Another week that was largely defined by your captain choice. Aguero got it done, and some, for his owners, while Kane’s goal ensured those that captained the English number 10 weren’t hung out to dry. But it was Salah and his Liverpool team mates that let us down. For just the second time in 14 gameweeks, Salah returned from a game empty-handed and left many owners wondering, what if?
A modest average of 50 points meant that you would have needed a score in the 60s to rise from most rankings. Only a select few of the big hitters returned this gameweek, so rising in rank would have proved to be difficult.
Let’s see what we can take from the gameweek gone past!
Brighton vs Chelsea; 0-4
Last week I said that I thought that this would have been a hard-fought victory for Chelsea, but a victory nonetheless. How wrong I was. Not even six minutes had gone past and Brighton found themselves two goals down leaving my ‘prediction’ as nothing but a laughing stock.
Chelsea scored just two more goals for the rest of the game, but still thoroughly controlled the flow and pace for the majority of the 90 minutes. Brighton had two solid penalty shouts waved away by referee John Moss, but I believe both penalties should have been given.
Ezequiel Schelotto was the man that was fouled both times Brighton thought they had a penalty. The first penalty shout came as a result of a late challenge by Willy Caballero, Chelsea’s debutant who was standing in for the injured Thibaut Courtois (who should return for GW25). Tiemoué Bakayoko fouled the Schelotto later in the piece, catching the Argentinian’s trailing leg in the box. Had the penalties been – rightfully – awarded and then converted, Chelsea would have found themselves in a stalemate at 2-2. Damn John Moss, I could have looked less of a fool if he gave them!
Nevertheless, Chelsea won the game very convincingly and it was through a front three of Hazard, Willian and Batshuayi, as the latter was entrusted to atone for Morata’s absence. The trio combined for three goals and two assists, running riot against a five-man Brighton defence. Hazard’s two goals raised his three-gameweek average to 9ppg, coincidentally, his return to form began the gameweek I transferred him out…
As mentioned in previous weeks, Hazard’s game-breaking, barnstorming runs of form where he can record multiple 10+ point hauls just over a few gameweeks, can break open your season. Unfortunately, pin-pointing these ‘runs’ of form can be near impossible to do (unless you have a crystal ball handy). His hefty 10.6m price-tag means that if you’re going to bring him in, you have to be prepared to fork out the big bucks for the Belgian and by doing that, you may have to restructure your squad. Chelsea’s next three games are just begging for a typical Chelsea thrashing. Bou (H), Wat (A), WBA (H) are fixtures that would tempt any manager, and with Hazard in the form that he is in, it would be more than reasonable to purchase the in-form winger. With plenty of options at cheaper prices, propelling themselves into contention with their own purple patches, we are left to wonder if the 10.6m spent on Hazard is worth it over someone like Arnautovic at 7.1m, or either of the Man City wingers in Sterling (8.9m) and Sane (8.4m). I’m sticking with the cheaper options for now, as you’ll have to do some restructuring to be able to afford Hazard and with Aguero and Kane at the peak of their powers, I’d be investing in either of the forward pair, long-term.
Willian was another who did some major damage to Brighton, but his erratic appearances in the starting XI make it very difficult to recommend him. He is a temptation that is best avoided at the moment, unless he becomes more nailed on in future gameweeks.
The victory-to-nil marked Chelsea’s sixth clean sheet in their last seven games, that is an insane run of defensive form. Unfortunately, for those of us (me included) who own Christensen, it was only two clean sheets in that same period (three in his last eight). The young centre-back was taken off after a head-clash just before the hour-mark, the second game in a row where the Danishman has played just 57 minutes and consequently missed out on a second consecutive clean sheet. As frustrating as it has been – especially with Alonso doing what he has been doing – I think it’s best to hold Christensen, his lack of points in recent gameweeks has been a result of Conte being a dud. Obviously, the Italian manager is coming last in his FPL league and decided to tank the rest of the teams in the league by omitting Christensen all the times that he has in the past few gameweeks.
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace; I can’t remember the score, sorry
Funnily enough, I think my TV – and all displays displaying the score for that matter – were faulty, so I won’t be spending too much time on this game which I think is best for all of us.
Seriously though, that is the most uncharacraterisitc opening 25 minutes I have seen this season. Considering the form both teams were in, I fully expected this to be a rather tight affair and for Palace to be within reach of Arsenal in the final 15 minutes, but they most certainly were not.
