Missed penalties, goal line clearances and some unbelievable misses *cough* Sterling *cough*. That was the story of the gameweek gone by. Mohammed Salah did his best to save the gameweek, and if you captained him you would have seen a healthy green arrow.
Just the one clean sheet this week also made it tough for any manager to muster anything above 60, but there were still a number of defenders who made their way onto the scoresheet.
Let’s dive in and see what we can gather from this sub-par gameweek!
Burnley vs Manchester City; 1-1
It’s a crisis I’m telling you. They’ve dropped 7 points in their last 5 games compared to just 2 in their opening 20 games. Surely, it’s a crisis? Probably not, but it’s fun to fantasise. In all seriousness though, this was a game much unlike the Man City we have become so accustomed to this season. City are usually incredibly clinical, but it seems that Turf Moor was just a beast that the league leaders couldn’t handle.
Nick Pope was immense in goal for the home side. It’s going to be extremely difficult for Tom Heaton to win back his place as Burnley’s number one, which could put his World Cup ambitions in doubt. Six saves was Pope’s final tally, and his performance in goal earned him a bonus point as well, taking his points tally up to five. That’s without a clean sheet, which just goes to show how valuable he can be. It’s not too late to jump on the 25-year old shot stopper’s wagon. He is definitely my number one option in goal.
Pope’s good work kept out multiple attempts from various in-form City attackers – Aguero, Sterling and De Bruyne all saw their shots saved. But it was the one that Pope didn’t save, that will stick in FPL manager’s minds for a long while. It has to be seen to be believed, really. Sterling’s spurned ‘effort’ (any effort at all would have seen that ball in the back of the net) from no less than three yards out, in front of a virtually open goal, was met with delayed jeers from the home fans after an enormous sigh of relief. I’m sure many a multi – and FPL – score was ruined as a consequence of Sterling’s incredible miss.
The grass is much better at the Etihad, so here’s hoping that we see another City rout for those of us who own multiple City assets. Here’s hoping that all our City assets play. Kompany’s return means the only Sky Blue centre-half that is locked in is Otamendi, so be careful when investing in their defenders in the near future. Especially with the rotation of the FA Cup and Champions League starting in less than a week.
It’s business as usual for Burnley. Look to bring their defenders in (namely Nick Pope) with their good upcoming run of fixtures.
Bournemouth vs Stoke City; 2-1
In similar fashion, and at the same venue as their gameweek 21 victory against Arsenal, Bournemouth laughed in the face of a 0-1 deficit and came from behind to win from beyond the 70th minute. Lys Mousset scored his first goal – and the eventual winner – for the home side who had to overhaul a first-half Xherdan Shaiqiri header to collect all three points. Josh King was Bournemouth’s other goal scorer in what was a fairly even affair.
The visitors had the upper hand early on in the piece, and they took full advantage of a slow-starting Bournemouth. Not even a minute before Shaqiri’s 5th minute strike, the same Swiss international, saw his first shot of the game cleared off the line by Steve Cook, but the captain’s heroics were short lived. Poor defensive marking from Bournemouth meant Stoke debutant, Papa Alioune Ndiaye’s cross met Shaqiri, who was able to head home with his feet still flat on the ground. Those were Xherdan’s only shots for the game. He made three key passes in addition to his shots at goal, which made for an impressive outing for the 6.1m-FPL-priced midfielder.
This was Shaqiri’s second return in three weeks, and it looks like the winger is primed to go on another one of his scoring runs. Stoke’s good fixtures only last for a few more gameweeks before they turn sour. So, if you were to try and jump on the Shaqiri-captained Titanic you would have to do so this week, before the ocean liner runs into the iceberg that is Stoke’s fixtures.
FPL flavour of the week, Callum Wilson, failed to produce any attacking returns, but he still forced opposition keeper, Jack Butland, into two saves from his three shots in total. Bournemouth have some solid upcoming fixtures in the next few weeks, although, I feel the bandwagon may have already passed, so I’d advise you to search for alternative options if you haven’t invested in him already.
Choupo-Moting had a respectable three shots on goal, in what was a solid performance from the Cameroonian, but it was nothing special and he never really looked like scoring. Joe Allen had a fairly quiet game in the number-10 position, in-behind Peter Crouch who displaced Diouf in what is beginning to be a frustrating rotation. Avoid both Stoke strikers (unless Crouchy is being used as a bench fodder).
