As always our man Jerome is back with a monster review of the latest gameweeks action! There’s an international break ahead of us, so have the weekend off. Enjoy!
Huddersfield vs Tottenham; 0-4
I think we all expected a Spurs win at the end of this game, but I honestly thought it would be a bit closer as Huddersfield have proven to be tough to break down, probably a bit naïve of me considering their defence cost less than £10 million and they were coming up against a dual-Golden Boot winner – Harry Kane.
The man needs no introduction (maybe after yearly, after August – no, I still can’t get over this and will never stop), all is almost forgotten for those of you who have owned him since the start of the season, where he started off with three blanks (poor – or stupid – Matt gave him the armband all three times). Since then, he has returned three braces and an embarrassing blank against Swansea (at home – can we call Wembley their home yet? Again, this will never stop until I’m proven wrong) to go with multiple hat-tricks over the European games and the international breaks, he is in some form and I would hate not to own him (Matt, to his credit, did say countless times that this would be the case). Get him in, he could have had four, one week he will and you’ll rue the day you ignored him.
In a 4-0 rout, there were two names noticeably missing from the goals and assists – Alli and Eriksen, somewhat depressing for their owners who would expect returns in such a result. After my big critique of Bamidele last week, he responded this week and showed on the weekend, much of what he hasn’t for most of the season: he ran into space, made space and was as unpredictable as ever and he should have had a goal for his work, nonetheless the masses have banished him from their teams for the time being, a costly mistake I believe. The Bournemouth and Liverpool defences won’t pose too much of a threat for him and his Spurs counterparts, but the grounds of Wembley might, I’m hoping they can break their hoodoo in the coming gameweeks, hold Alli and Erisken.
The Spurs wingbacks put on an incredible show as well, with one of Trippier or Davies having a direct ‘hand’ in all four goals. Serge Aurier comes back after the international break and will make things interesting for Trippier who has held his own, and some, this season, he should hold his spot for gameweek 8, after that it could be a week-to-week proposition? Who know, Davies the more expensive, but safer option.
Nothing really to say on Huddersfield except that after my glowing appraisal last week where I said, “They were not to be taken lightly”, they were taken lightly, classic. In all seriousness, they started off the game quite well and were just unlucky that they were facing Harry Kane and not Vincent Janssen.
Bournemouth vs Leciester; 0-0
A fairly underwhelming result for two teams with high attacking intents, especially Leicester who were very lacklustre in attack in comparison to some recent performances. At the end of this game, Bournemouth should have drove off into the sunset, happily, with three points, instead they had to settle for one. The Cherries had 19 shots total, 11 more than their opponents, yet they only forced Kasper Schmeichel into four saves, highly ineffective to say the least.
Defoe struck the crossbar early on and had it been just a couple of centimetres lower (I’ll use real metrics this time round, not that fake British stuff), it would have rebounded in. Just minutes later, Marc Pugh saw his on-target shot, deflect off of Danny Simpson’s hand and out for a corner, Simpsons got away with one there I think, the referee missed that penalty which could have been the decider. After that, Bournemouth tried everything within their power to score, they were the most dominant team, no doubt, but they couldn’t find the back of the net, let alone a shot on target. Pugh was the main culprit for Eddie Howe’s men, taking five shots with zero being on target (blocked shots don’t count as on-target as far as I’m aware).
In a shocking move that saw Riyad Mahrez warm the bench for the start of the game, Craig Shakespeare handed Demarai Gray his first start of the season over the Algerian. Gray wasn’t actually too bad and had Leicester actually shown up that game, maybe he would have gotten a chance to produce something, but it was not to be and I don’t think Mahrez will be starting on the bench again any time soon. Shinji Okazaki had a chance to rob Bournemouth in the last ten minutes of the game with a golden opportunity after it rolled off Vardy’s heel into his path but he squandered his chance and the game ended with a draw.
This was Bournemouths’s first clean sheet of the season and just Leicester’s second, their defences aren’t relevant at the moment. I’d still avoid all of Bournemouth’s assets for the time being, they face Tottenham and Chelsea in the next three gameweeks but after that their fixtures do open up, could be a good rotation option then, but it’s a no for now. Leciester have an interesting six weeks of fixtures coming up, hold if you have their attacking options.
