We review some of the key talking points from Gameweek 11 in the Premier League.
Benteke Foils, Martial Toils
Gameweek 11 was a mixed bag for strikers.
With Daniel Sturridge ruled out until further notice, you’d be forgiven for believing that Christian Benteke – a goalscorer in two of Liverpool’s preceding three Premier League games – would be granted a start against a Chelsea side with just two clean sheets this season. It wasn’t to be – Roberto Firmino got the nod to lead a triumvirate composed of Lallana and Coutinho, leaving the Belgian to patiently wait on the bench.
Benteke still managed to have the defining say. Much like he did against Southampton in Gameweek 10, Liverpool’s newest number nine came on to change the course of the game. He turned provider initially – using his aerial prowess to knock down for Coutinho’s second – before he put the game beyond doubt with a measured and confident finish. With form like this, Klopp can no longer ignore the ex-Villa man’s bonafide claims for the centre-forward role – in fantasy terms, this could soon mean a boost for both him and his growing list of admirers.
Post-game, the manager was glowing about his target man.
“He instantly brought presence to the attack. We knew that if we put the ball up there, it was going to stick.
“For the rest of the team, they know there will be an end product to all their build-up work and that makes such a difference, especially to midfield players.”
If Benteke has enjoyed good fortune springing from the bench, fellow francophone forward, Anthony Martial, is undergoing an entirely different scenario on the left wing. If defies logic for all but him – but Louis Van Gaal’s persistence with Wayne Rooney as his primary striker is clearly impacting Martial both on the field and in his fantasy football potential.
“We didn‘t give Martial an inch today. Not an inch.
Securing a 0-0 draw with United, Palace manager Alan Pardew revealed his aim to thwart Martial from the offset – “It was a big target for us to stop him and we felt that if we could stop him we could stop their creative angle.”
Playing out of position in three of the past four league games, he’s going through a dry spell. His goal average was always going to experience a downturn given his age and preposterously good start – but the drop-off has still been sheer. It’s clear that he’s good enough to rekindle his fantasy value this season, but one this is certain – Rooney must go.
Hart Error Won’t Diminish Value and Watford Continue to Reward
Traditionally such a visible and extroverted character in the Manchester City goal, Joe Hart has been less his combative self, but no less effective this season.
That was different in Gameweek 11. City’s triumph over Norwich was given a case of the jitters in Gameweek 11, as Joe Hart uncharacteristically flapped at a Robbie Brady cross to tee up Cameron Jerome for a late equaliser. The game finished 2-1 in City’s favour, but that slip up not withstanding, Hart has been a picture of consistency this season – tying top for clean sheets alongside Boaz Myhill and Petr Cech with six in total.
Manuel Pellegrini was quick to defend his number one – “Apart from that error, there were only two shots at him in the game and he saved those because he is a very good goalkeeper.
Now might actually be a prime time to select Hart in your line-ups, with Villa on the horizon and many casual players taking the uncharacteristic error as a deterrent for selection.
While City have by and large been defensively sound, this season’s truly unsung defensive champions Watford deserve much credit. Quique Sanchez Flores has created a sturdy counter-attacking side that hinges as much on the unsung work of the backline as it does on the prowess of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. The Nigerian got another brace at the weekend and had more touches in the box than any other striker across the entire Gameweek with 13 in total. However, this counted as Watford’s fifth clean sheet of the season.
Miguel Britos and Nathan Ake have been drafted in of late and performed admirably, but Nathan Cathcart and goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes have been two of the ever-present performers in Watford’s excellent re-start to Premier League life.
Everton Bounce Back in Style
It threatened to be another one of those disappointing days for Everton.
The Toffees surrendered an early two goal lead against Sunderland after Arouna Kone and Gerard Deulofeu put gave them the advantage. Kone ensured that it wasn’t to be Sunderland’s day however as the Ivorian continued his superb 2015-16 campaign with a hat-trick, an assist and a man of the match performance.
Everton finished the game as comprehensive 6-2 winners.
It was a display at direct odds with his fellow countryman, Wilfried Bony. The Manchester City striker was the most wasteful player of the Gameweek with a profligate nine attempts and not a single goal to show for it. Aguero is badly missed on that front.
Kone was surgical by comparison. The striker’s understanding with Romelu Lukaku is now getting the best out of both players and they combined to superb effect again here with the younger man grabbing a goal and assist for his stellar efforts. Another major positive was the contribution of Deulofeu who is now really finding his feet in English football – the Spaniard scored from Kone’s square ball to open the scoring and then laid up Lukaku for his finish.
With a Kone-Lukaku-Deulofeu trident reaching a peak here, now appears to be the time to go heavy on Everton in daily fantasy line-ups.