Daily Fantasy Focus reviews three of the major talking points from Gameweek 26 of Premier League action and focuses in on some of the major storylines relating to fantasy football. The Saints continue their tabular ascent, two Daniels return, and Leicester finally falter.
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Chelsea and Southampton Creeping into Consideration
They were scorelines of vastly differing margins, but they both told a similar story. Chelsea punished Newcastle to the tune of 5-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday in a win that wouldn’t have been out of place in last year’s title march. The Blues are of course, extremely far from that conversation this season, and the victory serves merely to push them up to 12th. What this win did tell us is what was alluded to in these pages before Gameweek 26 – Chelsea are fantasy dark horses. The Londoners are unbeaten under Guus Hiddink in all competitions and Diego Costa, Willian and Cesc Fabregas all played with a swagger. Costa in particular has been revitalised under the Dutchman and now has four goals and two assists in his last six Premier League appearances.
Southampton meanwhile secured their sixth clean sheet in as many games, and their fifth win. Last season under Ronald Koeman, Southampton fostered a kind of swashbuckling identity, ranking as one of the most exciting attacking teams in the league, while also maintaining defensive solidity. The goals haven’t come as thick and fast this time around, but the defence is sturdier than it’s ever been, The return of Fraser Forster has directly contributed to that and the England international was on song again as the Saints grabbed a 1-0 victory through a fortunate Shane Long goal. Both sides face off in Gameweek 26 and while they may cancel eachother out in this particular contest, they must be considered for fantasy options going into the final stretch of the season.
Two Daniels Return, Are They Worth a Fantasy Risk?
Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are two players vying for a place on the Euro 2016 plane and both returned to action on Sunday, with similar results. The former’s transformative influence was there for all to see as Liverpool decimated Aston Villa 6-0 away and in some style. After a prolonged and troubled spell on the sideline, the striker showed just how indispensable he is with a goal in the opening minutes of the game. His combination with the likes of Firmino and Coutinho were undoubted high points in a dominant performance from Liverpool but the England international will need to repeat this kind of showing if fantasy managers are to feel comfortable selecting him in their starting XIs.
Danny Welbeck meanwhile, scored potentially the most important goal of his career to date with a last gasp winner against league leaders Leicester City in Gameweek 26. Much like Sturridge, Welbeck had been on the field just a few minutes when his opportunity came, and the ex-Manchester United man made no mistake in converting. Will this goal establish Welbeck as a go to option for the remainder of the season? Probably not. Despite Olivier Giroud’s inability to hit the net against their direct competitors – albeit denied by some heroic Foxes’ defending on occasion – Arsene Wenger’s faith in his compatriot is strong. Welbeck, like Sturridge, will need to repeat this trick if he’s to prove his worth to his own manager and his fantasy selectors alike.
Leicester Falter, Spurs Consolidate Power
Brave Leicester finally lose. They can feel aggrieved at the refereeing decision and the Foxes were likewise denied a vital point by the space of a minute as the aforementioned Welbeck fired past Kasper Schemeichel. There are positives however. This game counted as the last of a tough slew of fixtures where they earned six points from nine against Liverpool, Manchester City and the Gunners. The immediate games on the horizon look to be the ultimate antidote now for Ranieri’s men with both struggling Norwich and a middle of the road West Brom to take on over the next two Gamweeks. Vardy earned and powered home his penalty, Schmeichel beat away four goalward shots and N’Golo Kante was everywhere on the pitch. On the day, it just wasn’t to be and Arsenal took the spoils.
Direct league contenders, Spurs however, put the “it’s only Spurs” tag well and truly to bed in Gameweek 26. With a penalty – awarded under suspect cirumstances – from Harry Kane and a late, composed finish from Christian Eriksen, Pochettino’s men showed that they had mettle in abundance – the kind of which Manuel Pellegrini probably wishes his team had. City were sluggish and second best for most of a game that finished 2-1, with one real flourish, a goal in fact, from the unlikely lad – Kelechi Iheanacho. City have the experience over their three title challengers, but with Champions League to contend with, is that really enough?