Did you keep Kane? I hope you did! Harry was the backbone of many green arrows last week, including mine and in a week where not many of the big guns fired, his return to form was much welcomed.
With this hectic Decmber period now upon us, the quick turn around of gameweeks is here with the next round of fixtures beginning in just over 24 hours! So, lets get straight into it.
West Ham vs Chelsea; 1-0
Moyseh! David Moyes’ return to the Premier League has been greatly welcomed by all West Ham fans after their team put in a stellar performance last week against this season’s champions Man City, only narrowly succumbing to a 95th minute winner. Now they’ve gone and taken down last season’s champions, Chelsea.
With the number of attackers (three strikers plus Andre Ayew) on the bench outnumbering the defenders (three – including Joe Hart as the substitute keeper), it was clear what Moyes’ plan was from the onset – defend, defend and defend some more and hope for a goal on the counter. If that doesn’t work, then bring on any of the aforementioned attackers on and increase your hope for a goal. What Moyes didn’t expect, was for his ‘plan A’ to work within the space of six minutes.
Marko Arnautovic landed the first – and subsequently, fatal blow – for West Ham in the sixth minute. After his clever exchange with Manuel Lanzini which put him through 1v1 with Christensen, he curled his shot around Christensen’s leg, into the far bottom corner. Arnautovic’s goal sent the home crowd into raptures in the stands, where Arnautovic decided to join them for his celebration, which led to his yellow card. Arnautovic has been incredibly inconsistent and also incredibly angry over the last season and a half of football and has teased us Fantasy coaches for the entirety of this period after his breakout season in the 2015/16 campaign. With the appointment of a new manager, there can be a re-emergence of once forgotten Fantasy players, can Arnautovic fit into this category?
As incredible a result this was for West Ham, it was equally un-incredible for Chelsea and for us FPL coaches. The entirety of the Chelsea team blanked in a 1-0 defeat to relegation-stricken West Ham, not good.
Eden Hazard fell victim to the ‘most transferred in player blanking’ curse (that’s a mouthful), as Mo Salah remains the only player since GW9 to deliver any returns after being the most transferred in player of the week. Hazard failed to make an impact in the game, only having one decent opportunity fall to him late in the game, which he squandered from outside the box.
Hazard’s 10.8m counterpart, Alvaro Morata, also failed to leave his mark at London Stadium as he failed to make the most of his very limited opportunities as many-a-cross became ‘almost’s’ rather than goals. Hold steady with these attackers as Huddersfield (A) presents a great opportunity for reprieve.
Burnley vs Watford; 1-0
How good have Burnley been this season! Their ever-growing number of ugly 1-0 victories has left them out of the limelight for the entirety of the season. The Clarets now sit seventh in the Premier League, two points – and goal difference – outside of a Champions League place… Could they?
Burnley’s fifth 1-0 victory this season came courtesy of Scott Arfield’s second goal of his campaign, moving on.
This 1-0 victory also marks Burnley’s seventh clean sheet of the season, their incredible defensive success demands investment and Nick Pope remains the pick of the bunch. Pope is always a chance for save points as Burnley are the kings of frustrating their opponents, leading to them taking long-range and meaningless pot shots from 30 yards out, meaning Pope has ample opportunity to pad his stats. Save points also equals bonus points. Nick Pope is also second – only to David De Gea – in ppg and first in bonus points, since he started playing in GW4.
The other big thing from this game was Richarlison’s blank and his current attacking returns drought, spanning three games so far. Let’s not forget that in that time he has faced Man City, Tottenham and Burnley, if you take a quick look at his upcoming fixtures, then I think you would be inclined to hold.
Investment in the Watford defence is also advised.
Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth; 2-2
Christian Benteke, my goodness. The rage and anger I had to hold back at 1am on Sunday morning, here in Perth, in fear of waking up any neighbours or family was insurmountable.
