Garth Crooks' team of the week: Tarkowski, De Bruyne, Alli, Mane, Vardy

Garth Crooks Team of the Week graphic

Liverpool maintained their eight-point advantage at the top of the Premier League with a late winner at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

That 2-1 victory ensures they remain nine points ahead of defending champions Manchester City, who beat Chelsea 2-1 to climb to third in the table.

Leicester are a point above City in second following a 2-0 win at Brighton, while Tottenham made a winning start under Jose Mourinho as they beat West Ham 3-2.

On Sunday, Sheffield United scored a dramatic late equaliser as they drew 3-3 with Manchester United.

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

Garth's team of the week

Goalkeeper - Nick Pope (Burnley)

Nick Pope

Pope: It's been a good week for Nick Pope. A solid performance and a clean sheet for England away in Kosovo - and then back in time to play for Burnley and stop Watford taking any points at all.

His save with his feet from Gerard Deulofeu's effort was as intuitive as it was excellent but the save from a free-kick moments later, bent around the wall by the same player, demonstrated Pope's confidence and the way he has grown into an international goalkeeper.

Did you know? Nick Pope made four saves as Burnley ended an eight-match winless run away from home in the Premier League.

Defenders - James Tarkowski (Burnley), Fernandinho (Man City), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

James Tarkowski, Fernandinho, Virgil van Dijk

Tarkowski: If you win 3-0 away from home and keep a clean sheet, the likelihood of getting in my team of the week is very high and James Tarkowski has done just that.

The Burnley defender survived a tricky moment at Watford when he was booked for cynically bringing down Deulofeu, who he simply couldn't handle in the first half, but the central defender got better and better as the game progressed - and got a goal too.

In the end, Burnley simply ran away with the game.

Did you know? James Tarkowski's goal was his first in the Premier League in almost a year, last scoring against Brighton on 8 December.

Fernandinho: He might not be the best centre-back in the world, or even the best defender at his club, but what Fernandinho gives Manchester City is composure.

He is also one of the most committed players I have seen on a football pitch. His second half block on N'Golo Kante's shot, destined for the back of the net, secured the points against Chelsea.

With Joao Cancelo, John Stones and Benjamin Mendy as reliable as a chocolate fireguard, Pep Guardiola has been very astute in keeping Fernandinho around. The Brazilian has brought an element of calm to their defensive ranks when cool heads have been essential.

Did you know? Fernandinho touched the ball more times than any Manchester City player and won a team-high 76.9% of his duels against Chelsea.

Van Dijk: Virgil van Dijk was at it again. This time, he was strutting around Selhurst Park as if he owned the place.

Whenever Van Dijk plays, Liverpool always seem to retain a sense of calm regardless of the circumstances.

Crystal Palace played their best football for some time, created chances and missed them, and seemed to suffer from the occasion more than their visitors. Strange, that.

Did you know? Virgil van Dijk has completed the most passes in the Premier League this season with 972.

Midfielders - Joao Moutinho (Wolves), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Todd Cantwell (Norwich)

Joao Moutinho, Kevin de Bruyne, Dele Alli, Todd Cantwell

Moutinho: What a goal it was by Joao Moutinho at Bournemouth. When he shaped up for the free-kick, I wondered whether he would have the nerve to take the shot. Not only did he have the nerve - he had the technique to score.

The Portugal international is a gifted player and, alongside his superbly taken goal, he ran the show for long periods.

However, there was an element of inevitability about the Simon Francis sending off. When you spend nearly a year out of a Premier League starting line-up, you can't expect to come back in and not get found out.

Meanwhile, Wolves are fifth. They can't possibly keep this up.

Did you know? Joao Moutinho's goal was the fourth direct free-kick Wolves have scored in the Premier League - with three of those arriving in the past two seasons.

De Bruyne: The warning signs were there in the opening exchanges of Manchester City's win over Chelsea when Kevin de Bruyne flashed a right-footed shot past Kepa Arrizabalaga's post.

The Belgium international then manipulated the ball on to his left foot and fired a shot that was deflected into the back of Chelsea's net.

There are very few players in the world who can strike a ball as well as De Bruyne with either foot. It's one of the reasons he is such an outstanding player.