12 minutes in Arsenal were up 3-0, and not much longer it was 4-0 meaning that just 21 minutes in, the game was over. Monreal had a goal and two assists within the first 12 minutes and was precautionarily substituted just 20 minutes later, it really was bizarre stuff.
Crystal Palace were that bad in the opening 25 minutes that they let Lacaztte score his first goal in nine games, in all competitions. They also let Iwobi score himself one as well, great stuff. On Iwobi though, with Sanchez gone he was slotted straight in, but with Mkhitariyan’s transfer now official, I don’t think that the 21-year old Nigerian winger will enjoy much more time in the starting XI.
The loss was just Crystal Palace’s second in their last 13 Premier League fixtures, with both of them being inflicted by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. As they don’t play the Gunners for the rest of the season, I believe their form (disregarding the results against Arsenal) will continue, for the time being at least. If you have any Palace assets then I would hold for at least three gameweeks, but after that I would be looking to get rid of them if I was you. They face four of the top six in a five-gameweek period, and as good as Palace have been against the top teams in recent times, it’s hard to say if they will keep any clean sheets or not, but they should keep scoring goals.
Burnley vs Mancehster United; 0-1
United managed to beat Burnley at their own game here – score a goal and go 1-0 up and then just defend for the rest of the game. This was a very hard-fought three points for the Manchester club, a physically testing contest for both clubs, but the expected result prevailed in the end. In fairness to Burnley, they probably deserved a point, but I don’t care about that because Phil Jones notched another nine points (clean sheet + maximum BP) and once again carried my FPL defence.
United’s fixtures means Jones – and the rest of the United defence – remain long-term options. Don’t fall into the Luke Shaw trap, although Mourinho said he “…doesn’t see many better left-backs in the world today”, he also went on to say, “That’s a decision you can make, when you have two players and a good squad, and you can adapt”. That’s Mourinho’s way of saying that neither Shaw nor Young will be enjoying any long-term runs in the team. Valencia, Jones and De Gea remain the only players locked-in the United defence; Bailly is always injured and the left-back position is uncertain each week.
Martial’s third goal in as many games came as a result of great work from Romelu Lukaku, he hustled and bustled his way into Burnley’s final third – from the half-way line – and then sent through Martial to finish it off. As tempting as it is to rush in and bring Martial on the back of some great form, it’s possibly best to hold off for at least one gameweek longer. With Sanchez’s arrival confirmed, one of the United attackers will have to make way. Lingard is almost a like-for-like replacement (albeit, of lesser quality) and in my eyes, he seems the most likely candidate to be replaced, but Mourinho does as he pleases on the selection table. All season he has rotated between multiple formations and combinations of attacker, how he accommodates for Sanchez is beknown to me (in terms of formation and personnel) and it will most likely end up being a weekly thing.
While we’re on Sanchez I need to point out that he is still one monster of a player who has experienced a ‘sub-par’ season, in-terms of FPL returns. He will be one to watch when he gets on the pitch for United, as in his best season he was a lock in every FPL side. I’m backing him to flourish from the get-go at United, it seems some have forgotten just how good he is.
Everton vs West Brom; 1-1
Solomon Rondon in tears, watching on, as James McCarthy laid on the floor in the agony of a leg break, was the picture of the game, and most likely the thing that most will remember from an otherwise stale affair. West Brom were in control for the majority of the match as they took advantage of a listless Everton, seemingly bereft of any confidence after having not tasted victory for six straight games (now seven).
Theo Walcott made his debut as both Yannick Bolasie and Wayne Rooney were relegated to the bench, but still featured after being substituted on later in the piece. Walcott struggled to make any meaningful impact apart from his assist, and the same goes with second-gamer, Cenk Tosun. The Turkish international made his home debut, but it was most certainly nothing to write home about. He had zero shots and one successful dribble, to be fair to him, Everton – as a team – failed to produce much quality themselves.
Judging by the outcome of this game and how it played out, it may take a while for Everton’s new signing s to gel. Bolasie, Rooney, Siggurdson, Walcott, Vlasic and Tosun (in any combination) will take time to form a playing partnership, but when they do I expect them to be a successful crop of players. My eye is on Walcott. Walcott’s historical participations in FPL have been fairly understated due to his injury troubles over the past few seasons. In the four seasons that Walcott has played over 1500 minutes he has averaged over 5.5pp90min, and in two of those seasons, he averaged over 7pp90min (2010/11 – 7.1; 2012/13 – 7.6). Over the last 5 seasons he has averaged a goal every 120 minutes, while scoring 37 goals and making 14 assists from 76 starts meaning that he hasn’t just relied on super-sub appearances build his impressive record.