Jordon Ibe provided the assist for Lys Mousset’s winner, who is a fairly unknown quality and I don’t think he’ll be starting for Bournemouth any time soon. However, Ibe will continue his starting role in a three-man offence that consists of himself, Wilson and Stanislas. The former Liverpool attacker’s run of form has gone fairly unnoticed due to his modest returns amidst a flurry of more successful Bournemouth attackers. At 4.8m he is low-risk and easily rotatable. This run of form from Ibe is the sort of form that Bournemouth have been waiting for since they invested £16.2m in the, now, 22-year old. Bournemouth’s fixtures are good, but it would take some planning to find a suitable rotation partner for Ibe, as the Cherries don’t have a direct rotation pair.
Brighton vs West Ham; 3-1
This was Brighton’s game and there’s nothing West Ham could do about it. The Seagulls are now back to winning ways, recording their first victory in the Premier League since gameweek 19 and securing a crucial 3 points that could prove to be invaluable come the end of the season.
West Ham’s forward and midfield stocks were noticeably lacking and their depth was tested, so it was up to new signing Joao Mario and third choice striker, Chicharito, to combine for the Hammers’ first goal, the equaliser. I mentioned last week how Antonio’s return is imminent and he was substituted on this gameweek, but not for Chicha. It remains to be seen how the two will co-exist in a team, in the short-term, without Lanzini, Arnautovic or Carroll. In saying that, West Ham’s fixtures are from amazing.
Enough about the losing side, onto the winning one. Tax fraud Glenn Murray scored his eighth goal of the Premier League season, and it takes his tally to 8 goals from his last 14 games in all competitions. As good as Murray’s form is, Brighton’s fixtures are equally as off-putting. They face just four teams in the bottom half of the table for the remainder of the season. Sure, their fight for survival may mean the newly promoted side could nab an extra point here or there, but it’s hard to invest in someone based off of a theory. It’s frustrating as the former Palace striker is the perfect third forward for our FPL squads – he’s always in with a chance of scoring, he’s on penalties and he isn’t a patchy player, but is instead fairly consistent.
As a result of Brighton’s fixtures, any of their assets – on any line – will struggle to produce any form of returns for the remainder of the season, on a consistent and reliable basis. You can always take the plunge into Glenn Murray as he is fairly fixture proof.
Leicester vs Swansea; 1-1
For just the second time since GW24 in the 2014/15 season, Leicester went into a Premier League fixture without Riyad Mahrez for consecutive games (the other occasion was due to international responsibilities last season). His omission has been a huge talking point since Leicester intercepted his move away from the King Power Stadium. As well as being a huge talking point, it has seemed to affect the Foxes’ attacking unit, who have struggled to create many decent opportunities in front of goal in the past two games. Jamie Vardy still managed to score himself a goal, as Kelechi Iheanacho became just the third player to assist Vardy this season.
Vardy’s goal was cancelled out by a second-half header from Federico Fernandez, who was able to convert Ki Sung-Yeung’s corner, unmarked, from inside Leicester’s six-yard box.
Someone like Fernandez, at 4.4m, may be a tempting route into the Swansea back line – especially when considering their fixtures – but we saw this same sort of form with West Ham after David Moyes’ arrival. A team that has been reinvigorated with the arrival of a new manager and has, then, gone onto beat two of the top six teams. West Ham went on to keep just one clean sheet (to the point of this gameweek) after their double scalp over Arsenal and Chelsea.
It may or may not be a similar situation, but it reeks of the same odour. The difference between the two teams is that Swansea were actually showing some decent defensive form in the period prior to Clement’s departure. So, despite the odour’s being fairly similar, the chemical make-up of the scent’s may be different, which could leave a distinctly different lasting effect. Basically, Swansea have proven they can be a good defensive side, but with a new manager it’s quite hard to tell you how the story ends before the final chapter is written.
Leicester’s fixtures are also quite appealing, but apart from a recent hat-trick of clean sheets, the Foxes haven’t been all too successful in the clean sheet department this season. Just four clean sheets prior to GW21 doesn’t scream “invest!”. Obviously, Maguire’s added threat from set pieces makes him a more viable option (he almost scored in this match), so he could potentially account for any inconsistencies in Leicester’s ability to collect clean sheets. But 5.5m is a fair bit to invest in a centre-back that doesn’t hail from a particularly strong clean sheet side. Danny Simpson’s return from injury couldn’t have been timed any better, though. At 4.3m he is low risk, so it could be worth the gamble on someone like Simpson.
