Garth Crooks’ team of the week: Maguire, Silva, Fernandes, Rashford, Kane

Chelsea edged past relegated Norwich to boost their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, but Leicester beat Sheffield United and Manchester United overcame Crystal Palace to stay right behind them.

Arsenal surprised champions Liverpool to further their own Europa League ambitions, although they remain behind Tottenham after their north London rivals won 3-1 at Newcastle.

Aston Villa’s bid for survival was knocked by a 1-1 draw at Everton but relegation rivals Bournemouth lost at Manchester City.

Wolves were pegged back in the 96th minute by Burnley and Southampton also shared the spoils with Brighton.

West Ham beat Watford 3-1 on Friday to all-but secure their own Premier League survival but leave the visitors in significant trouble.

Goalkeeper – Mat Ryan (Brighton)

Ryan: This lad has been outstanding between the sticks for two seasons and he’s had to be in order to keep Brighton in the Premier League. In their recent fight for survival against Southampton he made one of the best fingertip saves I have seen all season. Jannik Vestergaard hit the ball from all of 30 yards and it went like a rocket, picking up speed all the way.

How Ryan got his hand to the ball I don’t know but he managed to push the ball on to the crossbar. Brighton have clawed their way out of the relegation zone and into relative safety. Their brand of football might be more attractive but the anxiety is still the same.

Did you know? The Australian made four saves and attempted 32 passes, a figure only two players could better (Dale Stephens 34, Dan Burn 33).

Defenders – Rob Holding (Arsenal), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), Jonny Evans (Leicester),

Holding: It was a real battle royal between Rob Holding and Sadio Mane. From the moment a ball was kicked no quarter was given or asked between the two players.

At first I thought Mane had the better of Holding but as the game wore on it was clear that the Arsenal defender was determined to come out on top and, in the end, he did. Mane was Liverpool’s biggest threat on the night and all credit to Holding as he never shirked his responsibility even after the Liverpool striker put his side 1-0 up only a few minutes into the game.

Holding has had his fair share of injuries this season but with a run of games he might find himself a permanent feature in the Arsenal defensive line-up.

Did you know? Against Liverpool, Holding, making only his fourth Premier League start of the season, registered a game-high seven clearances.

Maguire: I thought Harry Maguire was at fault for Southampton’s equaliser in United’s previous game. If he’d given Nemanja Matic a call then the centre-back had a free header but instead Maguire froze and allowed the ball to beat both Matic and himself. However, he seemed to put that confusion right against Crystal Palace and appeared much more commanding in his own box on set plays.

There’s no point being a threat in the opposition’s penalty area if you can’t win your headers in your own 18 yard box. Nevertheless a clean sheet against Palace will do Maguire, and United’s goal difference, the world of good. It looks like their fight for a Champions League spot will go to the last game of the season and Maguire will need to be at his best.

Did you know? Maguire racked up 75 passes against Crystal Palace, a haul only Paul Pogba could better (88) in the game, with the England defender completing 89% of them.

Evans: The ball from Jonny Evans from deep within his own half that set Jamie Vardy free was superb and resulted in Vardy providing yet another chance, this time for Demarai Gray, who put the game well beyond a gallant Sheffield United.

Let’s be clear here, the Blades have punched above their weight for the best part of the season and provided some extraordinary moments along the way. However, their ambition to join the Europa League elite is admirable but I fear a stretch too far. Are they Europa League ‘class’? No, I don’t think they are but they have certainly enhanced the Premier League.

Leicester have Vardy up front and Evans at the back. The Blades lack that touch of class.

Did you know? In Leicester’s clash with Sheffield United, Evans made more passes (67) than any other player on the park and was involved in 15 duels as the Foxes won with a clean sheet.

Midfield – Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd), David Silva (Man City), Son Heung-min (Spurs)

Grealish: I can’t imagine the anguish Jack Grealish must be going through. He’s the captain of his team, playing for his boyhood club and fighting for Premier League survival. I don’t think he could have done any more to win the game for Aston Villa against Everton. The midfielder put the ball on a plate for Anwar El Ghazi to score.

Any striker with an ounce of conviction would have put the ball in the back of the net. However this has been the story of Aston Villa’s season. They simply haven’t been ruthless in the opposition’s penalty area. Villa have two games left and a possible winner-takes-all fixture away at West Ham on the last day of the season.

If Villa lose either of these games, Grealish must walk.

Did you know? Grealish has scored more goals (7), provided more assists (6) and created more chances (87) than any other Villa player in the Premier League this season.

Fernandes: He started slowly but by the end of the match was running the show for Manchester United again.

There was so much about Bruno Fernandes’ game that I liked against Crystal Palace but the ball through the legs of Luka Milivojevic which set up the goal for Anthony Martial was just wonderful. Since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon the Portugal international has become a star at United.

It’s hard to fathom why Fernandes’ arrival has transformed the performances of so many players. Marcus Rashford, Martial and Mason Greenwood, not to mention Matic and Paul Pogba, have all benefited since his arrival.

