Garth Crooks' team of the week: Coutinho, Ibrahimovic, Mane, Sterling

Garth Crooks' team of the week

It has been an intriguing opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Champions Leicester City lost at promoted Hull City and last season's runners-up Arsenal were also beaten, by Liverpool in a seven-goal thriller.

Manchester United began their league campaign under new manager Jose Mourinho with a comprehensive win at Bournemouth and another newcomer, Pep Guardiola, saw his Manchester City side edge past Sunderland.

Here are my first selections for the 2016-17 season:

Goalkeeper - Maarten Stekelenburg (Everton)

Maarten Stekelenburg
Maarten Stekelenburg saved three of the four shots he faced against Tottenham

The Dutchman, who spent last season on loan at Southampton, is a class act and finds himself back in the Premier League after leaving Fulham, where he had a difficult spell.

Stekelenburg looks back to his best after a superb performance against a rejuvenated Tottenham, who seem to have recovered from a shameful display against relegated Newcastle in the last game of the previous season.

The 33-year-old looked more than capable of taking over the gloves from Tim Howard and produced great saves from Vincent Janssen and Erik Lamela - the only reason Everton left Goodison with a point.

Defender - Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw gained possession 10 times for Manchester United, more than any other team-mate

It's not often I select both full-backs from the same side in my team of the week, but Shaw's return to first-team football after a horrendous broken leg last season deserves recognition.

Against Bournemouth on Sunday, he played his way into the game brilliantly without trying to prove any points. It's clear manager Jose Mourinho rates him very highly, which is just as well because the expectations at United are now massive.

Defender - Eric Bailly (Manchester United)

Eric Bailly
Eric Bailly completed 95.1% of his 41 passes against Bournemouth

What a Premier League debut. There was power and pace from a centre-back who can pass a ball. I can't remember the last time I saw a defender not give the ball away throughout the entire 90 minutes.

This performance by Bailly bodes well for United and Mourinho, but this was against a Bournemouth side who seemed reluctant to take the risks required to really test defenders like him. There is always a mistake in any defender. The question is: can the striker find it?

Defender - Curtis Davies (Hull City)

Curtis Davies
Curtis Davies made 15 clearances against Leicester - 11 more than any other player on the pitch

So, you start the season against the Premier League champions having parted company with your manager and not signed anyone of note on your return to the big time.

You are down to 13 fit senior pros and in such disarray that all the predictions suggest you are favourites to go down. Meanwhile, your fans arrive so frustrated with matters they stage a protest insisting the owner vacates his position.

Enter Davies at the back for Hull City. Their captain was sensational throughout Saturday's encounter with Leicester City and showed the sort of leadership qualities that seem to be so desperately lacking in their boardroom.

He and his team-mates did not give Jamie Vardy a kick - and by the end, Davies left Hull fans singing 'Can't Help Falling In Love'. Football just doesn't get better than that.

Defender - Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

Antonio Valencia
Only Marouane Fellaini (six) made more tackles for United against Bournemouth than Antonio Valencia (three).

Valencia was always Manchester United's outlet against Bournemouth in a frightfully tight first half, when space was at a premium. But you can always depend on him to retain the ball under pressure and he did it at a time when United needed it most.

The Ecuador international has been playing the game a long time and has served United well over the years. However, I suspect that for all of Mourinho's multi-million pound signings, it is Valencia - bought by Sir Alex Ferguson seven years ago - who might well prove to be one of his most important players.

Midfielder - Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling won a penalty and attempted nine dribbles against Sunderland - no player attempted more dribbles on matchday one (Sterling was level with Leicester's Riyad Mahrez)

Manchester City's game against Sunderland on Saturday started like a scene from 'The Big Sleep' and almost turned into a nightmare!

What happened to the exhilarating football we saw at Barcelona and Bayern Munich under the patron saint of football purists, Pep Guardiola? It was like reliving one of those torturous 'keep ball' performances under Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford last season.

City's only flash of inspiration came from Sterling, who is running himself into the ground these days in a desperate attempt to recapture the form that persuaded City to pay Liverpool a record fee for an English player in the first place.

It's early days, but those pundits who have tipped City to win the title this season must be having second thoughts based on that performance.

Midfielder - Robert Snodgrass (Hull City)

Robert Snodgrass
Robert Snodgrass attempted four shots (excluding blocked) against Leicester - more than any other Hull player - scoring the winner in the process

When you have just scored the winning goal in the opening game of the season against the Premier League champions, you're entitled to get into my team of the week.

However, Snodgrass deserved the selection regardless of his superbly taken goal. From start to finish, he rattled Leicester and caused problems for keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Let's hope owner Assem Allam gains inspiration from his team's performance and provides the financial backing their efforts deserve. He might also want to consider giving caretaker-boss Mike Phelan a shot at management. He seems to have done miracles with the players at his disposal.

Midfielder - Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho scored his second Premier League double and his first Premier League goal from a free-kick in Liverpool's 4-3 win at Arsenal

I must be honest, I never saw Liverpool beating Arsenal away from home on the opening day of the season.

Having said that, I have seen Coutinho carve teams open before. The last time was against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium last season to be precise. However, his performance against Arsenal was of such high quality it left me breathless.

His free-kick that brought Liverpool's equaliser just before half-time was so technically proficient it would have beaten a wall with 10 players in it.

I don't expect Liverpool to finish in the top four, but if they do, it is likely to be down the genius of Coutinho.

Forward - Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane scored with his one shot on target against Arsenal

Mane was outstanding last season at Southampton, but it was clear his ambitions were set elsewhere. When he finally got the move he thought his talents deserved, I was staggered by the £34m fee Liverpool were prepared to pay for him.

However, his performance against Arsenal - not to mention the best individual goal I've seen in years - has forced me to rethink my position.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is not averse to spending money if the talent is available. Having spent it wisely on Mane, he should seriously think about selling striker Christian Benteke - as he is surplus to requirements - and buying a decent left-back. If he keeps Alberto Moreno in the team, he can forget the top four - he'll get relegated.

Forward - Nathan Redmond (Southampton)

Nathan Redmond
Nathan Redmond had four shots (excluding blocked) against Watford

I always felt Redmond never got the credit his football deserved at Norwich.

While it seems that it's taken another foreign manager to bring the best out of an English player, Claude Puel's decision to play Redmond as a striker for Southampton, as opposed to in his perceived best position on the flanks, was pure genius.

With his right foot, Redmond forced Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes to produce a first-class save. With his left, he scored a fabulous volley, having had a glance to see if he had enough time to make the strike.

His movement away from the ball was sensational and reminded me of Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe at his best. If Redmond can cope with the physical demands that come with the new role, then Southampton may have unearthed a gem.

Striker - Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored on his debut in the Champions League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Premier League

For years, I wondered what the fuss was all about with Ibrahimovic. Then I saw him smash four goals past England in an international friendly in 2012.

The Swedish superstar has left his mark everywhere he's been. However, to arrive at Old Trafford expecting to lead the line at the age of 34 is a stretch even for him.

Nevertheless, the way he took to the task in the Community Shield, and again against Bournemouth in the opening game of the season, has been immense. There have been no histrionics on or off the field. He has just quietly got on with the job - and United fans have another cult hero to worship.

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