Every week we give you our take on the biggest talking points from the Premier League and the impact they might have on your fantasy football team.
Stones brings poise to Everton’s back four
It has taken the majority of the season but, finally, Everton are showing the sort of form that made them legitimate contenders for a Champions League spot in 2013/14. On Sunday, they demolished Manchester United at Goodison Park for the second straight year, destroying the Red Devils on the counter-attack.
Their midfield duo of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy were exceptional, with McCarthy grabbing the crucial first goal. But the real star of this Everton side is their young central defender, John Stones. Still only 20 years of age, he barely allowed Wayne Rooney a sight of the ball and grabbed a goal of his own with a bullet header just before half-time.
Stones missed a large portion of the season due to injury, and Everton’s back four struggled badly in his absence. Despite the presence of big name players like Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka, the stats suggest that Stones is the defender who makes everything tick for the Toffees. Everton have conceded a goal every 98 minutes when Stones has played, as opposed to one every 54 minutes when he hasn’t. As long as he remains in the line up, Everton’s good run of form looks set to continue.
N’Doye brace gives Hull hope
With Leicester City enjoying a barn-storming run of form in recent weeks, the pressure has been heaped on the likes of Hull City to start picking up points in order to avoid relegation. Fortunately for boss Steve Bruce, his side did just that at the weekend against a Crystal Palace side who suddenly seem intent on being charitable to any struggling side they face.
The result was achieved thanks to a brace from Dame N’Doye – a signing that may end up being the shrewdest of Bruce’s time at Hull. The Senegalese striker, purchased in January from Lokamotive Moscow, has scored five vital goals in just ten appearances, a vital contribution to his new club. With Hull enjoying a double gameweek this week – albeit tough fixtures against Arsenal and Liverpool – he may even make it onto the radar of fantasy football managers.
Mignolet the clean sheet king of 2015
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea was rightly appreciated for his season-long excellence when landing in third place in the player of the year voting, but another ‘keeper deserves huge plaudits for his performances this season, Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet.
Back in December, when the Belgian was dropped “indefinitely” for Brad Jones for Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford, his future at Anfield seemed bleaker than Fabio Borini’s. However, in 2015 Mignolet has, save for a poor game against Arsenal, been the Premier League’s form goalkeeper, keeping nine clean sheets in 14 appearances and conceding just 11 goals. He may never be considered in De Gea’s league but it is a record that nonetheless deserves credit, and also reveals a resiliency in Mignolet’s character that is worth admiring.