United Quartet In Team Of The Week (4/12/17)
Manchester United are represented in the latest Premier League team of the week that has been selected by BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
Actually Garth is now down as a 'Football Analyst' these days, a posh term for a pundit then!
The performances by David de Gea, Antonio Valencia, Nemanja Matic and Jese Lingard in the three one victory over Arsenal at the weekend at the Emirates Stadium was enough to earn them a place in the side alongside the other, in the opinion of the former Spurs striker anyway, most impressive performers in the topflight over the latest weekend.
I think we'll already know ourselves, and not just based on the latest performance, why Crooks, we'll also not argue with it, selected them as part of his team but explaining his choice he told the BBC.
'If Manchester United win the title, it will be down to the brilliance of David de Gea. His performance against Arsenal was utterly breathtaking. The save after the ball inadvertently came off Romelu Lukaku's leg and flew in the direction of his own net was unbelievable. However, it was the double save from Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez that turned the game for me. Had Arsenal equalised at that point, the outcome of this titanic tussle might have been very different. All credit to United. This is a player who was on the verge of signing for Real Madrid two years ago, and had it not been for a so-called 'clerical' error might have done. One manager later, and Champions League qualification, we have not heard a squeak from De Gea about wanting to return to Spain or Real Madrid for that matter. I wonder how much of that is down to the presence of a certain Jose Mourinho?'
'Precisely why Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny felt the need to play the ball to his left to a marooned Sead Kolasinac, which led to United's opener, I don't know. What I can tell you is that it set the tone for an extraordinary game of football littered with the most bizarre moments. From the moment Antonio Valencia cut out the ball, his sole intention was to make Arsenal, and in particular Koscielny, pay for his error. The fact midfielder Paul Pogba was involved in the move and rolled the most inviting ball for Valencia to control and smash through Petr Cech's legs wasn't wasted on me either. I refuse to allow the Frenchman's dreadful fluorescent-styled Mohican haircut to influence my regard for his talents. I have commended the performances of Valencia on a number of occasions already this season and continue to do so. The Manchester United captain continues to have an amazing influence on his team. This was one of the most professional performances I have seen from United away from home, and Valencia set the tone.'
'Nemanja Matic limped off the pitch during Manchester United's impressive victory over Watford, but insisted he played in the following game at Arsenal. Big players demand to play in the big matches and Matic was determined to face the Gunners at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. It was just as well. The Serbia international was immense. He made countless interventions and blocked at least three shots destined for the back of United's net. Matic's performances may not be as pleasing on the eye as Pogba's, but he does relish the battle. If ever there was a game made for Matic, this was it. Arsenal took the game to United, but it was the 29-year-old who stood resolute, taking the muck and the bullets while the rest of his team-mates kept hitting Arsenal on the counter. De Gea, Valencia and Matic are key to United's title hopes. If they can remain fit for the rest of the season it will release the likes of Pogba and others to get in behind enemy lines and do untold damage. That is, of course, if Pogba can stay on the field.'
'I've been saying for weeks: Mourinho should take the shackles off these boys and let them go and play. He should have done it against Liverpool at Anfield. If he has any chance of catching Manchester City, he must take risks and start winning on a regular basis away from home. The timing of Jesse Lingard's introduction to the fray by Mourinho has been nothing short of brilliant. Credit where credit is due. I accused the United manager of being cowardly and gutless at Liverpool, but that couldn't have been further from the truth at Watford in midweek and against Arsenal at the Emirates. Not only did United look devastating on the break, but the speed of the transition largely carried out by Lingard was extraordinary. The way the youngster was linking the midfield play and transforming it into attack was quite phenomenal. It was Lingard who started the move for United's third goal before linking with Pogba (who made Koscielny look foolish by the way) for the Frenchman to return the pass to his team-mate to tap in the return. I said after Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi's display against Spurs that he can be brilliant as he can be disastrous - his performance against United was pretty disastrous.'
It's always good to see the club represented in this way, and well played to all four for their recognition, but the most important thing about the weekend was of course the win.
David de Gea (Manchester United), Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Ashley Williams (Everton), Victor Moses (Chelsea), David Silva (Manchester City), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Jese Lingard (Manchester United).