Premier League: Garth Crooks's Team of the Week

Arsenal continued to set the pace at the top of the Premier League table, as Manchester City and Chelsea were forced to respond in order to keep up the pressure.

Liverpool could only manage a draw at home to Aston Villa, but Tottenham produced an impressive performance away at Swansea to continue Tim Sherwood's fine start in management. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace's victory at home to Stoke took them out of the bottom three and put a number of clubs under increased pressure.

Take a look at my Team of the Week and see whether you agree with my selections.


Jack Butland

A worthy mention must go to Sunderland's Vito Mannone, who after an early error recovered very well to play his part in a credible 2-2 draw against Southampton. But my selection goes to Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, who made three consecutive saves that were out of this world in the 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace. Even Eagles manager Tony Pulis had to acknowledge the Butland triple save in his post-match interview.

Did you know? Butland has found a team-mate with 100% of the passes he has attempted in his own half so far in the PL (14/14). Brad Friedel (14/14) is the only other goalkeeper who can boast this record.


Bacary Sagna

A player very much in keeping with Arsenal's traditions, dependable in defence and adventurous in attack. Former Arsenal full-backs who have held the position with distinction include Kenny Sansom, Lee Dixon, Lauren and Ashley Cole. I suspect Bacary Sagna will be spoken of in those terms eventually.

Did you know? Sagna has attempted more crosses from open play (64) than any other Arsenal player this season.


Laurent Koscielny

Those of you who follow my Team of the Week will know that earlier in the season I criticised Koscielny for his often reckless challenges and irrational behaviour. Fortunately, the calming influence of Per Mertesacker seems to have had a profound effect on the France defender. Together they looked a formidable partnership against Fulham.

Did you know? Koscielny has made more clearances (133) than any other Gunner this season.


Ron Vlaar

Aston Villa's Ron Vlaar was hugely impressive in defence against Liverpool and could not have done any more to keep Uruguay international Luis Suarez at bay.

Did you know? Vlaar has the best tackle success rate (86%) of any of the 13 Villa players to make 10+ tackles this season (30/35).


Danny Rose

Seeing Mousa Dembele miss the target, much to Emmanuel Adebayor's disgust, after impudently ignoring the unmarked striker when well placed to put Spurs 3-0 up against Swansea was frustrating. Danny Rose showed the Belgian precisely how it should be done minutes later when, in exactly the same position, he squared the ball to Adebayor to put the game beyond the hosts. It just goes to show that you don't have to be an expensively acquired midfielder to make the right decisions.

Did you know? Spurs have a 78% win rate in the league this season when Rose plays, compared with 46% when he doesn't.


Yohan Cabaye

This lad is playing out of his skin, and what is more, he is scoring some fabulous goals. Last week, Newcastle felt so aggrieved because of a disallowed goal that they allowed their game to fall apart. Not so this week. Manager Alan Pardew and his team kept it together, and look what happened - three points in the bag against West Ham.

Did you know? Cabaye has scored four goals in his past four Premier League away appearances.


Yaya Toure

I do not always agree with Robbie Savage. In fact, I seldom agree with anything he says, but on Saturday he said on Final Score that he thought Yaya Toure was currently the best midfield player in the world. Having seen another super display of pace, power, goals and control from the BBC African Footballer of the Year against Cardiff, I find myself agreeing with every word. Scary!

Did you know? Toure has attempted more passes than any other player this season - 1,538, of which 1,416 have been short passes.


Jason Puncheon

Anybody who has the mental capacity to miss a penalty so badly against Spurs and recover so quickly to produce a stellar performance the following week against Stoke clearly has something about him.

Did you know? Puncheon managed three shots on target this weekend - only Newcastle's Yohan Cabaye managed more.


Santi Cazorla

When you have as many football technicians as Arsenal, it is only a matter of time before one of them unlocks the most stubborn of defences. Santi Cazorla's first goal was so beautifully constructed by his team-mates that they practically undressed Fulham.

Did you know? Cazorla's last six Premier League goals have come at the Emirates.


Samuel Eto'o

A few people questioned the wisdom of Jose Mourinho bringing the Cameroon international to Stamford Bridge, particularly having let Romelu Lukaku go to Everton on loan. But a fit Samuel Eto'o finally appears to be making a world of difference to Chelsea's attack. His hat-trick against Manchester United may convince Mourinho that his strikers are capable of scoring. Manchester United, on the other hand, are in desperate need of some inspiration.

Did you know? Eto'o is only the fourth player to score a Premier League hat-trick vs Manchester United, after David Bentley, Dirk Kuyt and Lukaku.


Emmanuel Adebayor

A colleague said to me recently that he got the distinct impression that "some people in the game" felt that Tim Sherwood's 4-4-2 approach to football showed him to be tactically inept. Considering Sherwood has won five of the six games since he took over - the latest a 3-1 win at Swansea - suggests to me that 'those people' don't know what they are talking about - whoever they are. That apart, he's one of the very few coaches that can get Adebayor to perform to his potential.

Did you know? Adebayor now has 88 Premier League goals, one more than Dennis Bergkamp.