Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Kane, Sterling, Eriksen, De Bruyne, Romero, Gomez

The battle at the top of the Premier League intensified as Manchester City and Liverpool both won.

Elsewhere, Tottenham defeated Newcastle 5-1Chelsea were stunned 4-1 at home by Brentford,Manchester United drew 1-1 with Leicester at Old Trafford and Wolves defeated Aston Villa 2-1.

Concerns over Everton’s relegation mounted with a 2-1 loss at West Ham, Leeds draw 1-1 with Southampton while the match between Brighton and struggling Norwich ended goalless.

But what you want to know is: who made my Team of the Week? Check it out below and then make your own choices at the bottom of the article.

Team of the week

Goalkeeper – Jose Sa (Wolves)

Jose Sa van Wolves

Jose Sa: What a game this was. Villa started out as if they had forgotten to put on their boots and they looked like a team in a production of Bambi on Ice. Meanwhile, Ollie Watkins lost two golden opportunities and didn’t seem to sleep a wink. The Villa striker was not afraid to take the penalty he received after a collision with Jose Sa. I thought Sa was unlucky to take the penalty, but it didn’t detract from what I thought was another outstanding performance from the Portugal international.

Did you know? Of the goalkeepers with more than 500 minutes played this season, Sa has the best save rate in the Premier League (79%).

Defenders – Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Craig Dawson (West Ham, Aaron Cresswell (West Ham)

Joe Gomez, Cristian Romero, Craig Dawson, Aaron Cresswell

Joe Gomez: Great to see Joe Gomez back in the Liverpool line-up. Injuries have ruined his career, but the way he shot those balls into Watford in-goal for Diogo to attack Jota was just mesmerizing. Gomez will need a series of league games to get him back into the form that made him a surefire for the international roster. Very few English defenders can play anywhere in the back four, but Gomez can. He is a rare talent and quite brilliant in his day.

Did you know? Gomez’s assist against Watford was his first in the Premier League since December 2017, against Everton at Anfield.

Christian Romero: The block on Joe Willock’s attack on goal was nothing short of brilliant. The Newcastle player looked certain to score. Romero struck me before when he played for Spurs and he is starting to look like a real player in the Premier League. The longer the game went on against Newcastle, the better Romero got. Composed under pressure and very comfortable on the ball when it isn’t. However, manager Antonio Conte must correct this Jekyll and Hyde culture in Tottenham’s appearances if they are to secure fourth place.

Did you know? Romero has averaged 4.5 combined tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, the most of any Spurs player (minimum 500 minutes played).

Craig Dawson: This player is about as professional as can be. Craig Dawson gave another mature performance against an Everton side that had their moments. Dawson has been around for a while, but I don’t recall the defender ever letting one of his clubs down. Yes, he’s made a mistake every now and then, hasn’t he, but he’s one of the most consistent defenders in the game. West Ham are currently high up in the league, competing in the latter stages of the Europa League and Dawson is quite comfortable with it all.

Did you know? Dawson has won more aerial duels (82) this season than any other West Ham defender in the Premier League.

Aaron Creswell: Frank Lampard has done his job here. Everton deserved to get something out of this game and would have done it if Michael Keane and Alex Iwobi’s incompetence hadn’t been stupid. If Keane stays upright and Iwobi controls a ball that a baby could have grabbed, Everton would almost certainly have scored a point. As for West Ham, it wasn’t their best performance, but they have a defender in Aaron Creswell who can take a free kick. The only really clear moment in the match.

Did you know? Cresswell scored his fourth direct free kick for West Ham United, the most of any player. Cresswell was previously tied with Dimitri Payet on three.

Midfielders – James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Christian Eriksen (Brentford), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City)

James Ward-Prowse, Christian Eriksen, Kevin de Bruyne

James Ward-Prowse: As it stands, he is probably the best dead ball striker in the country. James Ward-Prowse’s free kick against Leeds was as predictable as it was brilliant. The ball was destined for the back of the net when the player placed the ball on the ground. It flew past Illan Meslier. Leeds, meanwhile, appears to be making steady progress under new coach Jesse Marsch. They just couldn’t continue the kamikaze football they were under Marcelo Bielsa, no matter how appealing it had become.

Did you know? Only David Beckham (18) has scored more direct free kicks than Ward-Prowse (13) in Premier League history, with nine of Ward-Prowse’s goals coming from home.

Christian Eriksen: What a special two weeks Christian Eriksen has had. He returned to international duty for Denmark to score goals against Serbia and the Netherlands, then returned to the Premier League and destroyed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Eriksen’s return to the professional game was nothing short of remarkable. After nearly dying on a football pitch, he is back to full fitness and has transformed Brentford’s season and with it their style of play. With 33 points on the board, this win against Chelsea de Bees almost guarantees a new season in the Premier League.

