Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Cahill, Salah, Silva, Aguero,
Here’s my team of the week – have a read and select your own below.
Goalkeeper – Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)
Martin Dubravka: The longer the game went on the better Martin Dubravka became and the more his team grew in confidence.
To go to White Hart Lane with no points on the board, criticism ringing in your ears from two previous woeful performances and an expectant following can’t be easy. Nevertheless Dubravka saved well in the first half from Son Heung-min, was brilliant in the air with crosses and showed calmness and composure when it mattered.
There is no doubt in my mind that the performance of the Slovakia international set the tone for an impressive victory.
Did you know? Dubravka’s clean sheet for Newcastle at Spurs was his first Premier League shutout versus ‘big six’ opposition since May 2018 v Chelsea.
Defenders – Joel Matip (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace), Paul Dummett (Newcastle)
Joel Matip: He was outstanding against Southampton last week and scored a glorious goal this week against Arsenal. And it was the Cameroon international whose brilliant recovery and tackle stopped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from putting the Gunners back in the game.
It’s all very well Arsenal (and other teams for that matter) trying to play nice, controlled football in their own third of the field when the opposition are breathing fire and brimstone but you must have players who have the confidence and the ability to cope with that pressure and Arsenal clearly don’t. There’s a time to play at the back and a time to boot it and on this occasion it was the latter.
Did you know? As well as scoring against Arsenal, Matip won all seven of his contested duels.
Gary Cahill: It was great to see Gary Cahill back in action again having been treated so badly by Maurizio Sarri in last year’s Europa Cup final. To leave a player on the bench, at 4-1 up, who had given Chelsea such good service over the years was in poor taste.
Cahill looks like he has lost none of his appetite for the game and produced a stellar performance for Crystal Palace against Manchester United. This was a match United let slip away. When you play for United you can’t allow games against the likes of Palace to get away from you. The home crowd are too unforgiving.
Did you know? Cahill made six clearances and one block on his debut for Palace at Old Trafford.
Paul Dummett: I’ll put my cards on the table straight away. I called both Newcastle’s previous performances rudderless, leaderless and lacking courage. Well, against Spurs they were magnificent.
I can’t remember seeing a team work so hard. I could have picked anyone of their players against Tottenham but I’ve gone for Paul Dummett, the Geordie who epitomised the spirit of his team. From start to finish this lad placed himself in the heart of the battle and never wavered.
They will not play Spurs every week though and the big question is, will they show the same courage when playing lesser teams and they are expected to win? That’s the next big test.
Did you know? Dummett made more clearances (12) than any other Newcastle player against Spurs.
Midfielders – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), David Silva (Man City), Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
Mohamed Salah: What a beautifully taken penalty. I’ve seen hundreds of penalties in my time but nothing quite as gorgeous as the one Mohamed Salah took against Arsenal.
You could have had two goalkeepers in that net and neither of them could have saved it because of its precision. Poor David Luiz had one of his days. He does have them from time to time but this one was a howler. Salah skipped around Luiz for his second goal like he didn’t exist.
Under normal circumstances Luiz would have taken Salah out but the Brazil international had already been booked. Which begs the question, why didn’t Unai Emery take him off and replace him with Sead Kolasinac or Calum Chambers? At 3-0 the game is over.
Did you know? Salah has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Arsenal than he has any other side (eight; six goals and two assists).
Mateo Kovacic: Since the departures of Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack, John Terry and Frank Lampard, Chelsea have lacked leadership on the pitch.
The arrival of Mateo Kovacic at Stamford Bridge didn’t convince me that anything had changed until his performance against Norwich. In the absence of N’Golo Kante, the Croatia international looked immense. I knew he could tackle, compete and was full of enthusiasm but I didn’t think he could play.
Every time I watch him at Stamford Bridge, he plays the ball everywhere apart from where it should have gone. His performance against Norwich proved he is much better than that. His manger Lampard may have discovered a player here.
Did you know? Kovacic provided his first assist in the Premier League since Boxing Day versus Watford and he also completed all six of his dribbles at Norwich.
David Silva: When Manchester City find players and they stay for some considerable time it’s normally because they have been great. David Silva is among Manchester City’s greats.
The diminutive Spaniard punches way above his weight and controlled the pace of the game against Bournemouth with consummate ease. Referee Andre Marriner had an impeded view for a clear and obvious penalty on Silva by Jefferson Lerma. The referee cannot give what he cannot see but I thought that was why we had the video assistant referee. Does this scientific ‘know it all’ only give what the rest of us cannot see and find mystifying?
Manchester City fans expressed their complete and utter frustration with the science. I wasn’t surprised.
Did you know? Silva twice against assisted Bournemouth and has assisted more than once in 14 separate Premier League games – only Ryan Giggs and Cesc Fabregas have done so more often (17 games).
Nathan Redmond: This was more like the Southampton I saw at the back end of last season. They took the game to the opposition and looked dangerous on the break.
It’s becoming rather conspicuous that when Nathan Redmond plays well, so do the Saints. Redmond looks lively again and got the goal his performance deserved. However, there was one performance that stood out for all the wrong reasons. The tackle on Yan Valery by Florin Andone was a shocker. I hope he apologised.
Did you know? No player has scored more Premier League goals for Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl than Redmond (seven).
Forwards – Sebastien Haller (West Ham), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Sebastien Haller: Watford were so bad in defence that goalkeeper Ben Foster was entitled to be furious. West Ham could have had six if it hadn’t been for Foster.
However, Sebastien Haller stole the applause and robbed the former England international of claiming his first TOTW selection of the season by scoring twice. Haller is not what I would call a West Ham player in the traditional sense. There is nothing of the Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson or the Frank McAvennie about him but more of the David Cross.
Haller will know little or nothing about those former West Ham goalscoring giants, but trust me, if he does half as well as any of those he will be an enormous hit with the fans.
Did you know? Haller scored twice in West Ham’s away win at Watford, registering the most shots on target of any Hammer (three).
Sergio Aguero: Sergio Aguero doesn’t look much like Fagin but more like the Artful Dodger. The Argentine striker performs like the Oliver Twist character famous for picking pockets.
In fact Aguero gets better at taking his opportunities the older and slower he gets. He stroked home his first goal, having picked Nathan Ake’s pocket, and then toe-poked a loose ball for his second while surrounded by a posse of Bournemouth defenders. Pickpockets seem to work better in crowded areas.
Did you know? Aguero has now scored 400 goals for club and country combined, with 235 of those coming for Manchester City.
Tammy Abraham: I must be honest, I never thought that Tammy Abraham was a Chelsea player. That was because I always saw Chelsea as a top-four team.
Frank Lampard has seen something in this kid and Abraham looks like he is prepared to walk over broken glass for Lampard. Provided that allegiance remains intact, Abraham has a chance of making it at Chelsea. His first goal against the Norwich was brilliantly instinctive, while his second was taken like a player who is growing in confidence. Abraham can now put that penalty miss in the Super Cup well and truly behind him and the trolls can take a running jump.
Did you know? Abraham (21 years 326 days) became the third youngest player to score twice in a Premier League game for Chelsea, after Mark Nicholls v Coventry in January 1998 (20 years 225 days) and Eddie Newton v Tottenham in December 1992 (20 years 358 days).
Now it’s your turn
You’ve seen my selections this season. But who would you go for?