Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Maddison, Pukki, Mane, De Bruyne


Manchester City dropped two points after being held to a 2-2 draw at home by Tottenham, while Liverpool overcame spirited Southampton 2-1.

Arsenal also made it two wins out of two by edging Burnley 2-1 and Chelsea were held 1-1 by Leicester in Frank Lampard’s first home game as Blues boss.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth won 2-1 at Aston Villa, Everton beat Watford 1-0and newly-promoted Norwich defeated Newcastle 3-1.

Sheffield United beat Crystal Palace 1-0 and Brighton were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham.

Here’s my team of the week – have a read and select your own below.

Garth Crooks' Team of the Week graphic
Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Jordan Pickford
Pickford saved from Deeney with his face

Jordan Pickford: This wasn’t the most scintillating performance by Jordan Pickford against Watford but it was good enough. I was told in no uncertain terms by former BBC presenter Ray Stubbs that I should have selected Pickford after his performance against Crystal Palace last week. Quite what he knows about it I’m not entirely sure!

However, I selected the England goalkeeper for his match-winning save from a Troy Deeney power-driver that hit him full in the face – although I’m not sure he knew a lot about it. Second consecutive clean sheet for Pickford and Everton.

Did you know? Pickford is the first Everton keeper since Neville Southall in 1993-94 to keep a clean sheet in the first two matches of a Premier League season.

Defenders – Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Joel Matip (Liverpool), Jack O’Connell (Sheff Utd)

Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester, Joel Matip of Liverpool and Jack O'Connell of Sheffield United
Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester, Joel Matip of Liverpool and Jack O’Connell of Sheffield United

Caglar Soyuncu: He saw off Olivier Giroud, then Tammy Abraham; Willian then came on, thought about it and didn’t fancy it. Caglar Soyuncu was clearly punching above his weight but that never seemed to bother him.

Leicester City’s centre-back out-battled and out-fought Chelsea’s big guns and both were sent packing by the Turkish international. This kid has a real battling spirit and I liked it.

Did you know? Soyuncu attempted 13 more passes than any other Leicester player in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

Joel Matip: Whenever Joel Matip plays for Liverpool he appears to be the one who is making all the last-ditch tackles, getting the ball smashed in his face and coming to Liverpool’s aid in a crisis.

Meanwhile, Virgil van Dijk looks beautifully groomed, hair swept back in a ponytail, strolling around looking like he’s just returned from a week in Vegas! Matip must get Van Dijk to do his share of the heavy lifting when the Reds are up against it away from home.

I know Matip is the junior partner here but, come on, fair is fair. Good to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back.

Did you know? Matip hasn’t ended on the losing side in any of his last 30 Premier League appearances.

Jack O’Connell: This was a poor game of football as far as I was concerned. Sheffield United showed bags of energy and courage but they lacked quality. Oh how they could have done with former Blades hero Tony Currie.

Nevertheless, they won three valuable points against a woeful Crystal Palace. The star of the show for me was Jack O’Connell, who dealt with the aerial threat of Christian Benteke and the dazzling feet of Wilfried Zaha. There was nothing dazzling about Palace’s performance unfortunately.

Did you know? O’Connell made more clearances (11) than any other player in the match against Crystal Palace.

Midfielders – Dani Ceballos (Arsenal), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), James Maddison (Leicester), Bernard (Everton)

Dani Ceballos of Arsenal, Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City, James Maddison of Leicester and Bernard of Everton
Dani Ceballos of Arsenal, Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City, James Maddison of Leicester and Bernard of Everton

Dani Ceballos: Dani Ceballos’ involvement in a move to set up Reiss Nelson was superb. That was before that interfering, meddling, busybody called VAR poked his hi-tech nose in and ruled some wonderful work by Ceballos offside.

This lad can play. He seems to have a touch of the Aaron Ramsey about him, albeit a little more mobile. It will be interesting when Mesut Ozil returns to see if Unai Emery will accommodate both players.

With David Luiz in their defence, Ozil due to return once fully fit and Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front, the North London derby suddenly looks interesting.

