The Man City boys got it done for us yet again, but once again their defence faltered. The red side of Manchester know a little bit about faltering – all their assets blanked and they dropped a ‘gimme’ three points.
There wasn’t much that went unexpected otherwise, most of the results (and scorers) were as expected, so there wasn’t much new news to gather from the past weekend of games. Nonetheless, it’s always fun to talk about United losing to a team one place outside the relegation zone.
Tottenham vs Arsenal; 1-0
Harry Kane’s second-half header was the difference between the two sides on the final score sheet, however, Spurs were head and shoulders above their opponents in terms of quality on the pitch, but no so much off the pitch. Hugo Lloris was forced into just one save for the match, mid-way through the second-half, as Arsenal – with two of the best passers in the league in their possession – couldn’t pierce the Tottenham defence. Just like they did against United, Spurs absolutely dominated the game and their visitors couldn’t touch them. The final tally is seven points from Spurs’ three games against United, Liverpool and Arsenal – mightily impressive, shame they’ve drawn 4 matches against bottom 10 teams.
Kane’s 23rd goal of the season came without any bonus points, much to the disappointment of his managers and ‘captainers’. Instead, it was the Tottenham defenders who made it a clean sweep of BP’s as Davies, Vertonghen and Sanchez were the recipients of a total of eight BP’s.
Ben Davies collected the maximum three bonus points for his clean sheet and assist for the Kane goal. Davies was the man to have in defence at the start of the season, as the Welsh international recorded point hauls of 14, 14 and 16 within a 7 gameweek period. He then went onto register just one score above 2 over the next 11 gameweeks as rotation took its toll on the 24-year old.
Presumably, rotation will again bare it’s ugly face once the Champions League and FA Cup fixtures resume. As a previous Ben Davies owner, and one who was unfortunate enough to experience the majority of the ups and downs of his season so far, I can tell you that owning him through his rough patch where he averaged 1.9ppg over eight appearances (including three, one-minute appearances), it was almost as bad as the Christensen debacle of recent weeks. I’m still tempted to pull the trigger as his record is outstanding. Over the 19 games Davies has started this season, he has averaged 5.7ppg, which is more than the top five defenders (with Davies being ranked sixth amongst all defenders). Also, with an inevitable blank in GW31, I can’t see Davies making our time with him worth the transfers you’ll have to invest by transferring him in, first, then out.
Kane’s second goal from his last three games made for decent viewing in the real world, but in the FPL-verse, we know much better. His three game average of 4ppg is well below par, but expect that to rise in the coming weeks against an injury depleted Crystal Palace and a struggling Huddersfield.
After being among the top 10 transferred in players last week, the combined score of four, from Mkhitariyan, Aubameyang and Ramsey, failed to live up to expectations in a big way. In fact, Ramsey returned zero points after he failed to even to make his way on to the team sheet as a result of a groin complaint. The league-leaders, Man City, will visit Arsenal at the Emirates this week, so the going will be getting tougher, so will the ‘tough’ get going? It remains to be seen. All three could be options once Arsenal’s loss to City in the next gameweek.
Everton vs Crystal Palace; 3-1
With Palace’s injury list in the double-figures after Kelly, Sakho and Zaha were all ruled out since last gameweek, the odds were always going to be against the visitors. Everton took advantaged, in the end, of an injury depleted Crystal Palace, who must have done something to aggravate the football Gods with the state of their injury list.
After a dull and relatively uneventful first-half, which involved just two shots on target, Everton got the seesaw rocking heavily in their favour. After a six-minute Crystal Palace lapse meant the hosts were able to take a two-goal lead through goals from Siggurdson and Niasse. Tom Davies piled on a third 20 minutes later before Luka Milivojevic converted an 83rd minute penalty. In the end, the result was quite flattering to Everton, who are still struggling to find their groove after a plethora of additions over the previous two transfer windows.
Noticeably, Theo Walcott’s name was lacking from the final stats sheet as he failed to make an impact on the scoreboard, but fear not, the Englishman still had a great game. I expect his returns to flow throughout the rest of the season. The former Arsenal man is still a worthwhile investment.
