That was huge! I scored a meagre 95 for GW19 and only managed a rank of 99, 954 for the week (yes, that was a blatant gloat, I’m not even trying to hide it). After weeks of suggestion to go for a ‘big five’ midfield, our expensive strikers decided it was time to have their say on the matter. Hope you kept Harry Kane! 😊
With the next gameweek upon in us already, it’s straight back into the action tonight! We should – hopefully – be back to normal for GW21!
Arsenal vs Liverpool; 3-3
This game couldn’t be more stereotypical of either side – Liverpool went ahead via to their stellar attacking unit, only for their defence to make their work redundant. For Arsenal, it was a typically embarrassing first-half, before their troops rallied at half-time and formed a second-half resurgence to almost topple Liverpool.
In the end, spoils were shared, and each team could – and should – feel disappointed with themselves.
Coutinho scored again and now sits at an average of 8ppg (disregarding his 12-minute cameo in the Merseyside derby), great option and still great value at 9.0m. He did have an uninspiring second-half and was, thus, substituted, which means he should be starting against Swansea on Boxing Day.
Salah scored again, water is wet (or isn’t it?) and grass is green (who knows nowadays), what’s new? In the 294 minutes Liverpool have played without Salah in the Premier League, the Reds have scored 3 goals (one of them an own goal) at 98 minutes per goal. In the 1436 minutes Liverpool have spent in the Premier League with Mo Salah on the pitch, Liverpool have scored 38 goals at a rate of 37.8 minutes per goal with the Egyptian being directly involved in 20 of them (15 goals and 5 assists). That is a damning statistic.
Essentially, if Salah is in the team, Liverpool will most likely score, if not, then don’t expect too many goals. Salah looks like scoring every time he gets the ball, a captain option every gameweek in almost every fixture.
Firmino also scored a goal, adding to his assist from earlier in the match, this is the fourth time this season that Firmino has both scored and assisted in the same match, is he closing in on some sort of record? In spite of that, he is still yet to regain my trust after he was directly involved in just three goals (two goals, one assist) in a 14-gameweek span, between GW4-17. He has my attention now after his last two gameweeks, however, I want to see more.
Arsenal’s three goals in a 288-second riot came out of nowhere, and it was quite impressive how they managed to re-define their performance after that atrocious first-half.
Ozil and Sanchez both got on the scoresheet, but the latter has disappointed us this season, and with his 11.8m price tag, his returns have been simply unsatisfactory, better options. Ozil’s form over these last 11 gameweeks has been well worth any investment, his 9.3m price tag places him in a price-bracket choc-full of options, and at just 2.7% ownership he is quite the POD. If you’re looking for something different, then he could be the one; POD + good fixtures + form = definite option. The only thing holding me back is his lean patches of games in his run of form, he is renowned for these patches and has already, this season, gone on two extended goalless runs (three games and then four games later on) where he picked up just two assists in the nine combined games, despite this, he has still averaged a respectable 6.8ppg since his GW9 start against Everton, consider.
Wenger went with Maitland-Niles yet again, who didn’t do a bad job on Salah, but was let down dramatically by the centre-pairing of Koscielny-Monreal and later, Koscielny-Mustafi. Kolasinac could yet again be forced to sit on the bench if Maitland-Niles’ fitness holds up as the latter’s form has been better than expected and worthy of a starting spot.
A few gameweeks ago I suggested Bellerin as the better alternative over Kolasinac, while I 100% did not see Kolasinac’s multiple, consecutive omissions coming, I’m going to claim it! Arsenal’s fixtures are quite good and their defensive form this season has gone under the radar a fair bit, they sit equal second on total clean sheets, consider Bellerin as alternative other expensive options.
Everton vs Chelsea; 0-0
Big Sam’s Everton revolution is well underway – 11 points from a possible 15 and results against two of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ is an incredible return, and one that has greatly benefited our FPL sides.