Did you know? Ceballos had the most touches (97), created the most chances (4), and attempted the most passes (70) of any Arsenal player against Burnley.

Kevin de Bruyne: It was only a matter of time before Pep Guardiola handed Kevin de Bruyne the captain’s armband. The Belgium international is producing the most spellbinding performances again. We saw it two seasons ago when he replaced the irreplaceable Yaya Toure.

De Bruyne’s first assist was another one of those extraordinary passes that when it left his foot, only he and its recipient actually knew where it was going. In this case it was Raheem Sterling’s head and went straight into the back of the net.

De Bruyne is producing magic. In fact, he should be in the next Harry Potter movie.

Did you know? Only Christian Eriksen (49) has more assists in the Premier League since De Bruyne’s debut for Manchester City in September 2015.

James Maddison: Leicester City should have come away from Stamford Bridge the victors and James Maddison the hero. In the end Maddison had to settle for man of the match while his team settled for a point.

The development this lad has shown in the past 12 months has been startling. If Maddison continues to dominate games like this he’s an England certainty. In the second half he took the game by the scruff of the neck and with better finishing (the only weakness in his game) Chelsea would have lost. Frank Lampard has a lot of work to do at Stamford Bridge.

Did you know? Maddison has created 50 chances from set plays in the Premier League since start of last season – six more than any other player.

Bernard: This was a performance reminiscent of Everton legend the late, great Alan Ball. Bernard was full of energy and ingenuity. All 5ft 4in of him ran the show at Goodison Park against Watford.

Everton currently lie eighth in the table with Bournemouth above them after two games. The problem with Everton is managing expectations.

Should the Toffees finish in the top six then their manager survives. Anything short of that then Everton’s fans will start asking their usual questions. It’s unfortunate for Marco Silva that Liverpool are doing so well but that’s what this is all about.

Did you know? Bernard scored Everton’s only goal and created more chances (3) than any other Toffees player in their 1-0 win over Watford.

Forwards – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Teemu Pukki (Norwich), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left), Teemu Pukki (centre), Sadio Mane (right)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal (left), Norwich’s Teemu Pukki (centre) and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Arsenal are very lucky to have Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He was messed around last season by Unai Emery and some players might have said ‘shove it’.

He was often the chief architect of Arsenal’s victories in the big games last season. Burnley are not a big club but they are not afraid of those that are. The Clarets had enough chances to get something out of the match and should have done.

However, with Aubameyang in his current form it was inevitable the Gabon international would put Burnley to the sword and he did.

Did you know? Aubameyang has been involved in 28 goals in 27 Premier League appearances at the Emirates (21 goals, 7 assists).

Teemu Pukki: Anyone who scores a hat-trick in the Premier League deserves high praise and Teemu Pukki’s efforts against Newcastle entitled him to nothing less. However, I said last week, in the Crooks of the Matter, that the departure of Rafael Benitez from St James’ Park left the Magpies up the creek without a paddle.

It’s only the second weekend of the Premier League season and Newcastle look absolutely rudderless.

Did you know? Pukki is the first player to score as many as four goals in his first two Premier League appearances.

Sadio Mane: It might have been the first time Sadio Mane has scored against his old club but even he had to celebrate it, such was its brilliance. The Senegal international was on top of his game again after a hectic summer of football in the Africa Cup of Nations.

While there has been talk of Mane not getting sufficient time off to recuperate from the tournament, he looked sharper and fitter than anyone else on the field against Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp needs to be very careful not to overplay Mane. If he does and loses the player through injury, he could live to regret it.

Did you know? Mane has scored more Premier League goals in 2019 than any other player (15).

Now it’s your turn

You’ve seen my selections this season. But who would you go for?

Pick your Team of the Week

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

The Crooks of the Matter

It’s only the second weekend of the season and VAR is already bugging the hell out of me. The whole point of the introduction of the technology was to eliminate the errors. What VAR is actually doing is looking for them. VAR can spot a toe, a stud or even when a players’ tattoo is offside, but will not offer an opinion when a player has been clearly manhandled in the penalty area?