Manchester United vs Huddersfield; 2-0
There might have been a few nervous United players going into this fixture after their visitors, Huddersfield, toppled, and ended, the Red Devils’ eight game unbeaten run in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. The hosts didn’t make easy work of their opponents – like many expected them to – but it certainly wasn’t very difficult. United dominated, from the first till the last whistle of the match, and there wasn’t much that Huddersfield could do about it.
Pogba started on the bench for the first time this season, while Sanchez made his Old Trafford debut alongside Jesse Lingard, who has won Mourinho’s mark of approval, so far, since the arrival of United’s newest signing, Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez had no trouble settling in to life at Old Trafford and dominated the game, taking the lead role in United’s attacking unit. Six shots and three key passes was the Chilean’s final stat line. He also scored a goal, tapping in the rebound of his own missed penalty. It was a very encouraging performance from Sanchez (despite the missed penalty). He was given the freedom to roam and do as he pleased – something he had no trouble doing in his mammoth 2016/17 season, but something he struggled to do during his time at Arsenal before his move this season. Sanchez could explode very soon, and could prove to be an invaluable POD with just 5.0% ownership (at the time of writing).
Lukaku, also, found his way onto the scoresheet, but for the 11th time (from 15 possible games) this season he failed to pick up any bonus points on the back of attacking returns. If Lukaku was about 4.0m cheaper, then he would be an option, but he is old news as it stands.
United kept their 15th clean sheet of the season, but it was without one of this season’s most valuable FPL assets – Phil Jones. Jones was rested this game – like Pogba – but he should return for the next gameweek when United travel to Newcastle.
West Brom vs Southampton; 2-3
This wasn’t the highest quality of football you’ll see this season, but there was a lot of goals so it was fairly entertaining. Four of the five goals came from set pieces and two defenders saw their names on the scoresheet by the end of the game.
Daniel Sturridge was awarded his first start since arriving on-loan, to the Hawthorns, while Southampton’s permanent signing, Guido Carillo, was also on the pitch at the first whistle. Neither full-debutant made too much of an impact, and I wouldn’t be looking at Carillo as an option either way. Not at 6.5m. Sturridge was lively up top, alongside Salomon Rondon who scored the fourth goal of his campaign, but being just ‘lively’ won’t cut it for someone priced at 7.9m. Watchlist Sturridge for now.
No clean sheets for either side was disappointing, as the attacking assets from either team aren’t the most predominant options. After the Baggies travel to Chelsea in this upcoming gameweek, there could be some clean sheets on the horizon for Alan Pardew’s men. I picked up Hegazi (I just had to gloat – thanks for the goal, Ahmed) at 4.6m last week, who is the cheapest defender in West Brom’s stocks. Ben Foster (4.4m) is the perfect second keeper – cheap, good fixtures that are reasonably rotatable up until gameweek 34.
Arsenal vs Everton; 5-1
The aggregate score between these two teams this season is now 10-3 and hat-trick hero Aaron Ramsey has a combined four goals and one assist from both fixtures. This game also marked the debuts of Arsenal’s marquee signing, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the man on the other side of the Sanchez move, Henrikh Mkhitariyan. Both of Arsene Wenger’s new signings contributed to the score sheet. Former United man, Mkhitariyan, providing a hat-trick of assists while Bundesliga convert, Aubameyang, scored his first goal for the club. Everton were provided some consolation when Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his fourth goal of the season.
The youngster’s goal had no effect on the outcome of anything except for the fact it spited those managers who owned an Arsenal defender. However, those managers who owned either Koscielny or Mustafi, of the Arsenal defender variety, would have been happy with their attacking returns. Mustafi’s header finding Koscielny at the back post after an Arsenal corner.
Of course, the big talking points of the game were the Ramsey hat-trick and Aubameyang’s maiden Arsenal goal. Ramsey’s price has already increased in price to 7.0m and there’s every chance that Aubameyang – as well as Mkhitariyan – could all experience price rises between now and the end of the gameweek.