Man United vs Crystal Palace; 4-0
When will it end! Please God just make it stop! I’ve gone 630 minutes of Premier League football this season without witnessing a Crystal Palace goal, and I still believe we can score against Chelsea, although I’ve thought that about all of our games this season bar this one, it’s gonna happen sooner or later. Onto the game…
United made easy work of Crystal Palace, they didn’t even look like they were trying most of the game. It was like a game of adults versus the kids on Christmas day, the adults would let the kids play around with the ball for a bit before they’d take it and score a goal just to keep them in their place, United did this four times, tough viewing. United’s first goal actual came courtesy of one of their ‘kids’ in Rashford toying with the adult in Joel Ward before sending a low cross along the ground for Mata to finish, easy. Fellaini scored the next one and the one after that and tried to fit about three different FIFA celebrations in each celebration, maybe they can all be combined as one if you’re using Marouane Fellaini in FIFA 19? Then as usual, Lukaku popped up for a goal after doing absolutely nothing all game. Same story every week, United go a couple goals up and send in Martial to try and help get Lukaku on the scoreboard to justify their £75 million signing, moving on.
Despite some absolutely shambolic performances, I still believe Palace can survive this season, call me crazy, deluded, an absolute idiot or whatever you like but I refuse to believe it, it’ll probably happen by the looks of things, though they’re only five points from safety. In some good news for Palace, Zaha should be re-joining the first team training sessions during the international break, I don’t think he’ll get a start against Chelsea but don’t rule it out against Newcastle, at 6.7m he is highly discounted but joins uninspiring and misfiring Palace attack, could be real value at that price. I’m trying to talk about something other than the game because every time I think about this one and the last one, it makes me want to cry, how’s the weather been lately?
Stoke vs Southampton; 2-1
When two mid-table sides clash, you never really know what’s going to happen. Will it be a goal fest? Will it be a dire 0-0 outcome or a 3-0 domination? This wasn’t any of those but still proved to be an interesting game, Stoke came up trumps in the end but Southampton had their opportunities to level the winnings and sneak one point at the Bet365 Stadium (can we get a name change, please?). Peter Crouch was the saviour for Stoke once again, particularly Saido Berahino who is becoming a real problem for Mark Hughes as he missed yet another penalty, his third since coming to the Britannia Stadium (much better) as he still searches for his first goal for the Potters, surely 2-meter-Peter (a reference for our Aussie readers) can get a starting gig soon!
Pellegrino’s persistence with Shane Long almost paid off earlier on in the game only for the striker to smash to headers against the cross-bar from two Cedric crosses (I could’ve used an extra three points!). He made up for it – in a sense – as he flicked on a Soufiane Boufal cross for Maya Yoshida to acrobatically send the ball into the back of the net. Manolo Gabbiadini was the culprit for Southampton in the final minutes as he couldn’t quite connect with separate attempts in separate attacks with one of them being cleared off the line. Charlie Austin also found his way onto the pitch in the dying stages of the game as he managed just the one shot in his four-minutes on the ground, meaning Southampton’s striker crisis continues, avoid them all.
Striker-turned-defender Mame Biram Diouf scored his first for the season remains irrelevant as he is the worst kind of out-of-position player – he plays further back than his listed position, maybe one for next year if he is listed as a defender. It was Shaqiri’s corner that Diouf was able to finish, this means that the Swiss-meatball has now averaged just over six points in the last month of football. Shaqiri has always been a sporadic player in terms of FPL returns but has looked more consistent than the last couple of seasons, one to keep an eye on at 5.9m, I don’t have the cojona’s to do it but he certainly has the talent and we’re still left waiting for his breakout season. Bandwagon-pick Choupo-Moting grabbed an assist as he had his goal stolen by Peter Crouch in the 85th minute who still remains an option at 5.6m, he had the equal-most shots on the pitch from the left-forward position in a 3-4-2-1 formation, but only managed an assist for his efforts, hold.
Southampton still have a decent run of fixtures left, with their next four games presenting potential clean-sheets and with Van Dijk back they should, hypothetically, tighten up at the back but the Dutchman seemed like he had his mind elsewhere, his lazy challenge lead to a Stoke penalty. Unless you can get one of the Southampton defenders up to a premium option, hold them, not many cheaper options representing real value. Stoke also have good fixtures after they visit travel to the blue-side of Manchester next week, but they have proven they can score against anyone (we’ll give them a reprieve for their effort against Chelsea considering their defence was ravaged by injury which changed their whole game-plan). Watchlist their cheaper midfield options and also their defence and monitor how that goes.
