A large turnaround between gameweeks may have caught some people off guard, as I know it almost did for me.
An average of 47 points is probably less than you would expect or want at this stage of the season, but that’s most likely due to the amount of ghost teams in the competition!
This gameweek started on deadline day and finished the day later, so there will be some interesting moves to discuss within the next week. Let’s see what we can get out of this gameweek!
Swansea vs Arsenal; 3-1
Lol. I promise you guys, I can’t find another word to describe Arsenal’s performances.
You can’t help, but laugh, and bask in the hilarity of Arsenal’s performance, just to escape those of your own team. There is no better relief. But as bad as Arsenal played, Swansea played just as good. The Swans had the best of the opportunities and thoroughly deserved the victory. Arsenal on the other hand, played like they did before their win last week against Palace. Seriously, how do you go from scoring 4 in 20 minutes against a team that had lost just once from their past 12 games, to conceding 3 against the – statistically – worst team in the league. I can’t fathom being an Arsenal supporter – or a Liverpool supporter, for that matter –, it would be mentally draining.
A couple of gameweeks ago, after Swansea’s draw with Newcastle, I advised you to ignore all Swansea assets until after GW27. If you were one of the few who, then, thought better of trading in any Swansea player, then I apologise, but I most certainly did not see this coming – two wins against top six teams. And if anyone does tell you they saw this coming, terminate your relationship with them because they are downright lying, I can tell you that with full confidence.
Carvahal’s ability to completely rejuvenate and reform a dejected Swansea side, that was labouring in last place with a metaphorical mile between them and 19th placed West Brom, has been phenomenal. He has been able to re-oil the rusting cogs of the Swansea machine, in such a short space of time, to such effect. I would still wait until after Swansea face Burnley in GW27, until you invest in any Swansea player.
My eye would still be firmly on Ayew, who’s scored three goals in the five games that Carvahal has been in charge. His stats aren’t significantly different, in fact he averages 0.18spg less in games that he has started under Carvahal (2spg) compared to games he started under Paul Clement (2.18). Ayew just seems to be getting in better positions than he was before, there isn’t much more to it. EDIT: I wrote this snippet on Ayew before his transfer, now that he has transferred to West Ham, it rules him out as an option.
I’m also fairly interested in Swansea’s defence. They conceded 31 goals at 1.55 per game in the 20 games before Carvahal’s appointment, compared to just 5 goals in their last five games, which included 4 fixtures against opponents placed in the top 10. The Welsh side face 7 teams, currently in the bottom 10, in their last 11 fixtures of the 2017/18 season.
Arsenal, in comparison, face 7 of the bottom 10 teams in their remaining 13 fixtures, so their fixture list is relatively more difficult, but their defensive form is maintainable over this period. However, over the next three gameweeks, their defence could be stretched. The Gunners face Everton (no clean sheet from their last three games), Tottenham (one clean sheet from their last eight) and Man City (no clean sheet from their last six), and as you can see, Arsene Wenger’s men do struggle, defensively, against these three teams. You can always go for a quick fix option in this case, Chelsea’s next three games represent solid clean sheet opportunities for the men in Royal Blue and if you were to double up on a Chelsea defender over the next three weeks because of it, I don’t believe it would be in vain.
West Ham vs Crystal Palace; 1-1
With injuries taking their toll on both teams, it was important for both sides to not drop points against a fellow relegation battler. In the end, the two London-based teams shared the spoils in what was a lacklustre and rather dire affair.
I woke up at 3:30am, here in Perth, Australia, to – hopefully – enjoy, what was supposed to be, an entertaining 90 minutes of football. By the 60th minute, I was almost fast asleep, so I decided to ‘split the screen’ and watch Swansea humiliate Arsenal, simultaneously, which meant that waking up, ridiculously early, was worth it, and it was in no thanks to Crystal Palace.
Both of the goals came in the first-half, and nothing else really happened that half, and there was probably less action in the second-half, so I won’t bore you with this game too much.