Oumar Niasse has been preferred over Everton rookie, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and £27million signing, Cenk Tosun. This confidence in him – or possibly Allardyce’s lack in confidence of the aforementioned pair – has resurrected Niasse’s season, again, after he was dropped to the bench earlier on in the campaign. Just how long his starting spot in the team will last is beknown to me, and probably anyone, I mean I don’t know if Allardyce even knows. So, to pick him would come with its risks. It’s frustrating as the 4.8m forward has averaged 4.7points/appearance this season, which includes seven substitute appearances. However, he has returned in three of his seven substitute appearances this season, so it could still be worth it. At 4.8m, he is emphatic value and I believe it’s worth the risk at such a low price.
What is also frustrating, is the length of Crystal Palace’s injury list, especially as a supporter of the club. It means that virtually all of the Eagles’ assets – in terms of FPL are worthless. Luka Milivojevic still remains an option due to the fact that his side can’t stop winning penalties and he can’ stop missing them (excluding the one he missed that would’ve given Palace the win of the season). Even more frustrating was the fact that Christian Benteke had five shots at goal and couldn’t land a single one on target. He also missed two ‘gimme’ headers (by his – previously – lofty standards). He still managed to pick up an assist (an FPL assist – his second of the ilk) despite his misfortunes in front of goal. When he finds his shooting boots (or shooting head – is that a thing?), he could be one to watch.
Stoke vs Brighton; 1-1
Stoke were a third of the ball away from collecting all three points at home to Brighton. The home side failed to put the visitors to the sword in a hectic second-half stoppage time period that saw a missed penalty, an equally brilliant last-man challenge and a goal line clearance, all in Matt Ryan’s goal.
Izquierdo’s first-half strike, his second in as many games, was cancelled out by Xherdan Shaqiri’s pinpoint curler, from outside of the box, that was unreachable for Matt Ryan in the far bottom corner.
This result represents the first time that Brighton have scored in a game in which Glenn Murray has. The run stretches all the way back to gameweek eight where Anthony Knockaert’s lone goal earned the Seagulls a point at home to Everton. This just shows how vital Murray is to Chris Hughton’s team and structure.
Izquierdo is also a vital cog in the Brighton body, but I feel as if he isn’t worth your time as an FPL asset. He is to Brighton, what Zaha was to Palace a few seasons ago. He is important to the structure of the team and provides that pacey option out wide with flair and buckets of talent, but his returns will be few and will be scattered in lots.
Both these teams have tumultuous long-term fixtures, and in a relegation race as close as this season, they could be in trouble. They could also pop up for a result here and there, so be wary, they won’t give up clean sheets that easily.
The good thing about Stoke – specifically Shaqiri – is that they are guaranteed a game in GW31, where games will be few and far between. The Potters’ schedule for the next four gameweeks isn’t all too glum and it could be worthwhile putting your time into Shaqiri whilst he is in form.
Swansea vs Burnley; 1-0
Carvahal’s Swansea side went into the game playing five-at-the-back against the genius tactician of defence, Sean Dyche, so it was never going to be pretty viewing. Ki Sung Yeung’s 81st minute strike won it late for the hosts, while also simultaneously striking down a potential Burnley clean sheet that was so close, but yet so far.
The Swans played a brilliant defensive game, restricting their visitors to long shots for the majority of the match while pressing forward and playing smart attacking football at the right times. If I can bring in a Swansea defender this week I probably will. After being fairly hesitant last week, I think I’m going to go for it this week (or possibly next week, who knows), so you just know they’re going to pull a West Ham here and do absolutely nothing for almost two months.
The same goes for Burnley. I still believe in their worth, defensively, especially Matthew Lowton at 4.3m. That’s dirt cheap for a Burnley defender.
West Ham vs Watford; 2-0
Absolute domination was the name of the game for West Ham here, Watford are still in strife and are now in real danger of being deep in a relegation battle. Marko Arnautovic cut his injury diagnosis in half and returned two weeks earlier than initially reported, and he did so in flying colours, putting on a man of the match performance and leading the Hammers to victory. Chicharito, also, found the back of the net and could have had himself one or two more had he been more accurate.
Watford’s dire days continue as the gamble on rookie manager Javi Garcia hasn’t made any significant difference as yet. The Hornets had more shots (11) than their opponents (8), but still couldn’t find the back of the net and in all honesty, I don’t believe they truly deserved to. They had 64% of the possession, but failed to create any clear-cut chance and, subsequently, extended their winless run to seven games.
