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Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Mendy, Mount, Bale, Aguero

Garth Crooks' team of the week: Mendy, Mount, Bale, Aguero thumbnail

Manchester City’s pursuit of a third Premier League title in four seasons continued with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, while a Gareth Bale hat-trick helped Tottenham to a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.

The game was called off after about 200 fans broke into Old Trafford to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club.

Elsewhere, Chelsea cruised past Fulham with a 2-0 victory while fellow top-four chasers West Ham came from behind to win 2-1 at Burnley.

West Brom look certain to go down after they were held to a 1-1 draw by local rivals Wolves, the same scoreline as Friday’s fixture between Southampton and Leicester.

There were also 2-0 wins for Arsenal over Newcastle and Brighton over Leeds, while Aston Villa edged past Everton 2-1.

Check out my team of the week and then make your own selections towards the bottom of the article.

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

The tip over the bar from Antonee Robinson was first class but the save from Ademola Lookman was even better. However, it was the shot from Ola Aina that took a wicked deflection off Reece James en route to goal that really impressed me. The way Edouard Mendy adjusted to keep the ball from entering the net was quite brilliant. The save kept Chelsea on track for another clean sheet. It’s quite a remarkable turnaround by Thomas Tuchel, the way Chelsea are looking so solid in defence and even Mendy, who looked rather shaky on occasion under Frank Lampard, playing so well.

Did you know? Since Tuchel’s first league game in charge of Chelsea, Mendy has kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the competition (nine in 13 appearances).

Defenders: Craig Dawson (West Ham), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Jonny Evans (Leicester)

Craig Dawson: The Hammers finished in 16th place last season, this season they are challenging for a Champions League spot. The transformation has been remarkable. They haven’t spent fortunes – quite the reverse. One of the main additions to the team has been Craig Dawson. I rebuked him against Newcastle recently when he needlessly got sent off for a second bookable offence. It’s the only time I’ve seen him put a foot wrong since his arrival at London Stadium. Against Burnley, in difficult conditions, he was a composed figure and one of the reasons the Irons look destined for a Europa League place.

Did you know? Dawson’s appearance against Burnley was his 200th in the Premier League.

Lewis Dunk: This was another sterling performance by Lewis Dunk. The Brighton captain has been outstanding again this season and for me their player of the season. For most of this game, Leeds played into Dunk’s strengths. As the visitors became more desperate to get back into the game, the more they played long balls into the box from a wide position. Dunk must have thought it was his birthday as he comfortably dealt with the threat. Patrick Bamford never had a kick either. Dunk snuffed that threat out as well.

Did you know? Lewis Dunk won possession 15 times in Brighton’s win over Leeds, more than twice as many as anybody else in the game.

Jonny Evans: This was an impressive display by Southampton. It wasn’t that long ago the Saints played Leicester at home, had a man sent off and had nine goals put past them. These days this is a very different Southampton. The red card shown to Jannik Vestergaard was so appalling it makes you wonder what the game is coming to. Leicester missed a massive opportunity by not taking advantage of this shocking decision. It took a goal by Jonny Evans, who is in terrific form at the moment, to salvage a point for the Foxes. If Brendan Rodgers does go to Spurs, he could do a lot worse than take Evans with him.

Did you know? Evans has scored two goals in his past three Premier League appearances for Leicester, as many as he had in his previous 95 games in the competition.

Midfielders: Danny Welbeck (Brighton), Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Gareth Bale (Tottenham)

Danny Welbeck: This wasn’t the greatest game I’ve ever seen but Graham Potter and his Brighton players won’t give two hoots about that. These three points they took from Leeds, who were shocking in front of goal, just about makes them safe. The difference between the two sides was Danny Welbeck. The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker was responsible for Ezgjan Alioski’s panic attack and the subsequent penalty award before producing a moment of magic to fire home probably one of the most important goals of his career. Welbeck’s decision to go to Brighton was a sound one.

Did you know? Welbeck’s five goals in his 21 Premier League games for Brighton this season is his best return in a top-flight campaign since 2017-18 (also five). He last scored more in a season back in 2013-14 with Manchester United (nine).

Mohamed Elneny: His post-match interview said it all. The delight Mohamed Elneny showed knowing he had scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal is what boyhood dreams are made of. I’m getting rather irritated by know-it-all commentators who continually tell me that players in front of goal should have scored. I wouldn’t mind if they knew how difficult scoring goals actually was or had scored a few themselves in the red-hot cauldron of Premier League football. Well, Elneny’s relief and gratitude reminded me just how difficult it is to score a goal in top-flight football. The Egypt international also played a pivotal role in the Gunners victory away at Newcastle.

Did you know? Elneny scored his first league goal for Arsenal in his 66th appearance. Prior to his goal, he had failed to score with any of his 48 shots in the competition.