Christian Benteke’s second goal of the season, and fourth goal contribution in in as many games, has put many-a-manger on high alert. However, while keeping Palace’s upcoming fixtures in mind, it would be best advised if you were to avoid the Belgian. Alexander Sorloth’s arrival from Denmark will put some pressure on Palace’s Belgian striker. The 22-year old striker is a train of a player – he is very quick for his size, great in the air and one intimidating figure. I can’t see him starting too many games, but boy will he interesting to watch.
Chicharito returned attacking returns for the second consecutive game, and with decent fixtures ahead, he could be a handy pick-up at 6.7m with Arnautovic, Carroll and Anotnio all out for the time being. Keep in mind that Antonio’s return is forcasted to be just one or two gameweeks away, so he the little Mexican probably isn’t worth your time.
Huddersfield vs Liverpool; 0-3
A regulation 3-0 victory for Liverpool meant that the Reds were back to winning ways after their baffling loss to Swansea last gameweek. Each member of the Klopp’s ‘terrific trio’ (something like that) got in and amongst it against the Terriers – Mane assisted Firmino’s goal while Salah converted a 78th minute penalty.
It’s business as usual for both sides, from an FPL perspective. Huddersfiedl are to be avoided for the time being while investment in Salah, Firmino (as much as I hate to say it) and the Liverpool defence is well-advised.
Salah’s converted penalty means that he has now scored as many goals in the Premier League this season as the entire Huddersfield squad, that puts things into perspective I think.
The Ox was relegated to the bench, as was van Dijk. Both players started mid-week in Liverpool’s FA Cup loss to West Brom (another lol), which is presumably why they were rested against a struggling Huddersfield team.
Chelsea vs Bournemouth; 0-3
What. I mean I laughed when I saw this, but I was pretty befuddled at first. Bournemouth are usually the whipping boys of the bigger clubs. When you see ‘BOU (H)’ as your attacker’s next fixture, your eyes light up, maybe Chelsea thought they had won before the first whistle? They certainly played like a team with that mentality, much unlike their counterparts.
Bournemouth had their tails up from before the first whistle. The Cherries fielded their strongest team this season, and the eleven players on the pitch ripped a lackadaisical Chelsea to shreds. Bouurnemouth were able to do this on the back of more good work by their in-form talisman, Callum Wilson. Another goal and assist for the 5.8m striker, equalling his return against Arsenal from just two gameweeks ago, takes him up to four goals and two assists from his last six Premier League starts. He doesn’t look like slowing down either, and games against Stoke (H), Huddersfield (A) and Newcastle (H) will only help his chances.
Stanislas was the other attacker to get heavily involved. I covered Stanislas and his prospects in the gameweek nine review and they haven’t really changed too much since then. He has been in and out of the side with different injuries since that time, and this was only his first start since GW18. At 5.9m he comes at a price where a lot of options exist, but many are failing to impress on a consistent basis. If he can string together some starts, he could be an option.
Aké was the third Bournemouth player to register a 10+ point haul. He accumulated 14 points on the back of a goal, clean sheet and two BP. This was Bournemouth’s first clean sheet since they registered three in a row between GW11-13, admittedly, the majority of their fixtures since then have come with a low clean sheet chance. The Cherries aren’t really renowned for their clean sheets, in fact, they’ve kept just 22 clean sheets in their 101 games in the Premier League from the last three seasons, which is 1 every 4.6 games. However, their fixtures are still quite enticing, so I wouldn’t blame you for taking the plunge. I mean, they did keep a hat-trick of clean sheets earlier on in the season, so it can’t be all bad back there?
Chelsea’s defence, on the other hand, has been consistently solid this season, so hopefully this will go down as just a minor blemish, on an otherwise, clean radar.
