Garth Crooks' Team of the Week: Bernardo Silva, Mohamed Salah and Philip Billing

Garth Crooks' team of the week
Garth Crooks' team of the week

After each Premier League weekend, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks gathers his thoughts and gives you his Team of the Week.

Here are this week's choices. And as ever, Garth also discusses the game's big talking points in the Crooks of the Matter.

Premier League
Premier League

Ederson (Manchester City): The save by Ederson from Scott McTominay in Sunday's Manchester derby was superb. The Manchester City goalkeeper didn't have to lift a finger for long spells, such was the dominance of City's possession, but the moment the Brazilian was called upon, he produced something quite special. The save was a game changer.

City have such long periods with the ball that it needs an exceptional keeper to keep his concentration and remain engaged with the fixture. What's more, Ederson is without doubt the best goalkeeper in the world when it comes to the utilisation of the ball with his feet.


Kyle Walker (Manchester City): This player is having the most amazing period of his career. He's clearly looking after himself because he's started every league game for City this season. I never thought he would become one of the finest full-backs in the country - he's now one of the best full-backs in Europe.

His growth under Pep Guardiola has been astounding. The manager is now turning the defender into a leader. His performance was as solid as a rock against a Manchester United side who were totally outplayed. This is not just a very different player under Guardiola but a very different man.

Ethan Pinnock (Brentford): This time last year, and almost to the day, I saw Ethan Pinnock have an absolute howler away at Villa Park. It wasn't just him, the entire Brentford defence went into meltdown in the space of 45 minutes. The Bees lost 4-0 in the end but I distinctly remember singling Pinnock out for special attention.

Ever since that defeat, the Jamaica international has made my team selection on a couple of occasions, been practically ever-present in Thomas Frank's side and a rock at the back for Brentford.

His development as a regular centre-back has been quite outstanding, while his quality goal against Chelsea was only equalled by his team's clean sheet.

Chelsea, meanwhile, couldn't hit a barn door and lost any momentum they may have gained after their recent displays away at Fulham and Burnley.

Micky van de Ven (Tottenham): This kid is looking better with every appearance. It's still early days in his career and there is a long way to go in the title race but Micky van de Ven looks like the real deal. The Netherlands international is quick, comfortable on the ball and likes a goal.

He didn't score in the Premier League leaders' 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Friday, but no-one was complaining about that. What Van de Ven brings to the proceedings is a calm, steadying influence at the back for Spurs and provides Cristian Romero with a defensive partner he can not only rely on but help develop.

Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton): What a wonderful way for Everton to doff their cap to their former chairman Bill Kenwright with a very professional away performance at West Ham. Everton defended brilliantly and deserved the points but the star of the show was their defender Jarrad Branthwaite.

This 21-year-old Englishman looks as though he's come straight off the Everton no-nonsense production line. He may not be a Kevin Ratcliffe but he might be a Mick Lyons.


Bernardo Silva (Manchester City): He was at the heart of Manchester City's third goal at Old Trafford on Sunday and performed a demolition job on Manchester United.

Kevin de Bruyne, who is arguably their best player, hasn't been available for some time because of injury but that doesn't seem to have bothered Silva in the slightest. The Portugal international was immense against United, who were well and truly beaten on the day.

Joao Palhinha (Fulham): I was amazed Palhinha was still on the field against Brighton on Saturday after his first-half elbow on Pascal Gross. I still can't make up my mind if the contact he made with Gross was intentional or not.

The referee clearly gave the Fulham midfield player the benefit of the doubt because it did leave Gross incapacitated on the ground for some time.

It was just as well for the Cottagers that their best player remained on the pitch. The strike from the Portugal international that earned Fulham a valuable away point was just top drawer. There is clearly a lot to Palhinha's game and it's only a matter of time before the big clubs start knocking on Fulham's door again.

Philip Billing (Bournemouth): You could feel the relief engulf Vitality Stadium at the end of the game when Bournemouth had beaten Burnley. These were three valuable points for manager Andoni Iraola.

His job was already hanging by a thread and another home defeat would have made his position at the club completely untenable. Fortunately for the manager, Philip Billing's chip from 40 yards was as bold as it was brilliant.

The delay of nearly six minutes for VAR to sort out an offside decision did not impress those in the Vitality Stadium stands. Chants of "this is embarrassing" rang around the ground. However, it was worse than that. It was shambolic. How has the best league in the world became saddled with a technology that is so inconclusive?


Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): This was another super display by Salah. He seemed to be involved in every phase of play and anything that seemed remotely meaningful against a Nottingham Forest side who actually showed some grit. Liverpool, or should I say Salah, were far too good.

This can't be an easy time for the players knowing their team-mate Luis Diaz is absent because of family issues in Colombia. Diogo Jota spoke for the club by raising the number seven shirt with Diaz's name on the back after scoring. We wish Diaz well.

Erling Haaland (Manchester City): I said last week after his goal against Brighton that Haaland was in that scoring mood again. He grabbed another two in the 3-1 Champions League victory over Young Boys on Wednesday, and looked unplayable at times against Manchester United.

The Norway international is on fire at the moment and back to his predatory best. I'd be very interested to see who lifts the Ballon d'Or on Monday. He must be the favourite.

Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal): Having had two challenging away games in a week - at Chelsea in the Premier League and Sevilla in the Champions League - Arsenal were fortunate on Saturday to face a Sheffield United side ravaged by injury and lacking in know-how. Eddie Nketiah stepped in for the injured Gabriel Jesus and grabbed himself an impressive hat-trick.

Last week I raised the issue around the Gunners requiring a clinical striker if they are serious about stealing the title from Manchester City. Nketiah's hat-trick has not changed my view, although his third goal was a fabulous strike. If he were to score three goals against Liverpool, Manchester City or Spurs, I might be forced to reconsider my position.

Short presentational grey line
Short presentational grey line

The Crooks of the Matter

"This is embarrassing," chanted the Bournemouth fans after waiting nearly six minutes for VAR to come to a decision on whether Jay Rodriguez was offside when putting the ball in the net for Burnley. That's the equivalent of watching two rounds of a heavyweight knockout contest.

Yet all the technology in the world won't help the officials when they can't recognise a push from a shove.

Simon Hooper, refereeing Chelsea's match against Brentford on Saturday, seemed to me to be having to over-rely on VAR during one first-half incident. The push on Raheem Sterling by Brentford's Mads Roerslev was more of a barge than a nudge. Everybody else in the ground saw it. But no penalty was given - and the television pictures suggested Hooper needed confirmation from VAR for that decision. Why? Shouldn't it be his call?

The question I keep asking myself more and more these days is: has VAR improved the general quality of refereeing in the Premier League or made it worse? I fear it might have made it worse.