We review some of the key talking points – both in fantasy football and in reality – from the past week in international and Premier League football.
Sergio Sidelined… Again
It’s become an all too familiar and troublesome sight – Sergio Aguero stretchered off the field with a look of grief plastered across his face.
We had seen it once before this season at Crystal Palace, when the Argentine was subbed off after 25 minutes with a knee injury. That occasion turned out to be little more than a scare, as Aguero returned to Premier League action the following week.
This one seems a little more serious however. A seven game absence is the initial estimation for the 27 year old, with a return slated for City’s clash with Liverpool on the 21st of November.
It’s a major blow to City and fantasy managers in general, seeing as the forward had belatedly announced himself on the 2015/16 campaign with a stunning and rapid-fire five goals against Newcastle in Gameweek 8.
“The injury must be let recover a bit so there is no relapse. This is an injury you have to recover bit by bit but of course I want to be back quickly.” Sensible words for sure, but given City’s reliance on the player, expect him to be fast-tracked back into the side at their earliest convenience.
It’s a worrying trend and one that brings to mind Fernando Torres’ injury-hit downward spiral that began at the tail end of his Liverpool career.
For Aguero and City, you’d hope it’s not a precedent.
Mixed Bag for the Saints
There were some positives during the international break for a Southampton side that are coming into form at a crucial point in the season.
The initial madness of the opening stages of the Premier League seem to have subsided and normal service should resume over the coming weeks. Southampton have been a case in point, as they’ve begun to resemble their impressive 2014/15 selves again.
The international break though has given its fair share of pros and cons for the Saints and Ronald Koeman to mull over. Graziano Pelle for one, continued his superb recent form on international duty as he scored Italy’s winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Norway. The centre-forward has scored a goal every 25 minutes over the past four Premier League games, from a strong 15 attempts on goal. Expect him to continue in much the same vein against a leaky Leicester side this weekend.
Shane Long meanwhile put himself firmly into Irish folklore, battering a stunning goal past Manuel Neuer in the Germany goal for the Irish to run out as 1-0 winners in Dublin. This joy was soon marred however, as the 28 year old was struck down with injury against Poland just a few days later.
Captain Jose Fonte held firm against Denmark and Serbia respectively to secure a 1-0 and 2-1 victory for Portugal, but his defensive partner at club level wasn’t so successful. New signing Virgil Van Dijk was complicit in the Dutch defeat to Czech Republic last night, as a lapse allowed the opposition to ghost past and score the second of a damning 3-2 defeat – terminating their qualification hopes.
United Men On Song
Anthony Martial made his first full debut for France and came in for praise from both his manager Didier Deschamps and the notoriously critical L’Equipe readers, who voted him the Les Bleus’ star performer against Denmark in a 2-1 Copenhagen friendly.
This was the 19 year old’s first full debut for the senior side and he started the game to the left of Olivier Giroud in a three man front-line. Martial would soon turn provider for the Arsenal man to open the scoring after just six minutes of play. This counted as his second assist in successive international games for France having previously contributed in a 4-0 rout of Armenia last Thursday.
The son of a United legendary goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, in fact denied the youngster a goal in this fixture, but fantasy managers and Louis Van Gaal will be buoyed by the assist potential shown. A promising compliment to his razor-sharp goalscoring instincts.
It was a current Manchester United shot-stopper however, who demonstrated a claim as a contender for the world’s top goalkeeper. David De Gea pulled off a string of stupendous and improbable saves to deny Ukraine a result and automatic Euros qualification in a tightly fought Group C clash.
De Gea’s reactions are his greatest strength, as outlined in his 12 saves from shots inside the box over the past four Premier League Gameweeks – only behind Butland and Ruddy, both with 13. He may prove a risky inclusion for the Manchester derby this weekend but generally speaking, the Spaniard is a points guarantee in Daily Fantasy Football.
With De Gea and Martial leading from back to front, expect United to overcome their Gameweek 8 Arsenal blip and capitalise on the Premier League’s currently flaky top tier.