Garth Crooks' team of the week: Sterling, Mane, Lallana, Vardy

Garth Crooks Team of the Week graphic

Liverpool kept pace with Manchester City at the top of the league by beating Burnley 4-2 on Sunday, after Raheem Sterling had inspired the Blues to a 3-1 victory over Watford on Saturday.

Arsenal consigned Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to his first league defeat as Manchester United caretaker boss and Chelsea required an injury-time equaliser from Eden Hazard to draw 1-1 with Wolves.

Tottenham's hopes of a top four finish took a blow with a 2-1 defeat at Southampton while Newcastle came from two goals down to beat Everton 3-2 and Brighton won 2-1 at Crystal Palace.

Leicester were 3-1 victors over Fulham in Brendan Rodgers' first home game in charge, Bournemouth beat bottom club Huddersfield 2-0 and Cardiff continued their battle against relegation with a hard-fought 2-1 win against West Ham.

Here's my team of the week - have a read and select your own below.

Garth Crooks Team of the Week graphic

Goalkeeper - Rui Patricio (Wolves)

Rui Patricio

Rui Patricio made one hell of a save from Willian at a crucial time in the match - the Chelsea forward moved the ball to his right foot and fired a shot through a ruck of players only for the Wolves keeper to meet the ball at full stretch.

I've seen goalkeepers make a mess of these things during the latter stages of a game particularly from keepers who, like Patricio, have not had an awful lot to do previously. It took a special strike by a special player in Eden Hazard to beat him.

Did you know? Rui Patricio made five saves as Wolves narrowly missed out on a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge.

Defenders - Bruno Manga (Cardiff), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Arsenal)

Bruno Manga, Lewis Dunk, Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Bruno Manga: Sol Bamba was out so Cardiff had to look to another stalwart in defence to help in their survival campaign, and Bruno Manga's performance was superb.

Not only did he help Cardiff secure a rare clean sheet but told West Ham's Javier Hernandez (in no uncertain terms) what he thought of his appalling dive. What I want to know is when are referees going to start sending players off for such blatant cheating.

Did you know? Manga helped Cardiff keep their eighth Premier League clean sheet of the season, making three clearances and gaining possession on six occasions.

Lewis Dunk: Brighton should have been awarded a penalty for Scott Dann's assault on Lewis Dunk in the box.

Likewise, Crystal Palace were quite entitled to ask why Anthony Knockaert was still on the pitch after a shocking tackle on Luka Milivojevic.

Meanwhile, both managers refused to get involved in such tawdry matters and all credit to them. Lewis Dunk was immense in a defensively brilliant performance from Brighton.

Did you know? Dunk blocked four shots, made five clearances and provided the assist for Glenn Murray's opener in Brighton's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos: A clean sheet against a Manchester United who were rampant in midweek against Paris St-Germain is impressive.

I have given Arsenal's defence plenty of stick this season but their performance as a unit against United was first class.

In appalling conditions I thought Sokratis and Laurent Koscielny were magnificent. The Gunners have brought United down to earth from the Paris clouds and with a mighty bump. Back to reality.

Did you know? Sokratis made four clearances, two tackles and one interception as well as helping Arsenal to keep a clean sheet in their victory over Manchester United.

Midfielders - Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, James Ward-Prowse, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling

Ainsley Maitland-Niles: I've seen Ainsley Maitland-Niles play in big games before and struggle but not on this occasion. His performance against a leggy Manchester United showed signs of a player maturing nicely.

He looked solid in defence and always very composed on the ball. I get the feeling that Unai Emery may have put the reins on this lad and possibly the blinkers too.

Did you know? No Arsenal player made more interceptions (five) or blocks (one) against Manchester United than Maitland-Niles.

James Ward-Prowse: It's about time England manager Gareth Southgate introduced James Ward-Prowse into the England squad to add to the single cap he won in 2017. His performances against Tottenham and Manchester United in recent weeks are proof enough that the lad is ready.

