Daily Fantasy Focus analyses the big hitters and wide misses of last week’s international action.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
PlayON Price: £12.5m
Kevin De Bruyne rounded out this Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in fitting fashion.
The Man City man scrawled his name on the scoresheet on not one but two occasions this week, guiding the Belgians to the Group B summit with starring performances against Andorra and Israel.
In fact, over the course of ten games, De Bruyne outstripped his illustrious European contemporaries – many competing in easier groups – to rank as the most creative player in Euro 2016 qualifying, forging 37 goalscoring chances in total.
He’s now maintaining the stellar form that won him the 2015 Bundesliga player of the season for both his national side and his new employers. In his first four games at City, he’s contributed directly to five goals, claiming two assists and three goals.
He really couldn’t have hoped for a better re-start to his Premier League career.
With injuries again hitting both Aguero and Silva this week, the ex-Wolfsburg man looks primed and truth be told, the most capable of taking up the mantle of the absent duo. He’ll be stretched no doubt, but clocking 12 attempts on goal and creating 13 chances so far, he’s the best equipped to do so.
Ross Barkley (Everton)
PlayON Price: £8.8m
Roy Hodgson’s faith in Ross Barkley paid off in a big way over England’s last two qualifying fixtures.
The 21 year old reaped the plaudits as the Three Lions dispatched Lithuania and was awarded man of the match in a 2-0 victory over Estonia. The Everton midfielder contributed with a goal and assist across those two games and while these sides are far from world beaters, the performances are evidence of Barkley’s growing influence and consistency this season.
Barkley seems to have put a disappointing 2014/15 campaign far behind him and is now focusing his obvious talents into consistent performances.
Scoring three assists over the course of the season so far, the 21 year old has noticeably stepped up his creativity over the past four Premier League games, with a chance created for his teammates every 29 minutes.
The return of Arouna Kone to the Everton frontline also appears to be getting the best out both Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, who’ve netted twice and three times respectively this season. The last time Everton met their Gameweek 9 opponents Manchester United, Barkley put in a commanding shift and teed up Mirallas for the third goal in a 3-0 schooling. Can we expect more of the same this time around?
PlayON Price: £10.2m
With Chelsea rocks – Ivanovic, Matic, Fabregas, Costa and Terry – all crumbling for varying and mysterious reasons this season, Willian is bucking the trend to become a vital player for his club side. Two years on from his arrival in England, the Brazilian is suddenly coming out of his worker-ant shell to inject important attacking value into Mourinho’s flailing side.
The wide-man scored in his two previous Premier League games against Newcastle and Southampton, despite both matches amounting to precisely zero wins for the Blues.
Can we put it down to a mere purple patch? It’s difficult to say. Willian has actually been equally impressive across the board, scoring two in two Champions League games, and likewise doing the business with his national side – netting twice to defeat Venezuela 3-1 in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Facing Villa this weekend, the ex-Shakhtar Donetsk man is a decent bet continue his one man mission to coax his teammates back to their former selves.
David Silva (Manchester City)
PlayON Price: £13.9m
David Silva and Sergio Aguero’s injury troubles this season have led to something of a stop-start campaign for Manchester City and they now look set to do without the duo for yet another stretch of games – the Manchester derby chief among them.
While on international duty, the playmaker was victim to a clumsy and dangerous tackle from behind as Spain cruised to a 4-0 victory over Luxumbourg.
Despite only lining out for the Sky Blues on five occasions this season, the Spaniard has still managed to lay on six assists and manufacture a goalscoring opportunity every 26 minutes on average for his side.
A loss to anyone surely, but compounded by a sidelined Aguero, City must persevere without their talismanic midfielder for two weeks at the very least.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)
PlayON Price: £7m
“At Southampton I am learning so much in every game I play, much more than I did in two years at Celtic.”
You knew these words would come back to haunt Virgil van Dijk, and his display for the Netherlands in a crippling 3-2 defeat to Czech Republic gave Celtic fans the opportune moment to stick the boot in.
The Dutchman was at fault for of the Czech Republic’s opening two goals, showing both poor positioning and a mistimed reactions to prevent a rapid Czech onslaught.
His arrival at St. Mary’s has been generally positive and his defensive partnership with Jose Fonte looks promising, but this was an atrocious day at the office. The errors on show here, coupled with his inability to rein in Anthony Martial – no easy feat – some weeks back will have planted suspicion in the minds of many fantasy managers.
Facing Mahrez, Vardy and company in Gameweek 9, perhaps he’s best avoided.
Tim Krul (Newcastle United)
PlayON Price: £6.6m
The situation in the north east seems to grow grimmer and grimmer by the day.
Not only are Newcastle the most injury hit side in the league – an all too familiar situation for the Magpies – not only are they sitting bottom of the table, but they’ve now lost their best player for the rest of the season.
Tim Krul has saved Newcastle’s blushes on several occasions this season – ranking third among keepers for saves with 33 so far – but he won’t be there to bail them out any longer, with the Dutchman sustaining a cruciate ligament injury to his right knee while on duty with the Netherlands.
Rob Elliot looks set to take on the responsibility, but you’d imagine that given all evidence, Newcastle’s squad – or what remains of them- are best avoided as fantasy options for the time being.