The real measure of a FPL prospect is their performances in comparison to those similarly priced to themselves. Taking the same time frame as above (the past five seasons) for Walcott, I measured his stats of the past five seasons against several of his competitors. Walcott’s stats meant that he ranked first for shots per 90 minutes (3.3), but second last for key passes per 90 minutes (1.2) compared to the rest of the list. This suggests to me that Walcott has the ability to match his competitors. Keeping in mind that Walcott is priced quite generously at 7.1m, less than three of the below players and equal with Arnautovic, he presents great value. Below is the list of players, ranked accordingly.
Shots per 90 minutes: Pogba (3.2); Richarlison (3.1); Martial (2.8); Son (2.7); Ramsey (2.8); Arnautovic (2.6); Lingard (2.2); Lanzini (1.7)
Key passes per 90 minutes: Pogba (2.2); Lanzini (2); Son (1.8); Martial (1.8); Lingard (1.6); Ramsey (1.4); Arnautovic (1.4); Richarlison (1)
Leicester vs Watford; 2-0
A fairly evenly contested game, but it was the home side that took their chances and that was the difference in the end. Both sides had “two or three scoring chances” (according to the losing coach, anyway), fortunately for Leicester they had two in-form players in Mahrez and Vardy to finish their chances.
After Watford managed to get the better of Leicester in the reverse fixture, a large scalp for Watford amidst a horrid run of form, Leicester had little trouble claiming the spoils this time around.
In Marco Silva’s last game in charge of the Hornets, his team failed to muster many noteworthy chances. A disallowed Deeney goal and a blocked Andre Gray shot was as close as the out of form Watford came.
The visitors finished the game with three strikers and two wingers on the pitch which left their threadbare of protection and an easy target for an in-form Riyad Mahrez who scored the stoppage-time sealer.
It’s business as usual from an FPL sense – Mahrez is an impeccable midfield option, but he shouldn’t rise before the GW25 at least. Vardy is also a decent forward option and three goals in six games is not a bad return, but your precious money would be better spent in midfield or on the big forwards (basically just Kane and Aguero).
Stoke vs Huddersfield; 2-0
With both teams down in a huge slump in form (compared to their best), it was a good chance for both managers to get some points against a fellow relegation candidate. It was Paul Lambert, on debut, who rolled up his sleeves (literally) and managed his side to win. Lambert’s men dominated from start to finish and barely let Huddersfield in for a look at their goal.
The ex-Wolves coach demands his sides to push forward and compete like Stoke did against Huddersfield in GW24. He commands his players to attack the ball, and the player, and to remain hungry throughout the match, and by doing this he gets the best out of players and makes the club’s home ground a fortress. Players like Diouf, Choupo-Moting and Shaqiri should all be on your radar with Lambert as coach – they’re all right down his lane in terms of the players he gets the best out of, those that are undervalued and have something to prove. All three of the above players got amongst the attacking returns in their win against Stoke.
Lambert’s arrival saw a few players return to their favoured roles, an immediate reflection of how Lambert utilizes his players to the best of their ability. He doesn’t try and get too fancy with formations and player roles, but instead gives players the chance to impress in their favoured roles.
Diouf returned to the lone striker role, displacing Crouch, returning to a role that he cherishes and one where he has thrived in during recent seasons. Earlier in the season there was a string of games where Diouf returned to the lone striker role, albeit quite temporarily. During that string of games, I highlighted his success in that position in recent years here.
Another change to the starting XI was Joe Allen’s shift from the centre-mid position to CAM, playing in the number 10 role behind Diouf. This season, Allen has been deployed in the CAM role just three times and in those three games he has returned two goals and two assists which can’t be coincidence. If Allen’s role, in the number-10 position, is to continue, then he must be considered as an option at such a cheap price of just 5.1m.
With this all-in mind, in addition to the constant threats of Shaqiri (averaging 2.2spg and 2.3kppg) and Choupo-Moting (2.2spg and 0.7kppg), it’s going to be hard to differentiate between each option. Unfortunately, Stoke aren’t in any domestic competitions any more so the only opportunities we’ll get to watch this Stoke side will be in the Premier League.