Tottenham’s Erik Lamela practically assaulted Manchester City’s Rodri in the box and VAR said nothing. Why? If Referee Michael Oliver did not see it then it was a clear and obvious error and VAR should have brought it to the referee’s attention. So no help there.

England's top flight is one of the last high-profile competitions to get on board with VAR
England’s top flight is one of the last high-profile competitions to get on board with VAR

Did this technological ‘know it all’ not see what everyone else saw or did this scientific genius go for a comfort break? Of course not. VAR is a spoiler. It seeks and searches for error. He’s a show off! VAR comes into its own when it can combine the evidence with the facts. “Don’t blame me!” it shouts. “I’m just giving you the facts and attaching them to the evidence and the laws of the game.”

Adrian is hopeful of starting Liverpool’s match against Southampton despite suffering an ankle injury in a collision with a pitch invader.

The Spaniard, 32, was injured during post-match celebrations following the win over Chelsea in the Super Cup on Wednesday.

“Today I feel much better,” Adrian told the club website on Friday.

“I hope after more treatment it’s going to be much better. I’m very optimistic to start playing on Saturday again.”

The incident happened as the Liverpool players were huddled together, celebrating Adrian’s save of Tammy Abraham’s penalty in the shootout win.

A supporter, attempting to join the group, ran towards them, slipping as he was grabbed by a steward, and collided with several players.

Adrian added: “It was a strange, weird situation because we were celebrating between us and one guy jumped from the crowd and started running.

“I think he slipped in front of us and also the security with him and made me a tackle from the side.”

Adrian was injured by a fan shortly after his team-mates congratulated him for saving the winning penalty during the Uefa Super Cup
Adrian was injured by a fan shortly after his team-mates congratulated him for the decisive penalty save during the Super Cup shootout

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “There’s no doubt about how much we love our fans, there’s no doubt about that at all, but if they all could stop doing that – that’s the worst example we have so far heard about.

“We played against Manchester City and someone ran on the pitch then.

“At Norwich, there was someone as well.

“I don’t know what you can do about it in the stadium but that means there is a lot of responsibility for the supporters as well. If the one person cannot hesitate or stop himself, then the people around should do it because it’s not funny. It’s crazy. You think ‘wow, how can something like this happen?'”

Liverpool’s third-choice keeper Andy Lonergan, 35, who was an unused substitute for the game in Istanbul which finished 2-2 after extra time, could deputise for Adrian if the 32-year-old is ruled out.

Liverpool’s first-choice keeper Alisson is sidelined with a calf injury and when asked, Klopp said Lonergan was “ready” if needed.

Best known for his time at Preston, the veteran has played for a host clubs and arrived at Anfield in the summer after being released by Middlesbrough following a loan spell at Rochdale.

Klopp also has 20-year-old academy graduate Caoimhin Kelleher as an option, but added: “The decision will be made tomorrow. No chance to make it earlier.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool have called off transfer talks with Serie A side Roma over defender Dejan Lovren.

It comes after Roma indicated they were willing to make a €20m deal to sign the Croatia centre-back only to fail to make an official offer.


Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams at the Rogers Cup

Williams beat Osaka 6-3 6-4 to set up a semi-final against Marie Bouzkova.

But Osaka’s number one status was confirmed after Karolina Pliskova lost 6-0 2-6 6-4 to Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu in Toronto.

Pliskova, number one for eight weeks in 2017, needed to win the tournament to regain top spot.

Ashleigh Barty replaced Osaka at the top in June, but the Australian’s run ended with her loss in round two.

Williams’ meeting with Osaka was the first since last year’s US Open final when the American argued with the umpire late in the match and Osaka was awarded a game as a penalty on her way to winning a first Grand Slam title.

Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, is yet to drop a set this week in Toronto. “It’s definitely not where I want to be, but I’m getting there,” she said.

Bouzkova, ranked 91st in the world, progressed to the semis after her opponent Simona Halep retired hurt having lost the first set 6-4.

Andreescu, 19, is currently 22nd in the rankings and will play Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals after the American defeated Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

Karolina Pliskova
Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova missed the chance to return to the top of the world rankings
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