Garth Crooks' team of the week: De Bruyne, Lundstram, Mahrez, Rudiger, Mount

Garth Crooks Team of the Week graphic

Manchester City kept alive their Premier League title hopes on Saturday as they beat second-placed Leicester.

Tottenham lost at home Chelsea, who underlined their top-four credentials, while Watford boosted their hopes of staying up by beating Manchester United.

Elsewhere, Everton and Arsenal played out a goalless draw, Aston Villa lost at home to Southampton and Bournemouth lost at home to Burnley.

Brighton were beaten by Sheffield United, Newcastle edged to a win over Crystal Palace and Norwich lost as Wolves scored a late winner at Carrow Road.

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

Garth Crooks Team of the Week graphic

Goalkeeper - Ben Foster (Watford)

Ben Foster

Ben Foster: It took an absolute howler by David de Gea to get Sunday's game at Vicarage Road started - but when it did take off, it was Watford who held their nerve and subsequently took the points.

An important save by Ben Foster from Paul Pogba, and another with his feet from Marcus Rashford, was as close as Manchester United came to scoring.

The knives might be out for De Gea because of his error but former United keeper Foster will know how quickly events can turn against you.

This was not a game where goalkeepers were overly utilised but Foster kept his concentration and De Gea momentarily did not, losing United the game as a consequence.

Did you know? He became the first Watford goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against Manchester United in the Premier League, saving all eight of the shots he faced on target.

Defenders - Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Arsenal)

Fabian Schar, Antonio Rudiger, Calum Chambers

Fabian Schar: The overall contribution by Newcastle's Fabian Schar in an often spiteful encounter with Crystal Palace was enough for the Swiss international to get into my team of the week.

However, it was his battles with Wilfried Zaha that I found most fascinating. Schar had no intention whatsoever of giving an inch to Zaha's abilities and refused to be bedazzled by his footwork or antics.

If ever a player made it his mission to thwart the opposition's main threat, then Schar's second-half display was it - and that was critical to Newcastle's victory.

Did you know? Schar made more interceptions (three) and regained possession (nine) on more occasions than any other player in Newcastle's 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace.

Antonio Rudiger: The German international's return to the Chelsea line-up, after a long lay-off through injury, was always going to be significant for Frank Lampard and Chelsea - and so it proved against Spurs.

Rudiger has always been incredibly competitive in his performances but the way he marshalled his defence and dealt with the threat of Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Dele Alli was quite extraordinary. Spurs showed a distinct lack of discipline during this fixture, which was one of the reasons Son was given his marching orders.

Why Rudiger was then allegedly subjected to monkey noises by a small section of the Tottenham crowd was a mystery to me. It was Son who kicked out and Rudiger gets the abuse for doing his job?

Did you know? Rudiger won four of his six duels against Tottenham and wasn't dribbled past once in what was just his third Premier League start of the season.

Calum Chambers: He's never been one of my favourite Arsenal players but against Everton I thought Chambers was the best defender on the pitch. His second-half collision with Richarlison, in a desperate attempt to defend another Everton attack in the final minutes, was about as committed as it gets.

Chambers has grown into a dependable defender amid a host of youth and exuberance but sadly very little else. A clean sheet away from home brought a valuable point for the Gunners under the current circumstances.

Read more about Arsenal's managerial appointment in The Crooks of the Matter below.

Did you know? Chambers attempted more passes than any other Arsenal player against Everton (79 attempted, 69 completed)

Midfielders - Miguel Almiron (Newcastle), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), John Lundstram (Sheff Utd), Willian (Chelsea)

Miguel Almiron, Kevin de Bruyne, John Lundstram, Willian

Miguel Almiron: When you haven't scored for 26 games, you're entitled to go a little crazy when you finally get on the scoresheet. The reaction from Miguel Almiron after his winner against Crystal Palace seemed to reflect the fact that the Paraguay international's drought had finally come to an end.

Yet it was the quality of the finish that stood out for me. The ball sat up after a lovely cushioned header from Andy Carroll only to be beautifully dispatched by Almiron. When you see a strike so clinical, it makes you wonder what has taken him so long to get among the goals.

Did you know? Almiron scored his first Premier League goal in what was his 27th appearance in the competition, ending a run of 2,190 minutes and 46 shots without scoring.

Kevin de Bruyne: He has destroyed Arsenal and Leicester in a matter of days. Kevin de Bruyne now joins Liverpool's Sadio Mane as another one of my early candidates for the PFA Players' Player of the Year. In fact, I would put him ahead of Mane to win the award.

Such pronouncements will not come as earth-shattering news to anyone who watches the Premier League on a regular basis. Nevertheless it has to be said that De Bruyne is playing scintillating football.

