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Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Pope, Koulibaly, De Bruyne, Jesus

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 has he picked this time? Take a look and then pick your own team below. And, as ever, Garth will have his say on the game’s big talking points in The Crooks of the Matter.

Goalkeeper

Nick Pope (Newcastle United)

Solly March should have had two goals and would have done had it not been for Pope. Adam Lallana then had a header saved when Pope had no right to be anywhere near it, while a deflection off Dan Burn seemed to wrong-foot the Newcastle goalkeeper, but Pope and Fabian Schar still managed to keep Brighton out. This was a good result for Newcastle who, like Brighton, are making steady progress under a very good manager in Eddie Howe.

Defenders

Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea)

Chelsea needed someone a little bit special to replace Antonio Rudiger and I think they may have found him. Koulibaly was outstanding for Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti and developed an excellent reputation for his competitive nature while in Italy – he needed all of that against Spurs. There can’t be many defenders in the world who can score a goal like he did. This was a good home debut for Koulibaly, even though his side did concede two goals. Chelsea played well and Tottenham’s best player was manager Antonio Conte, who is not to be messed with.

Pontus Jansson (Brentford)

Chants like “you should have stayed at a big club” or “what’s the score”, while painful for Christian Eriksen, must have been music to the ears of Jansson. The Brentford captain never gave his former team-mate – or the Manchester United forward line – a kick in his side’s 4-0 win. Cristiano Ronaldo spent most of the first half watching David de Gea pick the ball out of the United net, while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho seemed frightened to go anywhere near Jansson, just in case it might get a bit physical. Jansson gets paid a fraction of what those United players get. Do you think there’s any chance they might start earning it?

Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)

I was surprised to see Mings on the bench for Aston Villa’s first game of the season against Bournemouth. Needless to say, their opening fixture didn’t go very well with a 2-0 defeat, hence Mings was brought back into the side to face Everton – and what a smart move that turned out to be. The England centre-back saved Villa three points with a brilliant tackle on Salomon Rondon with the goal at his mercy. Why Frank Lampard thought he could win this game with Anthony Gordon playing as a false number nine I will never know. Rondon caused more problems for Aston Villa in 20 minutes than the rest of the Everton players did in the entire game.

Midfielders

Reece James (Chelsea)

James marked Son Heung-min out of the game in the first half, survived a booking, produced untold quality crosses that Chelsea for some reason couldn’t convert and then put them 2-1 up. This was a classic London derby with plenty of everything, but it was James who was the star performer. Tottenham weren’t great but showed enough grit to take a point. We will have to wait until February for the corresponding fixture to take place but more of the same please. A cheeky little FA Cup tie wouldn’t go amiss either. What a game that would be.

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

For his goal, De Bruyne shifted Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly so comprehensively to his left, and precisely where the defender didn’t want to go, leaving the Belgium superstar with enough room to dispatch his finish with class and precision. I haven’t seen a shimmy as good as that since George Best sent West Ham’s John McDowell three different ways in one move. What De Bruyne has in common with Best is that he is as comfortable with the ball on his right or left side, it doesn’t really matter to him. That’s what you get with genius.

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

There can only be a handful of Arsenal players who I have thought should have been sold or relieved of their duties – Xhaka was one. I have seen this player sent off, dragged off and booed off – in some cases all in one game. At one stage I was convinced he would walk out of the football club of his own volition. Yet, for all his misgivings, the former captain remains faithful to the Gunners and the Arsenal fans are to him. His performance against Leicester was impressive and while his goal was fortunate I cannot fault his determination or his passion.

Mathias Jensen (Brentford)

I saw it but I could hardly believe it. The destruction of Manchester United against Brentford took less than 45 minutes. The complete destruction took just a few minutes longer. However, what I found concerning was United and their new manager Erik ten Hag hadn’t got a clue what to do about it. Jensen was outstanding, the Denmark international took total advantage of United’s casual haphazard approach to this fixture and made them pay. His first goal was brilliantly taken and his overall contribution to the game was excellent. His ball to Ivan Toney, whose first-time pass set up Bryan Mbeumo to score, was just sensational.

Forwards

Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)

As far as home debuts go, that wasn’t a bad one for Jesus. The Brazilian seems to be relishing playing for a team that allows him freedom. He’s playing like a man who has just been let out of a straitjacket. I have always maintained Jesus was a genuine finisher but a better player than what he was allowed to display or express during his days at Manchester City. The striker, however, should have had a hat-trick and will rue how he missed this one. Hat-tricks are difficult to come by and if he didn’t know that before this fixture against Leicester, he certainly does now.

Rodrigo Moreno (Leeds United)

With Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips no longer at Elland Road, it’s reasonable to assume Leeds might struggle this season. However, their opening fixtures have been very positive and all credit to manager Jesse Marsch, who seems to be bringing the best out of the players he’s got, such as Rodrigo who now has three goals in two games after disappointing last season. What a pity Manchester United don’t seem to have a manager who can do the same. You can find out what I really think about United’s performance against Brentford in the Crooks of the Matter below.

Luis Diaz (Liverpool)

It was the worst thing that could have happened to Darwin Nunez and the best thing that could have happened to Liverpool. The altercation between Nunez and Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen, which resulted in the striker’s dismissal, only served to stimulate the Reds. They went into another gear and lifted the crowd, who appealed for anything and everything. It was always going to take something a bit special to cancel out Palace’s goal, but Diaz provided just that. Whether he can replace the potency, or match the goals, that Sadio Mane produced for Liverpool over the years remains to be seen. But Liverpool are definitely missing Mane.

Garth Crooks' team of the week

The Crooks of the matter

Marko Arnautovic for Manchester United? Whose idea was that? United fans were left totally perplexed after their team’s first game and defeat against Brighton and all the club could offer them was Arnautovic? Well, their fans on social media soon told them what they could do with that idea. However, the manner of their defeat at Brentford must have shaken the club to its core. Precisely who the club might attempt to buy this week after such a shambolic performance is anyone’s guess.

Brentford’s victory over United can only be described as a complete and total humiliation. However, it wasn’t the loss itself that alarmed me, but the way the United players seemed to capitulate and throw in the towel after just 35 minutes. I have seen teams come back from a 4-0 deficit before and United had the players and enough time on the clock to still get something out of the game. What they didn’t have was the guts or the spirit to even attempt to stage a comeback – and that is what is so worrying. The club is in desperate need of leadership both on and off the field and I fear neither Ten Hag, nor Harry Maguire, have what it takes.

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

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