Garth Crooks Team of the Week: Haaland, Rice, Palmer, Odegaard, Jackson


At the end of every Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks collects his thoughts and gives you his picks for the team of the week.

Here are this week’s picks, and as always, Gase discusses the game’s important topics in “The Liar of Questions.”

David Raya (Arsenal): Bournemouth took some time to get David Raya tested on Saturday but pulled off a fine save when Dominic Solanke’s shot was destined to hit the back of the net .

The Arsenal goalkeeper has to go through some tests. The former Brentford man had to win the hearts of the Emirates Stadium fans when he was drafted at the expense of Aaron Ramsdale, who did nothing wrong.

Raya has kept three clean sheets in his last four Premier League games and 15 clean sheets all season, an achievement that earned him the prestigious Golden Glove award. He needs to keep a few more clean sheets if he wants to have any chance of winning the title.

Thiago Silva (Chelsea): He’s almost 40 years old and he’s as dangerous from set-pieces in the opposition penalty area as any defender in the Premier League. Silva returned to the Chelsea squad after a brief injury absence and he once again performed well. It was he who headed in a very well-taken corner kick, providing Noni Maduk with the opportunity to score.

Chelsea will be without Silva’s services at the end of the season, and with that, his professionalism and all-round calm demeanor will be sorely missed. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he returns to Stamford Bridge as manager in a few years’ time.

Willie Boly (Nottingham Forest): Nottingham Forest stalwart Boly’s tackle on Gustavo Hamer created an opportunity for Callum Hudson-Odoi to score his second goal and end the game.

Sheffield United made a real difference against Forest, especially good defensive work from Boly and support from Murillo to keep the Blades at bay. We saw Murillo limping off the pitch against Manchester City last Sunday and there were concerns over the Brazilian’s availability for what has now become a crucial game for Forest’s survival.

Boli and Murillo have been outstanding at Bramall Lane and their presence will be crucial for the club’s remaining two games against Chelsea and away to Burnley. In my opinion, if they win, they go home.

Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace): This is a horror show from Manchester United. Ralf Rangnick, United’s interim manager at the time, said they needed open-heart surgery to get the club back to its former self.

After United’s recent game against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, they looked to be in need of more surgery.

United may be suffering from a host of injuries at the moment and you do wonder how the resources they have found themselves so depleted, but nonetheless, with the talent they have shown, they should be better than this.

Joachim Andersen didn’t kick Ramus Hoylund all night. The Danish centre-back was outstanding in the win over Manchester United and set up Tyrik Mitchell for his team’s third goal. Crystal Palace have looked like a different team since the arrival of Oliver Glasner. Next season looks very exciting for the Eagles.

Declan Rice (Arsenal): If Declan Rice had never scored again in his life but had won the title in his first season at Arsenal, I have no doubt he would have made the sacrifice without hesitation. That’s the impression you get when you watch the England international. He seems to be ready for the team in every game he plays.

Even if he doesn’t have a great game, you know he tried his best. His goal against Bournemouth put Arsenal four points clear at the top of the table within hours, and his performance suggested that City must win all their remaining games to secure their title.

However, with United yet to play away and Everton at home, both teams have a history of being more than happy to ruin Arsenal’s party just for the sheer hell of it.

Harvey Elliott (Liverpool): Whatever happened on the West Ham touchline between Mohamed Salah and Jurgen Klopp last week, it seemed to get the player a bit excited. Salah looked razor sharp, eager to prove a point against a Tottenham side that seemed to have lost its way.

At no stage did Spurs look like they were getting anything out of the game and it was all over when Harvey Elliott struck a superb finish from just outside the box. Spurs fought back but in vain.

Elliott has had an excellent season and confirmed his future at Anfield. Not bad for a kid who was rejected by Chelsea for being too small. I’m surprised football clubs in England still think in these terms.

Martin Odegaard (Arsenal): A third game in a row with the same team showed Mikel Arteta has nothing to lose by sticking to his big guns for the remainder of the campaign. After all, City are in the lead with a game in hand and just one point behind. Arsenal don’t look like they’ll get anything out of them.

However, this background noise didn’t stop Odegaard from putting in another strong performance in a difficult game against Bournemouth. Odegaard has had a phenomenal season and is in the running for the Footballer of the Year award.

He is a throwback to a time when the team’s captain was not only one of the best players, but also earned respect, showed maturity and performed well. The Norway international possesses all these qualities but also carries the extra burden. If I’ve ever seen one, it’s a professional model.

