Every week we review three studs and three duds from the previous round of action. Which players shone brightest in the FA Cup 5th Round? Who flattered to deceive?
Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
PlayON Price: £10.4m
Postgame, Slaven Bilic wasn’t short on praise for the man of the moment, Dimitri Payet – “I haven’t seen better players than that. He is also doing the dirty work and on the ball he is up there with Luka Modric from the players I have trained so far”.
Payet may be a very different player to the Madrid man, but his influence on this West Ham side certainly has parallels to the Croatian’s command of that vintage Spurs side of 2010-11.
The Hammers crushed this poor Blackburn outfit with startling ease, but it was all made possible through the omnipotent influence of Payet. The attacking midfielder scored as good a brace as you’re likely to see this season, and capped off the performance with an assist as West Ham ran out as 5-1 winners.
Already one of the top players of the season so far, Payet now looks to be coming into an impressive surge of form if this game and his starring role against Norwich City in Gameweek 26 are anything to go by. His new teammate Emmanuel Emenike has also hit the ground running at the ideal time for both West Ham and fantasy speculators. Expect a big upturn in the Frenchman’s fantasy popularity in Gameweek 27.
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
PlayON Price: £11.9m
The young Belgian and his cohort Ross Barkley have been the resounding positives of Everton’s persistently inconsistent 2015/16 season.
They were both on song again in a convincing display against Bournemouth, as the Toffees ran out 2-0 winners. Lukaku takes the plaudits of course, but interestingly the match was largely orchestrated from the boot of veteran midfielder Gareth Barry, who provided the assist for Lukaku and was arguably man of the match.
Lukaku however holds the real fantasy value. The Belgian has had several hot streaks in form this season and has claimed 16 league goals already. Could this start another splurge from the striker? He’s only got one in his last six league games, but with a very leaky Liverpool and Aston Villa his next two opponents in the League the 22 year old could be well within his right to build on his impressive cup display.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
PlayON Price: £13.8m
He’s not back to his best, far from it – but this was a start.
Despite explicitly fluttering his eyes in the direction of a PSG transfer last week, against Manchester City Hazard looked focused on the here and now. The Belgian has been a far cry from his scintillating showings last season, but in successive cup rounds he’s put in a commendable shift.
He scored one and laid on two assists at Stamford Bridge and began to convince some that maybe Guus Hiddink is finally getting him to sing from the same hymn sheet as his vastly improved teammates. Is this performance enough to reconvince jilted fantasy managers? That remains to be seen, but with Southampton up next in the league, it may be premature to renew your vows with the Chelsea wide-man.
Two assists and no goals in 23 league appearances tells its own story.
Willy Caballero (Manchester City)
PlayON Price: £6.7m
Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to field some of his second stringers and blood the kids hasn’t been received to well in many Manchester City corners. Sure they have crucial Champions League and Premier League fixtures on the horizon, but did he really have to field such a weak side against fellow big-hitters and supposed rival Chelsea?
5-1 was the final scoreline and one figure who must shoulder his share of the blame was stand-in keeper, Willy Caballero. The Argentine’s days as Joe Hart’s understudy could be numbered on this showing as he floundered and flapped at successive chances and was generally unable to take command his area. Given his status in the City squad, this performance is unlikely to impact too many fantasy line-ups, but it did rank as far and away the worst performance of the weekend.
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United)
PlayON Price: £8.3m
Perhaps the only black mark on an otherwise superb showing was that Cheik Kouyate got himself sent off in the 75th minute of the game. With West Ham coasting to victory, the Senegalese battler brought down Blackburn’s Adam Henley as he raced straight through on goal and received his marching orders.
Kouyate, the midfield anchor of this Hammers side, is now due to miss their next game at home to Sunderland through suspension – as the red card has been carried over from the Cup to the Premier League. Slaven Bilic and the powers that be at Upton Park have already expressed their intentions to appeal the decision but it looks unlikely to be overturned.
Although Kouyate doesn’t enjoy major popularity in the FPL format, in PlayON he’s proven himself to be a sound acquisition, regularly topping the charts in his defensive contributions. His four league goals from a defensive midfield position haven’t been too shabby either.
Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
PlayON Price: £7.2m
Since returning from a long term knee ligament injury, Ben Foster appeared to be on the up. Much like his near-namesake, Forster, he’d been putting in a string of positive performances to give Roy Hodgson something to think about in the run up to Euro 2016 – two impressive clean sheets in his past four Premier League games will attest to that.
This however was a step back for WBA and Foster. The disgraceful behaviour of the away support towards their own player took much of the focus off the performance, but there’s little to justify a full-strength West Brom side losing comprehensively 3-1 to Reading. Foster had an off-day certainly, managing just two saves and generally looking as if his reflexes had completely escaped him for the 90 minutes.
The Baggies have proved to be popular defensive boosters in fantasy line-ups, with Myhill and Dawson a common feature in the early part of the season. With tough clashes against Palace and Leicester up next in the league, WBA and their goalkeeper are potentially slippery picks. Err on the side of caution.