Every week we review three studs and three duds from the previous round of Premier League action. Which players shone for your fantasy football team in Gameweek 21 of FPL? Who let the side down?
Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)
PlayON Price: £7.6m
GW 21 Points: 4,050
For the second week in a row, Jermain Defoe was the star man of PlayON fantasy football after crushing the competition with a total of 4050 points. Defoe has now scored five times in the last two Gameweeks, seven times in his last six starts and, unthinkably, has propelled Sunderland to two consecutive wins.
The Black Cats have taken vital points from their relegation rivals over the past two weeks, largely thanks to Defoe’s goals. The barely owned striker has now reached 9 for the season from just thirteen starts and 34 attempts (no other striker with less than 50 attempts has scored more than five) and could be considered a strong differential play against weaker opponents. He may even be worth a punt against former club Spurs in Gameweek 22.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
PlayON Price: £13.4
GW 21 Points: 3500
We’ve been some of Wayne Rooney’s harshest critics at Daily Fantasy Focus, but there is no denying the recent uptick in the United captain’s form – with the catalyst seeming to be the decision to drop him on Boxing Day against Stoke.
United adapted their tactics to be more aggressive following that defeat, and Rooney has clearly benefited the most from that. While he remains less dangerous than a couple of years ago, he seems to have regained some hunger and confidence over the last month and has now scored four goals in the past three games. He’s still some ways off justifying his hefty fantasy price tag, but this is the best he’s looked all season by far and his high shot totals (13 in four games) suggest this isn’t just a flash in the pan.
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
PlayON Price: £11.4m
GW 21 Points: 2,890
Once dismissed as a striker who couldn’t produce the goods in the big games, Olivier Giroud seems to have discovered the knack for it this season. The French striker’s two goals looked certain to have secured victory for his side at Anfield before Joe Allen’s late strike ensured a share of the spoils. Add that goal to a hat-trick that secured Champions League qualification and his goal against Manchester City during the season and we have a striker that finally looks ready to lead Arsenal towards the title.
Perhaps, like Rooney, it was the spur of being dropped earlier in the season that brought about this improvement. Having forced his way back into the team, Giroud has now scored eight goals and added two assists in his last twelve starts. He did miss the sort of chance last night that gives the doubters pause, but his improvement in consistency over the last 18 months has been undeniable.
Kyle Naughton (Swansea)
PlayON Price: £6.7
GW 21 Points: -440
This full-back and his Swansea team mates delivered a display of spectacular ineptitude in allowing an exceedingly feeble Sunderland attack to put four goals past them at the Liberty Stadium. It was a performance that will haunt fans in their dreams for years to come, waking them in cold sweats as celebrating visions of Steven Fletcher and Jermain Defoe dance around their heads.
In Naughton, Ashley Williams and Neil Taylor Swansea have the makings of a solid back four, at least on reputation. However, as a unit they are failing horribly and Naughton, who was dismissed – albeit harshly – in addition to the concession of four goals, is our chump of the week for Gameweek 21.
Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
PlayON Price: £8.0
GW 21 Points: -220
It’s a bizarre week in Manchester when Wayne Rooney makes the champs list, while United’s player of the season finds his way into chump contention. Perhaps “Mike” Smalling was unnerved by the Pele references being thrown around by his increasingly unhinged manager, but whatever the reason he produced easily his worst game of the season.
Normally a calming force in the United defence, Smalling was very much at fault for United’s first goal and did little to help keep control of the rest of a makeshift back four. The new style may have added to the excitement for United fans but it also may have shown their defence isn’t as strong as we once thought.
Petr Cech (Arsenal)
PlayON Price: £7.6
GW 21 Points: 325
Cech has rightly drawn praise all year for the dramatic upgrade he has brought to Arsenal’s goalkeeping position and helping his new club to the summit of the Premier League table. However, the last night was the sort of game the Czech ‘keeper was supposed to win for Arsenal and he came up short by allowing Joe Allen’s late equaliser past him.
By no means was Cech a major cause of the dropped points, but if we are to laud him as we do, we should expect him to save shots like that with the game on the line. He has already saved the Gunners plenty of points this season, but last night he missed an opportunity to save them a couple more. Harsh, maybe, but expectations are rightly high for the man in the scrum hat.