with my former English U21 colleague?

Comparing professional footballers to the public is an unfair comparison. It would be more reasonable to compare soccer players with men and women in other sports such as rugby or boxing.

In addition, the dynamism of football is so exhilarating that it is the most watched sport in the world. Change it and it will lose so much of its appeal. So what is the professional game supposed to do under these circumstances? Leave it to the modern gamers, I say. Let them think about the risks and allow them to make their own decisions. After all, we made ours.

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