Chelsea also completed the signing of Olivier Giroud from Arsenal, and his role in the squad will be interesting. I honestly can’t see his role being much different to the one he had at Arsenal – a super-sub, with the occasional start when it is required – as long as Morata is fit.
Everton vs Leicester; 2-1
THEO! For once I’ve listened to my own advice, and boy did it pay off. Two goals for Everton’s brand-new signing, and he almost had a hat-trick. Jamie Vardy pegged one back for Leicester late on via a 71st minute penalty, but it wasn’t enough as the home side went on to collect all 3 points.
Everton’s first win since gameweek 20 came on the back of some horrible defensive mistakes from Leicester. Ben Chilwell collected the ball just outside of his own box and decided it would be a good time to not clear the ball with two Everton attackers pursuing him. Martina won the ball, gave it to Sigurdsson, who had no trouble finding Walcott, who was by his lonesome in the box, and then he tapped it in for the opener. The second Everton goal came as a result of a string of defensive errors. First it was Magurie’s handball, which led to an Everton free-kick, then throw in a little bit of poor marking and a lack of defensive awareness, and then bingo, bango, bongo, Walcott’s got his second.
Ol’ mate Wally wasn’t far from a hat-trick either. Late in the game Schemichel came off his line, to the edge of the box, to punch an incoming ball, but he knocked it straight into the path of Walcott, who struck a first time shot that was cleared off the line. I’m telling you, Leicester were terrible defensively this game, not a good sign.
Before this incident, Vardy converted a penalty, his fifth of the season (from 12 goals, from all competitions). That is quite a worrying statistic as if the penalties dry up, so will Vardy’s goals. The other interesting fact I noted about Vardy’s goal scoring ways this season is that one third of his goals (four) have been assisted by Riyad Mahrez, so let’s hope that what happened in the transfer window doesn’t affect the Algerian, or his English number nine.
Leicester’s fixtures do clear up after this game, Swansea at home could be anything, considering the Swans’ new-found form. Then after Leicester’s trip to the Etihad, it’s all green lights – for the most part – for the 2015/16 champions until the end of the season.
The same goes for Everton, their fixtures are on the easier side of the scale compared to what it has been in previous weeks. This means that Walcott will remain as an option for the remainder of the season, as could Seamus Coleman if he can reattain the level of play he was at before his horrific injury last season.
The Irish right-back averages an attacking return every 386 minutes, based on every season he has accumulated attacking returns in. That’s once every 4.3 games. With Everton’s best defence now fully fit (bar Leighton Baines), and with Allardyce at the helm, there’s hope they can ignite some solid defensive form with their upcoming fixtures. At 6.4m, Coleman doesn’t come cheap, so he’ll have to rival similarly-priced players like Otamendi and Azpilicueta, while proving his worth over cheaper defenders such as Phil Jones. I would be lying if I told you there was no risk in investing in Coleman, it’s no secret that many players struggle to return to a high level of play after such a serious injury. But he is also the sort of player that could set you apart from others, considering how damaging he can be at his best.
Newcastle vs Burnley; 1-1
It was a game of who had which keeper. One team had a penalty-saving number one, while his opposite number ‘conceded’ an own goal. Nick Pope saved a penalty in a rather uneventful first-half that was dominated by the home side.
Both goals came in the second-half where Jamal Lascelles’ headed goal was cancelled out by a Karl Darlow own goal. In fairness to Darlow, his own goal was nothing but unlucky. After saving a Sam Vokes header, the ball rebounded off the crossbar and onto the backwards-stumbling keeper’s forehead, and it all happened before the Newcastle keeper knew much about it. To be fair, Burnley were deserving of a goal – they had 10 second-half shots, out of 11 shots in total. Each team was deserving of a draw and neither team could really say they deserved more.
Burnley had 10 second-half shots, of a total of 11, while Newcastle had 8 in the same 45-minute period from 14 overall. So, it goes without saying the first 45-minutes wouldn’t have been a very enjoyable experience for anyone to watch with just 7 shots fired, in total.