Did you know? De Bruyne became the first player to register double figures for assists before Christmas in a single Premier League campaign since Mesut Ozil in 2015-16 (15).

John Lundstram: The Blades are cutting through Premier League teams like cold Sheffield steel. I can't decide whether their latest victims were suffering from pre-Christmas anxiety or just sheer inertia. Brighton were awful and would have been destroyed had VAR not saved them on two occasions.

While Oli McBurnie will get the headlines, and deservedly so having previously struggled to get among the goals in the Premier League, my man of the match was John Lundstram, who has been magnificent for United this season.

When Sheffield United got promotion, they aroused my curiosity. Sitting fifth in the table, they now have my attention.

Did you know? Of all players that played the full 90 minutes in Sheffield United's match at Brighton, Lundstram had the highest passing accuracy in the attacking half (92.9% - or 18 passed completed out of 22 attempted).

Willian: If Tottenham against Chelsea had been a boxing match, it would have been over long before round 12. Spurs hardly laid a glove on Chelsea in the first half and it didn't get much better in the second.

Willian scored two brilliantly taken goals, one a candidate for goal of the month and the other a penalty that was never in doubt once it was clear he was taking it.

This was one hell of a performance by the Brazil international. Quite what goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was doing when he charged into Marcos Alonso like a raging bull I will never know. Whatever the reason, it certainly sealed Tottenham's fate.

Did you know? Willian has scored four goals in 17 Premier League appearances this season, more than he managed in the entirety of 2018-19 (when he got three goals in 32 games).

Forwards - Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Danny Ings (Southampton), Mason Mount (Chelsea)

Riyad Mahrez, Danny Ings, Mason Mount

Riyad Mahrez: Manchester City fans are still waiting to see the very best of Riyad Mahrez on a regular basis. Unfortunately for Leicester, the Algeria international saved one of his best performances to punish his former club.

Admittedly his goal took a slight deflection but it needed an in-form Kasper Schmeichel to keep the winger from adding to his tally. Regrettably for Mahrez, he didn't have it all his own way. He had to hand the man of the match award to Kevin de Bruyne.

Did you know? Mahrez had 10 shots against Leicester, the most by a player in a single Premier League game since Andre Schurrle for Fulham against Burnley in August 2018 (11).

Danny Ings: Away wins don't come much more satisfying than a 3-1 victory at Villa Park. However, I can't remember the last time I saw three goals gifted in such a manner by a Premier League side. Aston Villa were woeful. It might have be down to the absence of Tyrone Mings but whatever the reason they had better fix it quickly.

As for Southampton, they looked to have recovered from their mauling by Leicester City earlier in the season - especially Danny Ings. The former Burnley and Liverpool striker has never looked back since he left Anfield and took his second goal brilliantly. The Saints need to stay up - because if they don't, then Ings is gone.

Did you know? No Southampton player has scored more Premier League goals before Christmas in a season than Danny Ings' current total of 11 (level with James Beattie in 2002-03).

Mason Mount: The more I see this kid, the more I like him. In fact, I think he's going to be top class.

Mason Mount's performance against Spurs was the most mature game I have seen from the Chelsea youngster in a blue shirt. Quite apart from the fact that Mount has excellent technical ability he's also not afraid to stick his foot in and battle when required. The latter feature that was very evident during the game against Tottenham.

Frank Lampard has assembled an impressive young side who believe in him. Lampard's apprenticeship is over. This man can manage.

Did you know? This was Mount's 17th Premier League start this season - no outfield player has made more starts in the competition under Frank Lampard this season than the 20-year-old.

Now it's your turn

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

Pick your Team of the Week

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

The Crooks of the Matter

What are Arsenal doing appointing a manager who isn't bigger than his players? Far be it from me to tell the Gunners who their manager should be but come on. Mikel Arteta - really?

I have always held the view that the bigger the club, the bigger the manager. It was the late great Bobby Robson who said that when he moved to his beloved Newcastle, he was surprised to see that some of his players were driving bigger cars than him. That story speaks volumes about how the game has changed; the sentiment behind it is very apt.

Last week I suggested the north London giants should look no further than Carlo Ancelotti. Meanwhile, Everton have gone for the more experienced man. I completely understand the argument that after more than 20 years of Arsene Wenger, another advocate of the 'old school' might not have been to Arsenal's taste.

A younger man who has a greater affinity with the precocious talents of the age appears to be the way forward for Arsenal executives. But if that is the case, then Patrick Vieira should have got the call. What a statement that would have made. Instead, Arsenal have gone for a number two when they desperately needed a number one.

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