Every week we review three studs and three duds from the previous round of Premier League action. Which players shone brightest in Gameweek 24? Who flattered to deceive?
Fraser Forster (Southampton)
PlayON Price: 7.1 m
GW 24 Points: 2,720
Forster’s return to first team football should go down as a case study on how a top class goalkeeper can galvanise his side. Their first choice custodian made his comeback from a nine month injury layoff back in January and Southampton look poised for a strong second half of the season as a result. His statistics this season read as follows: four games played, zero conceded. Without him, the Saints’ had conceded a goal a game.
In traditional Italian football circles it’s said that a 0-0 is the perfect result – for Koeman’s Southampton – under the circumstances of Tuesday night – it really was.
Forster made no fewer than 11 saves across the 90 minutes, denying the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud on multiple occasions. Nine of his saves were made from shots taken within the penalty area, holding Arsenal at bay in what was an entirely different game from the Saints’ 4-0 drubbing over the same opposition back in December.
Just 1% of PlayON managers selected the Englishman in Gameweek 24. Expect that to change by this weekend.
Ross Barkley (Everton)
PlayON Price: £9.5 m
GW 24 Points: 3,400
Ross Barkley may have had more shots on goal – seven – than any other midfield player in Gameweek 24, but both of his goals ended up coming from the penalty spot. Only Riyad Mahrez and Georginio Wijnaldum have had more from midfield this season, but Barkley had endured something of a Premier League drought up until Wednesday evening.
Despite excellent recent from across all competitions – now with four goals in his past three League Cup and Premier League games combined – the young Englishman hadn’t hit a league net in anger since late November. Their 3-0 win over Newcastle offered him the opportunity to change that.
Goalscorers Barkley and Aaron Lennon dominated proceedings and shined a guiding light following Everton’s crushing and unjust exit from the League Cup. The leading PlayON player of the Gameweek with 3,400 points, if this midfield dynamo can maintain this form, Everton may just have something to shout about by the end of the season.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
PlayON Price: £9.3 m
GW 24 Points: 3,050
Jamie Vardy has featured in this article so frequently that we’re beginning to run out of things to say about him, but here it goes…
The outstanding player of the season celebrated a new contract extension by turning in the kind of performance that has become a frequent occurrence.
To be honest I’d spotted that the Liverpool goalie was quite far off his line so when the ball bounced up for me I decided to give it a go – Jamie Vardy
In his own words, the forward undersells his opening goal. This was strike we’re used to seeing from the storied ex-strikers of the opposition – Liverpool – not often at the King Power Stadium. Of course, Riyad Mahrez played his part with a superb long pass into his teammates path, where Vardy proceed to lash it on the bounce to beat a dumbfounded Simon Mignolet from all of 25 yards. His next trick of the night was more rudimentary, but showed the opportunism of poacher.
Now with 18 goals this campaign, who knows what he can amass over Leicester’s final 14 games.
Jordan Ayew (Aston Villa)
PlayON Price: £7.7 m
GW 24 Points: -365
Looking back at my impulsive actions last night I sincerely apologise to the supporters of Aston Villa, my team-mates, AVFC staff and my coach – Jordan Ayew’s Instagram post on Tuesday night.
An apology for Aaron Creswell however, was conspicuously absent.
Following just 17 minutes of play, Jordan Ayew dealt Cresswell and his side’s survival chances this season the cruelest of blows. The ex-Lorient man viciously elbowed the full-back in the face following some defensive jostling in the West Ham penalty area. It was an uphill struggle before it really got going and the match tilted predictably to the Hammers following Ayew’s straight red card.
The Ghanaian been one of the Villains’ few sparks this season, scoring five in 16 starts – contributing almost a third of the club’s goals this season. They badly require his input for the remainder of the season, but for the next three games at least, Villa and Remi Garde will have to rely on others to step up their game and to start hitting the net. A tall order.
Jamal Lascelles (Newcastle United)
PlayON Price: £6.1 m
GW 24 Points: -475
Life in the fast lane takes some getting used to and Jamal Lascelles is discovering this fact.
The ex-Nottingham Forest enjoyed a personal highpoint in his short time as a Newcastle United player just last week, as the 22 year-old got on the scoresheet in a well contested 2-1 defeat to Watford. A bitter way to lose surely, but against Everton in Gameweek 24, the centre-half got a real dose of reality.
It was one of those nights where everything went right for the Toffees and no matter what combination of defenders McClaren put out on the field – Mbemba and Dummet were both hooked – nobody could contain their frontline. On the pitch for over 45 minutes, Lascelles fell victim to a quickfire double yellow before full-time, gifting Ross Barkley a penalty to round out a 3-0 drubbing.
Newcastle boast the third worst home defensive record in the league now, but with low-scoring West Brom on the horizon, they may just catch a breath. Jamaal Lascelles will watch on from the stands.
Declan Rudd (Norwich City)
PlayON Price: 5.4 m
GW 24 Points: 325
For the second week running, the Norwich keeper gets the nod on the Chumps list. It’s not entirely his fault – the now Canaries first choice made three telling saves in the 3-0 defeat to a dominant Spurs side and foiled Harry Kane from having yet another weekly goal rout.
However, Norwich were on the receiving end of the joint-largest defeat of the Gameweek and as such, someone must take the brunt of the blame in this column. Defensively, the men in front did him no favours, allowing Spurs to get no more than 18 shots away. This result largely chimed in with the rest of their season so far however, with Alex Neil’s men conceding almost two goals a game on average this season.
After a big January spend, results must come soon.