West Brom vs Watford; 2-2
Richarlison was the hero for the second consecutive week for Watford, waiting until the fifth minute of the four minutes of extra time (yes, you read that right) to score the equaliser, that’s how late it was. He put his name in the lights down at Vicarage Road, yet again with his effort and also in FPL, making him the fifth highest scoring midfielder so far, this season. Not to be outdone, his mate Doucoure scored from another deflected shot (was probably going to be a goal anyway), making him the sixth highest scoring mid of the season, lesson learnt for the next FPL campaign – just lock in a cheap Watford midfielder and enjoy the ride.
West Brom have themselves to blame as they were held to a draw, at home for the third time this season in another game where they went in as favourites. Craig Dawson’s attacking exploits left the Baggies open at the back which led to Watford’s first goal and they conceded in a (extra) last minute free-kick, usually a strength of theirs is defending these sorts of situations, everyone back, parking the bus in the last minute, deflating stuff for West Brom fans. I can’t see them keeping many-a-clean sheet in the next six weeks either, so if you haven’t already, transfer them out.
Not really much else from this game and for the future FPL prospects of both teams, both have worrying fixtures in the next four to six weeks of football (after the break, of course) and it would be a surprise if either kept two clean sheets in that period of time. If you’ve got Richarlison or even Dourcore you could probably hold, none of the cheap midfield options at less than 6.0m are representing any real value at the moment but you could always jump on the Fellaini bandwagon…
West Ham vs Swansea; 1-0
Another uninspiring West Ham display triggered boos and jeers from their fans as they were headed for another disappointing result, step-in Diafra Sakho.The wantaway striker came to the rescue for the struggling West Ham as he turned in an Arthur Masuaku cross who notched up his second assist in his second consecutive appearance from the bench. Swansea could consider themselves unlucky as they defended well and stuck to their game plan all game it seemed, but their attacking struggles continue up front, managing only one shot on target all game, making it just 11 for the season.
Andy Carroll was the one who looked most likely for the Hammers as every time a cross came in he was always threatening to latch onto it and send it past Fabianksi. Michail Antonio was the one who sent in the better crosses for Carroll and co., he looked quite dangerous on the right flank when given the opportunity, monitor him for now, same with Andy Carroll, for as long as he is fit anyway.
For Swansea, Wilfried Bony was the one who managed their only shot on target for the game, a 25 metre (real metrics, it feels good) strike which was easily parried by Joe Hart in goal. Bony was substituted on half-time and my experiment with the Ivorian striker at 6.0m is dwindling away as he continues to fail to make a statement on his return to the Swans outfit. Tammy Abraham and Jordan Ayew managed just one shot between them the whole game as yet another team search for an answer to their goal-scoring woes.
Both teams enter a period with unfavourable fixtures after games continue after the international break, with winnable games are mixed in with games they’ll go in as underdogs. Swansea’s cheap options are rotatable down back if you really want to keep them or if you have more pressing issues, while West Ham are difficult to read, they consistently put in lacklustre performances yet still come away with results or some positives from the game, maybe we’re expecting too much from them? Monitor their options.
Chelsea vs Man City; 0-1
It was Kevin De Bruyne who was the difference as he continues to make a fool of the men at Chelsea who decided he was surplus to requirements, leading the visitors to victory, winning three points which could prove to be vital come the end of the season. A low scoring affair for two teams who combined for a winning aggregate of 9-0 just last week. However, this game produced a predictably low scoring result as Antonio Conte went in with a very defensively minded line-up, with only two players ahead of a five-man midfield, while Pep Guardiola opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation which would help nullify the attacking exploits of Chelsea’s wing-backs. Chelsea from the get-go were seemingly playing for a draw as they feared the potential of City’s attack, as had they had gone head-to-head with the raging bull that is currently Manchester City, the result would have been a lot worse considering the form of Pep Guardiola’s men.
