Premier League: Garth Crooks's Team of the Week

Arsenal returned to the top of the table with a battling performance at St James' Park, while Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton all kept up the pressure on the league leaders with impressive victories.

Tottenham continued their rehabilitation under newly appointed head coach Tim Sherwood with a win against Stoke, but Liverpool dropped out of the top four after losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a pulsating encounter.

Take a look at my team of the week and see if you agree with the selections.

GOALKEEPER - JOE HART (Manchester City)

Joe Hart

Manager Manuel Pellegrini has brought Joe Hart back into the fold and acknowledged that the England keeper is indeed his number one. Hart's performances against Liverpool and Crystal Palace over the Christmas period proved the Chilean was right. The save from Palace's Jason Puncheon, when he was practically playing with one eye almost shut, was immense. It looks like the witch-hunt that has followed Hart for some time might finally be over.

Did you know? Kept his first clean sheet in eight Premier League appearances.


Everton's Seamus Coleman

I don't know what it is about Everton manager Roberto Martinez's teams, but when footballers play for him they always seem to get better. Seamus Coleman is definitely one of those. His goal against Southampton epitomised a player on top of his game.

Did you know? Has now scored more goals this season (five) than he did in the previous four Premier League campaigns combined.


Per Mertesacker

I could have picked anyone from the Arsenal back four - they were that good against Newcastle. However, it's Mertesacker who continues to be the standout player in defence for the Gunners. He's competitive, but with a cool head these days. Finally, Arsenal look like they have a leader on the pitch.

Did you know? Has been the most accurate passer of any regular defender in the Premier League this season, completing 92% of his passes.

DEFENDER - NEMANJA VIDIC (Manchester United)

Nemanja Vidic

He's been out of United's starting line-up in recent games, but when he returns it's as though he's never been away. At the age of 32, I question how long he can keep putting his body on the line for the cause. But, as long as he can, he's a must for United.

Did you know? Has made a clearance every 7.9 minutes this season - more often than any other player in the top division.


Maynor Figueroa

I liked this player when he was playing under Martinez at Wigan, and I was a little surprised when he didn't follow his old boss to Everton. Nevertheless, the Honduran is playing the sort of football for Hull manager Steve Bruce that made him a firm favourite with Martinez. The Tigers destroyed Fulham and Figueroa played his part.

Did you know? Got forward whenever possible against Fulham, having two shots and creating a goalscoring chance for a team-mate.


Tom Huddlestone

He hadn't scored a goal in over two years and now some are suggesting Tom Huddlestone should be considered for England's World Cup squad. I must admit, I've never heard of a player being applauded into the dressing room after a game, which tells you all you need to know about this performance. His goal, of course, means that the much-awaited hair-cutting ceremony may begin. I don't know who's more relieved - his mum or the barber!

Did you know? Scored his first Premier League goal of the season, with his 39th shot.


Mathieu Flamini

The last time Arsenal won anything meaningful, they had players like Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown and Tony Adams to sort the opposition out. Nowadays, they have a battalion of talent who can play, but not so much bite. So, it's just as well they have someone like Flamini who can come into the side in difficult away games, sit in front of the back four and growl. I thought he did it rather well against Newcastle.

Did you know? No player has picked up more yellow cards - six - in the Premier League this season.


Eden Hazard

What a game of football. Even referee Howard Webb allowed this game to flow and, in some cases, let it get a little spicy while not sending anyone off. It was in that red-hot Stamford Bridge cauldron that Eden Hazard produced some of the game's most inspired football against a determined Liverpool side who were unlucky not to come away with a point.

Did you know? Hazard already has eight Premier League goals this season - only one fewer than he managed in the whole of last season.



The demands over the festive period can render players tired and lacking spark. Not so Fernandinho, who is just starting to come to terms with the Premier League. And just at the right time for City.

Did you know? Has made 41 interceptions this season - 18 more than any other Manchester City player.


Nicolas Anelka

This lad has not made my TOTW for some time. Since his last selection, he's struggled to get in West Brom's starting line-up and Steve Clarke, the man who brought the former Chelsea striker to The Hawthorns, has been unceremoniously sacked as manager. It was reported that some of the reasons for Clarke's enforced departure were the poor return from his summer signings and, in particular, question marks over the acquisition of a 34-year-old Anelka. Two goals against West Ham, taken with blinding casualness, doesn't look like he's lost it to me.

Did you know? Anelka became the ninth player to score for six different Premier League clubs after his first goals for the Baggies.


Romelu Lukaku

The quality of the finish deserved to win the game. The Belgium striker has looked a little off the pace in his last few outings. While the fixture against Southampton wasn't a classic, Martinez and his players will consider the victory far more important than the performance, particularly at the end of a most gruelling Christmas period. The win keeps the Toffees in the top four.

Did you know? Lukaku has netted 26 goals in the Premier League since the start of last season, a haul only Luis Suarez (42) and Robin van Persie (33) can better.