Mason Mount: The moment I saw the skill, he was immediately in my team of the week. I didn’t need to see anything else. Kai Havertz scored the goal but it was Mason Mount who choreographed it and laid it on a plate for the German. This assist ranks alongside anything the king of the assists, Kevin de Bruyne, has done, and he has produced quite a few. As for Fulham, well, they are down. Scott Parker’s passion is compelling but he really is living in ‘cuckoo land’ if he seriously thinks he can stay in the Premier League in this perilous position. There’s more chance of me taking charge of Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg fixture against Real Madrid than Fulham staying in the Premier League. That’s how unrealistic Parker’s suggestion is. I wouldn’t sack him though.

Did you know? No Chelsea player has been involved in more goals across all competitions since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel than Mount (seven – five goals, two assists).

Gareth Bale: I’m not going to get too excited about Tottenham beating a relegated team at home. What I did see that made me sit up and take notice was Gareth Bale’s finishing against Sheffield United. This was a hat-trick of the highest quality and his second goal was nothing short of world class. I cannot, however, talk about elements of this game without mentioning the tackle and follow through by John Fleck on Giovanni lo Celso. To allow the tackle on Lo Celso to go unpunished makes a mockery of players’ health and safety and brings into question the competence of the officials. As for John Fleck, he should be ashamed of himself.

Did you know? Bale became the sixth Welshman to score 50 Premier League goals, and the first since Craig Bellamy reached this total back in December 2006. His treble on Sunday was the seventh hat-trick of his club career, three of which have come at Tottenham Hotspur (four for Real Madrid).

Forwards: Michail Antonio (West Ham), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Kai Havertz (Chelsea)

Michail Antonio: This lad has had a fantastic season and he’s spent half his time on the treatment table. When Michail Antonio plays for West Ham, they look a different outfit – especially going forward. He has also been a tremendous asset to the Hammers. Not since former Leeds United and England midfield player Paul Madeley have I seen a footballer who is as comfortable playing in defence as he is playing in attack. Antonio can play anywhere. His two against Burnley have put West Ham in a glorious position and European football now looks very much on the cards.

Did you know? Only Paolo Di Canio (47) and Mark Noble (46) have more Premier League goals for West Ham than Antonio (45).

Sergio Aguero: Pep Guardiola has gone and done it now. He’s made Sergio Aguero angry. The Argentine striker had a face like thunder as he was forced to sit on the bench and watch his team beat Paris St-Germain on Wednesday. Aguero was included in the team against Crystal Palace on Saturday and the Eagles paid the price. There is nothing worse than a top-class striker who has been left out of a top-class fixture. It’s where they belong and Guardiola knew he was playing with fire but got the desired effect. Not only was Aguero’s finish against Palace emphatic but he also made his point by announcing his frustrations on the pitch and now presents Guardiola with a selection problem. Leave him out against PSG in the return leg, 2-1 up or not, at your peril.

Did you know? Aguero scored at Selhurst Park for the first time, making him the 12th player to have scored at 30 different stadiums in the Premier League, with the Manchester City striker now netting at eight different London stadiums in the competition (only Wayne Rooney and Nicolas Anelka have more – nine each).

Kai Havertz: I think Chelsea may have finally found a formula that makes up for their lack of a top-class centre forward. They are also playing a brand of football that is nice to watch. Timo Werner’s link-up play with Kai Havertz is delightful and Hakim Ziyech certainly knows how to play football. Havertz is less excitable in front of goal than Werner, which gives Chelsea the cutting edge they have been looking for. Olivier Giroud is on his way out while Tammy Abraham is a willing contributor but at the moment does not possess the all-round game Thomas Tuchel requires for a regular place in a top-four side.

Did you know? All eight of Havertz’s goals for Chelsea have been scored in London (seven at Stamford Bridge and one at Selhurst Park).

The Crooks of the Matter:

I said last week after six clubs tried to steal the game’s crown jewels, by forming an exclusive European Super League, that the remaining Premier League clubs had an opportunity before the government review on football, to provide supporters’ groups with a voice on their boards. Those Premier League clubs, to their shame, have remained silent. What happened on Sunday afternoon when thousands of Manchester United fans descended on Old Trafford and some infiltrated the pitch is, in my view, a response to that silence. Fans are no longer prepared to stand by and watch owners do as they please with their clubs without consulting them first.

I don’t subscribe to the view that the 1970s and ’80s were halcyon days for football – when the butler, baker and the candlestick maker were running clubs. Yes, they loved their communities but the game was in decline, hooliganism and racism was rampant and the game needed a makeover. The Premier League provided it. The game, however, has now gone to the other extreme.

For far too long, businessmen have dictated how the game is run and often at the expense of the fans. I accept that they invest in clubs, fork out huge sums of money to buy the players that fans want to see but there needs to be a balance between those who really care about the welfare and integrity of the game and the money makers. If businessmen are truly acting in the best interest of clubs (and not their pockets), what is there to be afraid of? The 14 Premier League owners who were not invited to join the European Super League owe a debt of gratitude to the fans and should speak up now on their behalf and give fans what is due to them. A voice on the boards and a stake in their clubs.

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