Rooney, DCL and the Everton defence have produced consistent returns since Allardyce’s appointment, and I can’t see those returns diminishing. United (H) and Spurs (A) in the next four gameweeks may be minor obstacles for our Everton players, but the fixtures surrounding those two games provide me with enough confidence to advise you to hold your Everton players, even the attackers.
Based on the result of this fixture, Chelsea must have taken a page out of Arsenal’s book recently. Chelsea dominated the match – the possession, number of shots and time spent in the final third, but they failed to lay the killer blow and once again struggled without their number nine, Morata.
Fortunately, Chelsea’s defence has been able to hold up in recent gameweeks (unlike their offence) and this marks their second consecutive clean sheet – third, if you owned Christensen – and their next two fixtures provide them with a great opportunity to continue their defensive form. Within the next two gameweeks, Chelsea will play host to both Brighton and Stoke and hopefully they will put both teams to the sword.
Over the last four gameweeks, Eden Hazard’s return have all but diminished, with just a singular assist to his name during this period of time. However, his Fantasy returns have not been a true representative of his form on the pitch and him being named WhoScored.com’s Chelsea man of the match against Everton is a testament to this, and is why I’m holding the Belgian for at least another gameweek. Morata should return from suspension this week after being yellow-carded for his highly offensive celebration, his fifth of the season, which resulted in a one-match suspension, Morata’s return should also mark the return of goals for Chelsea, who’s structure had diminished in the absence of their leading goal scorer.
Brighton vs Watford; 1-0
There was a distinct lack of finishing prowess in this game, with both teams squandering multiple opportunities that should have at least been on target.
Richarlison, again, was a culprit for Watford, while there was more than one for Brighton. Pascal Gross’ second-half strike was the difference between the two sides. Gomes maybe should have done better with Gross’ shot – he got down low enough and even got his hands to the ball, but failed to keep it out of the back of his net.
Gross’ goal marks the ninth goal that Gross has directly participated in, meaning he has now been involved in 60% of Brighton’s Premier League goals this season, my man. The goal also ended his six-game goal drought, and with good fixtures for the majority of the next nine gameweeks, it’s a good idea to monitor the German, who’s remarkable consistency from earlier in the season seems to have dissipated.
Watford’s good run of fixtures extends one gameweek further than Brighton’s. The Hornets’ next ten gameweeks are enticing, but their form is not, from out of nowhere Watford have plunged into irrelevancy. After advising investment in their defensive assets for the last few gameweeks, it may be best to hold off for now if you haven’t already invested in any of them. Prodl, Mariappa’s replacement, was less than impressive, while their full-backs weren’t too inspiring either.
Investment in their attack is also ill-advised for the time, and it might be time to get rid of Watford’s talisman, Richarlison. His return of one assist in the last four gameweeks is unsatisfactory, and like Gross, his remarkable consistency from earlier in the season seems to have taken a fair hit as well. I’m trying to trade him out this week.
Man City vs Bournemouth; 4-0
I don’t think City shifted out of second gear for this game, and they still managed to score four goals. What can you do except sit back, watch and enjoy this amazingly well-drilled City outfit?!
To summarise, buy Man City players and enjoy rewards.
Sterling was able to defeat the ‘most transferred in player blanking’ curse/disease thing with an impressive 13-point haul – his second consecutive double-figure haul.
Aguero scored two goals and made an assist – a lovely little flick that sent Sterling clear through, one-on-one with the keeper. Unfortunately, as good as Aguero was this week, he won’t be starting mid-week when Man City travel to St. James Park to tackle Newcastle.
De Bruyne, David Silva and Sane remain very viable options, despite the latter’s indifferent form – apart from his two assists against Spurs in GW18.
That’s all we need to know about Man City, stuff that most should know by now. Onto stuff most should also know – Bournemouth’s terrible form. Hopefully their good fixtures can help remedy their form.