Cole Palmer (Chelsea): I’m always reluctant to say this because I don’t want to put any more pressure on the lad than he already is, but I think Cole Palmer is the best talent this country has produced since Glenn Hoddle.

Palmer scored his 24th goal of the season and it was like a training session, he played with ease and never looked nervous. He sees the pass before anyone else and uses it to cut opponents in half.

Nicolas Jackson made a mistake in control and the ball fell to Conor Gallagher to score, whose accuracy surprised him. He then played one of the most glorious through balls to Mykhailo Mudryk, who squandered the opportunity but it didn’t matter at this point as the game was well beyond The scope of the Hammers.

Manchester City’s Phil Foden is talented, but so is Cole Palmer. I hope the England manager can make the most of these players. History shows that the national team has struggled with such talent in the past.

Nicholas Jackson (Chelsea): This lad’s performance took a huge hit after losing to Liverpool in the League Cup final. Forwards don’t miss chances on purpose, but as a teammate once said to me, you get the glory, so you take the bat, and I think it’s a fair exchange. However, more important than broad shoulders is your ability to bounce back from disappointment and keep fighting.

Nicholas Jackson did just that. He was calm, measured and collected against West Ham. However, if West Ham were unsure about the impact of not retaining their manager’s job next season, they know after their recent defeat to Chelsea.

When players began asking the manager what was going on, the manager shrugged and an air of uncertainty hung over the locker room. It will obviously be difficult for David Moyes to keep this going as he may not be able to renew his contract, leaving West Ham a shadow of last season’s team.

Erling Haaland (Manchester City): Guardiola gave his players two days off before Wolves visit the Etihad Stadium. Their manager has sent a clear message, if anything, that his players should take some time and think hard about the relevance of the remaining games.

They won the treble last season, but it would be amazing to do the double two years in a row. Ever since the debate began over how bad Erling Haaland is outside the box, the striker hasn’t stopped scoring goals. His third and fourth goals against Wolves were both stunning.

Only a handful of strikers have managed to score five goals in a Premier League game and I’m sure Haaland was keen to add that record to his collection, but for some unknown reason he was substituted. I think he would have to settle for four.

Callum Hudson-Odoi (Nottingham Forest): It looks like this player has regained his mojo. I saw him being slowly abandoned at Chelsea and he was almost loaned out to Bayer Leverkusen, but his time at Nottingham Forest proved to be a turning point for Hudson-Odoi.

His talent is undoubted, but he lacks courage and fighting ability, especially when things go against him. However, his time at Forest showed a different side. He scored two of his most brilliant goals against Sheffield United. The second one is the best because the ball sits up, making the execution of the shot more difficult.

Forest have endured a poor season, largely down to points, but appear to have grown as a group of players through adversity – as has Hudson-Odoi.

Honorable mention

Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest): I said recently that if Forest really want to avoid relegation, they must first keep this player healthy. I haven’t changed my stance after watching him play against Sheffield United.

His passion and desire to stay in the Premier League is obvious. He was well ahead of Forest’s Player of the Year award.

Noni Madduk (Chelsea): Chelsea’s Marduk put in a selfless, team-focused performance against West Ham United. It was great to see the youngster making an important contribution to their win and carrying himself in a professional manner rather than arguing over who took the penalty.

Michael Oulis (Crystal Palace): His first goal was a grazing shot, but his second was a screaming shot. Olise played an integral role in Monday night’s win over woeful Manchester United at Selhurst Park. Erik ten Hag comes across as a very decent man, but whether it’s an FA Cup final or not, he’s out of his depth.

liar of things

Earlier this week we heard from refereeing chief Howard Webb that football is about “human referees” who “make judgements”. This was his response to another incident in which VAR, and those operating the technology, have come under greater scrutiny than usual. I must say, I expected more from him, but at least his reaction was clear and obvious.

When will refereeing body PGMOL accept the fact that science is there to assist referees rather than take charge of the game, or try to justify its use by using age to prove a point that no one else can see? Fans have a right to expect that the technology will reduce errors by highlighting obvious ones, rather than confusing them with science. At the moment we are faced with a ridiculous situation where supporters in the stadium can’t even see why VAR intervened or the decision has been changed, unlike the viewers watching on TV.

The suggestion that VAR corrects more decisions than it incorrectly doesn’t hold water either. Fans, players and coaches are not offended by these rulings.

VAR comes into play when it shows a clear error. Failure to do so can lead to confusion and controversy.



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