Hazard was deemed fit enough to start for the first time this season in the Premier League for Chelsea and he slotted in just nicely behind Alvaro Morata who was subsequently substituted after struggling with a hamstring complaint. While, in Sergio Aguero’s absence from a car accident which left his car ‘written off’, Gabriel Jesus was handed a start in an opportunity to impress Pep.
City unleashed attack after attack onto Chelsea’s defence who proved good enough for a large period of the game as City came within centimetres (sounds weird saying centimetres instead of inches about football) of scoring on multiple occasions but Chelsea hung on. It took a stunning strike from De Bruyne in the 67th minute to break Chelsea’s defence and pierce Courtois goal line, after this Chelsea turned on attack mode and within a few minutes Pedro and Batshuayi found themselves on the pitch alongside Willian, who had come on for Morata earlier on in the game. As a result of these substitutions, Hazard was brought back to the bench as it was this time deemed he was not fit enough to carry out the game. Nonetheless, despite Chelsea’s attempt they failed to find the back of the net and City came away 1-0 winners.
This victory makes it four wins to nil, in a row for City as they make their way to the top of the table after a barnstorming run that came after a disappointing start to the campaign. Stones and Otamendi serve as the cheapest routes into the City defence at 5.6m and 5.7m respectively and with their next three fixtures posing big opportunities for clean sheets, it is worth investing in them if you can, and the same goes for their attacking options. Despite not scoring, Sterling still had a good game in the attacking third, finding his way into the box on multiple occasions, Jesus came close to scoring more than once while David Silva, uncharacteristically, fired several threatening shots at goal. De Bruyne was the big accumulator this time round for City as he was the only one to return a double figure haul which was encouraging for his managers as he managed just the three assists over the last three Premier League fixtures where the men in sky-blue managed 16 goals.
As for Chelsea, Morata has been ruled out for around five to six weeks meaning Conte is face with a dilemma; does he resist the urge to let Bat-man rot away on the bench and in the League Cups and gift us a very enticing out-of-position midfielder by playing one of his wingers as the main man in a false-nine or as a striker or do we find ourselves with an 8.1m main striker for Chelsea for the next five weeks at least? This will be a ‘wait and see’ prospect as I’m not sure what will happen, but if Batshuayi gets a start and gets on the scoresheet, we won’t hear the end of his complaints about his FIFA rating.
Arsenal vs Brighton; 2-0
An easy 2-0 victory for Arsenal as they continue on their good form since that horrific display at Anfield just over a month ago. The clean sheet also makes it four in four for the Gunners in a period where all three of their wing-backs have been directly involved in one goal, impressive stuff. Alexis Sanchez also had an impressive display and had a shot cleared off the line, one of three for Arsenal as Kolasinac and Mustafi both had efforts cleared off the line. After last week’s effort where Sanchez could’ve had a hat-trick, the Chilean could have had one, possibly two this week, one week it will all fall for him and we’ll be scrambling to get him in, breaking our banks for the 11.9m man. Ramsey also continued his good form without scoring, managing to miss from six metres out, Lacazette saw his shot early in the game smash back off the post while even Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud had good scoring opportunities after coming off the bench, Arsenal were impressive yet again.
Brighton did come close to scoring on a couple of occasions as well but didn’t really worry the Arsenal defence too much, Davy Propper almost scored a worldie from 25 metres out after a well-worked free-kick but saw his shot, like Lacazette’s, crash off the post. Pascal Gross was yet again the best in attack for Brighton over the 90 minutes. The Gulls face a bunch of mid-table sides over the next five gameweeks, alternating between home and away games which represent some intriguing fixtures. They’ve been impressive this season, not conceding more than two goals in a game and only nine in total, but have only managed five goals for the season which could prove to be their downfall. Again, if you really want any of their attacking options, Gross is still your man, their fixtures aren’t bad and are about as good as they’ll get for the newly promoted side, two of their defenders also come in at a lowly 4.4m if you need some cheap options.
In terms of fixtures for Arsenal, the outlook isn’t too bad, their next three weeks present some good opportunities to score as well as keep a clean sheet or two, hold both their defensive and offensive assets. However, watch what happens with their attacking options as both Welbeck and Ozil are expected back after the break, a change of formation could be imminent or Ozil could just slot straight back in behind Laca and next to Sanchez, I think it will be the latter.
