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Garth Crooks' team of the week

Garth Crooks
By Garth Crooks

The Premier League began in much the same fashion as it ended last season, with Manchester United in the ascendancy and title rivals Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all held to draws.

Bolton began their campaign with a thumping victory over newly promoted QPR and Wolves secured a fine win against Blackburn. Not a blistering opening weekend, but there were some accomplished individual displays all the same. Here are my choices:

Garth Crooks

SHAY GIVEN
Shay Given

Goalkeeper
Aston Villa

Great to see a top-class goalkeeper back playing, having spent so much time on the bench at Manchester City. Why it took him so long to leave City doesn't seem to matter anymore. Given was commanding and assured for Villa.

Did you know? Given made five saves against Fulham, the most he has managed in a Premier League game since February 2010.

ASHLEY COLE
Ashley Cole

Left-back
Chelsea

For my money, Cole won the battle against Jermaine Pennant at Stoke, but only just. It was a great contest between two old mates.

Did you know? Cole had 82 ball touches against Stoke - only eight players had more this weekend.

GARY CAHILL
Gary Cahill

Centre-back
Bolton Wanderers

It seems as though Cahill has started the season in the same manner in which he finished last season. He continues to show great composure in both boxes and scores goals like a striker. When is Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger going to wake up and realise that this is their new captain in waiting?

Did you know? Cahill was the only player to score from outside the area on the Premier League's opening weekend.

WES BROWN
Wes Brown

Centre-back
Sunderland

There is no doubt about it, Wes is a class act and his display against Liverpool proved the point. He kept a menacing Luis Suarez relatively quiet in the second half, as he did an Andy Carroll who still has to prove that he can dominate quality defenders.

Did you know? Brown completed the game versus Liverpool with a pass completion of 87%, 10% higher than at Manchester United last season.

CHRIS SMALLING
Chris Smalling

Right-back
Manchester United

Versatile, capable and slipped into the role with ease. Smalling is the best English defender I have seen since Rio Ferdinand.

Did you know? Smalling made three interceptions at WBA, a total he bettered in only one game in 2010-11.

FABRICE MUAMBA
Fabrice Muamba

Midfield
Bolton Wanderers

Is there another player in the league who covers as much ground as Muamba? He once again provided the impetus Bolton needed to crush the Hoops who looked anything but super. His goal wasn't bad either.

Did you know? Muamba matched his goal total for each of the past two seasons by scoring on the opening day against QPR.

SEBASTIAN LARSSON
Sebastian Larsson

Midfield
Sunderland

Another inspired signing by Steve Bruce. The Swede is not only an experienced wide player, he strikes the ball beautifully and is a very capable finisher. Great debut and my goal of the weekend.

Did you know? Larsson has now scored two Premier League goals versus Liverpool, meaning he has not scored more against any other team.

ASHLEY YOUNG
Ashley Young

Midfield
Manchester United

A Manchester United player if ever I saw one. Creative, industrious, can play on both sides and scores goals. He is no Cristiano Ronaldo but he is a team player.

Did you know? Young took his assist total over the past five Premier League seasons to 45, second only to Cesc Fabregas in the same period.

STEVEN FLETCHER
Steven Fletcher

Midfield
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Fletcher's at it again. Great goal and a very brave header. He continues to ghost in from the left flank like Martin Peters and provides valuable goals for his team. The architect of Michel Salgado's and Blackburn's miserable afternoon.

Did you know? Fletcher has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances.

LUIS SUAREZ
Luis Suarez

Striker
Liverpool

To miss a penalty so soon in the match and not allow it to affect you says volumes about the character of the player. He probably would have added to his tally had it not been for Wes Brown. Suarez could score over 20 goals this season and if the others pull their weight Liverpool might command a top-four place.

Did you know? Suarez won a league-high six free-kicks in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Sunderland.

FERNANDO TORRES
Fernando Torres

Striker
Chelsea

Well, I cannot conceal my surprise. I did not expect Mr Torres to be featuring in my Team of the Week so soon into the season. I am very happy to do so but I can assure you that there has been no pressure applied to my selection. Take note Andre Villas-Boas!

Did you know? Torres hit four shots in this game, the most he has managed in a single Premier League game during his time at Chelsea.



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see also
Blackburn 1-2 Wolves
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
QPR 0-4 Bolton
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
Wigan 1-1 Norwich
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
Stoke 0-0 Chelsea
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
West Brom 1-2 Man Utd
14 Aug 11 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
09 Aug 11 |  Match of the Day


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