Without knowing much about his previous two teams (Wolves and Blackburn), Lambert’s defensive records aren’t something to write home about. Just 20 clean sheets in his 66 combined games as manager for both clubs. At Stoke he’ll have some strong defensive talent, that if coached correctly, could bring home some clean sheets. The immensely talented duo of Jack Butland and Kurt Zouma, along with the ever-present Ryan Shawcros, could carry Stoke’s back-line to some defensive success in the near future. Mortiz Bauer comes in at 4.5m and is the cheapest route into the Stoke defence, if you want to go down that path.
West Ham vs Bournemouth; 1-1
Apart from an Arnautovic “assist”, this was a fairly disappointing game for most FPL managers. Zero clean sheets and two goals from two lesser owned players (most of Chicharito’s ownership would be inactive, I would assume) reads for a fairly poor fantasy game.
This was a fairly tense game between two similarly-placed teams, and West Ham got their noses in front mid-way through the second-half, somewhat, against the run of play. It didn’t take long for West Ham to rectify the situation and nullify Ryan Fraser’s goal, his third (plus an assist) in as many starts. The problem with Fraser is that he doesn’t have the greatest goal-scoring track record. Just the 15 goals in his 144 senior appearances for three clubs (Aberdeen, Bournemouth and Ipswich). I personally don’t see Fraser’s run continuing for too long as it does go against some fairly damning statistics, but then again, stats aren’t everything.
However, I am interested in the other goal-scorer, Chicharito. With the confirmation of Arnautovic’s injury coming in over the gameweek break, he is reported to be out for four Premier League games, so he won’t be returning for another month. Andy Carroll is also quite “injured” at the moment as well, so it just leaves Chicharito to take the striker mantle until his Austrian counterpart, Arnautovic, returns. At 6.7m he sits at a very awkward price and it would be a short-term risk as his form this season has been underwhelming. Despite his great record in front of goal, with a goal every 142 minutes in the Bundesliga and 176 minutes in his first four seasons in the Premier League, in previous seasons, it remains to be seen whether or not he can be a successful short-term option for us.
As previously mentioned, Arnautovic is out for four weeks and he is not the only West Ham regular that will be absent from the team. Arthur Masauaku has been suspended for six weeks, for spitting, which presents a good opportunity to evict him from our FPL sides, he has scored just eight points in the last six gameweeks, I wish I could take back how much I hyped him up! Lanzini’s absence has also been confirmed and it is feared his absence will last longer than either of the two aforementioned players. It’s a disappointing ‘situation’ as both Arnautovic and Lanzini were in great form for our FPL squads. It’s a worrying time for West Ham now.
Manchester City vs Newcastle; 3-1
Man City’s big four all got involved this game, but there was only one man that really mattered – Sergio Aguero, the man, the myth, the legend. In a week where three of the top four captain choices combined for 15 points (Kane – 8; Salah – 2; Lukaku – 5), Aguero’s 17-point haul means just that little bit more. If you captained Aguero you would have seen a fair rise in the rankings, no doubt, but if you didn’t, then it wouldn’t have been so easy.
Jacob Murphy had to ruin City’s perfect FPL game when he scored in the 67th minute, but then again, I don’t own a Man City defender, so I couldn’t be happier.
Sterling, Sane and KDB made an assist each, a small consolation if you were one of the unfortunate ones not to own Aguero (suckers).
City face three of the top seven defensive sides – in terms of clean sheets and goals conceded – over the next five weeks, but fear not, difficult fixtures haven’t stopped them before. City scored 12 goals in the reverse fixtures, at an average of 2.4 goals per game. That for me, is enough to hold any City assets over the next five fixtures, they’re an incredible team in immense form with unbelievable players. I think Aguero’s proved his trust in the very least.
Their defence is a different story though, zero clean sheets in three games isn’t great form, even Otamendi’s goals have dried up. Only Arsenal and Liverpool, of the big six, have decent upcoming fixtures, and they happen to be the worst two defensive teams in the big six category, so there is a viable reason to hold your City defenders – a lack of options. They did return three clean sheets in the reverse fixtures, and there is a big possibility that history can repeat itself.
Southampton vs Tottenham; 1-1
Both goals were scored in the opening 20 minutes, and until the last 15 minutes or so, nothing really happened this game. It became a game of who could take the most unnecessary and most worthless pot shots from long range, Southampton came out winners. The middle 50-55 minutes of this game was very timid and frustrating for neutral and non-neutral fans alike. Tottenham took 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes and closing 15 minutes, combined, compared to just 7 otherwise, while Southampton’s ratio was not much better as they took 6 shots in the opening and closing 35 minutes compared to the rest of the 90.
