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Garth Crooks' team of the week

Garth Crooks
By Garth Crooks

Another hugely intriguing Premier League weekend witnessed a significant twist in the title race as leaders Manchester United slumped to a 3-1 loss at Liverpool.

At the other end of the table, the battle to beat the drop intensified as West Brom won at fellow strugglers Birmingham and Wolves earned a point at home to Tottenham.

There were standout performances all over the place, from top to bottom. Here are my choices:

Garth Crooks' team of the week

JUSSI JAASKELAINEN
Jussi Jaaskelainen

Goalkeeper
Bolton Wanderers

Superb throughout the match, the Finn turned the game with a penalty save from Ashley Young. Arsene Wenger take note: goalkeepers are not only employed to save shots; the best and most consistent ones win matches. The Arsenal manager could do a lot worst than add Jaaskelainen to his squad.

Did you know? Following his heroics against Villa, Jaaskelainen is the only goalkeeper to have saved more than one penalty in the Premier League this season.

GLEN JOHNSON
Glen Johnson

Full-back
Liverpool

It is not very often you can rely on a full-back to be as comfortable on the left as he is on the right. Against Manchester United on Sunday, the England international did both and was back to his best.

Did you know? Only one defender, Aston Villa's Kyle Walker, attempted more dribbles than Johnson (5) this weekend.

GARY CAHILL
Gary Cahill

Centre-back
Bolton Wanderers

Talk about chickens coming home to roost! Cahill's performance was so complete that even the most hardened Villa fan must have left the Reebok wondering why the club sold him - and for only for £5m! Cahill defends with authority and finishes like a striker.

Did you know? Cahill is one of only three defenders to have scored twice in a Premier League match this season.

MANUEL DA COSTA
Manuel da Costa

Centre-back
West Ham United

The Hammers have not kept many clean sheets this season, especially at home, but Da Costa's performance was central to keeping Stoke at bay. His goal was very impressive and reminiscent of the one that Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie scored to win goal of the month years ago.

Did you know? Both of Da Costa's goals this season have come against Stoke - one in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup.

LEIGHTON BAINES
Leighton Baines

Full-back Everton

Another vintage performance from the Toffee with a sweet centre. It was his superb cross that gave Newcastle nightmares and provided Phil Jagielka with the chance to steal the points. A great left peg.

Did you know? Dani Alves of Barcelona (12) is the only defender to have assisted more goals than Baines (10) in Europe's top five leagues this season.

DAMIEN DUFF
Damien Duff

Midfield
Fulham

It is nice to see Duff playing with confidence again. He tormented Blackburn all day in what turned out to be a terrific contest. Even referee Mark Clattenburg couldn't ruin it!

Did you know? Duff's brace was only his second in the Premier League. The first came back in December 1997.

THOMAS HITZLSPERGER
Thomas Hitzlsperger

Midfield
West Ham

Out for six months with injury but playing like he has never been away. His superb cross led to West Ham's second goal - and he scored the third with an emphatic finish. According to Hammers boss Avram Grant, the German is like a new signing.

Did you know? Hitzlsperger created more goalscoring chances (5) than any midfielder in the Premier League this weekend.

DIRK KUYT
Dirk Kuyt

Midfield
Liverpool

Arguably the easiest hat-trick Kuyt will ever score. He was in the right place at the right time - but that's not luck, it's a knack. What was really interesting was the way he began to forge a dangerous partnership with forwards Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Premier League clubs should take note.

Did you know? Kuyt became only the third player to score a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United, emulating Egil Ostenstad and David Bentley.

LUIS SUAREZ
Luis Suarez

Midfield
Liverpool

Suarez tormented Manchester United all day. Provided Kuyt with two of his goals and looks like the new Kevin Keegan.

Did you know? Suarez completed more dribbles (7) than any Premier League player this weekend.

JERMAIN DEFOE
Jermain Defoe

Striker
Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham's mighty mouse is always a threat and lives for scoring goals. You will not see many better this season. The only thing was the Spurs defence spent half the game fast asleep!

Did you know? Defoe ended a run of 323 days without a league goal. Prior to his first against Wolves, he had had more shots without scoring (39) than any Premier League player this season.

KEVIN DOYLE
Kevin Doyle

Striker
Wolverhampton Wanderers

What would Wolves, or Mick McCarthy for that matter, do without Doyle? He covered every blade of grass and thoroughly deserved his goals. He played a vital role in earning Wolves a point that might be crucial at the end of the season.

Did you know? Doyle's brace was his fourth in the Premier League but his first in a Wolves shirt.



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see also
How to watch Match of the Day
09 Aug 11 |  Match of the Day
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester United
06 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Wolves 3-3 Tottenham
06 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
West Ham 3-0 Stoke
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Birmingham 1-3 West Brom
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Bolton 3-2 Aston Villa
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Manchester City 1-0 Wigan Ath
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Fulham 3-2 Blackburn
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League
Newcastle 1-2 Everton
05 Mar 11 |  Premier League


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