We entered gameweek 9 having seen Manchester City go down 4-0 at the hands of Barcelona in mid-week, with some rotation possible in Pep Guardiola’s side. Meanwhile, José Mourinho prepared to take a side away to Stamford Bridge for just the second time in his managerial career. The first of these came when he took an Inter side to the Bridge who would go on to take the title of Europe’s best, winning a treble in the process in Italy. Burnley prepared to play host to an Everton side who were without a win in three league matches after an incredibly promising start to the campaign under Ronald Koeman. There was also a big clash at the bottom with a sliding Hull City side taking on an improving Stoke City team at the KCOM stadium. So, here’s the FPL Gameweek 9 Review:
Victor Valdés – The former Barcelona hasn’t had the easiest of beginnings to his Boro career after he was released by Manchester United in summer. Having had to sit out a couple of matches early on, he seems to have made the space between the sticks his own, fighting off competition from fellow new signing Brad Guzan. Boro travelled to the Emirates to face an Arsenal side in excellent form, and were firm favourites, with many expecting a trouncing considering Boro’s shaky form. However, it was not to be as a combination of superb defending and goalkeeping, as well as an inability for Arsenal to finish chances meant that the Teeside club would come away with a precious point towards securing their premier league status after a lengthy spell in the Championship. However, one may question where the goals are coming from as they yet again fail to find the net.
Winston Reid – West Ham have had a tough start to life at the London Stadium, having registered just one victory this season prior to their fixture against Sunderland on Saturday. They seemed to be heading for another disappointing home result, when the New Zealand defender struck deep into second half stoppage time to secure a vital three points for Slaven Bilic’s side. It also sees another late defeat for Sunderland, who have struggled under David Moyes, and it seems to be the same old story where the Black Cats are concerned, and they’ll need to pick it up quickly if they are to escape the drop yet again. They have been playing a dangerous game for certain over the past few years, and one would wonder when their luck will run out. Fans are clearly disillusioned with the cycle of poor starts and new managers, and seemed to be in good stead under Sam Allardyce, however his exploits have been well publicised.
Gary Cahill – Chelsea put on a show for their fans, as two-time former manager Jose Mourinho prepared to bring his Manchester United side to West London. It’s fair to say it wasn’t a good day for United, as they went down 4-0 on the day, putting in an abysmal showing in the process. They were a goal down within 30 seconds, and it never improved for United, as the Blues put them to the sword. Cahill himself was able to extend the lead. Despite creating a few good chances, the Red Devils’ inability to finish saw they well-beaten by a Blues side that had struggled so far against large opposition. Having lost to both Arsenal and Liverpool already, Antonio Conte will have been delighted to see his team excite the home fans, and he was clearly enjoying himself, as when 4-0 up he was seen to be rallying the crowd, which sparked controversy over comments made to the Italian by Mourinho.
Ryan Shawcross – Stoke City began the season in horrific form, failing to register a win in their opening six league matches. However, since then, they’ve taken seven points from a possible nine, as the Potters seem a different side. They ran out 2-0 winners against a Hull side that have seen a terrible run of form following two wins from their opening two league matches. Mike Phelan has since been given the job on a permanent basis, following Steve Bruce’s summer departure. Bruce has since moved to take the Aston Villa job, while Phelan has a real task on his hands to keep a despondent Hull side in the Premier League. They let go of key players following their promotion, while they had an inability to make many new acquisitions.
Simon Francis – Bournemouth’s home form was the very thing that kept them in the Premier League last time out, and it seems that there’ll be not let up at the Vitality, as the Cherries held unbeaten Spurs to a 0-0 draw in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off. Bournemouth haven’t lost at home since the opening weekend, when they faced Manchester United. An integral part of this form has been skipper and commanding centre-half Simon Francis. Having moved from full-back to centre-back on a permanent basis following the departure of Captain Tommy Elphick to Aston Villa, the Cherries have always seemed a force at home, proving very difficult to break down, even for the top sides in the League.
