'No dramas' - Garth Crooks takes aim at ex-Arsenal star as two players make team of the week

Garth Crooks was critical of a former Arsenal captain when naming his Team of the Week
Garth Crooks was critical of an ex-Arsenal star when naming his Team of the Week.Garth Crooks was critical of an ex-Arsenal star when naming his Team of the Week.
Garth Crooks was critical of an ex-Arsenal star when naming his Team of the Week.

Former Tottenham Hotspur forward Garth Crooks was full of praise for Arsenal when selecting his best performing combined starting XI for the Easter weekend.

The BBC Sport pundit named centre back duo Gabriel and William Saliba in his team of the week after their performances in a 0-0 draw away to defending champions Manchester City. The defensive pair limited the Citizens to just one shot on target throughout the entire game, and were able to largely nullify the threat posed by leading goalscorer Erling Haaland, along with in-form stars like Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva.

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Crooks claimed it was one of the most disciplined and professional defensive performances he had seen from an Arsenal team in years and used it as an opportunity to criticise former club captain Granit Xhaka for his erratic behaviour.

He explained: “Don't think I've seen a more disciplined or professional defensive performance from an Arsenal team for years. No dramas from Granit Xhaka or incidents that were likely to enrage the home support.

“The Gunners finished the 0-0 draw with Manchester City with 11 players on the pitch, having not lost their heads or forgotten the mission. Hey presto, they come away from Etihad Stadium with a point to keep the pressure right on Liverpool and remain serious title contenders.”

Xhaka was notably sent off four times in the Premier League during his Arsenal career and was booked 57 times in his seven seasons at the Emirates Stadium. His replacement Declan Rice has earned plaudits for his performances this term, but Crooks singled out the importance of keeping Arsenal’s defensive pair fit until the end of the season.

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He added: “Saliba goes through games almost unnoticed until you realise very little has actually got past him. This time last year he got injured and missed the most crucial part of the season and Arsenal paid the price. If the Gunners can keep their players fit they are in with a real chance. It is still all to play for.”

Crooks went on to praise Gabriel for his increased maturity this season, adding that the Brazilian has improved on a number of his weaknesses in recent times.

He explained: “Gabriel is a warrior, there is no doubt about that, and he completely out-battled Haaland. Over the years Arsenal have taken away the rough edges associated with Gabriel's game without losing any of his competitive edge and he is now proving to be a real asset.

“A clean sheet away at the Etihad is telling. If they do go on and lift the title their defensive displays will have an awful lot to do with it.”

Full Premier League Team of the Week, as selected by BBC Sport’s Garth Crooks:

  • GK: Andre Onana (Manchester United)

  • CB: Gabriel (Arsenal)

  • CB: William Saliba (Arsenal)

  • CB: Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)

  • RM: Cole Palmer (Chelsea)

  • CM: Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool)

  • CM: Anthony Gordon (Newcastle United)

  • LM: Harvey Barnes (Newcastle United)

  • RW: Luis Diaz (Liverpool)

  • LW: Heung Min-Son (Tottenham Hotspur)

  • ST: Ivan Toney (Brentford)