Did you know? With three goals and six assists, Kevin de Bruyne has been involved in more home goals than any other player in the Premier League this season.

Alli: The move into the space, the turn and the pass from Dele Alli for Son Heung-min to do what he does best was superb.

However, what took place minutes later in the match at West Ham was something out of a box of magic tricks.

The ball is running out of play, it's caught by Alli while falling to the ground and, while on the floor, the Tottenham forward back heels the ball into Son's path - who then provides the perfect cross for Lucas Moura to slot home.

If Alli is going to be a success under Jose Mourinho, he will have to do more off the ball. Chuntering under his breath when the manager substitutes him after 70 minutes will not endear him either. Mourinho is only interested in team players.

Did you know? As well as registering an assist, Dele Alli produced more tackles than any of his team-mates as Spurs made a winning start under Jose Mourinho against West Ham.

Cantwell: This lad has made my team of the week before and I'm not surprised he's done it again. His performance away at Everton was outstanding.

However, this was a bad result for Everton and even worse for Marco Silva. Liverpool are taking the Premier League by storm - meanwhile, on the other side of Stanley Park, their neighbours are hovering above the relegation zone.

While Cantwell is a player, Everton have too many big names not producing big enough performances. Silva can't take all the blame but it will be a difficult week. We are in the 'sacking time' period.

Did you know? Todd Cantwell scored his first-ever away goal in English league football, in what was his 18th appearance.

Forwards - Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Sadio Mane, Jamie Vardy, Heung-min Son

Mane: Sadio Mane is fast becoming my favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award. His performances so far this season have been wonderful.

Against Crystal Palace he was, once again, Liverpool's biggest threat. He refuses to give any defence a moment's rest.

That said, the Senegal international might have had a hat-trick in a game that could have finished 3-3. Instead, Liverpool tightened their grip on that elusive Premier League title - and much of that is down to Mane.

Did you know? Sadio Mane has scored more Premier League goals (eight) against Crystal Palace than any other opponent.

Vardy: Is it me or has Jamie Vardy's game developed? Vardy is regarded as one of the best finishers in the country and quite rightly - he's been among the league's leading goalscorers for the past three seasons.

However, what I have detected this season, more than any other, is his unselfishness in front of goal.

I don't know if this is due to the coaching of Brendan Rodgers or not but what I can tell you is Vardy looks a much more accomplished player. He produced a fabulous performance against Brighton and was the difference between the two teams.

Did you know? Jamie Vardy has scored in five consecutive Premier League games for Leicester, netting seven goals in total in that run.

Son: It's great to see Son enjoying his football again after the Andre Gomes incident. The South Korea international gave a blistering performance against a West Ham side that couldn't lay a glove on Tottenham for 60 minutes.

Mourinho's decision to play Son alongside Harry Kane, Moura and Alli away at the London Stadium proved fatal for the Hammers. It's still very early days but Son, Kane and Moura could do for Spurs under Mourinho what Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have done for Liverpool.

Read more about what I have to say about Mourinho's arrival at Spurs in Crooks of the Matter below.

Did you know? With 19 goals, Son Heung-min is Tottenham's leading goalscorer in all competitions in 2019 - netting one more than Harry Kane so far this calendar year.

Now it's your turn

You've seen my selections this season. But who would you go for?

Pick your Team of the Week

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

Crooks of the Matter

He's poked a fellow coach in the eye, and argued and pushed others on the touchline, but promises not to make the same mistakes in the future. I'm not entirely sure I believe him.

What is clear is that Jose Mourinho is on a massive charm offensive. How long he can hold it together is anyone's guess.

The new Tottenham manager has been handed one of the best squads in the country, the best stadium in the world and one of the best academies in the game - and that is all accompanied by state-of-the-art training facilities.

If Mourinho can't win trophies at this club, he should consider retiring from football permanently.

Let's face it, that's why he's been hired - to win trophies. He can be rude and truculent. However, what he can do is win silverware.

Regular readers will know that I have been one of Mourinho's biggest critics over the past two years but Spurs are a very different club to Manchester United and this relationship might work.

The moment you start hearing Spurs fans chanting Mourinho's name, you'll know it is.

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