Southampton vs Huddersfield; 1-1
The main strikers of both sides did their jobs this week, as both got on the score sheet, continuing their good form.
Southampton’s number 10, Charlie Austin, has been hit with a three-game suspension after he decided it was a good idea to intentionally kick the opponents goal keeper. Trade if you have him, monitor his return when he does come back from his suspension.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Laurent DePoitre managed to not kick the opponent’s goalkeeper while still scoring a goal and will be able to attempt to continue his good form as soon as this gameweek. Three goals and two assists in his last three matches is a fantastic return for someone at his price. How long can he keep this form up? No one knows, that’s the beauty of this game, but at 5.2m it’s low risk, but then again, the boat has most likely already sailed.
Stoke vs West Brom; 3-1
Mark Hughes saves his job for another gameweek with an impressive and encouraging win against fellow relegation battlers, West Brom.
Choupo-Moting’s man of the match performance was good enough to help collect all three points for Stoke, as his goal, assist and other involvements were instrumental in this Stoke victory. Yet another cheaper-priced midfielder reminding us of his early season form.
Choupo-Moting’s earlier season form was built on the back of his role as a striker, which also created the interest in him. Since Peter Crouch’s return to the starting team, Choupo-Moting has been forced out wide, back into a midfielder’s position, and these are his first returns since being shifted out wide. Stoke have a relatively good run of fixtures when you exclude both their travels to Chelsea and Man United, monitoring his progress before acquiring the Cameroonian would be well advised.
One mans progress I did advise to be monitored was Xherdan Shaqiri, and I stand by it, maybe don’t go bringing him in just yet with the aforementioned fixtures against Chelsea and United in the next four gameweeks.
Salomon Rondon scored his third West Brom goal for the season, and he probably could have had more than just the one. Under Pardew his performances have been much improved, as Pardew’s game plan relies heavily on the availability and success of a big number nine such as Rondon, and this ‘need’ of a big striker has helped Rondon become more involved. At 6.0m he is nearing the more expensive side of the cheap forward bracket, however, this price bracket is arguably the most difficult to analyse and options usually come-and-go with small bursts of form, is this Rondon’s?
Swansea vs Crystal Palace; 1-1
Despite Swansea’ terrible performance for the majority of the match, they still mustered to snatch a point, much to the delight of player-manager Leon Britton. Andre Awey’s late, second-half strike was enough to save a point for the Swans and cancel out Milivojevic’s penalty, his third of the season.
Both Palace and Swansea are about to enter a very difficult patch of fixtures, so investment in their assets would be ill-advised.
West Ham vs Newcastle 2-3
This result was definitely an unexpected one – a rejuvenated West Ham, under new manager, David Moyes, were expected to make easy work of a struggling Newcastle, who’s indifferent form had seen them drop from 7th to 18th in the space of nine gameweeks.
Henri Saivet’s first start for the season since returning from a loan spell at Saint Etienne was an eventful one. Saivet was at fault for Marko Arnautovic’s opening goal, sending the West Ham forward through with an errant back-pass. Saivet was then given a chance to make amends of his earlier deed when he was left in charge of a direct free-kick in shooting range, the Frenchman had no trouble converting the free-kick, curling the ball over the wall and past Adrian in goal, all in the opening 10 minutes. Saivet’s goal scoring record makes him irrelevant from the FPL side of things.
One man who is FPL relevant is Arnautovic, he started as a lone striker this week, after starting alongside Michail Antonio up front in previous weeks. The Austrian scored his third goal in four games and I’m struggling to hold back from transferring him in – I can’t have too many too many blanks in GW21.
Newcastle had the bulk of the opportunities from then on, but struggled in front of goal, with Ritchie and Gayle both hitting the woodwork.
Newcastle got what they deserved not too long after half-time when Atsu nutmegged his defender and squared the ball into the box for an on-rushing Diame to slot into the top corner against his former club, not FPL relevant.