Chicharito scored his third goal in four games, making it four consecutive returns in the last four gameweeks. I said he was one to bring in with the plethora of injuries to the West Ham attack, and then the next I said he wasn’t worth it, and after two more gameweeks, I’m still not sure. With West Ham’s upcoming fixtures as difficult as they are, you can’t have both Chicharito and Arnautovic. My pick of the pair is Arnautovic, he provides more value – as a midfielder playing as a forward – and is more of a threat than his Mexican counterpart.
I’m quite keen on Arnie myself, but the Hammer’s gameweek blank in GW31 has me backing off. His record since Moyes took the helm has been superb with seven goals and four assists in those nine starts under Moyes. He has averaged over 9ppg since being awarded the starting berth up forward. Is that form maintainable for the rest of the season? Probably not, but come the final day would have proven his worth? I do believe so.
As for Watford, the wait continues. Once (if) they find their form again, my trigger finger will be waiting to snap Richarlison up. The 20-year old Brazillian has the fourth most amount of shots in the league and is eighth for big chances missed, meaning, his shots just aren’t hitting their straps at the moment, but once they do, watch out.
Manchester City vs Leicester City; 5-1
It was 1-0, then it was 1-1 by half-time. At the end of the game it finished 5-1. How can such a score line occur you ask? My answer: Sergio Aguero. Kevin De Bruyne did his bit as well, but Man City’s number 10 took all the headlines, despite the Belgian registering a hat-trick of assists.
I’m running out of expletives and superlatives to describe the aforementioned City pair, and the entire City squad – they are truly a sight to see. Once you think you have them, you don’t. It’s that simple (unless your Dejan Lovren and Loris Karius for some reason).
Basically, just bring in any one (or two, or three) of Aguero, De Bruyne or Sterling (the other goal scorer) and you’ll be doing just fine. Own all three and you’ll struggle to see a red arrow, even if you tried.
My condolences to those who do not own Aguero, and to those who did not captain him (me – I went for Sterling instead. My lesson here? Don’t try and be too clever, no one likes a smart alec) my sincerest apologies, but please, still do enjoy his South American fruits.
Pep Guardiola’s men still managed to concede – the fifth time in six games, ouch. Jamie Vardy was the man to do the damage, and in doing so, he became the first person to score against all six of the six big clubs in one single season. It was also his fourth goal in as many games, so if you can’t quite reach Firmino, then Vardy’s your man. The Mahrez debacle hasn’t affected him… yet.
Huddersfield vs Bournemouth; 4-1
Just two weeks ago Bournemouth won 3-0, away at Stamford Bridge, against the reigning champions, this week they’ve been battered by a side that hadn’t won a single point since 2017. Go figure.
The result marks the end of a seven-game unbeaten run for Bournemouth, which included wins at Chelsea and at home to Arsenal. It’s hard to say whether or not this was just a once off for the Cherrier, but they are definitely one of the most inconsistent teams in the Premier League. They’re fixtures are still reasonably good, but I would hold off bringing in any of their assets another week just to see if it truly was a once off, or it is the start of a dip in form.
The same goes for Huddersfield. They hadn’t won a game for eight gameweeks prior to this one, but they are also a patchy team, so this could be the start of a much-needed run of form for the Terriers.
There are no real standout FPL options at Huddersfield. No Huddersfield attacker has returned in more than six games this season, with Mooy’s six being the best of the bunch. And apart from the first three games in which the newly promoted side registered three clean sheets and four goals, only Laurent DePoitre has returned in back-to-back games, that’s including the defence. Any Huddersfield option is a risk, and it’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
In saying that, both these sides have favourable home games during the unprecedented GW31 blank, which could see as little as four fixtures. Players like Wilson, Stanislas, Ibe, Mooy, Mounie and the Bournemouth defence should, therefore, all make their way to your watchlist until GW31. I wouldn’t rush any of these players in, for the time being, not until we see how their form pans out over the next gameweek.
Newcastle vs Manchester United; 1-0
That’s now seven trips to St James Park for Mourinho for no wins, three draws and four losses. As John put it in the comments section last week “He has had difficulties with the fans, the pitch, the town, the local baker, the ball kids and the players (Barton)”, the man just can’t come to grips with the black and white stripes of Newcastle. And to quote Boner Contention in the same comments section “Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen”, maybe that’s what Mourinho needs before each gameday down at Newcastle?