We’ve come this close in recent weeks to victory, that when we were (rightfully) awarded that last minute penalty, I made the classic mistake of celebrating before the deed had been done, assuming it was Luka Milivojevic – the designated penalty taker – who would take the penalty. Oh how wrong I was. Not only was it not Milivojevic who stepped up to take the penalty, who mind you, had already scored a penalty earlier that game, but it was Christian Benteke who wrestled the ball off of Milivojevic to take the penalty. Benteke, the striker who had not scored since May and had missed two out of five of his penalties in a Crystal Palace shirt, heck I would’ve preferred Scott Dann to have stepped up to the spot to replace that pathetic excuse of a penalty (mind the profanities in the video). In the linked video, after you’ve had your laugh, listen to the fans chant for “Luka” (Milivojevic) before the penalty is taken, and then watch Luka (number 4) at the edge of the box and Wilf Zaha (no. 11), at the opposite side of the box, and watch how they react. That’s my rant for the week, I’m still reeling from the incident, can’t believe it. I guess, on the other hand, had Benteke scored it, we would have hailed his composure, eagerness and hunger for goals and maybe even looked back at that moment as the start of a very important goalscoring run, but it was not to be.
As for the game, Bournemouth have stolen a point here, a rather undeserved point, in my (bias) point of view. It was one Jermain Defoe who became the saviour for Bournemouth as his Marco Van Basten-like wonder goal rescued a point for the Cherries. It seems the only way Palace concede is through absolute flukes/wonder-goals (think Giroud and Caroll last season) or absolutely horrid defensive mistakes (Scott Dann and Chung Yung Lee, I’m looking at you).
Wilf Zaha was amazing once again and won both penalties for Palace, he didn’t have too many opportunities in front of goal and hopefully he can produce more next gameweek against Watford.
This fixture marks the end of Bournemouth’s easy run of fixtures, they now enter a hellish period where they face three of the current top six in the next three gameweeks, sell any Bournemouth assets.
Huddersfield vs Brighton; 2-0
Huddersfield won a crucial three points in a game between two of the promoted teams. The Terriers simply wanted it more than Brighton, who looked particularly flat and unenergetic in attack, not registering a shot on target until the 79th minute.
Steve Mounie scored his first goals since his debut in the opening gameweek this season. He was prolific last season in Ligue 1 and looked quite threatening in the weeks after his brace against Palace, but he picked up an injury somewhere between GW 3-4. Since then, Mounie hasn’t been able to make consecutive starts since his return in GW 9, this brace should see him start at least next gameweek at home to Chelsea. After this, Huddersfield face a considerably enticing run of fixtures up until GW24. I have been wary of Huddersfield since they entered the Premier League and I still am wary now, especially of their attack. In saying that, Mounie could be the solution to their problems, at 5.7m it’s not too much of a risk and he does have considerably better fixtures than all other ‘cheap’ forwards. Keep in mind that Huddersfield have only managed six goals since their opening wins in the first two gameweeks.
Huddersfield’s fixtures also make their very affordable defenders enticing options, Zanka at 4.5m also comes with the added attacking threat from set pieces.
As for Brighton, they seemed to have hit a rough patch in their form line, conceding seven goals in their last two games, as many as they conceded in the previous eight fixtures before them. Brighton also have reasonably good fixtures for the foreseeable future, up until GW28. Lewis Dunk comes in at 4.4m, but he has scored more own goals than bonus points he has earnt. My pick of the bunch would be their keeper, Matt Ryan, who comes in at 4.5m and is the highest scoring player in Brighton’s defensive third. Brighton and Watford’s fixtures rotate quite well with each other, you can successfully navigate your way past all the tough fixtures and rotate all home fixtures (except for one gameweek), until the New Year.
Swansea vs West Brom; 1-0
Wilfried Bony is on the scoresheet for the second consecutive week for Swansea as he continues to go from strength to strength (somewhat), and every week he beings to look more like the Bony of old, the Fantasy bargain. Unfortunately, as noted previously, Swansea have an extremely tough run of fixtures on the horizon which – considering everything – form, ability and potential, you can’t really assume it would be too fruitful for Bony or any of his Swansea team mates.
West Brom’s fixtures aren’t too flattering either, they face three of the top six within the next five gameweeks, that can’t be too enjoyably for them or for us Fantasy managers alike. I will again say that it still would be wise to monitor how they progress over this period as it does begin to open up for them afterwards, gradually.