Did you know? Eriksen scored his first Premier League goal since December 2019 (for Tottenham against Norwich). He was directly involved in eight goals (three goals, five assists) against Chelsea in the competition, with all three goals coming at Stamford Bridge.

Kevin De Bruyne: The link between Raheem Sterling and De Bruyne looked rather menacing against a totally outclassed Burnley. If these two can stay fit, City should be the favorites to retain the title and reach the Champions League final. My only concern is City’s refusal to install a committed striker against whom these two exceptional players can play – not to mention scoring goals. Liverpool have Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and now Luis Diaz waiting in the wings and they are all dedicated goalscorers. Meanwhile, City continues to play with a false nine. Ultimately, it could be Guardiola’s downfall.

Did you know? De Bruyne has scored 10 league goals for Manchester City this season, marking only the second time he has reached double digits in a single Premier League campaign (13 in 2019-20).

Strikers – Vitaly Janelt (Brentford), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Vitaly Janelt, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

Vitaly Janelt: What a poor performance this was from Chelsea. Ivan Toney could have scored two goals for Brentford before some season ticket holders had taken their place. Meanwhile, Vitaly Janelt helped herself to a few while the minds of Chelsea players seem to be on another planet. Janelt took both of his goals brilliantly, but it begs the question, where were the European and world champions for clubs? So play against Real Madrid in their upcoming Champions League match and they can say goodbye to keeping that trophy.

Did you know? Janelt scored his first double for Brentford in all competitions, scoring as many Premier League goals as he has scored in his previous 24 games in the competition combined.

Harry Kane: It’s not often that the England captain on my team of the week hasn’t scored a single goal in a 5-1 game. However, the game against Newcastle United should be an exception. Kane’s performance in the second half was nothing short of sensational. The Tottenham striker’s fit was so precise that he could have passed them all through the eye of a needle and still found one of his teammates. A wonderful individual performance by Kane. I just hope he hasn’t developed a desire to score goals instead of scoring them.

Did you know? Kane recorded his 40th assist in the Premier League, half in 64 games since the start of last season; his 20 first-class assists before 2020-21 had come in 210 appearances.

Raheem Sterling: Two assists from Raheem Sterling against Burnley highlighted another feature of his game that has improved since his time at Manchester City under the careful development of Pep Guardiola. The muffled touch for Kevin de Bruyne’s goal was very nice, while the expertly picked throw for Ilkay Gundogan was even better. Sterling never took the same care of his passing at Liverpool as he did at Manchester City. Like all good teachers, Guardiola has solved this and like all good students, Sterling has put in the time.

Did you know? Sterling provided two assists in a Premier League game for the seventh time and the first since February 2019 against Arsenal.

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

The scammers of the case

I was struck by the comments former Chelsea and French defender Frank Leboeuf made recently, almost begging Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to retire soon. The comment came just as I was about to make a similar comment in my Team of the Week, but I felt the five-time Ballon D’or winner deserved more than an outright comment about his form and was entitled to a proper analysis of what happens to a player in decline.

Old age affects all of us, but its impact may be more visible in some than others. Ronaldo has scored a staggering 18 goals in 32 games across all competitions this season, but it is far from his usual high standard of nearly scoring in every game when he played for Real Madrid. He has shifted his position from wide on the left, where he has scored and scored goals for himself and others with alarming regularity, to playing up front and having to rely on quality service to provide the chances to score goals.

I remember reporting for the BBC during the 2006 World Cup and seeing Ronaldo play against England in the quarter finals. The match was stopped after 120 minutes and had to be resolved via the feared penalties. I had positioned myself behind the goal, so close to Paul Robinson that I could have shaken his hand.

The pressure was unbearable, but Ronaldo didn’t seem to feel an ounce of it. He literally walked into the penalty area, calmly placed the ball on the spot and looked up at the Bank of England fans behind me before putting the ball firmly into the back of the net. The guts, not to mention the audacity, just blew me away. I had never seen such confidence.

That confidence was supreme and came with the ability to handle any moment or opportunity the game threw at him. I am a great admirer of Ronaldo. His professionalism is indisputable and he has more than lived up to the expectations of a 37-year-old player in the toughest league in the world. However, he is still a young man who needs a purpose in life. The United States could be the place to set that goal. David Beckham and Ronaldo would form a formidable partnership in Miami. One thing’s for sure, the five-time Ballon D’or winner doesn’t need the money.

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