Everton vs Burnley; 0-1
After starting the season so promisingly, Everton have dropped off a bit in recent times, in their defence they had to play four of last season’s top six, one after another for four gameweeks, but since then they just managed to scrape past Bournemouth and have now lost at home to Burnley. To Burnley’s credit, they defended quite well, they denied Everton any clear-cut opportunities and after their goal they just parked the bus and played the counter.
Rooney was dropped for the first time as last week’s hero, Oumar Niasse was handed just his fourth Premier League start in 20 months (how’s that for persistence!), unfortunately for him he wasn’t able to finish as well as he did last week and was eventually substituted. Calvert-Lewin remains a constant threat for Everton up front, he’s really lively and doesn’t stop moving in the front third for Everton. Their next game is an away trip to Brighton and then they face a visit from Arsenal in a fixture that they regularly lose, they’ll struggle in the next two games if their form stays the same and they’ll be facing two losses if it does, they’re in struggle town at the moment, avoid their players for now.
Burnley have themselves a mixed bag of upcoming fixtures, fixtures that can go either way really, but apart from Chris Wood up front (who was actually quite anonymous this game) I wouldn’t consider any of their options. Stephen Ward’s price has now risen to 4.6m, so there goes that value, after I talked up his attacking exploits last week, he has gone and got himself some actual returns this week on top of a clean sheet which led to his price rise. The other defensive options for the Clarets don’t present any real attacking threat going forward.
Newcastle vs Liverpool; 1-1
After looking so damn good at the start of the season and in the first few games, Liverpool have hit a brick wall since they were towelled up by Man City all not so long ago, they’ve returned to their old ways here. Liverpool managed 17 shots to 8, but get this, they had just two on target, TWO out of SEVENTEEN, deplorable, absolutely vintage Liverpool (if you can call the last couple of years ‘vintage’). Newcastle on the other hand managed to hit five of their eight shots on target in an impressive display where they challenged Liverpool and thoroughly deserved to come away with a point from this.
Liverpool called upon Phillipe Coutinho again to provide some magic and spark in the 29th minute, he curled a sparkling ball into the top corner, vintage Coutinho if anything, but of course was his only shot on target and of course his only shot in the box. Joselu followed up with a goal just seven minutes later after Matip and Lovren left him acres of space right in between them, seriously, how did he find that much space? Liverpool are going to need more than Virgil van Dijk to fix that problem. To be fair, it was still a good ball from Jonjo Shelvey, but his job was made a little bit easier by the absolutely diabolical marking of two Liverpool centre-backs.
Daniel Sturridge was awarded his very first start for the season in a fully fit Liverpool attack but I don’t think he will get many more, despite how poor Firmino has been in the last few weeks, he still provides much more than Sturridge. I’d expect him to start when the Premier League resumes after the break, maybe a change in formation is on the cards for Jurgen Klopp, they need to try something different after their last month of football.
Newcastle played a very good game overall, they were able to nullify the influence of Liverpool’s front three by denying them the opportunity to use their pace and make runs in-behind their defence. As usual, in attack they relied on the counter to get their opportunities as they only had 33% possession. Shelvey had the most shots on goal for Newcastle, three for the game as Newcastle failed to produce many opportunities in attack.
For both teams, avoid their defences completely, they’re horrible, this comes just after both sides were starting to look good in defence, at the start of the season. Liverpool face two very in-form teams in Spurs and United in the next two gameweeks, but I can honestly see them mounting some sort of resistance against both sides, despite their current form, so don’t worry about their attacking options. Coutinho is still a bargain at 8.9m, unfortunately, it looks like he will rise in price over the international break so you’ll have to move quickly if you want him. As for Newcastle, they’re up against two stingy sides in Burnley and Southampton in the next month, combined with games against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth so there is definitely goals in the next month for the Toon with Ritchie the best option from Newcastle, don’t go rushing him in though.
That’s it from me for another two weeks as the second of the depressing international breaks are upon us. I actually managed to move up in the rankings for the first time this season with 59 as captain Kane and Ben Davies made up 42 of my points! My rank still remains confidential as it is just utterly horrendous and embarrassing and I’ll only make it known once it is no longer seven figures!
Let us know how you faired in the comments and your Fantasy plans for the international break.