Daily Fantasy Focus reviews three of the major talking points from Gameweek 25 of Premier League action and focuses in on some of the major storylines relating to fantasy football. Roberto Firmino is shining, City are stumbling and Arsenal are back on track.
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Roberto Firmino fast becoming Liverpool’s main man
All is not well on Merseyside. Many fans – outraged by an upcoming increase in ticket prices – walked out of the stadium after 77 minutes of Saturday’s game against Sunderland. The team responded by losing a two goal lead, with the minds of the players appearing to wander away with the crowds.
Earlier in the day, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had failed to even make it to the ground after being struck down by appendicitis. His recovery surely won’t have been helped by the result. All in all, it was a day when the club felt as fragmented as it did during the Hicks and Gillett ownership.
Before the chaotic and ultimately catastrophic conclusion at Anfield, Roberto Firmino had given a display to brighten a dull February day. The Brazilian scored the first, set up Adam Lallana for the second and generally moved around the pitch with an energy and grace that marked him out from the other 21 players.
After a tough start to the season the signing from Hoffenheim has emerged as his side’s match winner over the winter months, replacing Christian Benteke as the main striking option and also taking on injured countryman Philippe Coutinho’s role as playmaker. They have many other problems, but Liverpool appear to have found a serious player in Firmino.
Manchester City’s defeat to Leicester City shines light on glaring weaknesses
Unbeaten in seven league games going into Gameweek 25, Manchester City were expected to show their championship mettle and derail the fairy tale season of their title competitors Leicester City. Instead they ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Robert Huth’s early goal and never recovered.
City’s frailties have been largely covered up by the combination of Joe Hart’s goalkeeping and Sergio Aguero’s goals, but while both played well, neither could fully prevent their teammates from being overrun by a Leicester outfit that tore them apart time and again on the counter. It was a game that highlighted the just what Manuel Pellegrini’s side is missing.
Vincent Kompany’s absence has been papered over for much of the season but City never look fully comfortable when shorn of the Belgian’s presence. They’ve kept seven clean sheets in his nine league appearances this season, but just four in the 16 games he has missed.
Quite simply, the center backs City have brought in to compliment him are not good enough. Despite costing around £70 million between them, the duo of Otamendi and Mangala are pale imitations of their captain and make way too many mistakes. Against Leicester, this was ruthlessly exploited by a side that possess quality and decisiveness in spades and have arguably the league’s best creative player in Riyad Mahrez.
Kompany is due back in a couple of weeks. His return to health is now the most important factor in City’s title bid. The drop off behind him is too huge to overcome.
Mesut Ozil ends mini-slump to get Arsenal back to winning ways
Arsenal’s barren three game run without a goal came to an end and – like the antiquated cliche about buses, two came almost at once. Importantly for fantasy owners Mesut Ozil was the one to break both the team’s slump and his own by recording his first goal or assist dating back to December.
Ozil’s form hadn’t necessarily dipped that dramatically; he created an insane ten chances for teammates against Southampton. Nevertheless it was nice to see him back among the fantasy points given the number of owners investing heavily in him. He is currently in the midst of one of the great seasons by a creative midfielder in the Premier League and were it not for the work of Mahrez we would be talking about him far more.
Despite patchy form, Arsenal are still very much in the title race. They will need Ozil to continue his record breaking performances in order to be in with a chance in May. For fantasy football managers, he is of equal importance.