Every Monday, we review some of the key talking points from the previous round of Premier League action. Gameweek 20 saw a return to winning ways for Manchester United, the continuation of Leicester City’s drought and how a recent increase of clean sheets is affecting our fantasy football teams.
Manchester United Embrace More Attacking Approach
Manchester United ended their horror run of eight games without a victory by defeating Swansea 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday. The result eased the pressure slightly on manager Louis van Gaal, who has been criticised relentlessly for the “boring” style of football he has produced.
Although van Gaal is as outwardly stubborn as any manager in the Premier League, it does appear that he has released the shackles on his players over the last two games when United have attempted 31 shots on goal – a figure tied for 4th in the league. That average of 15.5 shots per game is more than double what they were averaging heading into the Chelsea game.
The Old Trafford side remain far removed from the marauding, free-spirited attackers that the club is renowned for, but the last few weeks have offered a glimmer of hope for the misty eyed fans chanting “attack, attack, attack,” from the stands.
Leicester City’s Inevitable Dry Spell Poses Challenge for Managers
For a time it seemed Leicester City would continue to ride the furious wave of momentum that brought them to the summit of the Premier League indefinitely. However, a dip in the unsustainable form of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez has seen them sink back towards a crowded base camp.
The free scoring duo’s drop off has seen Leicester go three games without a goal, and as the prescient Michael Owen has often pointed out it’s tough to win games when you don’t score. Both men look tired and Vardy is apparently due to have surgery this week. Resting them for this week’s FA Cup tie could make a lot of sense with a game in mid-week.
For fantasy managers, selling high on at least one of the two is a strategy that should be considered if it hasn’t already been employed. So much of FPL is knowing when to cut bait with players, and with some tough fixtures upcoming we have likely seen the best of Leicester for the near future.
Clean Sheets On The Rise Over Christmas Period
The festive period has been anything but joyful for Premier League strikers as Gameweeks 18, 19 and 20 saw the highest three game stretch of clean sheets all season. In total, there were 24 clean sheets in the fixtures between Boxing Day and January 3rd – a 12% increase over last year’s average and three more than during any three week stretch this season.
The sudden rise raises the interesting dilemma over whether to consider adding a fourth defender to your line ups for Gameweek 21. However, with defenders often capped in their ability to earn upside points the size of your league is vital to consider when implementing this strategy.