27-year old Ramsey’s role as a deep-lying centre-midfielder in a pairing with Granit Xhaka, allows the Welshman to be the ‘extra man’ in attack and make those spontaneous attacking runs into the box, virtually unmarked. It’s also a role that he has thrived in throughout recent seasons, including this one. Earlier in the campaign, Ramsey went on an impressive run of producing attacking returns in six of seven games between GW9-15 where he averaged 7.4ppg. In this new look, free-scoring (dare I say) Arsenal line-up, he could be a bargain.
As could Mkhitariyan. The Armenian has teased us since his arrival to the Premier League, but under José Mourinho he struggled for form and a regular first team place. Hopefully being partnered up with Aubameyang and one of the best creators in the world, Mesut Ozil, Mkhitariyan can return to the form that once saw him contribute 23 goals and 32 assists from 52 games in a Dortmund shirt from all competitios (2015/16 season). Admittedly, the Bundesliga is nothing like the Premier League, but I have no doubt that Mkhi’s best would make him a valuable FPL option at just 7.6m, as he proved earlier on in the season. Interestingly enough, during their time together at Dortmund, Mkhitariyan only provided five assists for Aubameyang from three seasons.
The Gunners face Spurs at Wembley and then league-leaders, Man City, at the Emirates in the next two gameweeks, so holding off on your transfers for these two won’t kill you. Especially with an expected blank coming up for Arsenal in GW31!
Everton have been diabolical since their turn of fixtures in GW19 when they faced Chelsea. They’ve won just one game since then (in the Premier League). Theo Walcott came very close to opening Everton’s account prior to the Calvert-Lewin goal, but he squandered a fairly decent opportunity. The ex-Arsenal man is still a great option – especially with Everton’s fixtures clearing up.
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle; 1-1
This was one of many proverbial six-point games that will occur from now up until the end of the season. With both teams fighting for their lives in the Premier League, it was always going to be a rather tense affair. The opening half saw Newcastle take the lead just before the half-way mark of the first-half. Diame was able wriggle himself free of his marker at a corner, he then had no trouble in sending the visitors into the lead after Kenedy’s low corner skidded towards Diame at the back post off of Perez’s flailing leg. From that point onwards, and until the end of the game, it was all Crystal Palace.
The home side had 17 shots to 6 in the last 69 minutes of play. Any opportunity that Newcastle did create was expertly thwarted by Wayne Hennessey, who had a man-of-the-match performance in goal.
Five Crystal Palace players had multiple shots between the time of Newcastle’s goal and the final whistle. Despite this, it took one of the more softer penalties (I’ll admit this) you’ll see to pull the hosts level. Milivojevic converted from the spot to score his sixth goal in the Premier League this season (four penalties). Benteke won the penalty, meaning he collected an assist – his fifth attacking return in as many games. The big Belgian is gradually building towards the form that saw him become one of the most valuable FPL assets in the second-half of the season. However, as a result of Palace’s fixtures, it would be best to stay away.
In saying that, don’t rule a Benteke rampage. Wilfried Zaha’s return from an injury that he attained in this mid-week fixture has been diagnosed as “weeks away”. This, along with Bakary Sako’s continued absence, could propel one of the Palace attackers into the FPL spotlight, and it could be Benteke. Someone has to score for the Eagles in the coming weeks, but just who will take the lead mantle is the question. Zaha’s injury will also give Townsend a chance in the spotlight, to take over from the Ivory Coast international, as Palace’s ‘go-to man’. Possibly even James McArthur who, as a result of recent injuries, has seen himself line-up at left mifield in recent weeks. Just where does Wilf Zaha’s injury leave him remains to be seen.
There are just too many Palace options around the 4.5m-6.0m price range that could potentially increase their attacking returns until Zaha’s return (which could be up to two months away). My pick of the bunch would be Andros Townsend, in terms of who will take over the mantle. The English international has averaged a more than respectable 5.3ppg over his last seven starts. At 5.6m he could prove to be good value, but Palace’s tough upcoming fixtures are a real dent in his prospects.
Zaha has joined Kelly on the sidelines as Crystal Palace now hold one of the worst injury lists I’ve ever seen (in terms of sheer volume of first-team players). Puncheon, Dann, Sako, Wickham, Schlupp and Loftus-Cheek could all potentially be out for the season (both Dann and Puncheon are confirmed out for the season), while Julian Speroni also sent in for scans. Palace will be lucky to pick up any points from their next six fixtures (Huddersfield away seems as their only real hope), but being an underdog has always helped Crystal Palace.
