Garth Crooks’ team of the week: De Bruyne, Mane, Son, Calvert-Lewin, Zaha

Garth Crooks’ team of the week: De Bruyne, Mane, Son, Calvert-Lewin, Zaha

Leicester lead the table on goal difference after picking up their second win of the season against Burnley.

Champions Liverpool also maintained their 100% record with victory at 10-man Chelsea, while Arsenal continued their impressive start by beating West Ham.

Manchester United suffered a home defeat against Crystal Palace, while there were wins for Aston Villa, Brighton, Leeds, Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City.

Have a look at my team of the week – and then have a go at creating your own at the foot of this piece.

Goalkeeper – Alisson (Liverpool)

Alisson: The penalty save was good enough for me. With 15 minutes left to play there was plenty of time for Chelsea to get back into the game when Alisson’s save put the result beyond doubt for Liverpool. Meanwhile, it was another poor performance by Kepa Arrizabalaga that sealed Chelsea’s fate.

Liverpool decided a long time ago that if they were going to be title contenders they had to invest in a world-class goalkeeper. Alisson was their response and the Merseyside club have not looked back since. I suggest Chelsea do the same, and quickly.

Did you know? Alisson, who signed for Liverpool in 2018, made his first penalty save for the club (three faced). Indeed, it was Alisson’s first save of any kind in this season’s Premier League.

Defenders – Tariq Lamptey (Brighton), Fabinho (Liverpool), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)

Tariq Lamptey: His performance against Chelsea in midweek was impressive but against Newcastle United on Sunday he was even better. Lamptey won Brighton’s penalty and was later involved in the move that put the game beyond the visitors.

Lamptey was only on the pitch for 57 minutes, having run Allan Saint-Maximin ragged. When Lamptey was eventually substituted with an injury, the match had been won by the Seagulls – and that was largely down to Lamptey’s contribution. This kid can play.

Did you know? Lamptey made more interceptions against Newcastle than any other Brighton player (four).

Fabinho: Trying to beat Liverpool with 11 men is hard enough, so once Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen was sent off for climbing all over Sadio Mane the game was effectively over.

What did impress me was the performance of Fabinho. The Brazilian midfielder filled in for the injured Joe Gomez and proved to be a more than an adequate partner for Virgil van Dijk.

Did you know? Fabinho made more passes (90) and gained possession more times (12) against Chelsea than any other player.

Ezri Konsa: Aston Villa v Sheffield United was almost a carbon copy of the first match after lockdown. That fixture was deadly dull and the game on Monday was only marginally better.

However, there were two bright sparks in this game. One was Tyrone Mings, who provided the assist for Villa’s winner, and the other was Ezri Konsa, who rose beautifully above Enda Stephens to direct his header past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. Villa look like they are going to have the same issues as they had last season with a lack of goals from their strikers.

Did you know? Konsa has scored two goals in his past four league games, one more than he registered in his previous 137 in league competition.

Midfielders – James Rodriguez (Everton), James McArthur (Crystal Palace), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City) Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

James Rodriguez: A super goal from James Rodriguez and a needless sending-off changed the game for Everton. I have no idea why Kieran Gibbs felt compelled to put his hands in the face of Rodriguez, who admittedly had a bite at the West Brom defender just before he was dismissed.

A defender has plenty of opportunity in a match to make a perfectly legitimate tackle – but one that hurts – on almost any member of the opposition he chooses. Bide your time and make a tackle on the Colombian superstar that really counts instead of costing your team the match because you’ve felt slighted. That’s the stuff of playgrounds.

Did you know? 34% of James Rodriguez’s 53 goals in Europe’s top five leagues have been scored from outside the box (18 of 53), including three of his past six.

James McArthur: Ian Wright mentioned James McArthur in dispatches on Match of the Day last week for his display against Southampton. I have to mention him this week for his exploits against Manchester United. The Crystal Palace unsung hero was superb at Old Trafford.

I’ve always been fascinated by midfield players who get a real buzz from making tackles. If the Scot can make a perfectly legitimate tackle and leave his opponent on the ground in a heap at the same time, even better – a point Marcus Rashford found out to his cost. Making tackles are like scoring goals for the likes of McArthur.

