Garth Crooks' team of the week: Alli, Barkley, Defoe, Rashford, Giroud

Garth's team of the week

Chelsea's winning streak came to a halt on 13 games as London rivals Tottenham moved up to third with a 2-0 win over the leaders at White Hart Lane.

The top of the table looks tighter after second-placed Liverpool dropped points at Sunderland, to allow Manchester City and Manchester United to make up ground.

At the bottom, Swansea's win away to Crystal Palace moved them off the bottom and could prove vital in the final reckoning come May.

Goalkeeper - Lee Grant (Stoke City)

Lee Grant
Grant kept his sixth Premier League clean sheet of the season against Watford - only Courtois (11), Forster (7) De Gea (7) and Loris (7) have kept more

I do like this keeper. Since the long-term injury to Jack Butland, Lee Grant has deputised brilliantly.

Stoke needed their win over Watford particularly after the run-around they got at Stamford Bridge, and the clean sheet will come in handy as well.

Stoke City have a history of signing great keepers, notably former England internationals Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. Although I wouldn't put Grant in that bracket, he's proved to be an exceptional acquisition.

Right-back - Angel Rangel (Swansea)

Angel Rangel
Ended a run of 95 Premier League games without a goal by scoring the winner against Palace - it was his first since May 2013

When Rangel scored the winner for Swansea in their potentially vital meeting with Crystal Palace, what I wanted to know was: what was the full-back doing so far up the pitch in open play in the first place?

I'm not entirely sure how much new boss Paul Clement had to do with this victory but the evidence suggests that whenever caretaker coach Alan Curtis takes the reins at Swansea he has a positive impact on the team.

And while we are on the issue of the new Swansea manager, I must also take issue with my old Final Score sparring partner Steve Claridge's remark that Clement was "lucky to get the job".

I can think of couple of managers I might have considered first, but we all need a certain amount of good fortune whenever we apply for a post. Surely the point is what we do with the job once we get it, isn't it?

Centre-back - Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham)

Toby Alderweireld
Spurs have conceded just six goals in the 12 Premier League games that Alderweireld has started this season, compared with eight goals in eight games when he hasn't

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. White Hart Lane was red hot against Chelsea but, let's not kid ourselves, Spurs have waited some time to pay back the vitriol they received at Stamford Bridge when their title ambitions evaporated in a 2-2 draw at the end of last season.

I was at that game and Spurs have clearly grown up a great deal since then. Alderweireld has been central to that development and was outstanding against an out-gunned Chelsea. Spurs have done Liverpool, Manchester City and, dare I say it, Arsenal a massive favour.

Chelsea will just have to lick their wounds and get over it.

Centre-back - Gareth McAuley (West Brom)

Gareth McAuley
As well as scoring his team's second goal, McAuley made as many clearances as any other West Brom player (six, level with Craig Dawson and Allan Nyom)

He's only gone and done it again.

I can't think of another current central defender who scores goals from set plays with such monotonous regularity. McAuley's goal against Hull was his fourth in the Premier League this season and the way he attacks the ball in the opposition's box is a delight to watch.

The Baggies and McAuley have had an interesting Christmas period. It was West Brom's centre-back who manager Tony Pulis identified as being bullied by Olivier Giroud in the final minutes of the game against Arsenal, which resulted in their 1-0 defeat.

However McAuley is a real professional and both manager and player know that in the final analysis the central defender can be relied upon.

Left-back - Gael Clichy (Manchester City)

Gael Clichy
Clichy's strike against Burnley was just his third Premier League goal in his 311th game in the competition

Manchester City may be remodelling their dressing-room area at the Etihad, but they badly needed to reconfigure the team after three defeats in December.

But to leave out Sergio Aguero against Burnley? What was boss Pep Guardiola thinking?

That the only striker in the Premier league who Alan Shearer believes deserves the tag 'world class' is left out when goals were guaranteed against Burnley just didn't make sense.

So it was left to a full-back to provide the much needed inspiration Guardiola was demanding from his fans at half-time.

Clichy doesn't command a regular place in the team these days but his performance against a very dangerous Burnley was inspired.

When the Frenchman attacks he does so with pace and conviction, but the way he cut inside and arrowed his shot past an in-form Tom Heaton in the Clarets' goal was most impressive.

As for Guardiola's half-time plea to his fans to pipe up and encourage his team - I thought it was supposed to be the other way round and the players were to inspire the fans.

