Garth Crooks's team of the week

By Garth CrooksBBC football pundit
Team of the week

Manchester United kept up the pressure at the top of the Premier League in a tough encounter with arch-rivals Liverpool.

Manchester City responded with a win away at Arsenal which still keeps them in touch with the leaders. Meanwhile, Chelsea got back on track with an emphatic win at Stoke and Reading took themselves off the foot of the table with a remarkable comeback at the Madejski stadium.

Take a look at my team of the week and see if you agree with my selections.


QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar

What a performance from the keeper in the goalless draw with Tottenham. The Brazilian saved a certain goal from Jermain Defoe during the opening exchanges of the game before immediately producing a world class recovery and save to deny Emmanuel Adebayor a goal on the rebound. Throughout the match he made save after save. After a performance like that his team-mates should consider giving the keeper their bonus!

Did you know? He made seven saves in keeping Tottenham at bay on Saturday, more than any other keeper at the weekend.


Manchester City right-back Pablo Zabaleta

I thought Andre Wisdom played well for Liverpool but, every time I saw Manchester City bombing down Arsenal's left side, Pablo Zabaleta was looking to tear the Gunners to shreds. I admit referee Mike Dean's sending off of Laurent Koscielny did not help Arsenal. But, in the spirit of fair play, I must confess that, if Mark Halsey got his penalty decision badly wrong against Aston Villa, Dean certainly got his penalty decision absolutely right in City's win at Arsenal.

Did you know? He has won 52 of the 67 tackles he has attempted in the league this season, only three players have won more than this.


Swansea centre-back Ashley Williams

He looked good against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup in midweek and in the draw against Everton he looked even better. Even former England centre-back Martin Keown remarked on Final Score how much he thought the defender had improved. High praise indeed.

Did you know? He made a joint-high 17 defensive clearances against Everton at the weekend.


Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic

The warrior is back for Manchester United. Liverpool's threat increased considerably when striker Daniel Sturridge came on and started to link up nicely with Luis Suarez to add to Martin Skrtel's aerial prowess on set plays. United needed Nemanja Vidic to see off the danger. He lasted 70 minutes in the win over the Merseysiders but he is vital for his side's run-in and is getting stronger by the game.

Did you know? Vidic netted his first Premier League goal since May 2011, when he scored in a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford.

LEFT-BACK - LUKE SHAW (Southampton)

Southampton defender Luke Shaw

There is no doubt that this lad can play. He looked composed in defence and dangerous in attack in the victory over Aston Villa. What a pity Southampton could not retain their credibility by just admitting that the referee got their awarded penalty wrong. But that would mean that Jay Rodriguez had dived and far be it for a football club to ever admit that!

Did you know? Southampton have a 33% win rate with Shaw featuring this season and just 11% without him.


Manchester City midfielder James Milner

We all know how hard James Milner works in a match but it has been a long time since I've seen him look so positive and direct in his forward play. His first-time no nonsense finish against Arsenal was superb and set him up for an excellent performance.

Did you know? He scored the opening goal of the game against Arsenal and created a game-high four goal-scoring chances for team-mates at Emirates Stadium.


Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis

He may be 35-years-old but he can still strike a ball. He waited a while to score his first goal for Fulham with his effort in the FA Cup last week and he got his second goal with a wonderful finish in the draw against Wigan.

Did you know? Karagounis became the eighth different Greek player to net a Premier League goal, while he has now been fouled, on average, every 21.3 minutes, which is a league-high figure.


Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard

The Chelsea fans want him to stay but he looks destined to leave. He scored one against Stoke for his 194th goal for the Stamford Bridge club and could have had a hat-trick. Put his goal to one side for a moment and consider his overall contribution to Chelsea's victory against Stoke and you'll understand why he is in my team of the week.

Did you know? Lampard has now scored seven goals in his last eight Premier League starts. Only Javier Hernandez and Edin Dzeko have a better minutes-per-goal rate this season than the Chelsea midfielder, who has netted a goal every 99 minutes on average.


Sunderland midfielder Stephane Sessegnon

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill told me before Christmas that once Sessegnon realised that the season had started and began to perform the Black Cats would start winning matches. OK, he didn't put it quite like that but those were his sentiments and he is spot on after the midfielder's performance in the victory over West Ham.

Did you know? Only one player (Everton's Steven Pienaar - 53) has won more fouls than Sessegnon (51) in the league this season.

MIDFIELD - JAVI GARCIA (Manchester City)

Manchester City midfielder Javi Garcia

In any other team this lad would be playing every week. Sadly for the Spaniard he normally has to compete with Yaya Toure. However, the Ivorian is playing in the Africa Cup of Nations, which left Javi Garcia with the perfect opportunity to run the show for City. A stellar performance, particularly in the first half, much of it against a 10-man Arsenal, but that was not his fault.

Did you know? He has completed the full 90 minutes in just two of his last nine Premier League appearances, in the game at Arsenal and against Newcastle.


West Brom striker Romelu Lukaku

What a game this kid had against Reading and he was still on the losing side. He scored two goals, smashed efforts against the post twice and had a goal disallowed. Only West Brom defender Jonas Olsson knows why he made such a reckless challenge in the box which turned the game on its head and ruined West Brom's day, but not Lukaku's performance.

Did you know? The Belgian was the only player to net more than one goal (he bagged a brace) at the weekend, with his other two efforts coming back off the woodwork. He has now scored in six of his eight Premier League starts for West Brom.

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