Xherdan Shaqiri – The Swiss midfielder was in fine form for Stoke as they made light work of a weak Hull City side to give Stoke a second consecutive win. He opened the scoring for the Potters with a fine strike, curling in from 25 yards after receiving the ball from Ryan Shawcross. However, the former Bayern and Inter Milan winger wasn’t finished there. He would find the net yet again when he stood over a free-kick, only to bend over the wall and past David Marshall having won the kick himself. He could have added two assists as well, were it for better finishing from Wilfried Bony and Marko Arnautovic respectively. It was a vital win from Stoke, as they look to get their season back on track. Mark Hughes has some talented players at his disposal, but they’ll need more of the same performances if they want to stand a chance of finishing in the top half this season.
Pedro – It didn’t take long for the Spaniard to make his mark on Mourinho’s return. Played in by Marcos Alonso after 30 seconds, a mix-up between goalkeeper David De Gea and Chris Smalling left the former Barcelona man with an empty net to slot into. It has been tough for Pedro to adjust to life in London, and more specifically the Premier League, with only glimpses of the talent that had been nurtured in La Masia from a young age. There’s plenty of competition for the wide spots at Chelsea, with Eden Hazard being a regular fixture, with Pedro himself, Willian and Victor Moses all fighting it out for the one space. With no European football, one wonders whether Antonio Conte will be able to please all of his options.
Scott Arfield – Burnley took on Everton at Turf Moor on Saturday, knowing that their chances of survival may rest almost entirely on their ability to grind out results at home. They showed grit and determination to run out 2-1 winners on the day, from a match that will leave Everton fans wondering how their side never came away with a win. Arfield marched through the middle of the pitch before his scuff was parried by Stekelenburg in the Everton goal straight to the feet of Sam Vokes, who tapped in to give the Clarets the lead. Everton would equalise when Yannick Bolasie took the ball from Romelu Lukaku before rifling past Tom Heaton in some style. From then on Everton were dominant, and Heaton made save after save. With Everton chasing a winner, Johann Berg Gudmundsson curled a strike against the bar, before the ball fell for Arfield who slotted the ball in on the volley from 18 yards impressively to send the home fans into raptures. It’s a vital three points in Burnley’s battle to beat the drop.
Sadio Mané – Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool forked out £35 million to sign Sadio Mané from Southampton in summer. However, the forward has slotted right in, and has fit perfectly into Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressure system. Liverpool welcomed West Brom to Anfield on Saturday evening as Tony Pulis sought revenge after he and Klopp had a war of words following comments from the German. Liverpool came out of the blocks fastest, going 2-0 up within thirty-five minutes with strikes from Mané and Coutinho. However, the Reds wouldn’t have it all their own way, as Gareth McAuley pulled a goal back for the Baggies with ten minutes remaining. Liverpool would hang on however, to continue their fine start to the season.
Yohan Cabaye – French midfielder Cabaye was hailed as an inspirational signing from Alan Pardew when he made the switch from Paris to South London last summer, however it hasn’t been plain sailing for the former Newcastle man. Having enjoyed a decent first season at Selhurst Park, the playmaker has found minutes rather more difficult to come by this campaign, however he enjoyed a fine game at the King Power on Saturday, despite what the score line may suggest. Palace had chances in the game, however they were punished for being wasteful in front on goal, as goals from Musa, Okazaki and Fuchs would see three points for Leicester. Cabaye pulled one back, only for the Eagles to go close again from the Foxes’ kick-off. Palace will be left wondering what could have been while Leicester take a three, much-needed points.
Kelechi Iheanacho – Manchester City have been struggling of late, and currently find themselves without a league win in three matches. One wonders whether their loss to Barcelona may have impacted the team as many feared. They faced Southampton at Eastlands with hopes of getting back to winning ways, but it wasn’t to be. A terrible error from John Stones put Nathan Redmond in on goal, rounding Claudio Bravo in the City net before finishing coolly. City had their fair share of chances, and equalised when some terrific forward play allowed Leroy Sané to pass the ball across the area into an open Iheanacho to slot home from six yards. City looked like they may have grabbed a winner, but it wasn’t to be for Guardiola’s men, who will face a test away at West Bromwich Albion next time out.
Written by Ryan Nevin (@RNevin7)