His work rate is phenomenal and his ability to take free-kicks is a tremendous asset. I hope Moussa Sissoko has apologised to Nathan Redmond and said thank you to the Southampton forward for staying on his feet after Sissoka put his head in his face. Some players would have gone down and he'd be facing a ban.

Did you know? Only Matt Le Tissier (six) has scored more direct free-kick goals for Southampton in the Premier League than James Ward-Prowse (four).

Adam Lallana: This lad has been through 18 months of hell. To be out of action for such a long period of time only to return to the starting line-up for a rare start and play so well against Burnley must have been heaven.

If Lallana can stay fit then Liverpool have a tremendous asset and so do England.

Did you know? No Liverpool player made more tackles (four) or played more passes in the opposition half (51) against Burnley than Lallana.

Raheem Sterling: When Raheem Sterling left Liverpool he couldn't hit a barn door never mind the back of the net. His form was erratic and his confidence waning.

Under Pep Guardiola he has become world-class. His hat-trick for Manchester City against Watford brings his tally to 15 league goals this season having scored 18 in last season's title-winning campaign.

I've already mentioned Eden Hazard and Virgil van Dijk as contenders for the PFA Player of the Year award. Now, I have to include Raheem Sterling on that list.

Did you know? Sterling scored his hat-trick in 13 minutes and 12 seconds - the fastest in the Premier League since Romelu Lukaku's for Everton v Sunderland in September 2016 (11:37).

Forwards - Ayoze Perez (Newcastle), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Ayoze Perez, Jamie Vardy, Sadio Mane

Ayoze Perez: So, Marco Silva is the latest manager who thinks he can abuse the referee due to his team's inability to protect a two-goal lead and his goalkeeper's crisis in confidence?

Well, I can tell him that it wasn't Lee Mason who was responsible for his team's complete meltdown but Ayoze Perez.

The Spaniard ran Everton ragged, never lost his nerve and never gave up. Unlike Everton.

Did you know? Perez both scored and assisted in a Premier League match for the first time since April 2018.

Jamie Vardy: The unselfishness of Jamie Vardy was wonderful to see. Not only was his game unselfish but the England international played what I call grown-up football.

The square pass for his team-mate Youri Tielemans, when Vardy could have shot himself, set the tone for a glorious team performance against Fulham. But the star of the show was undoubtedly Jamie Vardy.

Did you know? Vardy scored his 100th goal for Leicester in all competitions, becoming the first player to achieve that feat for the Foxes since Gary Lineker.

Sadio Mane: This wasn't one of Liverpool's most vintage performances but they did what they had to do.

With Mohamed Salah still searching for his best form, it has fallen to Sadio Mane to come up with the goods. Two goals from the Senegal international, against an outclassed Burnley in difficult conditions, was enough to narrow the gap on Manchester City.

However, without Liverpool's front three firing on all cylinders they may not have what it takes to win the title.

Did you know? Mane has become the fifth Liverpool player to score in six consecutive home appearances in the Premier League, after Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Salah.

Now it's your turn

You've seen my picks this week. But who would you go for?

Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.

The Crooks of the Matter

If ever the casual football supporter wanted to know why there is a concerted effort for organisations like Kick it Out and the PFA to challenge the game on its woeful record on the opportunities afforded black players to establish themselves as managers then the sacking of Darren Moore must have put it into sharp perspective. To say I was shocked by the news was an understatement.

Do West Bromwich Albion have no shame?

As a player Moore, helped West Brom win two promotions to the Premier League but in pure managerial terms his team are fourth in the Championship and still in with a chance of gaining promotion. Meanwhile, Derby and Middlesbrough, clubs who have invested in their teams and tipped to go up this season are below them.

We are told that out of work managers Slavisa Jokanovic and David Wagner both fit the profile of potential candidates to take over from Moore. Well, both those managers did well at Fulham and Huddersfield respectively this season didn't they!

Darren Moore
Darren Moore was sacked following West Brom's 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town

Top Stories