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Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week: Sterling, Zaha, Azpilicueta, Fernandinho

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It was a weekend of key action at the bottom of the Premier League as West Brom lived to fight another day and Southampton secured a huge win.

With Stoke also taking an unlikely point at Anfield, and big wins for Crystal Palace and Everton, it’s all getting very exciting.

But who did enough to make my team of the week? Read my selections and then pick your own XI.

Goalkeeper – Ben Foster (West Brom)

The recent performances by West Bromwich Albion have been synonymous with some brilliant saves from Ben Foster. Against Newcastle, the former England keeper produced a reaction save from Dwight Gayle that was utterly breathtaking. How he clawed the ball out of the back of the net I will never know.

Darren Moore has now taken maximum points off Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez and come back from two goals down against Jurgen Klopp. West Brom may have stumbled upon a manager here.

Did you know? Foster made two saves in West Brom’s 1-0 win over Newcastle, just their second clean sheet in 13 Premier League games.

Defenders – Joel Ward (Crystal Palace), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Craig Dawson (West Brom), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace)

Joel Ward: What a clearance off the line by the Palace full-back against Leicester. Ward saw the danger posed by Jamie Vardy and did everything he could to avert it. The clearance itself was absolutely brilliant but Ward’s attitude epitomised the entire Palace team performance.

Ward, like Palace, has had a difficult season but both have come good in the end.

Did you know? Ward made two tackles, two interceptions and 36 passes in Palace’s victory over Leicester, also helping the Eagles keep a clean sheet.

Cesar Azpilicueta: If anyone in the Chelsea ranks is going to make a vital interception, it is going to be Cesar Azpilicueta. He has been immense for Chelsea in a season of mixed fortunes. The Spain international has hardly missed a fixture.

With captain Gary Cahill back in the three-man defence with Antonio Rudiger, the Blues looked much more in control of matters at Swansea. But boy have they missed a fit and in-form David Luiz.

Did you know? Azpilicueta commanded the defence in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Swansea, with no Blues player having more touches (97) or playing more passes (85)

Craig Dawson: I saw it, but I couldn’t believe it. What another outstanding performance by the Baggies.

I thought Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi were immense at Newcastle. Quite apart from not responding when he was kicked by Islam Slimani, Dawson’s performance was flawless. When are players going to realise that there is nothing they can do on a football pitch that we cannot see?

If Moore can somehow get West Brom out of this relegation nightmare (and I can’t see it) we may have to seriously consider him for prime minister!

Did you know? Dawson made nine clearances and two blocks in helping West Brom keep a clean sheet against Newcastle; no player had more for the Baggies.

Patrick van Aanholt: Since his return from injury, Van Aanholt has made such a difference to Crystal Palace. The flying Dutchman caused Leicester all kinds of problems down their right flank. However, it was his goal that really caused me to sit up and take notice. A first-time strike with his right foot bent into the corner of Ben Hamer’s net. Van Aanholt is left-footed. Impressive.

Did you know? Van Aanholt misplaced just one of his 44 passes against Leicester, as well as scoring the fourth in a 5-0 rout.

Midfielders – Fernandinho (Manchester City), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace)

Fernandinho: Regular readers will know what I think of this lad. Fernandinho is everything Paul Pogba should be. In fact if Pogba had what Fernandinho had, Manchester City would have suffered far more sleepless nights this season – and not just the one they suffered a few weeks ago at the hands of the mercurial Frenchman.

Against a very ordinary West Ham, Fernandinho was as regular and as dependable as Greenwich Mean Time. You can’t get more dependable than that.

Did you know? Along with scoring City’s fourth goal, Fernandinho made four tackles – the most of any City player

Idrissa Gueye: Gueye has only ever made my TOTW on one previous occasion, when I said he was the nearest thing I had seen to N’Golo Kante. His performance against a Huddersfield side who are rapidly running out of gas was full of endeavour as usual. However, it was his goal that really impressed me.