Did you know? Since his Premier League debut on 1 February, Fernandes has created 27 goal-scoring chances for team-mates in the competition, over twice as many as any other United player in that time.

Silva: Was that David Silva scurrying around Etihad Stadium like a 20-year-old against Bournemouth? There were moments in the game when I started to wonder where Silva gets the energy from, especially at this stage of his career.

Meanwhile, the tackle by Jefferson Lerma on the City captain just outside the box was always a recipe for disaster. Has Lerma learnt nothing while playing in the Premier league? Does he not yet realise that you can’t go crashing into tackles at the edge of your own box? Has he never seen Silva play or know what he can do with a dead ball? Well he does now.

Silva not only put City one up from the set-piece but he went on to make life extremely difficult for a Bournemouth side who might have got something out of the game had Lerma been more cautious.

Did you know? David Silva has scored and assisted in two of his past three Premier League games for Manchester City – prior to this run, he hadn’t done both in any of his previous 129 games in the competition.

Son: Son is in great form at the moment. His goal was well taken but his overall play is currently outstanding. However, these Jekyll and Hyde performances from Spurs are becoming a little wearing.

No-one knows what sort of performance you’re going to get from the north Londoners these days and Jose Mourinho’s post-match comment – “I’m not selfish but I only care about Spurs” – rather reflects the confusion in the ranks under his management recently.

It’s just as well Son is on top of his game at the moment. The South Korean might save Tottenham’s season and to some extent Mourinho’s overblown reputation.

Did you know? Son has had a direct hand in 21 Premier League goals this season (11 goals, 10 assists), now his best return in a single season in the competition.

Forwards – Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Harry Kane (Spurs), Gabriel Jesus (Man City)

Rashford: I must say since Marcus Rashford received all the plaudits for changing government policy regarding free school meals I think he has found it difficult to recover the form he had before his back injury. The emotional strain such attention must have had on Rashford cannot be overstated.

However, the England striker has worked his way back to his best and it was no better illustrated than by his goal and general work-rate against Crystal Palace. I’ve stood down Raul Jimenez and Alexandre Lacazette in my TOTW because of Rashford’s performance against Palace. The way he sat Joel Ward down and sent another two players with him before he coolly slotted the ball into the back of the net was pure genius.

Did you know? Marcus Rashford has scored 17 goals in 29 league games this season, as many as he managed in the previous two campaigns combined (68 apps).

Kane: The ball from Steven Bergwijn was sensational while the headed goal against Newcastle was routine for Harry Kane. The England captain positioned himself perfectly for his first goal and was courageous for his second.

For Kane to reach his 200th league goal is all the more remarkable when you consider he has not won a single trophy in an otherwise glittering career. Fortunately the striker is only 26, among the best in the world, and still has time.

He’s also playing for a club who look very unlikely to be playing Champions League football next season. The whole point of Mauricio Pochettino’s departure and Mourinho’s arrival was to bolster Tottenham’s chances of a top-four place. Wins against Arsenal and now Newcastle are fine but Tottenham seem to have gone backwards under Mourinho not forward.

Did you know? Harry Kane’s first strike was his 200th club career goal in his 350th appearance in all competitions, with 185 of his 201 goals coming for current club Spurs (Millwall (9), Leyton Orient (5) & Leicester (2)).

Gabriel Jesus: How sharp was Gabriel Jesus against Bournemouth? I said recently the Brazil international was no Sergio Aguero but the way he danced around the Bournemouth defence before placing a super strike past Aaron Ramsdale was of the highest quality.

Now I didn’t say the lad couldn’t play, or that he wasn’t top class, but if he’s going to replace the Argentine assassin then he’s going to have increase his goals-per-game ratio. In order to do that Jesus must also be far more ruthless in the box.

That said the game against Bournemouth was his 100th appearance and it takes at least that many games to become a seasoned professional so perhaps I might be treating him a little harshly.

Did you know? Gabriel Jesus has scored in 33 Premier League games for Manchester City and ended on the winning side in 32 of those (D1), a win ratio of 97% – the best of any player to have scored in at least 20 games in Premier League history.

The Crooks of the Matter

The decision to award Burnley a penalty against Wolves when Chris Wood performed his spectacular overhead kick was in my view a terrible decision. When I played, and I admit it was a very long time ago, bicycle kicks, as they were known then, were often considered dangerous play by officials. So you can imagine Wolves’ sense of outrage when Burnley were awarded a penalty by referee Mike Dean after Matt Doherty, in trying to defend Wood’s attempt at goal with an overhead kick, raised his arm to protect himself from a boot in the face.

For Dean’s decision to be endorsed by VAR only added insult to injury. The new rule, which stipulates that if the ball hits the hand or any part of the arm, for whatever reason, it constitutes an infringement, is a shocking law and does nothing to enhance the game. This change in the rule book has also robbed the game of its common sense and created a momentary obsession with the letter of the law.

Are we soon to be left with no traditions in football at all? Are the bureaucrats and the meddlers not satisfied that VAR has ripped the heart out of the game and now impose the letter of the law to take its soul away too?

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