With Southampton on a winless run of 10 games, Davinson Sanchez thought he would try his best to help release some pressure on Mauricio Pellegrino. Sanchez put the ball in his own net just 11 minutes in, turning the ball in from a low, Ryan Bertrand, cross from down the left-hand side. Of course, as usual, Harry Kane was on-hand to rectify the situation and headed in from six yards via a Ben Davies corner. In addition to his goal, Kane picked up two BP and gave his managers a handy, yet unsatisfactory, eight points.
As mentioned in DGW23’s review, Harry Kane FC’s (I’m a bit late on that one, I know) fixtures aren’t so pleasant, but as I also mentioned Harry Kane’s form against his upcoming opponents isn’t the worst. 10 goals and two assists in twelve combined games against Arsenal and Liverpool, who’s defence has been proven to be very leaky at times this season, that is certainly something to hold on to. Of course, Kane has a polar opposite history against United, with just one goal in seven appearances against the Red Devils, in the Premier League.
The other Spurs asset I own, Heung Min Son, has a form line that almost demands his managers to keep him. Unfortunately, for us, there is no real history behind Son in the Premier League, so evaluating him comes down to – purely – gut feel and form. Son’s form since cementing his place in the side has been undeniably impressive and it doesn’t take stats to convince us of this, well, except for this one really: 6 goals and five assists in his last 10 starts is a great return for someone priced at 8.2m.
That’s the first half of his form we need to consider, the second-half revolves around his form against his upcoming opponents, a form line which isn’t all that impressive – one goal in two starts and a 15-minute cameo against United, Liverpool and Arsenal, respectively, in the reverse fixtures this season. Two of his next three games are at Wembley where he has more than excelled this season; five goals and five assists from five starts at his home ground is an incredible return, and it is something that can’t be ignored. With both Arnautovic and Masauaku out injured, I’ve got no choice but to ride the Son wave into shore and see how far it can take me.
If you have a spare transfer, I would hold it and save it for a rainy day. It’s difficult to say how (or if) Son’s form will deviate over the next three gameweeks with no historical data.
Swansea vs Liverpool; 1-0
Only Liverpool. You couldn’t even script this, actually, it’s Liverpool so you could have. Beat the Premier League’s best ever team, up to this point of the season (based on total points accumulated) and then the next week, lose to a side whose manager has been in charge for less than a month and a team that had no hope in hell of surviving the drop when he took charge. Now look at them (Swansea).
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat relieved and assuaged by the fact that all 11 Liverpool players had blanked, meaning all those who captained a Liverpool player, or even owned one, was probably worse off than I was this gaewmeweek. Nevertheless, when you’re in the form Salah is in and have the talent and tools of Firmino and Mane and even the Ox, then you can’t be held down for too long. In fact, it was a case of ‘how didn’t the ball go in’ for Liverpool, they created the opportunities, but forgot their finishing boots at home. Don’t do anything too rash, hold them.
For their defence, in their defence they didn’t have van Dijk work his magic this game, so hopefully that makes a vast difference to their FPL and PL outlay. Hang on… Wasn’t van Dijk’s terrible header that ricocheted of Fernandez and into Mawson’s path? Odd, never knew that Swansea had £75 in their kitty, could be a Cayman Islands bank sorta thing then.
My pick of the Liverpool defence remains as Gomez, if you pair him up with TAA, and own both of them, you’re fail-proof and clear of any rotation risks – if one gets rested, then the other is guaranteed to play.
As for Swansea, their reincarnation under Carvahal has been an immense and they are still rising. 15th placed in the Championship, Carvahal was before he got fired, now he has managed to collect 7 points from a possible 12 with last-placed Swansea and their limited funds at his disposal, including two wins against members of the top 10. Their fixtures are still pretty rough – they face three more members of the top 10 in the next three gameweeks, I’d hold off investing just yet, just to be safe.
That wraps up gameweek 24, hopefully it does you some good. Again, it was another late one and I’m terribly sorry for the wait (if you’re still waiting, that’s loyalty to a T!). Everything’s calmed down now over here in Perth, so hopefully I can get back to firing them out not too long after the GW has finished.
If you’ve got any questions that I can answer before the next gameweek is upon us, then fire them through. I’ll be watching like a hawk to see if any come up!
Cheers, good luck for gameweek 25!