Did you know? Along with scoring Everton’s second goal, Gueye had the best passing accuracy of any Toffees player (85.2%). He also made six tackles and four interceptions.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek: He wrapped up the game for Palace against Leicester, and with it all but guaranteed their Premier League safety for another season.

If Loftus-Cheek can remain fit for the rest of the season and retain his form, he must be under consideration to join the England World Cup squad for their trip to Russia.

I would also advise him to stay at Palace for another season. He is getting game time and coaching from one of the most consummate coaches in the business. Give it a year and see where that takes you.

Did you know? As well as scoring with his only shot against Leicester, Loftus-Cheek had 65 touches and made three tackles – no Palace player had more.

Forwards – Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Dusan Tadic: Stoke fans will be incandescent with rage when they see Southampton players being hugged by Mark Hughes at their expense.

There is no doubt about it, Hughes left Stoke in a perilous situation but seems to be reviving Southampton in a way he couldn’t manage in the Potteries.

In a very tense affair against Bournemouth, Tadic – who somehow refused to let the occasion get to him – kept his nerve. Southampton’s players played as if their contracts depended on it, and Bournemouth looked determined to send their rivals down. It was a great watch and the best team won. Just about.

Did you know? As well as scoring his first Premier League brace since April 2016 against Aston Villa, the Serb also created five chances; more than any other player this weekend.

Raheem Sterling: Oh if this lad could just finish! If Sterling could keep his head down and strike through the ball he would score 40 goals a season instead of the 23 he has bagged already this campaign.

The rest of his game has come on so much under Pep Guardiola but his finishing still needs so much work. It’s the only difference between him and Mohamed Salah.

Did you know? Sterling provided three assists in a single game for the first time in his career for either club or country.

Wilfried Zaha: Last week I lambasted the talented Zaha for actively looking for penalties against Watford. This week he has to be commended for producing goals.

Zaha has featured regularly in my TOTW recently, which tells you all you need to know about the form of the Ivory Coast international.

Zaha was in electric form against Leicester in a game where he made every attempt to stay on his feet. Playing like this he will not only enhance his status as a professional but win the respect of his peers. A performance matched by an excellent attitude. Please keep it up.

Did you know? Zaha has scored four goals in his past four Premier League games, as many as in his previous 24.

You’ve seen my picks this week. But who would you go for?

Choose your XI from the shortlist selected by BBC Sport journalists and share it with your friends.

Pick your Team of the Week

The Crooks of the matter…

This week we learned that the Football Association is considering selling Wembley Stadium.

What’s next, the sale of Buckingham Palace? I suppose Her Majesty could spend three months in each of her homes around the country so the locals can get a glimpse of her. Yes, an outrageous thought. But no more so than the one proposed by the FA if the sale goes ahead.

Only the FA Council can stop this madness, and they must perform their duty. They owe it to the fans and the country.

Fulham owner Khan confident of Wembley purchase

I was a member of the Sport England executive board when the FA made its application for Lottery funding to help it redevelop the game’s national stadium, and worked through the furore that followed about the dismantling of the twin towers.

The time and effort, not to mention the millions in funding that was needed to get the project off the ground, let alone completed, was immense. To think that less than two decades later the FA is considering selling the best national stadium in the world is quite extraordinary and frankly contemptible.

Is it any wonder that football luminaries like Sir Dave Richards, who was the Premier League chairman at the time and presided over the new site, is up in arms about the possible sale and calling for heads to roll?

The FA is a not-for-profit governing body and the argument some of its executives are making to sell the game’s greatest asset and plough the rewards into grassroots football is nothing less that shocking short-termism.

A better business case for the FA would be to revise its position with Brent Council on terms that are favourable to the governing body and the council to rent the asset in ways not previously envisaged. Pull that off and, hey presto, you have a real cash cow. A national asset that will fund grassroots football and help develop the surrounding area for generations.

The new Wembley wasn’t built to be sold to foreign investors. It was built to serve the England national football team and remind the world that England is the home of football, and Wembley its temple.

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