The most threatening player on the pitch was Newcastle’s Kenedy, who had just arrived, on-loan from Chelsea. The 21-year old Newcastle debutant had two shots (equal second) and three key passes (the most on the ground) in a very impressive display that will surely make Chelsea regret sending him out on loan… Just kidding. But seriously, the kid was impressive. He was subbed off later on in the piece, for Matt Ritchie, but I have no doubt he has earned his spot in the starting team for the next gameweek. One to keep an eye on at 4.7m, he could become a good, cheap fifth mid.
Newcastle also signed Islam Slimani, on loan from Leicester, a deal which went through on deadline-day.. 6.6m is a decent price for a player of his quality and I think he could fit very well in at Newcastle. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the Toon’s fixtures are relatively hit-and-miss for the remainder of the season, so Slimani may only be a rotation option. He is quite expensive to have as a rotation option, so he will have to prove us otherwise if he is to be a permanent option – he has the talent.
No one in particular inspired me from Burnley’s offence, but as always their defence was impressive despite conceding a goal. Nick Pope, as usual, is my preferred route into the Burnley defence, and I did thoroughly enjoy his magnificent 11-point haul. With good fixtures to come, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to invest in him, or any other Burnley defender, but preferably Pope, who has, presumably, made himself almost unmovable from the Burnley line-up with the form he has been in.
Southampton vs Brighton; 1-1
After impressing over the last few weeks, and gradually building on each performance, Southampton slumped right back into their lifeless form which lacks any real fight, vigour or an offensive spark. The Saints are now on an equal club-record 12-game winless run in the Premier League that has left them sitting in the bottom three, for consecutive weeks, for the first time since their promotion season.
Murray’s first-half penalty was nullified by a second-half Jack Stephens backheel. It was Murray’s second goal in his last three starts, and third in his last seven, so as long as Murray’s starting Brighton are scoring. Despite some off-field issues in the past week since the last gameweek, Murray was able to put it behind him and coolly slot a penalty, he remains a top cheap forward option, plus he also has good fixtures.
Southampton’s fixtures aren’t the worst, but their form is one of the worst in the league and they lack a talisman that can change that with Charlie Austin still injured. Avoid all their assets for the time being.
Manchester City vs West Brom; 3-0
This was as one-sided a game you’ll see in the modern era. West Brom had just 3 shots on goal and they all came beyond the 87th minute, they also had a miniscule 26% possession – that is stupidly one-sided. Hats off to the West Brom fans who actually stayed until the final whistle.
Kevin De Bruyne actually had more shots on target (four) than West Brom did for the entire 90 minutes, that’s some statistic. This was De Bruyne’s game. He could have had a hat-trick of goals to go with his assist had he been more lethal in front of goal, he is some player. Sergio Aguero could have had a couple of assists as well, had De Bruyne worn his finishing boots, but it was not to be.
Sterling chimed in with two assists to continue his stellar season, while Fernandinho scored his third (irrelevant) goal of the season.
City also kept their 12th clean sheet of the season, is it a coincidence John Stones was dropped? Who knows, but his replacement, City’s record new signing Aymeric Laporte, wasn’t really tested. Walker and Otamendi remain the only locked on players in City’s defence, along with Ederson in goal.
Speaking of West Brom’s three shots, they had just one on target which came from their new loan signing, Daniel Sturridge. Over the past five seasons, Sturridge has averaged an attacking return every 85 minutes. Now, this figure is relatively skewed as he has majorly been used as an impact sub/rotation player over the last three seasons, and in a free-scoring team like Liverpool this can lead to a lot of goals. In saying that, it’s a World Cup year and based on the current standings Sturridge would most likely not be on England’s plane to Russia. At 7.9m he doesn’t come without his risks, but West Brom’s upcoming fixtures certainly help his prospects. A player of his quality should be in line for an immediate starting place in the team. I want to wait and see, for at least a week, before making any evaluations on fallen Liverpool striker.