This is just classic United, losing to a ‘smaller’ team, out of the blue, admittedly though, with Mourinho’s record at St James Park, people did see this coming. We can’t take much from this as United still have the best defensive record in the league and the equal fourth best attack. They play hosts to Chelsea in GW28 and Liverpool in GW30, rotating with visits to Crystal Palace and West Ham, so it’s a mixed bag for the Red Devils. Despite this loss, I can see them pulling out some results against either – or both – of the top six teams they will face – they’re usually very tight at the back in these ‘big six derbies’.
I still don’t particularly like any of Newcastle’s assets, despite the win, as there is no real standout FPL option, quite similar to Huddersfield. All of their attacking options face heavy and consistent rotation as well, so it makes it even more difficult to recommend any of their assets. Moving on.
Southampton vs Liverpool; 0-2
Salah and Firmino are becoming one deadly duo, and they’re doing this all with an out-of-form Mané! The aforementioned duo accumulated a total of 25 points between them this gameweek (more if you had either as captain).
I’m going to have to bite the bullet soon and bring in the Brazillian Firmino, he has been in some form recently and Liverpool’s definite fixture in GW31 makes him even more worthwhile. This is assuming everyone has Salah, because if you don’t have Salah by now, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Other Liverpool options include Andrew Robertson, whose relentless gut-running has made him a staple in the Reds defence, and at 4.7m they don’t come much cheaper in a top six side. Gomez’s return from injury could be by the next gameweek, so Alexander-Arnold will lose his spot in the side and return to his role as a rotating sub.
Southampton’s barren run of form continues with just 13 points from their last 15 league games, form that has seen them now become prime relegation candidates. It’s a sad sight for one of England’s – previously – most promising teams. In the last four seasons they’ve traded van Dijk, Lallana, Lovren, Mané, Jay Rodriguez, Victor Wanyama, José Fonte, Nathaniel Clyne, Artur Boruc, Morgan Schneiderlin, Luke Shaw, Callum Chambers and Rickie Lambert. That’s more than an entire 11 of players that would have most definitely challenged the big six for their European positions. Obviously, they would have struggled to keep all of them, but even half of those players would have been enough to do some real damage in this league. That’s terrible management.
Anyway, because of Southampton’s terrible form I can’t really recommend any of their players as FPL options, however, the Saints’ fixtures are clearing up, so who knows what happens.
Chelsea vs West Brom; 3-0
A consolation 3-0 victory for a Chelsea side that had lost, on aggregate, 7-1 in the past two gameweeks to teams that were – at the time – place inside the bottom half of the table.
However, it wasn’t easy going for the home side. Both Jay Rodriguez and Solomon Rondon missed opportunities when they were sent clean through via defensive mistakes from both Moses and Christensen respectively. Jonny Evans, also, squandered an opportunity, missing the target with a header from just outside the six-yard box. So, as you can tell, although Chelsea did, in the end, collect all three points, they didn’t exactly make it easy for themselves.
Hazard’s two goals brought his tally up to six from his last six starts, while Victor Moses chimed in with a goal – his third attacking participation in as many starts.
Unfortunately, for Chelsea, they have two of the most difficult fixtures in their next two gameweeks with away trips to both Manchester sides, they then follow this up, two weeks later, with a blank in GW31 due to Cup responsibilities. If you have any Chelsea assets, I would hold them, but don’t look to bring them in.
Fortunately for West Brom, their fixtures will be clearing up and their chances for survival should increase. I’ve already bought Ahemd Hegazi in the hope that the Baggies can regain their defensive prowess, but recent performances have left me uninspired.
I mentioned before West Brom’s game with Everton that that they have kept clean sheets at almost double the rate in games that Craig Dawson has played in (38.4%) compared to those that he hasn’t played in (20%) this season. That was before the Everton game, since then they have faced three top eight sides. It is quite a risk, and probably an unnecessary one, but if you’re looking for a differential, then perhaps take the gamble. Both Burnley and Swansea defenders are other, more solid options, in the same price bracket.
So, that’s it. It was a pretty big gameweek with a 61-point average. My score of 68 still brought upon a hefty red arrow of -70k. Captaining Sterling over Salah and Aguero, although didn’t ruin my gameweek, wasn’t the smartest decision, in hindsight.
We have a two-week break (basically) before gameweek 28. This presents us with a good opportunity to plan for the upcoming blank in GW31. I believe this is the gameweek in which the FA will tell us which teams will blank and those that will not, so keep your eyes peeled.
How’d this gameweek go for you? And what are your plans for the inevitable blank in GW31?