After a stunning Boxing Day set of fixtures, there was an apathetic feel to gameweek 19. Many players seemed to be just going through the motions as two games in 3 days appeared to have drained the life out of them. The rotation fears were somewhat unfounded; although some big names were rested. It’ll be gameweek 20 on New Years Day where a few more will miss out and make managers rue their decision not to invest in their bench players.
Lets look at who made the dream team at the halfway point of the season.
Somewhat surprisingly given that he kept ANOTHER clean sheet, it’s not Pantilimon who makes the line-up this week. Instead, it was QPR keeper Rob Green who gets the gloves due to his 10 point return following the goalless draw with Crystal Palace.
Keeping Green company is his team-mate Mauricio Isla. It says something about this match that both Isla and Green were awarded maximum bonus points. QPR have a couple of decent fixtures coming up, but their away day blues should put you off investing in their back line; especially when most of us have Charlie Austin as our representative from the West London club.
An 11 point return made it 19 points in three days for Stoke City defender Erik Pieters. An assist and two bonus points during the 2-0 win over West Brom made it a profitable festive period for the 1.1% of managers who own him. At £4.6m you could do worse, but be warned ; its Man Utd next up at the Brittania, followed by a trip to the Emirates to take on Arsenal.
With a considerably higher ownership percentage (11.9%) the defence was completed by little Alan Hutton of Aston Villa. His 8 points gained during the 0-0 against Sunderland were enough to get him into the weekly team.
In a struggling Leicester team, Riyad Mahrez continues to shine, and his second goal of the season and an 11 point total rewarded the 0.3% of you who own him. It proved to be the only goal in the away win at Hull, and in doing so Mahrez ensured the record of worst Premier League team ever remains with rivals Derby County. Don’t bother rushing to bring Mahrez in though – he disappears on International Duty after gameweek 20!
In the absence of a striker, Manchester City have been relying on goals from their midfield and it’s fair to say they have delivered in recent games. However, it isn’t Silva, Yaya or even Nasri who makes the team this gameweek. Instead, scoring his first goal of the season and returning his first double figure return in the process, it was Fernandinho and his 10 point total.
Also on 10 points this week is Arsenal’s form player Santi Cazorla. He won and scored his own penalty, having learnt his lesson from gameweek 18 when he let Alexis Sanchez take – and miss – the spot kick he should have taken. 40 points in his last five outings make him an attractive option if you’ve got £8.2m burning a hole in your pocket.
Jordan Henderson continued his good form of late with another two assists, which provided a good platform for Liverpool to go on and complete their 4-1 win over Swansea. Without Steven Gerrard in the starting line-up, Henderson showed some class and led from the front.
The highest scoring player of the week picked up 15 points and was Liverpool’s Adam Lallana. After a stunning season last year at Southampton, he finally looks to be settling in at Anfield following his big money move. His brace made it four goals for the season at the halfway point. Considering he scored 9 in total last year it could be argued he’s proving to be consistent. However, it’s in the collection of bonus points where he is letting himself down. He was awarded the maximum for this performance, but hadn’t received any prior to that since 2 back in gameweek 7. Last season he finished with 20 in total so a few more “man of the match” performances are needed from him.
With his 5th goal of the season, Ayoze Perez makes the team courtesy of the 9 points gained during the 3-2 win over Everton in what looks increasingly like Alan Pardew’s last game in charge of the Magpies.
Completing the 3-5-2 formation for this week’s dream team was Stoke City forward Mame Biram Diouf. His double at home to a poor West Brom made it 5 for the season. At £6.1m he is perhaps too expensive for consideration based on his points returns, but it is interesting that Mark Hughes has said that his best position is playing through the centre. Any plans you have for him will have to wait though; he is away on AFCON duty for Senegal.
Rotation will continue to play a part going into gameweek 20 on New Years Day. A low average of 37 points this week was mainly due to high ownership players under performing. Hopefully this will be rectified in the next round of matches. Remember when planning your transfers that there are a fair few players disappearing on International duty for the African Cup of Nations AND the Asian Cup straight after gameweek 20. Don’t make any daft moves you’ll instantly regret!
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but here is a selection of players you may want to transfer out – and definitely DON’T transfer them in!
Asian Cup – Jedinak, Ki, Yoshida
AFCON – Bolasie, Diame, Mahrez, Schlupp, The Toure Brothers, Cisse, Tiote, Mane, Diouf, Bony, Bentaleb, Kouyate, Sakho
Most will depart after gameweek 20 and may only miss 2 weeks – unless their countries progress. As a rule of thumb expect all of the above to not reappear before gameweek 24, but the Toure’s and Bony could be out until gameweek 26 if – as expected – the Ivory Coast go all the way to the final.