Liverpool vs Spurs; 2-2
Mohammed Salah scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season, but it wasn’t enough as Tottenham (with a little bit of help from the linesman) clinched a point through a 95th minute Kane penalty.
Three goals in the last 15 minutes of play made for a hectic finish to an affair that was otherwise dominated by the home side. Wanyama’s perfect strike from 30 yards out levelled the scores at 1-1. The Kenyan’s shot had some left-to-right, cricket style, swing in it, as it landed perfectly in the little crevice between the post and the cross-bar. Not to be out done, Mohammed Salah, also, put his name into the hat for goal of the season. The Egyptian danced around several Tottenham players before lifting the ball over Hugo Lloris to put Liveprool ahead in the 91st minute.
More late drama ensued as Erik Lamela was “fouled” in the box by Virgil van Dijk. In what was a shocking decision by the linesman, a penalty was given despite no contact being made between van Dijk and Lamela.
Liverpool’s £75 million defender pulled out of an attempt to clear a bouncing ball just left of his teams six-yard box. Lamela decided it was an opportunity he simply couldn’t refuse and instantly clutched at his leg, screaming foul. John Moss submitted to his linesman’s call and deemed the incident a penalty. Harry Kane scored from the subsequent penalty, something he failed to do earlier in the game.
There wasn’t much that came out of this game that we didn’t already know. Salah is a freak and is single-handedly keeping Klopp in his job, van Dijk is composure personified – in a Liverpool defence that makes jelly appear as solid as a brick wall – and John Moss is a pile of rubbish. Also, Karius saved a penalty and made four other decent saves but received no recognition in the outcome for the outcome of the game in a match that seemed scripted for Liverpool to lose.
Watford vs Chelsea; 4-1
Did you think the ending to the #LIVTOT fixture was entertaining – 3 goals in the last 15 minutes? How about 4 in the last 10! Hazard equalised for Chelsea in the 81st minute, but it was all for nothing. Hazard’s work was undone by three more Watford goals. This meant the Hornets won just their second game from their previous 14 (including this one) in the Premier League.
New manager Javi Martinez and Barcelona loanee, Gerard Deulofeu, made their home debuts for their new club, Watford, and it couldn’t have gone any better. The Spanish pair left with a win against last year’s champions, while Deulofeu scored his maiden goal as well as winning a first-half penalty that Troy Deeney was able to convert. Janmaat and Pereyra also got on the scoresheet with the latter providing an assist. Abdoulaye Doucoure registered a brace of assists as he continues his fine FPL season.
I want to see more from Deulofeu, as although his returns may seem impressive over his first two seasons with Everton, there was a reason they let him go. Although, four shots and four key passes in your home debut against Chelsea is nothing short of eye-catching. Keep an eye on him.
This loss now means Chelsea have conceded seven goals in their last two games to teams in the bottom half of the table. Antonio Conte continues his position is under any threat despite having seven unique individuals, from two bottom-half of the table teams, score against his side in the last two weeks.
Andreas Christensen missed this trip to Vicarage Road, as did Marcos Alonso. The defensive duo are expected to be fit for the Blues’ game against West Brom (H) in gameweek 28, if so, they will slot straight back into the side.
Olivier Giroud, also, made his debut, albeit from the bench, but with Morata expected to return in the coming weeks, his spot in the side will most likely be as a super-sub.
This was a less than impressive gameweek, but I still – somehow – managed to log on to FPL (after scores were updated) and find myself with a green arrow. I scored 57 this week on the back of Salah’s beautiful brace. I have so much to thank the man for, and he doesn’t even know exist. Isn’t that wonderful?
I also took two big, fat donuts as both Jones and Laporte (don’t ask) were both rested/omitted from their respective squads.
Did you eat any donuts this week, or did you captain someone who missed a penalty or a plain sitter? Either way, let us know how you did in the comments!
Also, with the FA Cup fixtures and the involvement of both Man City and Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final, we should be expecting double-gameweeks and even a blank-gameweek (where teams don’t play for the entire gameweek). As a result, it would be a good idea to prepare for that! This article explains a reasonable way to navigate the unique set of upcoming gameweeks and when exactly these unique gameweeks will be. Get planning!