Stoke City vs Watford; 0-0
Our first, and only, 0-0 result of the gameweek wasn’t an entirely dire affair – compared to others over the round of fixtures – but it wasn’t the prettiest of games to watch either. A combination of poor finishing and messy, yet effective, defending got the job done for both sides, but it was two points dropped for Stoke and one point gained for Watford.
Allen started in-behind Diouf – who started in the lone striker role again – for the second consecutive game under Lambert, so it’s starting to look like more of a sure thing from Allen’s point of view.
Each of Stoke’s four attackers – Diouf, Choupo-Moting (LW), Allen and Shaqiri (RW) – were all equally involved and have looked much improved – as an attacking unit and more than individuals – since Lambert’s arrival. Shaqiri had three shots and one key pass, but it was his left-footed volley from the penalty spot that he will rue the most – he aimed it right at Karnezis’ gloves.
Watford’s barren run continues as they have now failed to win 11 of their last 12 Premier League games, and on top of that they’ve been scoreless in their last 2. They face 4 of the top 10 in their next six games and a West Ham team who are 7th on the form table (last five PL games). The Hornets are in struggle city and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be much easier in the coming weeks for them. Once upon a time they were three points off a Europa League spot, they now sit just three points above the relegation zone.
Tottenham vs Manchester United; 2-0
How often is it that you see a team wipe the floor with second place? How often is it that both the second and third-placed teams lose with nothing, but a whimper in the same gamweek? United were demolished, just one night after – previously – third placed Chelsea were quashed. 22 shots to 6, but United weren’t the ones doing the shooting, that is as one-sided as it gets when you’re talking a second-placed team that’s just bought one of the best players in the world and has an almost entirely fit squad to choose from.
It was fairly disappointing to watch as Spurs scored two goals and neither Kane nor Son got involved in either of them, then again Kane’s record against United is appalling. But then again, Kane had eight shots and didn’t score a single goal, go figure. Erisken (three shots and six key passes), Alli (four and one) and Son (three and three) were constant threats on the United defence, imposing themselves on the best defence in the league.
This was an encouraging performance from Tottenham, especially with their next two fixtures being vitally important in deciding the Champions League spots (who cares really). More importantly it informs us that we shouldn’t write their returns off over the next two gameweeks. Someone that could help Tottenham build on these performances is their £23m addition, from PSG, Lucas Moura. Unfortunately, his addition does impact Son negatively and because of the competition he will no doubt have with Son for the rest of the season, it’s best to avoid bringing him in at the moment. Also, with Tottenham still in contention in both the FA Cup and Champions League, rotation between these two players will be ripe, so we may see Son in and out of the side like old times. Monitor the situation.
As for United, they haven’t been a stranger to these types of performances, they’ve done this sort of thing before this season and dropped points in matches they should have won (not saying they should have won). Because of this, we didn’t really get a chance to scope out Alexis Sanchez, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see how he performs in the Premier League. But as a little taste to what he can do in a United shirt, he made six key passes and took two shots against Yeovil Town in the FA cup in the last week.
Jones’ own goal was another blemish on United’s performance and something his owners definitely won’t appreciate, but fear not, own goals only come once every while or so (unless your name is Lewis Dunk). Look forward to more clean sheets, especially in the coming two weeks.
This was a pretty average gameweek for some, and the captain choice, although not hard to nail (unless you had Kane who missed his EIGHT shots on goal), wasn’t too fruitful.
If you saw a green arrow this gameweek, then you’ve done pretty well. I scored 62 on the back of Walcott’s two goals and saw a small, yet satisfying green arrow, that sees me now at 388k.
Any transfers for the upcoming gameweek, or thoughts on the one gone by, or maybe you just need a place to vent your frustration at how Kane couldn’t score from eight shots on goal (I still can’t get over it). If so, then let us know in the comments!
Good luck for gameweek 26!