Spurs vs Stoke; 5-1
Music to my ears. I was at first worried when I had heard that Kane had missed a sitter (I was busy raging over the Palace game) and feared the Kane of recent weeks was still here, lingering and haunting our teams. However, my fears were soon quashed as Kane bagged his brace, scoring me – and many – 24 precious points. As is the common trend with Kane this season, he could have had one or two more before the game was done.
Despite his two goals, Kane was not awarded man of the match as that honour was given to Heung-Min Son for his one goal, two assists and many other involvements in the game. This is the South Korean’s fifth goal in his last six starts, and as he was last season, he remains an incredible tease. His price is ever-so-tempting yet his minutes are ever-so-limited despite his consistent form over the past season and a half of football. Last season he went at 7.6 pp90min and this season he is going at 6.8 pp90min, showing that last season’s form was no fluke. Despite his consistent returns, Pochettino remains adamant in employing him as an impact player, meaning his minutes and numbers will most likely not change. It is up to you whether or not you want to take the plunge and buy someone who is not guaranteed 90 minutes weekly. What is inspiring is that Son has managed eight starts in the last ten gameweeks, the best run of his career in Tottenham colours, meaning we could see him play consistent minutes and become a potential Fantasy beast.
This defeat marks Stoke’s fourth consecutive four goal defeat to Tottenham, with Shawcross’ goal being Stoke’s first goal against them since August, 2015. No one expected Stoke to mount too much resistance to Spurs’ attack and to be brutally honest, Stoke were lucky that Harry Kane and some of his team mates didn’t have both pairs of finishing boots on, otherwise it could’ve been a lot worse. The Potters’ fixtures clear up after they visit Burnley at Turf Moor next gameweek, and despite this, I wouldn’t consider their defence, it has been far from solid enough for one of our prized five defensive slots. However, Shaqiri remains a constant threat, having Stoke’s best opportunity apart from the goal, you could do much worse at 6.1m.
Newcastle vs Leicester; 2-3
In a game where neither team played particularly well and which both teams have themselves to blame for all the goals, it was Leicester who took the full share of the spoils, spoiling Newcastle’s 125-year anniversary party in the process.
Joselu opened the scoring for Newcastle inside four minutes, their quickest goal since November 2013. Dwight Gayle’s pace and movement off the ball caught Leicester’s defence sleeping and he slipped in behind them before cutting it back to one very free Joselu. Gayle went from provider to scorer for the second goal, scoring with his only shot on target for the game. Gayle now has two goals in his last two games and three in his last four starts in the Premier League as he is beginning to assert himself as a starter for Newcastle. The Englishman has never really been a consistent starter in the Prermier League, throughout his three seasons at Crystal Palace, he only managed to play more than 1000 minutes just once, despite having no major injuries. It will be interesting to see how Gayle progresses over the course of this festive month, with plenty of games to play.
Mahrez opened the scoring with a long-range effort which should have been saved by Karl Darlow, who was a bit slow off the mark in goal. Mahrez has gone quite under the radar this season, since GW8 he has gone at 6.6ppg, showing incredible consistency, he remains an option despite some tougher fixtures on the horizon.
The other goalscorer of note is Demarai Gray. This was Gray’s second consecutive game starting in-behind Vardy in a 4-4-1-1 formation. At 5.3m, Gray is incredibly cheap and he also plays in a very Fantasy friendly role in a team that has scored the second most amount of goals outside of the top six. Leicester’s fixtures are fairly choppy over the next 7 gameweeks so Gray presents himself as a perfect rotation option at a lowly 5.3m, rotation option only.
Southampton vs Arsenal; 1-1
Charlie Austin continues to make a fool of Claudio Pellegrino as he scores his fourth goal in his three starts this season, which have all come in the last four gameweeks. Austin is just another cheap striker to have scored this weekend, creating a headache for any manager looking for a downgrade in that category. Unfortunately, Southmpton’s horror run of fixtures will continue as they face three of the top six in their next five gameweeks. After that it does become relatively easier for Austin and Southampton so just monitor until then.
Arsenal got on the scoresheet very late thanks to super-sub Olivier Giroud who yet again, managed to rescue some points for the Gunners. In what would not be a pretty statistic for Arsenal fans, Giroud has now scored half (4) as many goals as Lacazette (8) in less than a quarter of the minutes. Giroud remains a non-option because of his minutes, avoid.
