Garth Crooks' Team of the Week: Alisson, Saliba, McGinn, Palmer and more feature in Premier League's best

Garth Crooks' team of the week
Garth Crooks' team of the week

After each 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' latest Team of the Week
Garth Crooks' latest Team of the Week

Alisson (Liverpool): The Liverpool goalkeeper is at it again. Making one-on-one saves look easy. With the score at 0-0, Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo was clean through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat but the Brazilian stopper produced a superb save to keep Liverpool from going behind.

The save set the tone for a much more productive Liverpool performance than we have seen from them recently with the Reds going on to put three goals past Brentford without reply. Brentford were not beating Alisson in this form.


Victor Lindelof (Manchester United): You could feel the relief run through Old Trafford when the final whistle came. I couldn't help watching Erik ten Hag nervously pointing to his watch indicating that time was up and that the referee needed to blow the whistle.

Manchester United were facing newly promoted Luton Town and the home side seemed a bag of nerves. Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho appeared well off the pace and low in confidence. Fortunately an unsung hero ensured United avoided a rather embarrassing draw.

Lindelof appears to be one of those players who has come to United's rescue before - and he did it again against Luton.

William Saliba (Arsenal): During the early part of the season this player seemed to dominate my team selections. Well, Saliba's absence in my teams recently is very much in line with Arsenal defeats at West Ham and Newcastle recently.

Those losses certainly had an impact on manager Mikel Arteta's ability to retain a cool head or to offer any clear perspective about those fixtures. Two games and two victories later their manager is all smiles and Saliba finds himself on the scoresheet against Burnley and back in my team.

Suddenly everything appears rosy in the Gunners garden again until the next video assistant referee (VAR) offence or perceived injustice when Arteta will descend into hysterics again. Whatever happened to that cool, calm, sharp, introspection. Oh yes, they sacked Arsene Wenger didn't they.

Vitaliy Mykolenko (Everton): What was Mykolenko doing in the Crystal Palace six-yard box in open play? I know the defender scored against Brighton last week but it seems as though he has developed a taste for goals.

His header in the first half was brilliantly dispatched and his shot, which hit the post and rebounded for Abdoulaye Doucoure to score, smacked of a player with his mind only on one thing.

However, Everton were lucky as Eberechi Eze was certainly caught the first time by Jarrad Branthwaite - resulting in a penalty - and the Toffees defender was let off by the referee for a similar challenge on the same player moments later.

Nothing was remotely clear or obvious about the referee's refusal to give Palace another penalty but the reaction of the Everton players as they looked towards referee Sam Barrott for reassurance immediately after the challenge was very telling.


Pablo Sarabia (Wolves): With four of the best players out of the Tottenham line-up there was a certain inevitability about this result. Nevertheless Spurs should have come away from Molineux with a point.

The quality of the Wolves equaliser by Sarabia was memorable but their winner should have been avoided. Trying to hold a line in your own penalty area in the last minutes of a game is madness.

You track your man into the box which Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg failed to do. Meanwhile, Ben Davies and Eric Dier never even saw the danger. Spurs look like they are about to pay a heavy price for the self-indulgence of Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie that saw them receive their marching orders against Chelsea.

Abdoulaye Doucoure (Everton): Let me say that Doucoure lived through one of the most terrifying experiences known to man. The ball rebounding off the post, coming towards him like a rocket, staring at an open goal with the entire stadium waiting to see if you can execute what should be a formality of a tap-in.

All credit to the Mali international who was equal to the challenge for Everton's second at Crystal Palace. I've seen open goals like that missed before and so has Doucoure, which made the execution of the skill more panicky than it should have been.

Everton have won more games away already this season than they did during their last campaign. Goodison Park is a wonderful place to play but Everton's fans can be demanding. I hope playing at home isn't becoming a bit of an ordeal for their players.

Tomas Soucek (West Ham): They may have lost Declan Rice but if Soucek keeps getting into goalscoring positions with the same regularity he did against Nottingham Forest then the departure of the England midfielder to Arsenal will not feel so bad.

Soucek was unlucky when he chipped Forest keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos only to see his effort hit the bar and he then had a header brilliantly saved. Forest led West Ham at one point in this fixture but Steve Cooper's men can't be expected to score three goals way from home in order to get a point. Cooper needs to fix this.

John McGinn (Aston Villa): Of all the Aston Villa players who have been part of their success since the arrival of Unai Emery; McGinn has probably been their most consistent.

He seldom misses a game, gives 100% every match and doesn't seem remotely interested in being in the spotlight.

I make no apology for selecting him in my team as he was the star of the show against a totally outclassed Fulham. The Scotland international scored Villa's second goal with a cracking left-footed drive and played an integral part in their third that sealed the game. McGinn - a man for all seasons.


Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Another two goals by Salah, this time against Brentford, has not only halted Liverpool's recent blip recently but placed them second in the table.

His first goal was brilliantly received and beautifully dispatched with his left foot - a typical Salah finish. This sets up a classic encounter with Manchester City after the international break. And with Salah in this form anything is possible.

Cole Palmer (Chelsea): What a game of football. Two teams going at it full throttle and with little or no interference from VAR - it was wonderful. The penalties awarded to both Chelsea and Manchester City might have been somewhat controversial but referee Anthony Taylor didn't need a monitor - he gave his decision in real time and VAR backed him.

If Erling Haaland's spot kick was emphatic for City than Chelsea's response by the young Palmer was definitive. If this kid can keep his head among the bright lights of London and not get carried away with it all, there is no telling what he could achieve. What a talent.

Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth): What fabulous improvisation from Solanke for his second goal of the match. These were three massive points for Bournemouth and manager Andoni Iraola. The Cherries and their new boss have struggled this season but to beat Newcastle at home regardless of their circumstances is a big deal.

I was amazed to see some Newcastle fans complaining to Kieran Trippier after the game about their defeat. Have they lost their minds? Not only are their team suffering from a long list of injuries, they have encountered three brutal matches in seven days.

You'd expect your own fans, better than anyone, to understand their team's situation. What jaw-dropping audacity that any Newcastle supporter would question the effort of this current team. Perhaps they should bring Mike Ashley back. Remember those days?

Short presentational grey line
Short presentational grey line

The Crooks of the Matter

What a week. It started with Mikel Arteta insisting that "it's a disgrace". I can only assume he was talking about how those operating VAR had treated his team against Newcastle at St James' Park.

On Monday night, in the game between Spurs and Chelsea, there were nine VAR interventions in a 57-minute first half and the 54-minute second half.

On Tuesday, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers suggested football feels more like a computer game with the constant looking at the screens, and on Wednesday night VAR was "out of control" according to Ten Hag after Manchester United's defeat in Copenhagen.

However, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme former referee Peter Walton insisted that VAR is good for the game because it shows and corrects clear and obvious errors.

VAR didn't highlight what was clear and obvious in the game between Newcastle versus Arsenal, which caused Arteta to go apoplectic. And its operators have been making errors ever since the system was introduced.

What VAR has exposed is that the science is competent but those operating the system are not. This weekend I got the distinct impression, even if nothing has been said officially, that those operating VAR did their best not to get too involved, allow the referees to manage the games, and let the games flow wherever possible - and it worked.

They'd be wise to continue with that policy in the future.