Midfield - Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)

Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez's strike against Bournemouth was his 13th goal in 20 Premier League game this season - the same number as he scored in 30 games last season

Did you see Alexis Sanchez as he walked off the Vitality Stadium pitch? He had a face like thunder and was remonstrating with himself about Arsenal's inability to take their title opportunities seriously - or at least that was what it looked like.

He was furious and had every right to be. Arsenal fans can pacify themselves all they want about their brilliant comeback against Bournemouth, but if they do they will have badly missed the point.

Arsenal should have knocked the Cherries out of the park and Sanchez knew it. This is the real reason why I believe Sanchez and team-mate Mesut Ozil are considering whether to re-sign for the Gunners or not.

Players like these know what it takes to win titles because they've done it before elsewhere and at the moment Arsenal simply don't have what it takes.

Midfield - Ross Barkley (Everton)

Ross Barkley
Created four chances against Southampton, more than any other Everton player

Has Ross Barkley finally come of age, or is it just an interesting phase he's going through?

The midfield player's performance against Southampton was superb. He ran the show. The reason I posed the question was because as the transfer window approaches Everton manager Ronald Koeman has to decide whether Barkley is his main man or not.

If Koeman decides that Barkley is the future and makes purchases in areas other than central midfield during the transfer window it could prove to be a seminal moment for both of them.

Get it wrong and it could signal their demise.

Midfield - Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Dele Alli
Alli has equalled his 2015-16 Premier League goal tally (10) in 19 appearances this season, compared with 33 last campaign

What a performance by Dele Alli. It has been some time since I've seen a Tottenham midfield player show so much composure in front of goal.

I have always maintained that I've only seen Alli perform in games of lesser importance rather than the really big matches.

However they don't get much bigger than Spurs against Chelsea when the Blues are going for a record number of victories and to cement their lead at the top of the table.

This was not only a great performance by Spurs but, for me, the birth of a special player.

Midfield - Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

Marcus Rashford
Despite being introduced as a 58th-minute substitute, Rashford set up the first goal for Juan Mata and no United player created more chances than him against West Ham (three)

Regular readers of my Team of the Week will know that I don't normally select a substitute unless he has been a game changer.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford was that player against a desperately unfortunate 10-man West Ham.

The player had only been on the pitch for a little over 30 minutes and he transformed the match.

It was just as well because referee Mike Dean practically destroyed it with another dismissal this time after only 15 minutes. I'm beginning to wonder whether the Premier League can afford Mike Dean. He's bad for business.

When he sent off Southampton's Nathan Redmond for an innocuous trip on Tottenham's Dele Alli on 28 December I said Dean should "consider his position". Now it's time for the Professional Game Match Official Board to carefully think through whether his judgement has become impaired.

He seems to be the only referee intent on ruining evenly balanced contests for the viewing public by sending players off totally unnecessarily. It's time for him to go.

Forward - Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)

Jermain Defoe
Defoe's goals against Liverpool took his tally to 11 for the season, making him the fourth player to score 10 or more goals in 10 Premier League seasons (after Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard)

When you have played 450 games in top-flight football you are entitled to some respect, especially when you crown your 451st with two spot-kicks that might save your team from relegation.

Defoe kept his nerve brilliantly in difficult circumstances against Liverpool but all credit to Jurgen Klopp's side, who put together another tremendous effort within 48 hours of the victory against Manchester City.

If anyone had any doubts that the Premier League is the best in the world they can disabuse themselves of that notion now.

The level of entertainment, the quality of the performance and the intensity of the contests over the most intensive 10-day period, while other continental leagues have been sleeping, is a testimony to the product.

No other league in the world offers global customers what the Premier League offers. To all the players, managers and staff, thank you for upholding a marvellous tradition and providing us with the most glorious entertainment.

Forward - Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Olivier Giroud
Giroud has scored three goals and provided two assists in his three Premier League starts this season

This lad has had an amazing Christmas period.

He stole a result out of West Brom, scored arguably the goal of the season against Crystal Palace and pulled Arsenal out of the fire against Bournemouth.

Giroud has had to play second fiddle to Sanchez up front but appears to have done so without rancour. When he has been asked to perform he has done so brilliantly.

This was another magnificent display of commitment and desire from two very different sides.

Bournemouth gave everything and Eddie Howe, while disappointed with the final outcome, must have been very proud of his boys and the way they equipped themselves throughout this torturous period.

As for Arsenal? As good a comeback as it was I saw all the reasons why I think they cannot, I repeat cannot, win the title. They are too busy looking good and simply aren't ruthless enough.

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