As far as international breaks go that was relatively entertaining! We had France give Ukraine a 2 goal head start but came up victorious in the return leg to book their tickets to Rio, where they’ll inevitably implode and not make it past the group stage. There was the successful new dawn of Australian football under Ange, albeit against a lacklustre and weakened Costa Rica. We also had the special treat of “captain” Lucas Neill further endear himself to the home support by abusing them, during the game. England was beaten twice at Wembley (first time since 1977 that has happened). And… That was about it. Thank god the EPL is back and it starts off with a bang as Everton host Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby as the early game on Saturday!
To be honest there’s not too many standout POD’s at the moment, but there are quite a few that are on the verge. As such, I don’t want to risk my reputation (lol) and put my name against any one player half heartedly. Instead I’ll name them all half heartedly. But, with the strong advice of watch listing them. If any of them decide to go big in the next week or two, I would move on them immediately.
Wilfried Bony – 3.8% (7.4m)
I had to include this bloke. It’s impossible to ignore the weight of goals he scored last season in the Dutch Eredivisie (31 from 30). He hasn’t really shown that same instinct as much this season but it can take a while to settle in the EPL, especially when you come from a lower tier league. Also, if you remember last season Swansea operated for most of it without a recognised striker. Yes Michu played there, but he’s not a striker. So you could suggest that Swansea have to learn how to actually play with a proper striker again! The last game they played before the break he got on the scoresheet twice which is not quite enough to say Bony has made it in the EPL yet. But it does give a heavy hint that he might be getting there. It will be hard for some of us to fit a Bony-priced striker in our teams, with a lot of us going for 3 premium priced players here. But if you haven’t, and have the third striker being a cheaper option, then keep an eye on him. If his shot stats start to rise, in particular his shots on target, then it’s only a matter of time before he puts them away consistently.
Theo Walcott – 3.6% (9.1m)
If you recall my piece on Arsenal a couple of weeks ago, I outlined in their tactical discussion that they like to operate with a right winger that moves into striking positions. You could suggest that this position was designed for Theo Walcott. A year or two ago, Theo had a bit of a whinge about wanting to play as a striker and threatened to leave the club to seek more opportunities to play there. Cue him being played as striker for a handful of games, where he showed a little but not quite enough to take the job full time. It seems this little cameo showed enough striker type skills to Wenger for him to create a position for him, and hence the wing striker was implemented with quite a bit of success. At the slightest hint of full fitness, Walcott will be back in the Arsenal team and it won’t take long for him to start scoring points again.
Stephane Sessengnon – 2.8% (6.6m)
Love this bloke. I remember a few years ago when he was playing for Sunderland he was tearing it up. It didn’t last long to be fair and he was horribly inconsistent, but when he was doing what he was doing it sure was fun to watch. For whatever reason, he went south at the Mackems and he didn’t look like he wasn’t enjoying himself for much of the last 18 months. It could have been the ongoing employment of Martin O’Neil as gaffer and his uber defensive tactics that stifled his attacking flair. Sessegnon doesn’t do defence. He does attack. He was moved on in the offseason to West Brom where he has taken a bit of time to find his place in the team. It seems he’s found that now, and it could mean a lot more attacking returns to add to the past couple of games. Awkwardly priced however and risky due to past consistency problems, but would be a great POD if he gets past that.
Leandro Bacuna – 1.8% (4.7m)
Note to Paul Lambert. PLAY HIM ON THE WING!!! Bacuna is one of the up and coming young stars of world football, he just hasn’t received the same amount of hype of some others. The fact he went to Aston Villa could be seen as a bit of a surprise, but it gives him a great opportunity to get his game together with a group of other youngsters coming through the ranks at Villa Park. But he’s not going to make his name at full back. If Lowton can get back to playing in that position permanently, it will free Bacuna to play further up the field where I reckon he could be superb value at this price. It could well be that this little stint in defence is part of a learning curve being forced upon him by the boss, let’s hope he learns he never wants to play there again. He’s already shown that he can go big in points with 2 scores in excess of 10. When (not if) he develops some consistency, I’ll be queuing up to pick him.
Stephen Ireland – 0.2% (4.7m)
What a shame Ireland’s career turned out the way it did… He had the season to end all seasons at Man City in 2008/09, but it turned bitterly sour. There’s been a lot written about this so I won’t go into it here, but maybe you have to hit rock bottom before you can realise your potential? Stoke probably represents his last chance to do that. He’s getting more regular game time in recent weeks, and with Stoke starting to find the back of the net again Ireland could get amongst it.
Vlad Chiriches – 0.2% (5.3m)
Seriously? 0.2%??? A lot of us wondered why Spurs let Caulker go at the start of the season. Well it only took 11 GWs to see why. Chiriches is why. Vlad is as smooth a defender as the EPL has seen and is only 24 years old. He was held back for a few games before making his EPL debut against Villa in GW8, then he played all of the next couple of games. All three games were clean sheets. There could be a question mark over his place in the team with them having Dawson and Vertonghen (who has found a niche on the left this season), as well as Kaboul. If Spurs stick to a backline of Vertonghen, Dawson, Chiriches and Walker then Vlad could be a good way into this high scoring defence, and at this price represents the cheapest of the lot. He’s nursing a sore nose at the moment but should be fine to play.
That’ll do for today. I hope I haven’t wrecked anyone’s secret weapon like I usually do!