Arsenal’s fixtures are significantly easier now that they have finished this tough run of fixtures where they faced United, Tottenhm, City and Burnley (A). They now play six of the bottom seven teams (including Crystal Palace twice) over the next nine gameweeks, dream run – almost. Bellerin is nice and cheap at just 5.9m, whereas his opposite wingback, Kolasinac, comes in at 0.3m extra, personally I’d settle for Bellerin, he may not be as fruitful in attack as Kolasinac, but has proven in recent seasons he can be a menace.
Liverpool vs Everton; 1-1
Mohammed Salah, what did we do to deserve you!? He laughed in the face of Harry Kane’s resurgence to be the joint highest goal scorer by scoring a delicious goal to boost him back up as outright leader in the race for the golden boot. His goal showed his surprising strength, control, finesse and finishing ability, he is a God amongst men in the Premier League this season.
Salah should have had the opportunity to add to his tally and regain his two-goal advantage at the top of the charts, but teammate Sadio Mane decided to go it alone, squandering his shot despite there being three free Liverpool players in the box at the time of his shot.
Mane was left to rue that moment after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was brought down in the box by the notorious Dejan Lovren. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the penalty, scoring his first ever goal in a Merseyside derby and sealing a very unlikely point, away at Anfield.
Both Liverpool and Everton have a fairly kind next five gameweeks where they face at least three members of the bottom six with a game against one of the top six, sandwiched in-between. These games present a good chance for each team to collect clean sheet points, namely Jonjo Kenny and Joe Gomez, while attacking points are surely on the menu for any of Liverpool’s many attacking options or one of Everton’s front men – Rooney, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or Sigurdsson.
The biggest thing to be wary of is the rotation up top for Liverpool. Liverpool have six players capable of playing in the front three, in any combination, and with such short turnaround, we can expect heavy rotation over the next month of fixtures.
Man United vs Man City; 1-2
The Manchester derby, in years gone past it was often one of the games of the season, however this wasn’t the best. I stayed up until the end of this match at 2am, for the second consecutive night and was met with a low-quality game, considering the high-quality of the players on the pitch.
In the end, all three goals came as a result of a defensive mistake rather than a superb show of quality, very disappointing. Romelu Lukaku was the centre of attention for the first time in nine gameweeks, albeit for the opposite team. Lukaku’s attempt to clear the ball that led to the second goal was absolutely comical for a man costing £75 million, his performance wasn’t much better, neither was United’s. They’re a lost team without Pogba, at least this season has shown how important Paul Pogba is to any team he plays in, he is absolutely vital.
If it wasn’t for a couple of very classy saves from David De Gea, the score line could have been bad reading for United fans. City dominated from the get-go and it’s almost like Mourinho parked the bus without actually parking the bus, leading to a dominance of possession from City and several entries into the final third that ultimately led to nothing. United were defending the whole game and that showed when you looked at the final stats, they had just the 8 shots in total and enjoyed a mere 35.2% of the possession, not pretty reading.
United and City will both enjoy a relatively easy month of fixtures ahead, with City’s good fixtures than spanning beyond that – every fixture is a good fixture for them. Both teams will face a lot of rotation in this period, especially City, Pep will undoubtedly put us through hell. Business should be as usual in two gameweeks when Pogba returns for United, as for City, it’s just who scores the next goal and how much they win the next game by.
I had to do this all in one sitting because of the very short turnaround, I learn a lot about myself in this time, my posterior gets numb very quickly and I can go hours without drinking any water and not experience any symptoms of a headache, before realising I haven’t had any water in hours and then have a very, very bad headache. In essence what I’m trying to say is, hopefully the review isn’t too bad!
Anyway, get your teams ready because the next gameweek is fast approaching, make your transfers, set your captains and hit the ‘Save Your Team’ button! This is often the period where that button is forgotten about the most, it could end up very bad, and I speak from past experience.
Did you have Harry Kane or Mohammed Salah as captain, or did you not? As a follow up question, did you leave the house this weekend, or did you not? Let us know how you went in the comments!