Did you know? McArthur made more tackles against Manchester United than any other Crystal Palace player (seven).

Kevin de Bruyne: The newly crowned PFA Player of the Year is at it again. Dominating games with the nonchalance his title suggests. Kevin de Bruyne’s display against Wolves suggests that if the Belgium international can stay fit Liverpool cannot take a second Premier League title for granted. He stroked his penalty past Rui Patricio with such confidence I doubt whether the Wolves goalkeeper would have saved it even if De Bruyne had told him where he was going to put it. A class act.

Did you know? Since the start of last season, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has been directly involved in more Premier League goals (35 – 14 goals, 21 assists) than any other player, three ahead of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

Wilfried Zaha: I said last week that if Palace were to survive in the Premier League this season Zaha would have to score more goals. It would appear he’s taken note. Let’s be clear, there was only one team who deserved to win this fixture against Manchester United and it was Crystal Palace.

Zaha, who was made captain on his return to Old Trafford, would have gained great satisfaction to have buried the club that once dared to suggest he wasn’t good enough for them. A much more mature Zaha not only exorcised a few ghosts but also appears more concerned about winning matches these days than showing us his bag of tricks. If the captain’s armband has done that I suggest he keeps it.

Did you know? Zaha became the first player to score twice in a Premier League game against Manchester United having previously appeared for them in the competition.

Forwards – Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Sadio Mane: This was a brilliant performance by Liverpool at Chelsea. The star of the show was Sadio Mane, who is fast becoming one of my favourite players. So much of his game is brimming with integrity. Most strikers would have stopped chasing having given the ball away, but Mane’s determination to win the ball back was badly underestimated by Kepa, resulting in the Senegalese’s second goal of the game.

The Chelsea goalkeeper’s time at Stamford Bridge has been unconvincing ever since he refused to leave the field in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. And now his time is up.

Did you know? Mane became only the third Liverpool player to score a Premier League double at Stamford Bridge, after Steve McManaman in December 1995 and Philippe Coutinho in October 2015.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: This lad went 10 games without scoring last season. There were even some who were beginning to doubt whether the England Under-20 World Cup winner was good enough to lead the Everton attack at all. They are not thinking that now.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first Premier League hat-trick against a West Brom side frustrated by events is very much in keeping with the player’s continued personal development. Ever since club coach Duncan Ferguson got his hands on the Everton striker he has grown in confidence at an alarming rate. Now with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, and Rodriguez providing the ammunition, anything is possible.

Did you know? Calvert-Lewin became the youngest Englishman to score a top-flight hat-trick for the Toffees (23 years 187 days) since Tony Cottee (23 years 47 days) against Newcastle in August 1988.

Son Heung-min: The equaliser by Son Heung-min just before half-time transformed Tottenham’s fortunes against Southampton at St Mary’s. What followed was quite extraordinary. The South Korea international went on to score three second-half goals, with all four superbly assisted by Harry Kane.

I must admit, I don’t like Jose Mourinho’s style of football – but if he wins matches like that every week, I’ll suffer it.

Did you know? Son has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Southampton (11 – eight goals, three assists) than any other opponent.

The Crooks of the matter

Just when I thought we were at last getting somewhere with VAR and referees taking a second look at incidents on the pitchside monitor, changes to the rules are now in danger of destroying the game.

First of all, I want to know what was wrong with the rules to begin with? Hand to ball, encroachment into the penalty area and goalkeepers coming off their line were always sanctionable.

So why have the rules been changed so that every time the ball hits a defending player’s hand in the box, in almost any circumstance, a penalty must be awarded?

And if a player isn’t good enough to convert a spot-kick in the first place, why should he be given a second chance simply because the goalkeeper has stolen a few inches, or players behind him are fighting to get to a possible rebound?

These sudden, inexcusable rule changes are sucking the life out of the game.

To penalise players whenever the ball ricochets and involuntarily hits their hand is a nonsense, as is doing so when a goalkeeper takes one step off his line in order to save a penalty. So why the changes? Could it be that those who run the game want more goals in order to make it more attractive? If that is their incentive then I suggest they think again. It’s killing the game.

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