Ayew’s missed penalty came just three minutes later, and five minutes after that Atsu doubled the lead for Newcastle, making it 1-3. However, Ayew was soon able to get West Ham back in the game, scoring from close range after Rob Elliot saved Carroll’s headed shot. Ayew has previously been quite relevant to FPL, but this season he has struggled to break in, and then cement his place in the West Ham starting XI. Ayew came in for the suspended Lanzini, who is out for another gameweek, and will slot straight back in the line-up, whether he manages to displace Michail Antonio, the other man in the Hammers’ three-pronged attack, is another story and its plot remains incomplete.
Burnley vs Spurs; 0-3
Did you keep Harry? I sincerely hope you did. This is the first time that Burnley had conceded three goals for 23 consecutive gameweeks, keeping in mind they finished 16th last season, making this run of form even more incredible, but Kane finally broke that run of form and did it in style.
I can’t really say much more about Kane than I already have in recent weeks, he has been set and forget for me since August, and he will be until next August unless injury strikes it’s cursed hand.
Alli provided two assists for Kane, with one being an FPL assist for the striker’s converted penalty. These two assists represent the first returns the 21-year-old has mustered since Tottenham’s GW9 demolition of Liverpool. Alli has been a shadow of his former self, and we saw glimpses of his ‘former self’ this game, but not enough. He has returned premium-like numbers for the past two seasons, so we can’t ride him off completely, but then again, he is just 21, so inconsistencies must be expected. Keep an eye on his form, as when he is in form he can be devastating.
This performance isn’t really what we have come to expect of Burnley, so for now it can be noted as a one off, but with fixtures against four more of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ in coming weeks I wouldn’t expect too many returns. Admittedly, Burnley started without three of their regular defenders – Ward, Lowton and Tarkowski – which meant that the Clarets were already handicapped even before kick-off. With this in mind, it was clear that Burnley tried to go head-to-head with Tottenham as they were more attack-minded than usual, and it didn’t really work out for them, so I think it will be back to business next gameweek.
Tarkowski is suspended until GW22 and Ward is still under an injury cloud, while Lowton seems to have recovered. Essentially, by the time Burnley’s fixtures turn for the better, their main defenders should be fit once again, and we can once again enjoy the fruits of the Burnley defence.
Leicester vs Man United; 2-2
Lingard missed an open goal excluding a sliding Wes Morgan on the goal line, Rashford tried to go past Kasper Schemichel and failed and Martial squandered a golden opportunity after he was sent clean through by Lukaku. That is basically the story of this game – United could have and should have won, but were made to pay the price of their missed opportunities when in the last minute of stoppage time Harry Maguire volleyed home from an awesome Albrighton cross.
Leicester also could have had a penalty earlier when Smalling leapt over Maguire in the box, pinning him down with his arms in the process, but John Moss ignored the appeal.
Vardy scored his first goal in five gameweeks, but Leicester’s dodgy upcoming fixtures remain an obstacle in Vardy’s journey back to form. Mahrez made the assist for Vardy and continues his stellar and underappreciated FPL season, he remains a very viable option in midfield.
Pogba’s return coincided with another ‘leaky’ defence – a trend that is beginning to worry me. Both Burnley and Southampton will travel to Old Trafford in the coming two gameweeks and they should be sure things for clean sheets, or at least for the ‘old’ United they were. In all seriousness, they better collect two clean sheets in their next two games or I’ll unleash my wrath on Jones’ transfer out button.
Hopefully this quick(ish) summary is satisfactory enough for your Christmas reading, and hopefully you had as good a gameweek as I did.
The DGW is fast apporoaching so keep that in mind, GW22 involves two games played by both West Ham and Tottenham, so be aware if you’re going to trade any of their players in this gameweek as they’ll be missing in action in GW21!
Lastly, Merry Christmas to you all, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, then I hope you enjoy your days off and watch as much football as you can!