Garth Crooks’s team of the week

16 August 2015
Last updated at
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Garth Crooks's team of the week: Begovic, Kompany, Vardy, Lukaku

By Garth Crooks
Football Analyst

Garth's team of the week

Garth's team of the week

Two weekends in and it feels like the Premier League title race is coming alive already.

Champions Chelsea's

crushing defeat by Manchester City

means Jose Mourinho's side already trail City and Manchester United, who

beat Aston Villa

on Friday, by five points.

Leicester also share the early lead after making it

two wins out of two at West Ham,

whose bubble was burst following their opening day win at Arsenal.

The Gunners bounced back with

victory at Crystal Palace,

while Swansea continued their encouraging start by

easing past 10-man Newcastle

and

Everton romped in at Southampton.

At the bottom, Sunderland had another day to forget as they were

outplayed at home by Norwich,

who get one nomination in my team of the week.

Do you agree with my selections?

GOALKEEPER – Asmir Begovic (Chelsea)

Asmir Begovic is applauded by Sergio Aguero

Only West Ham's Adrian (10) has made more saves this season than Begovic (nine)

Chelsea's big game at Manchester City could have been over within minutes had it not been for the brilliance of Asmir Begovic. He made four world-class saves before City striker Sergio Aguero eventually beat him.

It's extremely rare that I pick a goalkeeper for my team of the week who is beaten on three occasions but Chelsea never looked like winning this game, which is very rare for the Blues.

Chelsea suddenly look like a team in transition, with John Terry substituted, Branislav Ivanovic struggling and Diego Costa more interested in taking retribution than scoring goals. However, there is one good thing to have come out of this fixture for Chelsea and that is Mourinho now knows he can rely on Begovic.

DEFENDER – Steven Whittaker (Norwich)

Steven Whittaker celebrates scoring against Sunderland

Whittaker scored his first Premier League goal since August 2013 (v Everton)

Just when you thought that it couldn't get any worse for Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat following their dismal opening-day defeat at Leicester, Norwich come along and stick the boot in.

Let's not kid ourselves, Sunderland were awful. But there were some impressive displays for the Canaries and probably the best was from full-back Steve Whittaker. A fabulous move resulted in an excellent finish by the adventurous Scot and this was no fluke. I've seen the defender score goals like this before.

DEFENDER – Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

Vincent Kompany scores against Chelsea

The Manchester City captain has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since December 2013

Two goals in two games is a sure indication that the Manchester City skipper has found his confidence again.

However, there was something more relevant about Kompany's performance against an unconvincing Chelsea and that was his developing partnership with Eliaquim Mangala. I am convinced that the secret of Manchester City's title hopes lie with the success of this relationship. Everything else about City's start to this season's campaign looks in excellent shape.

DEFENDER – Daley Blind (Manchester United)

Daley Blind (centre) celebrates Manchester United's victory at Aston Villa

Blind had more touches than any other United player against Villa (84), completing 95.6% of his passes

There is so much more to this Manchester United side than we've seen so far. However, as unconvincing as they appeared in Friday night's first Premier League fixture, Aston Villa barely laid a glove on them in sliding to defeat.

What has saved United's blushes is their ability to keep a clean sheet in their opening fixtures. Last week it was Chris Smalling who stood out in a mediocre team performance against Tottenham and this week it was Blind.

The Netherlands international did a great job, although he's not the answer long-term if United are serious about regaining the title. They need to buy a specialist centre-back before the transfer deadline to assist Smalling. Anything else would be merely papering over the cracks.

DEFENDER – Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)

Nacho Monreal celebrates at Selhurst Park

The left-back won more fouls than any other Arsenal player against Palace (four)

Playing Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park is never easy these days, especially when your hosts have two speed merchants like Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie playing for them. Arsenal's full-back Monreal handled both players brilliantly.

Even when they occasionally switched wings (as they do from time to time) the Spaniard never looked fazed and in the end both players left the field totally disheartened by the looks of things as the Gunners secured their first win of the season.

MIDFIELDER – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

Santi Cazorla celebrates Arsenal's win at Crystal Palace with team-mate Petr Cech

Only team-mate Mesut Ozil (five) created more chances this weekend in the Premier League than Cazorla (four)

After last week's somewhat inept performance against the Hammers, the Gunners suddenly looked something like title contenders against Crystal Palace.

At the heart of their resurgence against the Eagles was Cazorla, who was superb throughout and dominated the play. If they can play with the same authority and intensity as they did in the first half then Arsenal, with their array of talent, must have a chance of lifting the title.

MIDFIELDER – Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

Mesut Ozil (right) in action against Crystal Palace

Ozil found a team-mate with all but one of his passes against Crystal Palace (98% pass completion)

Every so often we see a player that is so gifted that he can change a game in an instant and Ozil is one of those players.

His assist for Olivier Giroud's opening goal was so inviting the striker was compelled to make the volley. If there was an opening to be found against Palace, Ozil would find it – he is another player crucial to the Gunners' title hopes.

MIDFIELDER – Ross Barkley (Everton)

Ross Barkley scores against Southampton

The Everton midfielder scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time

Everton's first win at St Mary's since 2002 and their best away performance for some considerable time was orchestrated by their brightest talent – Barkley.

While the young England international was tearing Southampton apart, some Everton fans seemed more interested in

expressing their lack of support for chairman Bill Kenwright,

which I found strange.

FORWARD – Jefferson Montero (Swansea)

Swansea winger Jefferson Montero

Montero has attempted more dribbles than anyone else so far this season (19)

On the opening day of the season we saw Montero put Branislav Ivanovic to the sword as Swansea earned an impressive 2-2 draw at Chelsea and this week it was Newcastle full-back Daryl Janmaat's turn to get the treatment.

Fortunately for Chelsea, Ivanovic managed to stay on the field, while Janmaat received his marching orders after just 41 minutes. Frankly, I was surprised Janmaat lasted that long, such was Montero's wizardry in a comfortable win.

FORWARD – Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Jamie Vardy challenged by Angelo Ogbonna

No Leicester player created more chances than Vardy against West Ham (two)

Leicester City fans must wake up in the morning in total disbelief. Their team has six points on the board having played two games and scored six goals. It has been a tremendous team effort.

One of the stand-out names for the Foxes in both their opening fixtures has been Vardy. The striker wreaked havoc against a buoyant West Ham at Upton Park.

If Vardy wasn't threatening the Hammers with his piercing runs, he was continually providing assists for his fellow strikers. This was the kind of performance that will impress England manager Roy Hodgson.

FORWARD – Romelu Lukaku (Everton)

Romeu Lukaku scores against Southampton

Lukaku is now the top scoring Belgian in Premier League history (44), two clear of compatriot Christian Benteke (42)

This lad is looking good again. His first goal in an eye-catching win at Southampton was reminiscent of the great 1970s Everton striker

Bob LatchfordÂ

at his best and his second wasn't bad either.

It's patently obvious to me that if manager Roberto Martinez wants to get the best out of Lukaku then he must continue with his current strategy and allow the striker to lead the attack. With the support of Ross Barkley and Arouna Kone, the Belgian (if he remains fit) could be looking at another 20 goals.

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